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Prolific and exceptionally perceptive author Charles Hugh Smith returns to discuss the insights in his just-launched book Will You Be Richer Or Poorer? Profit, Power & AI in a Traumatized World (the first chapter of which can be read for free here)

The current narrative that our standard of living is not only the best it has been in human history, but thanks to modern technology, is now improving at an accelerating rate.

Smith turns this belief on its head, pointing out the many and various ways — many of them “intangible” and not currently measured in dollars — the human condition is fast worsening. Health, purpose, social connection, civil liberties, access to natural resources, career mobility; these are but a few examples.

And technology is actually fast sending us down a darker path. One that empowers the central state, decimates jobs, destroys privacy, and has created today’s “landfill economy”.

I’ve written on these big, long dynamics of cycles, where there’s not just economic cycles or business cycles, but also social cycles where people find fewer reasons to cooperate with each other and society is fragmented. They often are associated with inflation or high unemployment, a decay of the real economy, resources becoming scarce and expensive, and so on.

Well, we’re clearly in that cycle — a Kondratieff winter, a Fourth Turning, one of Peter Turchin’s long cycles. And it’s only beginning.

Things are not going to resolve themselves quickly. There’s going to be a reset or a reckoning where we’re going to have to downsize and live within our means, and find some new social structures that are sustainable. It’s not just a physical, material world adjustment where we have to use less energy and fewer resources, we’ll also have to psychologically change. To not fear the changes ahead, but find ways to step into them positively.

Starting by trying to calculate the value of all the capital that we don’t measure is a very powerful first step. Realizing that you have all these forms of intangible capital that no one taught us to measure–or even recognize– is a very powerful process psychologically. If you start trying to prioritize the forms of capital that are important to you, it’s a kind of psychoanalysis because you really have to dig down into yourself and ask, “What forms of capital do I have that I can invest in another way of living, another livelihood, another form of community?”

There’s always going to be trade-offs. You’re not going to be able to get rich speculating in the stock and bond markets–and run a farm, and build a community. You’re going to have to give stuff up. You’re going to have to sacrifice some things in order to get what’s really fulfilling to you.

That’s wrenching in and of itself, but what’s worse is when people wait until bad things happen and then they realize the trade-offs have been imposed on them. Like they eat a highly-processed food diet, and they have a heart attack, and then they suddenly realize, “Wow, I’m going to die if I don’t change.” Or you get fired from your job or your corporation gets rid of your entire division. Then you’re forced to look at a different lifestyle and a different livelihood.

But we really do have the power to make those changes before catastrophe strikes.

I’m actually trying to deliver a positive message:  that anyone can do this. You may not be able to revolutionize your life in one fell swoop; but you can certainly make progress towards what’s important, and get busy building and accumulating the capital that truly is meaningful to you.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Charles Hugh Smith (51m:20s).

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Transcript

Chris Martenson: Welcome, everyone, to this Featured Voices podcast. I'm your host Chris Martenson, and it is October 7, 2019 today. We welcome to our program, Charles Hugh Smith, a prolific author, operator of the excellent and very thought-provoking website oftwominds.com, that's oftwominds.com.

Charles, hey, I consider him, he's a good friend and a regular guest of ours at Peak Prosperity and we're going to be discussing his new book titled, Will You Be Richer or Poorer? Profit, Power & AI in a Traumatized World. That's artificial intelligence.

Now, look, you know my view: I say the world is at this massive turning point. Really it is, and if you can't grasp the system sinking or the dimensions or really what we're facing, it's going to be a really confusing ride. And even if you can--and I'm not sure anybody can really grasp what's happening here--it's still going to be a hell of a ride.

Well, today we're going to do our best to make some sense of it all, and Charles Hugh Smith is really one of the very best in the game right now on that front. And I've really been looking forward to this podcast, so without further ado, let's welcome our guest to the program. Welcome, Charles.

Charles Hugh Smith: Thank you so much, Chris. Well, before we started recording, I was mentioning that your work has heavily influenced my thinking. And my goal in writing this book was to ask the question, "What is truly wealth?" And of course, the answer we all know is we measure mostly in financial terms, like how much money are we worth and how much we're earning, and so on.

But, of course, we're aware--at least, at an intuitive level--that there's a tremendous range of wealth that doesn't even get measured, starting with the natural world wealth, and social wealth, and societal wealth--various forms of infrastructure and culture that we really need to start measuring if we're going to navigate this devolution, de-growth era that we all know is coming.

Chris Martenson: Which, Charles, I love that you started the book there. Of course, I think that this is such a foundational moment in time that we've got to make sure we have our definitions right. And it's my belief that what people call "wealth" really is cartoonish, it's money. And I love that you start out by going through the definitions. So, let's spend a little time here, because I think this is important to set the stage.

So, when we talk about wealth, in your view, what's missing from the status quo definition of wealth?

Chris Hugh Smith: Great question. And I think I started the book with a quote about the ease with which we make our definitions. In other words, we measure what's easy, and so measuring money is really easy, and so is GDP, and all these other stuff. What's really hard to measure, so we don't bother or we make a mess of it, we make these kinds of wild estimates that are really misleading, is we don't really measure the value of the value of the natural world to us as individuals or the human community--or to our economy--and we don't really make any attempt to measure intangible capital.

Like what is liberty worth in terms of your own agency as an individual, as opposed to say, a person living in a very restrictive society where they really don't have a lot of wiggle room compared, say, to a freer economy and society like ours where, if you decide to up and move, you don't need a government approval to move to another state; you can just up and move? [Chuckling] I mean, there's some intangible value to that. And then there are cultural values that are also forms of what I call intangible capital.

So, if you look at what we measure--which is the easy stuff--and then you look at what we try to measure in a sort of... misleading fashion... like we all know clean air and clean water are valuable, but we don't really put that into our balance sheet, if you will... and then all the stuff we don't even attempt to measure, which we call "intangible capital."

And so, if you look at that, it sort of seems to me that we're talking about the iceberg. The financial wealth is the little bit above the water, and then the 80 to 90 percent of our real wealth is below, and we sort of... we sense intuitively, but we don't really measure it. And without an attempt to measure, how can we value it?

Chris Martenson: Yeah, and you get what you measure, of course--and I completely agree. So, it's often presented, I feel, in the status quo framework, that the money is the complete and total measure of wealth. Because we've sort of assumed away all these other stuff, but let me make this very topical--and I love the way you framed this.

So, to me, I do value democracy--although, I don't think it's actually practiced, but that's a different podcast for a different day--and I value freedom and all those sorts of things. So, let's now... let's wander across the pond for a second, over to the UK, which has been running a massive experiment on the nanny state, surveillance state kind of stuff. And what happened recently is there's a movement called Extinction Rebellion, which has said, "Hey, this natural world is important, and we're going to begin to protest the status quo," which is the machine that wants more paper wealth, wants more GDP, and that's the entire machine. And they're saying... they're very British, they're going to do it in a very polite way--maybe they'll block traffic or something, but they're going to begin to make their voices heard.

And so, how does the UK respond? And they just responded the other day, by busting down the door, preemptively arresting the leaders of this thing because they thought they were going to disrupt things in the future. So, let's see what they just did: they busted them without a warrant, they completely took what you might call freedom and democracy, rule of law, threw those right under the bus because they thought there might be some sort of pushback or disruption to the wealth-generating machine.

So, in your view, what you're just saying, is that in order to preserve the tip of the iceberg, the authorities in the UK were willing to literally bomb the bottom of the iceberg, [Chuckling] the core foundational things such as liberty, justice, rule of law--all of that. They just threw that right under the bus. Is that not, maybe, just an almost perfect metaphor for what you're talking about here?

Charles Hugh Smith: Yeah, absolutely, that's it's a huge diminishment of the intangible capital of personal agency, and... the rights that we supposedly have to dissent from the powers that be, or have a different point of view. And so, we're losing this intangible capital at a fantastic rate, which is why I titled my book, "... in a Traumatized World." I mean, obviously, if you were in that group--put ourselves in the shoes of that group--it is extremely traumatizing to be abused by police state, essentially, where you realize you really don't have any rights.

And what's weird about the current structure, which... we've talked about before, is on the surface, we still have these legal rights, but in the functioning real world, they're dissipating, they're diminishing; we really don't have these. And I think that's so true of... when we talk about the value of community, meaning that there's a resilience built into the community because people know each other, and they care about each other, they're willing to make sacrifices for other people. That structure is an enormous source of intangible capital.

And so, when that dissipates and nobody knows anybody, nobody cares about anybody, and no one's going to sacrifice for anybody, you've lost an enormous amount of capital. And so never mind your net worth and money doubled, you're a much poorer person than you were when you had all these intangible capital.

Chris Martenson: Well, and just to focus back on the UK--and of course, I'm not picking on them, we can do this for any country right now--but it was only last week that we saw a couple of headlines coming out, talking about the intangible capital; they know that hedgehogs, those cute, little spiky things that people have as pets sometimes, but they occur wildly in the UK--they're a beloved creature--they're down 95 percent in the past 40 years in terms of wild population. And turtle doves, from the famous Christmas song--turtle doves--are down 95 percent within the same timeframe.

So, the natural capital is just absolutely shredding; we know that the UK has about 60 harvests left before their soil is completely degraded and useless for growing things on. So, is it not true that the natural capital is worth protecting and defending, but more importantly, the sense of having a future, what is so important that you have to preemptively arrest people who are saying, "Time out, we think we need to rethink this," who might be saying, "We would like to leave to our children, a world where there's an infinite number of harvests, not 60 left, right?"?

To me, that sense of a future is the most important thing that's being diminished and stolen, and we're not even allowed to talk about it without being ridiculed in some way. I was interviewed by the BBC, and I felt that the interviewers were very ridiculing of view of saying what I just said, which is "Gosh, maybe we should think about the future." And so, I get the sense that there's a machine out there that has put a zero value on anything than money.

Charles Hugh Smith: Yeah, exactly. And you know, if we want to describe capital--like let's define "capital"...

Chris Martenson: Yeah, let's do that.

Charles Hugh Smith: "Capital" is wealth, capital is something which we want to accumulate capital, that's what "wealth" is, right? Capital is productive assets, right? And what you and I are saying is the insects, the amphibians, the natural world--never mind the minerals we mine and the energy we extract in fossil fuels and so on--but the entire natural world is a form of capital, right? And so, if that's being diminished rapidly, then obviously, we're losing capital, we're not accumulating capital. Accumulating capital would be increasing the sustainability of the natural world and what we extract from it.

So, we're losing capital there, we're losing capital in terms of our civil liberties. And then you mentioned the UK--and as you say, the same is true of the US-- there are really two economies in the UK, and it's apparently extremely striking--similar if you go to small towns that used to be industrial here in the States and then they've then emptied, and all that's left is what they call in the UK "jumble shops", like some sort of... second-hand stores, and the rest of the town is empty.

And so, I think part of what Brexit is about, as far as I can tell, is that the 10 percent that lives well in London are the ones who, of course, control the UK society and economy, and media, and their lives are peachy keen, everything is great, right? The 90 percent left behind don't have a voice, and as we're talking about, their voice is being restricted when they do raise that voice.

And so, the same is true of, I think, the entire industrialized world, and even the developing world, that there's a power structure that wants to maintain this sort of unsustainable, blindly-destructive system because it's benefiting them at least financially. And so, we really have to talk about the power structure that's resisting what has to--what would be a more positive change for the whole of humanity.

Chris Martenson: Yeah, and this is something I think you talked about in... you had a prior book out, right? And is it the one right before this one, the Total... I don't have it right in my head, but you were really talking there, about how this system, as it is--oh, I just remembered, it's Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic, right?

Charles Hugh Smith: Right. Right.

Chris Martenson: In there, you opened with the idea that--if I'm remembering this correctly--that the systems we're running, they're not just flawed, but actually, they're designed to fail. So, let's talk about that for a minute, because to me, this gets to the heart of everything. If we're going to redefine wealth, redefine capital, and think about what's our role in how this unfolds, if you understand that this isn't a matter of tweaking the system, because the system is actually designed to fail, well, then I think it's easier to step away from that and begin to step into the new.

Charles Hugh Smith: No, you're absolutely right. And if we want to talk about systems and capital, one of my topics is, "Will technology make us all richer?" Because that's a huge part of this story, the growth story that you referred to already, is that we're all promised "Well, we're all going to get richer because robots and AI are going to do all of our work, and all these new fabulous technologies are going to generate energy and super abundance, and life's only going to get better for us."

But when we start breaking that stuff down, then we start looking at, "Well, who's going to own all this fabulous technology?" Google, Facebook? [Chuckling] And how practical is it that all these amazing robots are going to come and do all our work, and that's going to make us richer?

And so, I sort of break it down with a very simple example: like everybody in the Peak Prosperity community, we all try to do things ourselves, right? We try to fix stuff that's broken, and learn more, and that's part of our resilience. And so, I've had to fix dryers and washing machines... leaks, breaks--well, sometimes, it's a belt or something mechanical. But largely now, it's the circuit board, the so-called "motherboard" that controls all these appliances.

Now, a dryer is a really simple machine; it's like a steel drum that spins around, it's got a motor--that's pretty much it. And then it's got these controls. Well, the controls have gotten fairly complicated. Now, you used to have two or three cycles, now you've got 17, and so on and so forth. Well, these boards cost about 175 bucks. Well, on sale, you could buy a dryer for about double that, like 350, 400 bucks.

So, you're talking about one part, which is a sealed, plastic thing, about 12 inches long, with, I would say, about 5 bucks’ worth of actual electronics on there. Because there's an Omron chip, and if you know anything about electronics, you know that these are commodity chips, they're made in the millions, they're pretty simple, they're very cheap, like $1.20 each, maybe 3 bucks each. And then a couple of bucks for the circuit board.

So, I mean, this whole thing is worth, maybe 10 to 15 bucks. But it's sold to you--by Sears- or whomever--for like 150 to 175 bucks. And then it's going to cost you another 175 to have somebody came and take the top of the appliance and put it in. And it's not that hard to do if you're familiar with stuff like that.

But still, well, what does the average person do? Well, they throw the dryer out and they buy a new one. Because it's like, "Gosh, it's going to cost 350 to repair, I can buy a new one for 425." And so, we have this landfill economy which is part of what you're saying: it's a system designed to fail; in other words, it's a system that's designed to generate immense waste that they can never be recovered.

And so, I was just asking, look, everybody thinks these robots are going to work perfectly--they can't even make a dryer that functions for more than a few years before that motherboard fails. And how is a robot going to be any different? It's not; it's going to be part of the landfill economy. [Chuckling]

Chris Martenson: Yeah. And so, this whole narrative, though, is based and rooted in this thing which... and this, I think, is the really important point--is that it takes time for human culture to catch up with the reality of things. And so, this idea of a consumer culture, I believe, is boring. Say, the mid-1700s, we really got developed with the industrial revolution and it really sort of got perfected in the early 1900s, and we're still living by it as if it were true.

And so, what you're talking about--and I've run into this personally with a washing machine, where that motherboard gave out, and I ran into that exact same idea, which was "I'm going to just succumb to the planned obsolescence of the corporation that designed that circuit board to break." And I resisted as hard as I could, replaced it myself, it was a painful process... I almost threw in the towel and just bought another one, because it's just easier to chuck it and start over again.

But that whole idea is rooted, at its formative level, in the idea that there's plenty of resources, and we can just keep doing that. There's no larger cultural awareness that it's immoral to do something like that, that you should be ashamed of being part of a world to design to do that, because you just want to sell more units so that your CEO can make more money--or whatever the story is, right? It's rooted in this idea that we can keep being wasteful in this way.

And as I wrote recently in about how the Green Revolution is bunch of junk--I called it a bunch of hot air--we don't have a lot of time to continue messing around in this story. And so, you talk about how AI is coming along, and the narrative that's being pushed at us is this idea that all these robots are going to come along, and they can replace almost every job, "But don't worry, this would make our lives better not worse."

I think it was 1929, John Maynard Keynes--he was a pretty famous lecturer--he predicted that later generation would only work 15 hours a week because of advanced technology. He was right: we shouldn't be working more than 15 hours a week--if we were sharing the abundance of all of that surplus energy. And we're not, of course. So, human culture couldn't catch up to the technology to allow us to work 15-hour weeks or even to share that equitably.

Your book centers on AI, and robotics, and all that stuff, that it's going to finally allow us to realize that dream of hardly working at all. Your book seems to argue otherwise, and I think because, maybe, you're rooted in the idea that people are people.

Chris Martenson: Right. And also as you say, there are limits on the resources. Like we just sort... I kind of draw upon your recent piece about the amount of energy that we consume that's fossil fuel-based, and that the idea--you lead the reader through what it would really take to replace all this. And it's a phenomenal kind of grounding--and for the Peak Prosperity audience, it's called Getting Real About Green Energy, in case you didn't get to read that one yet.

And I think the same can be said of lithium, and the same can be said of all these rare earths and stuff--all of which are essential components in windmills, and solar panels, and all this stuff.

And so, the same arguments that you explained of energy are also true of that: we would need to find Planet Lithium, and it would have to drift close enough to us, and that we could go on and get all the lithium we need to replace... [Chuckling] it's just not feasible.

And again, talking about capital, we're a rich society, so we do all of the stripping of capital and the destruction of capital elsewhere. So, if you happen to live next to lithium mine and your water was poisoned, and all the degradation that comes from digging gigantic holes to extract a few thousand pounds of rare metals, then you'd have a different idea about whether lithium batteries were going to save us. And so, you mentioned that we're even running out of sand. [Chuckling]

Chris Martenson: Yeah, I know you got to laugh, right?

Charles Hugh Smith: Yeah. And so, the whole idea that we're going to create 5 billion robots, all of which are going to work perfectly, and never break down, and are going to be super easy to repair, and then we're going to just dig up all of the minerals and resources needed to make these 5 billion robots--and then we're going to throw them out, because they're all going to break. And so they'll go into landfill, and we'll make another 5 billion.

And you talk about the Green Deal and all that stuff. It's like--well, so you know what the Green Deal is, is we're going to take all 400 or 500 million petroleum-powered vehicles on earth--maybe it's more than that, it might be 600 million--and we're going to throw them all in that landfill--never mind recycling, they're not that easy to recycle, folks, and that's why China gave up. [Chuckling] "Don't send us any more junk to recycle. It's expensive and it doesn't pay financially."

So, we're going to throw out 600 million vehicles and we're going to build 600 million new ones that are all-electric, and that's going to solve everything. And then what happens when those things die in five to ten years--because you've got to replace the batteries? "Oh, then we're going to throw those 600 million away and build 600 (million) more." [Chuckling] So, in other words, we're just not grasping that there are limits, and that the destruction of the world in order to try to keep this narrative going, we're actually poorer every day; never mind what our balance sheets say, we're all getting poorer.

Chris Martenson: Well, there's a sense here, that I share with you--that I think, increasingly, people are sharing that, "Look, something's wrong." And we see the protests in Hong Kong, we see the Yellow Vests in France, we see the Extinction Rebellion really popping up all over the world right now, we see the nerve that Greta Thunberg touched--and really caused a lot of people to lose their minds, because, of course, she touched on a belief system which evokes strong emotions in them. I saw very few people--as a quick aside, Charles--take Greta's argument and be logical or fact-based about them; I saw a lot of people get very emotionally upset that this 16-year-old was daring to say something along the lines of, "You all have messed this up and we might hold you accountable for that," which is a no-no in today's world, can't hold anyone accountable for anything--unless you're a little person.

But this is a conversation we need to have because I think you framed it well--and I'm going to quote from your book here, you said, "The belief in the ultimate goodness and inevitability of technological advances is often presented as a binary choice: one either believes that technology will eventually solve every human problem or one is anti-technology and therefore, anti-progress; suggesting there are limits on technology is thus heretical; for believers, there are no limits. Let's set aside the false binary choice and ask: are there intrinsic limits to technology? And if so, are we approaching any of these limits?"

I like this because, obviously, we can get technical and talk about the limits and all this and that, but it actually gets to... it's more of a belief system involved that some people really want to believe that technology allows us to keep moving forward, we don't have to look at any of the consequences of that; if there are any things that happened in the past because of technology, we'll just skate right through them; we'll just move so quickly that we'll get right past them. I guess this would be the Peter Diamandis Singularity, "We'll created technology, and we'll never have to die." We'll get to this magic moment of singularity of human technological nirvana.

And then there's the other side who says, "No, every problem we're trying to solve right now was created by a past technology." So, Joseph Tainter, minutes to complexity--eventually, that all catches up with you. That, to me, feels like the narrative war that's really playing out, and that's why I wanted to quote that piece. Now, I want to talk about that, because I think this is more of a psychological problem than a technological problem right now.

Charles Hugh Smith: Yeah, I think you've absolutely nailed it: it's that it's a form of religion or faith base that if you say, "Well, I don't believe that technology is going to solve, like say, the decaying social and cultural capital. In other words, the fact that our social and cultural capital is in basically a collapse, and I don't technology can solve that loss of intangible capital," then you're branded as "anti-progress," "lead-eyed," et cetera, and so the conversation ends right there.

Another thing I brought up in the book is an idea I borrowed from a financial analyst who's one of my readers, Simons Chase, it's called negative network effects. And this is... the network effect is the idea that when everybody starts using something, then it becomes more valuable as a system, but also becomes more valuable to each person. So, the internet is a classic example, we all start using it and we start... "Wow, we can access all this information." Our lives get richer information-wise, and yet the system, itself, grows because we're all contributing to it as well.

Well, the idea of a negative network effect is what we see in platforms and monopolies like when everybody joins a system and then it's controlled by an elite or a platform that, or a corporation at the top. Then, they can use that system to benefit themselves and everybody else is losing capital--or we're all getting diminished by being part of this. And I think that's a big concept because it plays out in social media, that we're told we're all benefiting from the craziness that social media is, when in actual fact, we're getting lonelier, we're having all these mental health issues from being addicted to social media, we're feeling diminished because we're not sending photos to everybody from Sri Lanka or whatever--somebody is always better than we are. [Chuckling]

And then we see it in healthcare--and again, we can refer to the UK and their struggles with their national healthcare system and our complete mess of a kind of quasi-public/private system, the worst on the planet in terms of waste and poor outcomes.

It's like we're all part of this system, we don't really have a lot of options out--it's like the healthcare system, you've got three insurers and that's it, and they all act the same, so it's like a cartel or a monopoly, and we're sort of trapped in these huge systems which extract wealth from us--financial wealth--and make us poorer in terms of things like health, mental health, agency... we're getting poorer because we're trapped in these negative system effects.

And if you look at health--let's say we want to look at health as kind of a manifestation of all these things we're talking about--we all know that we're getting unhealthier as a society; I mean we're really descending--quickly, if you will--and it's all like, "Why?" And you go, "Well, it's money, right?" People selling highly-processed food are making billions, and then the people making the drugs to counteract the highly-processed food effects on us are making billions, and so on. [Chuckling] And it's all like, wow, this is a really sick system, because it's financially rewarding for the few that own these things--these systems and platforms--but it's actually impoverishing the rest of us.

Chris Martenson: Well, a number of examples come to mind, and we're seeing--I think it's being swept well under the rug at this point in time, the fact that a lot of the opioid manufacturers and pharma companies--including the Sackler family who are pure evil, by the way, because they knowingly were getting people addicted because it padded their bottom lines and made them personally richer, knowing they were destroying lives all the way to the point of deaths.

So, that's pretty egregious, right? And if we get a full measure of justice in the United States over that, they'll have to cough up a few of their profits back. Ouch. And meanwhile, you get the little people finding themselves in debt or prison again--increasingly, you find people in prison because they couldn't pay fines once other outstanding things--in many cases, they were treated as like walking ATMs, which we learned after the Ferguson Riots, and the Justice Department came in and said, "Wow, a town of 20,000 people with 16,000 outstanding warrants." That's kind of weird.

And so that cultural capital is getting shredded and it's all in the service of making money and a few bucks. And I think we're going to discover, in this story, that maybe money isn't everything, that actually having like social and cultural capital is a really important thing when the chips are down. And increasingly, I think that's what we're seeing, is that people understand that the chips are about to go down and land on the table.

And so, my own personal example of this technology being too absorbed, and where I think it's culturally reducing us--I'll tell you what: I love YouTube, I love the instructional videos, I've learned so much. You want to learn anything? I just learned how to make a fire-operated desal plant. Wonderful, right?

I've also lost the ability to experiment and find things out on my own. And so, at this recent meeting I had in my house where some people got together and said, "Hey, should we actually think about forming a community at some point?" A big fear people came up with was, "Hey, if the internet goes away, I don't know how to do anything anymore, and that worries me." And I think it's a legitimate fear.

Charles Hugh Smith: Yeah, that's a great example of a form of intangible capital. In other words, this is what is so interesting to me, is that there are so many forms of intangible capital that we take for granted, one of which is our ability to figure stuff out. And if we become dependent on the internet to tell us how to do everything, we've lost another form of capital.

But I want to move on to my last couple of sections, which we recall the titles are "Finding new relationships between capital, labor, and the natural world." Because if we focus on short-term profits and then we all have this perverse incentive where, "We have to work to make money to have a livelihood," and so we're embedded in this system that exploits the natural world and reduces the total capital available to humanity all in service of a power structure at the top, and then the rest of us are kind of stuck there trying to make a living.

And so, we need to make a new set of relationships with much better incentives. And if you're going to focus only on short-term profits and financial capital, well, that we're already doing, because all those incentives are perverse.

So, then, my next section is, "Where will your capital flourish?" And I think this is where I'm really interested in what you, personally, are trying to do, which is to establish a community where people's own capital--tangible and intangible--their skills, their experience, their drive, their cultural values, where it can flourish. And that's what we're really lacking as a society and economy; there are just so few places where your capital can flourish. So, let's talk about how do we find a place--or make a place--where our capital can flourish.

Chris Martenson: Well, let's talk about that. Of course, very near and dear to my heart at this point, because ... I've been at this ten years--or 11. And by "this", I mean trying to use logic, and words, and reason to nudge people towards a conclusion--which happens to be how I see the world, but is just math at this point, and says, "Can't continue as is."

But more to the point, I think what you're raising very importantly in this book, is well, maybe it's not that it can't be preserved, maybe we shouldn't even want to preserve it in its current form. Because it's not life-affirming--in every measure of the word, life-affirming for humans and non-humans.

But there's really another way, isn't there? Where your capital can--and this is a full-spectrum view of wealth and a full-spectrum view of capital--where it can flourish, and that's what I like about Section 7 in your book, asking where capital can flourish? Because what you're really asking, nudging people towards, is the conclusion that, "You know what? Not only should we do better, but we can."

Charles Hugh Smith: Yes. Yeah, exactly. And to start, I'm kind of asking people to make a different balance sheet for yourself and your household, like, "Well, starting adding up what you do have in capital that you might not have even recognized as capital, and what's diminishing?" In other words, what capital are you losing in your current lifestyle? And so, if you have a three-and-a-half-hour commute to get a job you hate because you're trying to pay your mortgage, is that... are you really getting richer? I mean, you're hoping your house would double or triple in value, but what are you losing in the process?

And how else could we live where, if we measure all the forms of capital that we have, if we include the balance sheet of our access to stability, to trust, to integrity, to natural beauty, to a sense of security and safety... I mean, those are the things humans intuitively value. And so, how do we get there?

And it's like, well, we're obviously going to have to pry ourselves out of the matrix to some degree--and we also have to make a living in a system built around failure and perverse incentives. But how can we do this where we're going to be in control of our capital? And I think that's really a large part of my message is, "Lookit, we're going to have to take control of our capital to change things." And so, if you're working for a corporation that's headquartered 5000 miles away, using resources from 5000 miles away, eating food from 10,000 miles away, and basically indentured to banks 15,000 miles away, you're not really free; you're really trapped in a system that's destructive to you personally--as well as to the planet.

So, how do we break out of this? Well, it's not easy, right? [Chuckling] It's not easy.

Chris Martenson: No, it's not.

Charles Hugh Smith: But there are ways: we can improve it, we can move the needle toward those goals.

Chris Martenson: Well, let's talk about that, because this is obviously.... obviously, they're dear to my heart. But it's the direction that we have to go, it becomes as simple as saying, "We have to become the change we wish to see." But you raise something really important, which is that first step is really hard, because it's not like there are baby steps you take away from this system of command, control, slavery, destruction, all that stuff. As if Mammon came to earth and was allowed to run unfettered across the cultural landscape.

So, here we are, it's very hard to take that first step. What do you have as advice for people? And I see some of it here in your books, but I'd talk about how does somebody go about stepping away from that, knowing that that first step is really difficult, especially if you have that mortgage and kids in school, and car payments and all the rest?

Charles Hugh Smith: Right. Well, I think my premise here is, if we each take a balance sheet and start listing what's really important to us in terms of our capital or our access to capital. And so, if say, for instance, if you decide, "I can tolerate a BS job that's totally inauthentic because I'm able to make a lot of money." But somebody might realize, "You know what? I really need access to natural beauty, I really am sick and tired of living in a concrete jungle, and urban grime, I've got to figure out some way to have access to natural beauty," for instance.

And so, by listing all the kinds of capital and prioritizing, like, "What's really important to me?", then you can say, "Okay, now with those prioritized forms of capital, I can then start thinking about what situation would give me more of the capital that I want and value, and less of the capital that I'm getting, but I don't value?"

And so, in a lot of cases, it doesn't require moving from a particular place, but it may require moving to a different profession or completing gutting your expense structure so that you can afford to make some change. Or it may require moving. And I look at the people I know, and just kind of reading headlines, it looks like America is on the move; a lot of people are moving out of places where they no longer feel safe, they no longer feel secure, they feel like a tax donkey or a debt-serf, and they're moving to smaller communities. And so, the fastest-growing cities in American tend to be small, that people are gloaming [?] on these places, going, "Wow, life is actually much better here," and, "Hey, it's pretty here." [Chuckling]

And so, it's wrenching to think about moving, physically. But on the other hand, if you prioritize what's important to you in terms of all the capital that you own or have access to, then you're able to generate the psychological motivation to do it. In other words, if you say, "You know what? My skill set, I'm not even using my skills. I'm trapped in this stupid job, and I'm stuck here because it's paying me, but I want to go out there and use all my skills." Well, you're going to have to take some risks to do it, but if it's really what's important to you--your internal capital--then you'll find the wherewithal to make it happen. That's my own personal experience.

Chris Martenson: Now, the powers that be are doing everything they can to convince people not to do that. They like the tax donkeys to stay where they are, they've been jamming the markets relentlessly, and so a lot of people are maybe thinking, "Gosh, it doesn't... on one hand, it feels kind of urgent, I get what you're saying. On the other hand, it's a big step to take and there are a lot of signs out there saying, 'Don't worry, be happy. Stock markets are within a couple of percent of all-time highs, and maybe powering like it wants to go higher.'"

To me, I think that the media has been misleading us badly; I think the stock markets are just a signaling device of the government at this point in time--and its cronies--and it's hard to draw that line when the government’s tax stops and where Wall Street begins and ends. But I think that all of these things are actually terribly misleading to people and that what you're asking people to do is to take stock of their own situation, add up their own balance sheet for themselves to decide what's important, what's not important. Because truthfully, what the media is busy telling us important, is actually not only not important, but anti-important in the sense that I think it's leading us astray. Would you agree with that? And do you think there's... what percentage chance would you put on this all sort of resolving itself peacefully?

Charles Hugh Smith: [Laughter] Yeah, Chris, you know it's like I've written--in fact, I've written for Peak Prosperity, a number of pieces on these big, long dynamics of cycles, where there's not just economic cycles or business cycles or whatever, but there's social cycles where people find fewer reasons to cooperate with each other, and society is fragmented, and then you get... and they often are associated with inflation or high unemployment, or a decay of the real economy--resources become scarce and expensive, and so on.

Well, we're clearly in that cycle that is only beginning, and there's lots of cycles that we can talk about, the Kondratieff or the Fourth Turning, or the long cycles of Peter Turchin--we're clearly in that cycle. And so, things are not going to resolve themselves quickly; there is going to be a reset or a reckoning where we're going to have to downsize and live within our means, and find some new social structures that are sustainable, because of the unsustainable ends, and that's the phase we're in.

And as you said, it's not just a physical, material world adjustment where we have to use less energy and fewer resources, we also have to psychological change that this is not something bad and awful, that it's actually a positive change if we embrace it.

And so, I think just starting to try to calculate the value of all the capital that we don't measure is a very powerful first step, because just realizing that you have all these forms of intangible capital that no one taught us to measure--or even recognize--that's a very powerful, I think, process psychologically. And it's a form of... if you start trying to prioritize what forms of capital are important to you, it's a form of... sort of psychoanalysis, if you will, because you really have to dig down into yourself and go, "Gosh, what really is important to me, and what forms of capital do I have that I can invest in another way of living, another livelihood, another form of community?"

And one of my little sections here is called "Trade-offs, risk, and return." And of course, what I'm trying to do is be practical about it... that there's always trade-offs. You're not going to be able to get rich speculating in the stock and bond markets--and run a farm, and build a community... [Chuckling] Sorry, there's going to be trade-offs, you're going to have to give stuff up, you're going to have to sacrifice some things in order to get what's really fulfilling to you.

And that's wrenching in and of itself, and people tend to wait until bad things happen and then they realize the trade-offs have been imposed on them. Like they eat a highly-processed food diet, and they have a heart attack, and then they suddenly realize, "Wow, I'm going to die if I don't change." Or you get fired from your job or your corporation get rid of your entire division, then you're forced to look at a different lifestyle and a different livelihood. But we really do have the power to make those changes before catastrophe strikes.

And that's kind of what--I'm trying to end the book on a positive message that I think this is entirely possible--for everybody. You may not be able to revolutionize your life in one fell swoop, but you can certainly make progress towards what's important, and be building and accumulating the capital that actually is meaningful to you.

Chris Martenson: Well, thank you for that. And to close this up, I do think there's a generational piece coming up where a lot of the younger people--we saw those mass... I don't even know if I can call them "protests"--but anyway, mass gatherings of people around--they were huge, by the way--350,000 people in Montreal, I mean it's just massive, right?

Charles Hugh Smith: Yeah.

Chris Martenson: Coming out and saying, "We don't like what's happening to the natural capital in this, we want to do this differently." I thought it was heavily minimized in the press, which wants us to believe that we're only two China trade headlines away from lasting nirvana in the stock market, because we really, really, really have a terribly, terribly misleading set of people trying to preserve the status quo.

But generationally, we have young people coming out saying, "I don't see it, I don't see that story. You can take your planned obsolescence and your dying-on-a-schedule washing machines and shove them, you can take your lack of action on meaningful action on anything climate-related and shove it; you can take your destruction of the natural world and shove it."

And so, I think this is already afoot, and I love seeing the number of young people who, at least, are able to articulate the important two words I know, which are "Not this." We saw, again to bring back Greta Thunberg, was for people who did level some sort of a charge against her. Some of them said, "Yeah, what's her answer?" Well, if we're facing a predicament, there is no answer, and so at least, sometimes, you start with "Not this."

And so, what I love in your book, Will You Be Richer or Poorer? Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World, Charles, it's all about taking stock for yourself, what matters, what doesn't matter, but really noting that there is the other side of this story that is never talked about in our press, which is that all of the technology that we think we love is great, but it has a cost. And once we really begin to add those costs up, we find that on balance, things are starting to become subtractive, not additive.

That's what I think is fueling a lot of the popular protests around the world; that's why I think they're so desperately trying to keep the markets elevated because they--whoever "they" are--can't allow the conversation even get started about what's happening here? But it's happening anyway. And so, I think we need to have this story told in many, many different ways, lots of teachers, lots of different ways of looking at it.

So, your book, Will You Be Richer or Poorer? Profit, Power, and AI in a Traumatized World... Charles, how do people get your book?

Charles Hugh Smith: Well, sadly, because I'm self-published, it's available through Amazon--one of the platforms. [Chuckling] And I am keeping it at a 15 percent discount for the next few days after this program runs. So, I would post a free section of it on my website, oftwominds.com, where you can read the first couple of chapters, and see if you're going to get any value out of it.

But I do feel we're all getting poorer, but there is an upside to de-growth. If we learn to use less of everything, we can have a much more fulfilling life, and sacrificing all the bad stuff if not really detracting from us; we're actually accumulating all forms--all these other kinds of capital that we're not even measuring by entering a de-growth and embracing de-growth instead of going, "Oh, how awful we're going to use less of everything."

Chris Martenson: Yeah. Well, very well said. And I really enjoyed reading through this book in preparation for this interview, and I hope other people will take advantage of the 15 percent discount and get the book and read it because we really need to start talking about these issues.

So, thank you for taking the time for this interview, thank you for writing the book. I appreciate it.

Charles Hugh Smith: Thank you so much, Chris. I was thrilled to be able to talk about it with somebody that understands it.

[Chuckling]

About the Guest
Charles Hugh Smith

Charles Hugh Smith writes the Of Two Minds blog (www.oftwominds.com/blog.html) which covers an eclectic range of timely topics:  economy, housing, Asia, energy, longterm trends, social issues, health/diet/fitness and sustainability and community. He is also a regular contributor here at Peak Prosperity. From its humble beginnings in May 2005, Of Two Minds now attracts some 300,000 visits a month. Charles also contributes to AOL's Daily Finance site (www.dailyfinance.com) and has written multiple books, most recently "The Nearly Free University and the Emerging Economy: The Revolution in Higher Education".

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75 Comments

  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 6:16am

    #1
    brushhog

    brushhog

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    The elephant in the room

    Good discussion guys. Very interesting and it kept my attention to the end. CHS has a way of putting things sometimes that really hits the nail on the head. The one thing that was not mentioned, which kind of blows the entire conversation up is the over-population problem.

    Its not our consumption of resources or energy, none of which would be a problem if the human population were down to about a billion. The fact is, it is impossible to feed 8 billion people using 18th century farming methods. The destruction of the soil, the chemically cultivated foods, and the huge infrastructure of fossil fuel powered production, storage, and distribution of just FOOD is the only way to sustain the massive numbers of human beings on the planet.

    Throughout history the number of humans on planet earth was balanced at about 1 billion or less. This was the carrying capacity without the use of fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers. The correlation between all the things that you rightly point out as dangerous and destructive [ fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, pollution, certain types energy production ], and the population is direct and incontrovertible. Those things allowed the population to explode 7-800 % in a very short time.

    So the idea that we can do away with those things without a massive die-off of 80-90% of the population is just not practical. No other way of maintaining the population is known to man. We cannot simply all ride bicycles, recycle, and reduce our consumption and everything will be alright. At best this is just buying time with the population growing EXPONENTIALLY and doubling every 30-40 years. What happens when the population is 16 billion? 32 billion? 64 billion? Even if every human only consumed half the resources and energy that we do now it is impossible to sustain.

    My opinion [ and that of many others ] is that the conversation is really just an exercise in intellectualism without discussing population control. The problem is this is a very unpopular subject that people do not want to seriously consider. When you get down into the nuts and bolts of it, you realizeat it isnt really going to happen voluntarily. You’d need to forcibly sterilize 80% of the population, at which point you become a monster.

    So, lets face facts,there is no real long term solution to what we are talking about. No HUMAN solution. Nothing that we can decide to do about it. Humanity is going to play out it’s destiny according to it’s nature [ and we are part of nature, just a manifestation of the universe as we know ] and the chips will fall where they will. Most likely we will pass a critical mass of population, will run out of resources and die back. Just like frogs in a pond. The idea that we control our destiny was always an absurd illusion. Our nature is what it is, and that is our destiny.

     

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 6:40am

    #2

    sand_puppy

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    Low Population Density is a form of capital

    I hear you Brushhog on the underlying stressor being population numbers.

    One of the things I can do is to put “Low Population Density” on my list of things that makes my life feel rich.  Along with natural beauty, simplicity, family, trees, streams, physical health, agency–the power to make personal choices.

     

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 7:59am

    Reply to #1
    pokjbv

    pokjbv

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    Population issues

    I also think many of the same things.  I have been saying in reaction to the man made global warming religion that it is not the size of your footprint or mine but the fact that there were fewer than 3 billion of them when I was born and now fast approaching 8 billion.  None of the actions proposed or taken so far will do any good if the breeding community just use the reprieve to copulate another billion or two billion new footprints into existence.  And this is not just about warming, it is about every negative externality we deal with in our modern world.  We scramble for answers and practical solutions, but what can we solve that does not result in just more problems and a sense of license to create ever more people which the world in one way or another can’t carry?

    So, I was born in California in 1958, population under 15 million.  In my memories of the early sixties it was paradise.  A happy place.  Now, with 40 million people it is unlivable for the majority, and is only happy for the top few percent that can afford the enclave lifestyle of gated communities.  Though I can’t be sure since I was priced out of the state in 1993.  Last year I wanted to meet some Australian friends when they were touring the SF Bay Area for a few days, I could not even find fleabag accommodations for under $300 per night.  I have found that hotel and motel room rates are a great indicator of local housing price, a few years back a heating problem at my apartment forced me to stay at a local Motel 6 for a couple days, I saw families who were homeless sharing a room, two or three families, would rent a room and wash their clothes in the motel laundry, bathe their kids, watch some TV, sleep in a bed for a change, with heat, order pizzas, etc.  and use the motel as babysitter.  As a result motels have begun charging a lot more, because when they were charging 39.99 or even 59.99 per day this use was attractive to homeless to use them as a substitute for housing they can no longer afford.  And the price will keep rising till that is no longer true.  The facilities have to do this when they see multifamilies sharing a single room and using water, electricity, and other included items far in excess of what is normally included.  As a result a motel room here has climbed by 100% in just a few years.  They no longer advertise their prices on the big electronic signs out front anymore.

    So many serious problems, and solutions may come but people never learn, they cannot see the connection between their reproduction and a whole new set of problems, or aggravating old ones.  SNAP has not made it easier to keep poor people alive, it has though made it easier to feed kids you can’t afford.  I am not arguing that we should not have a system of social safety nets for people in danger because of the inherent flaws in capitalism, but, there has to be a way to stop the upward cycle of overpopulation because the first answer to all serious economic and environmental problems is first STOP MAKING IT WORSE!  It is the old adage about finding oneself in a deep dark hole, I can’t tell you how to get out, but I can tell you that it can’t get better till you stop digging.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 8:04am

    Reply to #1

    thc0655

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    The elephants in the adjacent room

    I agree with your basic analysis Brushhog though I’m uncertain when the human die off will begin in earnest and how fast it will progress. I’d be pleased if it didn’t start in the next 15-20 years (my approximate expiration date maximum) and for the sake of everyone else I’d like to hope it would take us 200 years to “gently” return to a world population of 1 billion. Obviously it hasn’t begun yet, though all the conditions are seemingly in place for it to start.

    There are five elephants in the adjacent room that we CAN discuss. These are elephants we CAN do something about.

    1. How should we respond to those “monsters,” as you call them, who ARE willing to take action to FORCE human population down? The tools they might use are a combination of intentionally starving parts of the population, incentivizing or forcing abortion on an even larger scale than is done today, war, intentionally infecting large numbers of people with fatal diseases, incentivizing or forcing euthanasia on a larger scale than today, etc. We could discuss our responses to those people.

    2. If it’s all ultimately hopeless, many will choose the ancient philosophy of “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Many have already made this choice and are living (and dying) accordingly. How should we respond to them?

    3. Most people have gotten a glimpse of these issues and decided they are emotionally unable to deal with them. Instead of dealing with the issues, they studiously ignore them and focus on the practical details of every day life and survival. We often discuss our attempts “to reach” these people here at PeakProsperity, in fact that’s part of the mission of the founders and many participants.

    4. Another subject we regularly discuss here at PeakProsperity are the actions we who are “in the know” can take today which are healthier, more sustainable and more likely to enable us to successfully survive the massive changes in the Three E’s that are barreling towards us. But even here we who are “in the know” rarely ever discuss The Fifth Elephant (not to be confused with The Fifth Element 😉).

    5. How should we prepare for the possibility that some or all of us will unfortunately get sucked into the maelstrom of a vigorous, massive die off happening at a speed we could barely imagine or cope with? For instance, we don’t often mention the fact that if we literally need the nutrition we get from our gardens and farms to survive we are going to have to guard them from petty thieves and armed gangs of raiders. We discuss gardening and intentional communities without talking much at all about protecting them from criminal or even governmental theft and violence. We talk about the collapse of our monetary system without discussing how we would survive the deprivation and violence that could very well accompany them. Some of us are going for more firearms training again this week at Front Sight, so it does get discussed a little and some are preparing in a variety of ways. Maybe many have decided to accept their death, if it gets that bad, without fighting back. Maybe that subject is beyond the scope of this electronic community and can be found on other sites anyway. Maybe some who CAN deal with the darker implications of The Three E’s CAN’T deal with possibility of personal violence.

    “Happy Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor.”

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 8:34am

    Reply to #2
    brushhog

    brushhog

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    Absolutely

    I have also put low population density at the top of my list and ten years ago I moves from a crowded suburb to a rural farm here in the Adirondack mountains. It is the best thing I ever did. When I moved the quality of my very existence increased tenfold.

    In the interview, Charles Hugh Smith touched on this and pointed out that many people are making the choice to move away from high density cities and settle into smaller communites. On an individual level, this is usually a positive step. Looking at the subject from a broad view, however, there is a glaring problem with this….obviously, if everyone moves from a high density area to a low density area, the low density areas will no longer be low density.

    If the problem is people, then people cannot outrun themselves. How many of us, like pokjbv, grew up in small quiet communities which became over-run and ruined by large influxes of city people trying to escape themselves? Most of us agree that living in a place with a more balance ratio of human population is generally “better”…..but the second we all go there it isnt good anymore.

    On the individual level there are many things we can still do to improve our lot in life….but on a macro-level I don’t see the human animal as capable of changing his nature, and I don’t see any viable solutions to the real problem which is that there are just too many of us.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:32am

    #3
    Rodster

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    The Biggest Most Largest Elephant In The Room

    …….Is what Chris has written about many times in the past, putting it in a very easy to understand manner. Climate Change, sorry Greta and AOC is really on the back burner.

    We need to concentrate and do something about all the plastics we are dumping into the oceans. There’s over fishing to the point commercial fisherman are scooping up what little is left to sell all the while taking with it fish they can’t sell then dumping it.

    We need to stop using pesticides that are killing in mass the insect population.

    We are now being warned that we are depleting Phosphorus at an alarming and exponential rate which according to experts say we have less than an 80 years supply. How are we going to grow food to feed 8 billion humans without this stuff?

    We are also being warned that top soil erosion is a big concern if we want to avoid mass starvation if we continue on our current industrial farming practices.

    Then there’s all the nuclear waste that’s generated and Fukushima still won’t go away. TEPCO is running out of room at their waste site and are considering dumping all that radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean.

    There’s probably a few that I missed but I think it’s safe to say Climate Change may not be our biggest problem heading into the 21st century.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:34am

    Reply to #1

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 315

    3+

    Good point brushdog about the pickle we’re in — it’s not possible to sustain 8 billion without fossil fuels and artificial fertilisers; regardless of how unsustainable those practises are.

    But population is predicted to level out around 10 billion or so, maybe a bit more. Most countries have gone through this cycle where as they “develop”, people have less children. Here in Canada, the natural birth rate is not sustaining. But that hasn’t stopped our central economists from counting on population growth to drive the economy. They have explicitly set a target of 90 million of us over the coming decades, up from 35 or whatever we are now; all from immigration. Where these people are going to go, I’m not quite sure. I guess more condo towers in Vancouver. They try to spin a positive light on “micro-living”, like we’re all better off living in apartments than houses, and that this is “the new normal”. They have actually modelled the growth of Vancouver after Hong King. It’s sickening how fast the skyline changes here and the level of resiliency of the city decreases with each new tower. Those people living in sardine cans are completely dependent on this artificial economic system that’s being created. And anyone who criticises immigration is branded a racist. Unfortunately it’s the main driver of our economy, since these newcomers bring money with them to buy condos and this provides jobs for the people who already live here, to build new condos; otherwise they’d be unemployed and screaming to the government for jobs. So what seems stable socially — lots of jobs from new growth from immigration — isn’t in the long run. It really is an ugly intractable situation that cannot possibly end well.

    Personally I think there will be two phases to the die-off. The first will be when the financial system gets reset. The worst country in this regard will be the US as they won’t be able to continue with their consumer driven economy and import so much oil. The shale oil will dry up as the ponzi finances available to extract it implode. As unemployment skyrockets, social order will be lost and those most vulnerable will die first — elderly, disabled, medicine-dependent.  Big cities will be hit the worst. Outlying areas will fare better. Those in the sticks can only hope that the hoards from the cities won’t make it to the outskirts without fuel to drive their SUV’s. This crash is likely to happen suddenly, probably within 10 years. It’s the big crash we have all been anticipating right around the corner that never seems to materialise.

    But after this initial financial collapse, which will basically just be a re-organisation of society, there will still be resources available – coal, gas, and still decent amounts of oil production from stripper wells, oil sands etc., so we will still be able to maintain a decent population in terms of food production. After this there will be further gradual decline in society as these remaining resources get used up, with population reduction likely to happen in periodic intervals through wars etc. I see this next phase taking many decades up to a couple centuries, up to the point where the global human population reaches its sustainable level without fossil fuels, probably a few hundred million.

    On a brighter note, I saw this video the other day and thought it was pretty cool, on how to live off the land in remote areas without modern technology. These people aren’t doing so because they choose to but because they are in remote Tajikistan and need to. The traditional technology starts at around 15:00

    I’m building up a 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser for the very reason that it has minimal electronics. I’m going to try to rip out as much electronics from the critical components (engine) as I can and replace it with mechanical systems. This will be more resilient in an EMP, and just be easier to fix if things break. And it’s diesel too which lasts longer than gasoline and will be easier to come by if SHTF since commercial transport will mostly stop in such a situation so demand for diesel will be less after SHTF, easier to scavenge from idle industrial equipment, and the masses in their gasoline powered SUV’s trying to escape the cities can’t use diesel.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 10:01am

    #4

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 315

    And you talk about the Green Deal and all that stuff. It’s like–well, so you know what the Green Deal is, is we’re going to take all 400 or 500 million petroleum-powered vehicles on earth–maybe it’s more than that, it might be 600 million–and we’re going to throw them all in that landfill–never mind recycling, they’re not that easy to recycle, folks, and that’s why China gave up. [Chuckling] “Don’t send us any more junk to recycle. It’s expensive and it doesn’t pay financially.”

    So, we’re going to throw out 600 million vehicles and we’re going to build 600 million new ones that are all-electric, and that’s going to solve everything. And then what happens when those things die in five to ten years–because you’ve got to replace the batteries? “Oh, then we’re going to throw those 600 million away and build 600 (million) more.”

    I was one of the first to buy a Nissan Leaf in 2011. I’m hearing reports that Nissan is gouging the original customers on battery replacements because they don’t make money on them. They’d rather they just buy new Leaves and throw the old ones away. Well they won’t be getting my repeat business! Aftermarket alternatives are not materialising. Luckily I live in a cool climate and take care of my battery so it’s still holding up.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 10:25am

    #5

    charleshughsmith

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Aug 15 2010

    Posts: 699

    3+

    population cliffs and declines

    Agreed that the human population is a key component, and there’s a couple of dynamics in play on this. One is that very poor people consume a fraction of the resources rich people consume, so if a billion very poor people die it is literally a signal noise reduction in global GDP and consumption–a couple percent. US median income of $53,000 or whatever represents not income but consumption. A household earning $500 a year uses 1/100th of the resources of the “average” developed world household.

    Another dynamic is the birthrate is collapsing in previous high-growth countries such as China.  This correlates to higher education and job opportunities for women.  The big population growth rates are limited to places with low education and job opportunities for women, for example parts of Africa and the Mideast.

    In other words,  the “natural” way to reduce the human population is to increase the economic footprint of women, i.e. income and consumption. Once that’s done, birth rates fall to or below replacement. If we no longer have the resources to do this, that’s the problem.

    Another issue few seem to discuss is the extreme vulnerability of modern Big Ag that generates the cheap grains that support the 8 billion people and most of the animals they raise to eat. We’ve become so accustomed to ever-larger grain harvests that we’ve lost sight of the systemic vulnerabilities–to blights, viruses and pests that GMO and chemicals can no longer control, to extremes of weather, disruptions of global trade and so on.  It takes months of care and capital investment to get a crop close to harvest, and only an hour of hail, heavy rain or wind to ruin the entire crop.  Fresh water is entering decline in many places, and while drip irrigation etc. can reduce the amount of water needed, it requires enormous capital investments. Where is that money going to come from? How much will be left to the farmers after interest is paid?  Farmers around the world are already going broke en masse.

    History shows that not getting enough calories weakens immune systems, and that’s when plagues and epidemics sweep through the populace.

    Lastly, we should note that metabolic disorder from over-refined food and lack of fitness will shorten the lives of hundreds of millions of humans in this generation.  There are an estimated 300 million diabetics and pre-diabetics in China alone.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 10:30am

    #6
    treebeard

    treebeard

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    Posts: 553

    4+

    AI?

    AI – There is no such thing.  Computers do binary math. Period, end of story. Very useful and extremely powerful for some kinds of things.  But a computer will never “think”.  This the materialist confusion of the qualitative vs. quantitative, a bridge that will never be crossed.

    To quote one of my favorite philosophers, J Krishnamurti, “if you are thinking, you are already confused”.  All the posited solutions to the elephants on the room that come form the mainstream culture, that were properly critiqued, are an exercise in unintended consequences.  Everybody loves to drop the buzzword, “wholistic thinking”, but rarely if ever is anyone capable of actually doing so.  The true revolution is not a technological one, which causes an exponential increase in the type and number of problems that beset us, but one of consciousness.  We need to start using both hemispheres of our brains.  Oh, the absurdity of trying to measure “wealth”, as if it really has any meaning at all!

    Great discussion.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 10:40am

    #7

    charleshughsmith

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 699

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    low population density

    Low population density is an interesting topic.  As a thought experiment, which environment is more sustainable and represents more available capital– one with low population density that’s a food desert, populated with people who live off food grown elsewhere, who contribute very little social capital to their community, or a locale densely populated with highly productive people on highly productive land, a place rich in social capital and connections?  Clearly, we’d rather live in the higher population density community; the low density locale is a desert–a food desert, a capital desert, a social capital desert.  So maybe what we’re actually discussing is a balance of population and the land and capital. I just finished a 1,200 page history of rural life in France from the Middle Ages to the present era, and it has helped me understand why some village / town / rural economies were healthy and thriving and why others struggled. I think these same issues exist today, and not all of them are material (energy, water, etc.) although obviously those are the foundation of sustainability / “wealth.”

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 10:54am

    #8
    RocketDoc

    RocketDoc

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    Population Reflections

    I was kind of hoping to have grandchildren BUT I guess we parents can all hope to have an allotted two….   I had 5 young Chinese visitors for dinner 2 years ago that were ALL only children of only children.  No siblings, aunts or uncles.  Four grandparent assets funneled to 1 kid.  They did not seem spoiled but I have heard it’s a problem since families prefer boys…. Perhaps some remember Dan Brown’s Inferno?  A 2013 bestseller about a vector virus that randomly sterilizes 1/3 of the population so that the unaffected adults can only replace the population, not increase it.  Interestingly, the book allowed the virus to escape and considered it a “good” thing.  The 2016 movie preferred to successfully block the release of the virus and “save the world”.

    As a coming up on retirement dentist, it is very hard to consider buying 40 acres and mule or joining a commune versus planning a top 5 world golf resorts vacation in Ireland, Britain, Spain, Hawaii, and California.  I would sacrifice my happy retirement for “The future” if our pathetic leaders didn’t benefit.  But how to get from A to B is the crux of the matter and it is not happening easily….

     

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 10:56am

    #9

    charleshughsmith

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    Posts: 699

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    the book: The Identity of France

    The book is a two-volume set titled “The Identity of France” by Fernand Braudel. The English translation was published in 1990.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 12:01pm

    #10

    David Huang

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 20 2010

    Posts: 70

    5+

    Foraging for wild food

    Great podcast and good discussion here in the comments!

    I wanted to add in a thought I’m seeing related to several issues people have brought up.  Most specifically when thc0655 brought up the issue of needing to protect one’s garden when those calories/nutrients become necessary for life my immediate thought was that one of my strategies is to have a garden, and harvest from it if I can, but that this garden might function more as a sacrificial decoy.  What most people seem to lack these days is a deep enough knowledge about the edible plants growing naturally all around us, without the need for chemical agriculture or phosphate fertilizers I might add.

    To  put this in terms of capital, I feel like it has been highly useful for me to have devoted all the years I have into building my knowledge capital of wild edible foods.  This knowledge is something that can’t be stolen from me, and it in turn allows me to recognize a vast scope of extremely useful living capital that is all but invisible to the majority of the human population.

    While this knowledge base tends to be more region specific just this past week I’ve had a powerful demonstration of how much it can translate to other regions.  I live in the midwest, Michigan specifically, an ecosystem that sees 4 full seasons and has more free flowing fresh surface water than almost any place on earth.  I’ve been slowly learning the plants of this region.  Right now I’m visiting Arizona, a desert region that is starkly different.  In many ways I feel completely lost here not even knowing the names of most plants.  I few days ago I was out hiking and being a tourist in the Sedona/Flagstaff areas with those who do live around here.  Looking more carefully at what was growing when in zones around rivers to my shock I realized I knew much of it!  My first wonderful discovery was hackberries.  I’ve been trying to find these, which do grow in my region, for years.  I’ve even planted some hackberry tree seedlings which never made it.  Hackberry has been a staple calorie crop for past cultures/civilizations.  I finally got to eat some!

    Later on while hiking around I was identifying and sharing knowledge about rose hips, wild grapes, non-edible Virginia creeper growing right next to the grapes that had similar looking fruit, black berries, currents, goldenrod, asparagus, cattails, and several other things.  I, the non-local coming from a completely different bio-region, was the one acting as the guide to identify plants/trees and what was edible, what would be edible in different times of the year, and so on.  A fair amount of my knowledge translated to this new place.

    I think many people feel like this sort of knowledge is something that can be picked up quickly with a good field guide.  In my experience only superficial things get picked up quickly.  It actually takes a long time to really learn the plants, not just how to identify them, which are edible, and what might look similar but be non-edible or outright toxic, what parts are edible at what times of the seasons, but to be able to alter your personal food culture so you know how to prepare and cook with them in satisfying ways.  The best time to start learning is now when we can still run to the grocery store, farmers market, or personal gardens to also get food.

    If anyone is interested in pursuing wild foraging more the absolute best books I’ve ever found hands down are those written by Samuel Thayer.  He set a whole new bar for quality in books on wild edibles.  At some point I intend to write a post specifically about his books for my own blog, but the short and sweet of it is that he thoroughly covers identification, harvesting, and any processing that might be needed, plus he also adds little personal stories which I see as a small start in rebuilding a culture around wild food.  These are the sorts of stories we should have been learning from our parents and grandparents as they passed on knowledge of the living land that surrounds us, except this all got lost when we began sourcing out food from grocery stores and restaurants.  A future podcast with Samual Thayer might be highly interesting and inspirational to the Peak Prosperity community.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 12:54pm

    Reply to #5
    brushhog

    brushhog

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    True but...

    “In other words,  the “natural” way to reduce the human population is to increase the economic footprint of women, i.e. income and consumption. Once that’s done, birth rates fall to or below replacement. If we no longer have the resources to do this, that’s the problem.”

    Charles, the problem there is that first world countries with lower birth-rates end up importing massive waves of people from third world countries. Rather than all of the 3rd worlders being raised up to first world standards, we see a kind of “leveling” where first world people’s living standards are reduced while 3rd worlders’ standard is improved. Its becomes a sort of “averaging”. In Sweden many women have been attacked and sexual  assault crimes have sky-rocketed. Not to mention the new wave of medieval diseases now on the rise in 1st world nations! Here in the US we have pretty much lost our entire 4th amendment protections, and we are in the process of losing the 1st and 2nd amendment rights. All under the guise of “keeping us safe”, mostly from the people that they are importing or from the victims of the policies that they have inflicted on us.

    In part, as a result of the push to empower women, men have fallen behind in almost every  metric. Suicides, opiate abuse, depression, alcoholism…it really is a silent crisis. So, sure, Somalian refugee women are getting college educated…I’m not sure the trade off has been advantageous to our society [ or Sweden’s ]

    I dont think we can impart western values to everyone. So the idea that all we have to do is educate women in poor countries is a little too simplistic imo. The variables are, as usual, seemingly infinite, and our attempts to manipulate outcomes rarely end the way we plan.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 1:06pm

    Reply to #3

    GerrySM

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    Posts: 54

    There’s probably a few that I missed but I think it’s safe to say Climate Change may not be our biggest problem heading into the 21st century

    100% incorrect. If you want the bleakest view, try this:

    Climate-Change Summary and Update

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 1:09pm

    Reply to #1

    GerrySM

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    Religion? Nope!

    I have been saying in reaction to the man made global warming religion

    “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.” (Neil deGrasse Tyson)

    “Climate change is not a belief system — it is a fact. This is science,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 1:48pm

    #11

    Montana Native

    Status Member (Online)

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    Posts: 56

    5+

    Starting a business to get out of the rat race

    There was a bit of conversation in the podcast concerning wanting to work surrounded by nature and beauty. My wife and I have both worked in the medical field for years and have seen pharmacy and medical imaging become increasingly demanding jobs with stagnant pay. Much of this has to do with the glut of graduates the professions have allowed. That is paired with advancement in technology and cutting staff wherever an ounce of blood can be squeezed.

    That said, the last few years I’ve mainly just run a small farm stand because all the orthopedic offices in town I worked for were bought up by the hospital. It was easier to just stay home and work a little while my kid was young vs taking a job with the hospital where I would have to stay in town for call occasionally and work shifts at all times of the day. To get to the point, I live in North Idaho and there is currently a massive influx of people heading this way. The numbers show at least 60% are from California and they like building places out in the woods with a stove. I’ve been trying to think of a novel business idea and am strongly leaning towards starting a chimney sweep business. It would free up plenty of time in the spring to shape up my property and get everything ready for harvest. Additionally it would leave me free time to ski in the deep winter.

    Wondering if anyone here has any input on taking a spin at this business? I’m in my mid forties and still very mobile. Sound like a decent career change to you guys? The few places that sweep here are back logged well over a month right now. So I know the demand is there. Besides, a robot can`t sweep a chimney….yet.

    Thanks, TJ

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 3:44pm

    Reply to #1

    Chris Martenson

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jun 07 2007

    Posts: 4771

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    Don't be too quick to cite US government

    “Climate change is not a belief system — it is a fact. This is science,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

    “The air is safe”  – EPA administrator/head Christine Todd Whitman in the days after 9/11

    If you want to cite the EPA you have to understand that the organization is so political as to sacrifice 9/11 responders and local residents by lying about air quality in the days after 9/11.

    I’m not even sure why they did this…maybe simply because telling the truth is anathema?  Lying was the more natural response?

    Mrs. Whitman knew that the towers’ destruction had released huge amounts of hazardous emissions, Judge Batts found.

    But as early as Sept. 13, Mrs. Whitman and the agency put out press releases saying that the air near ground zero was relatively safe and that there were “no significant levels” of asbestos dust in the air. They gave a green light for residents to return to their homes near the trade center site.

    “By these actions,” Judge Batts wrote, Mrs. Whitman “increased, and may have in fact created, the danger” to people living and working near the trade center.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2006/02/03/nyregion/public-misled-on-air-quality-after-911-attack-judge-says.html

    The reason the judge allowed the suit to go forward is because, in fact, the EPA had tons of data that the air was very much *not* safe.

    Whitman tried to skate off on the technicality that her statements about asbestos were, technically, narrowly, true, but she neglected to mention the hundreds of other toxins the EPA had detected and knew were wildly unsafe.

    A whistleblower from the EPA lost her 30-year career by raising dust toxicity publicly.

    A government scientist sacked for exposing the dangers to firefighters from the caustic air at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 got her job back on Monday.

    A federal court ordered that Cate Jenkins, a chemist at the Environmental Protection Agency, be reinstated to her job with back pay.

    Her lawyer said the decision, although based on matters of legal process, amounted to vindication for Jenkins’s claims that the EPA had covered up the danger posed to first responders and others in lower Manhattan from the asbestos and highly corrosive dust that rose from the wreckage of the World Trade Center.

    It was also a rare victory for whistleblowers, said lawyer Paula Dinerstein. “This doesn’t happen that often.”

    Jenkins, who has spent more than 30 years at the EPA, was the first agency official to warn of the dangers of the caustic dust rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center.

    The dust, which had dangerously high pH levels, was so corrosive it caused chemical burns to the lungs of firefighters and other rescue teams. Hundreds of workers spent weeks at the scene without protective gear such as respirators.

    Subsequent research has shown as many as two-thirds suffered permanent lung damage.

    Medical experts now believe much of the health effects could have been prevented if workers were issued proper safety gear.

    At the time, however, Christine Todd Whitman, then head of the EPA, claimed there were no readings to indicate a health hazard. Whitman has since said the Bush administration did not want to cause panic.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/may/07/cate-jenkins-epa-ground-zero-dust

    So…the EPA, knowing full well that something as simple as respirators would have saved the lives of hundreds of 9/11 responders decided screw it, let’s lie.

    And for what?

    With years to think it over the best Todd-Whitman could come up with was “we didn’t want to scare the public” by stating the air was foul.

    Whut?

    How could the public be any more scared by the sight of responders in respirators than they already were by the horrific failures and crimes of 9/11?

    At any rate, when people quote government “scientists” I have to admit…if there’s any chance politics are involved I discount the statements heavily.

    After all, it was FDA “scientists” that gave us the food pyramid and toxified the US food system with their metabolic disaster zone of recommendations…mostly because of the agribusiness lobbying, not science.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 4:24pm

    Reply to #1

    thc0655

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    Maybe

    So…the EPA, knowing full well that something as simple as respirators would have saved the lives of hundreds of 9/11 responders decided screw it, let’s lie.

    And for what?

    With years to think it over the best Todd-Whitman could come up with was “we didn’t want to scare the public” by stating the air was foul.

    Whut?

    How could the public be any more scared by the sight of responders in respirators than they already were by the horrific failures and crimes of 9/11?

    Maybe “they” didn’t want to risk a work slowdown on the rubble which might slow down the effort to dump all the freakin evidence in the ocean as fast as possible. A full disclosure might also have revealed the puzzling presence of trace amounts of advanced explosive residues in the air too. 🤔

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 5:20pm

    Reply to #1

    GerrySM

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    Posts: 54

    Trusting scientists

    Chris, I agree that lying about asbestos dust was inexcusable. However, on the larger issue of climate science, the phenomenon of anthropogenic global heating is one of the most if not THE most well studied topic in modern history. There is no room for individual people to stand up and lie, and get away with it. That’s why there’s no credible papers disproving the theory, just like there are no credible papers disproving the theory of evolution. To date, there are tens of thousands of peer reviewed papers on global heating published.

    If any scientist could provide a credible alternative theory for the heating, a Nobel Prize awaits! 30 years later, and there are no takers.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 5:40pm

    #12

    GerrySM

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    Posts: 54

    1+

    Brace yourself!

    The Climate Change Paper So Depressing It’s Sending People to Therapy

    What if I told you there was a paper on climate change that was so uniquely catastrophic, so perspective-altering and so absolutely depressing that it’s sent people to support groups and encouraged them to quit their jobs and move to the countryside?

    Good news: there is. It’s called “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy”. I was introduced to it via an unlikely source – a guy formerly in advertising who had left his job to become a full-time environmental campaigner. “We’re fucked,” he told me. “Climate change is going to fuc|< us over. I remember thinking, ‘Should I just accept the deep adaptation paper and move to the Scottish countryside and wait out the apocalypse?'”

    “Deep Adaptation” is quite unlike any other academic paper. There’s the language (“we are about to play Russian Roulette with the entire human race with already two bullets loaded”). There’s the flashes of dark humour (“I was only partly joking earlier when I questioned why I was even writing this paper”). But most of all, there’s the stark conclusions that it draws about the future. Chiefly, that it’s too late to stop climate change from devastating our world – and that “climate-induced societal collapse is now inevitable in the near term”.

    How near? About a decade.

    Professor Jem Bendell, a sustainability academic at the University of Cumbria, wrote the paper after taking a sabbatical at the end of 2017 to review and understand the latest climate science “properly – not sitting on the fence anymore”, as he puts it down the phone to me.

    What he found terrified him. “The evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war,” he writes in the paper. “Our norms of behaviour – that we call our ‘civilisation’ – may also degrade.”

    “It is time,” he adds, “we consider the implications of it being too late to avert a global environmental catastrophe in the lifetimes of people alive today.”

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 5:54pm

    Reply to #12

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 171

    2+

    It Comes To Everyone When They No Longer Recognize The Rewards

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 6:01pm

    Reply to #12

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 171

    'Becoming Nobody' Theatrical Trailer

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 6:02pm

    Reply to #12

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3233

    10+

    Build The Wall?

    “The evidence before us suggests that we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war”

    Perhaps the potential for increased migration is why Big Orange President wants to secure our borders?  Perhaps he, unlike “science”, is willing to consider the implications and is even as we speak taking action (non-warlike, and completely within our control) to help secure our future?  After all, we can’t solve the problem of controlling China’s carbon emissions – which are double ours – but we can build a wall.

    How do you have a generous US government “safety net” combined with an effective “open borders” migration policy where all the potential billions of migrants in the world are informed that US border crossings have been “decriminalized”?  Answer is: you can’t.

    The Lifeboat Doesn’t Have Infinite Space.

    The US Government Doesn’t Have Infinite Resources.

    Build The Wall!  Climate Science Says We Must!

    Anyone who disagrees – is a Science Denier!

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 6:36pm

    Reply to #12

    GerrySM

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    Building a wall

    Dave, you are missing the bigger picture. Migrants will come from everywhere, planes, boats, you name it. And many Americans will desperately try to migrate to Canada … must the Canadians build a wall too? You just don’t see how big this is, and how serious.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 7:12pm

    Reply to #1
    ao

    ao

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    Posts: 964

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    Gerry, you're quoting Gina McCarthy!?

    You should sit down with my best friend recently retired from the EPA (in part, due to Gina McCarthy) and listen to his stories.  Quoting Gina McCarthy on these issues is like quoting Jeffrey Epstein for how to pick an adult male babysitter for your 14 year old daughter.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 7:23pm

    Reply to #1
    ao

    ao

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 964

    the THEORY of evolution

    Gerry,

    There are many, many extremely knowledgeable, very bright people questioning many aspects of the THEORY of evolution (which, as noted, is not a LAW but a THEORY).  In fact, it’s a theory that has had to be modified many times in an attempt to account for all the facts and probably will be modified more in the future for its present failure to account for all the facts.  Scientists aside, one of the individuals who I thought explored the issue of creation, evolution, etc. the most thoroughly was a person by the name of Perry Marshall.  IIRC, he did not have a background in science but he certainly demonstrated high levels of critical thinking and reasoning ability.  I read his reviews of various books on evolution and creationism and his insights and revelations were brilliant.  It’s one of the areas I plan to follow up more during my retirement, now that I have more free time.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 7:30pm

    Reply to #12
    ao

    ao

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    Joined: Feb 04 2009

    Posts: 964

    2+

    going to therapy is not a criteria for validating a belief

    It is incredible to me how UNRESILIENT so many people are nowadays.  A disagreement sends them running to their safe space.  A harsh word makes them want to enact laws against those mean people.  An improper pronoun puts them into a melt down.  To me, it’s like the insanity in the Roman Empire from the lead in the water pipes.  It’s spreading, like a viral disease.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 7:34pm

    Reply to #12

    davefairtex

    Status Diamond Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 03 2008

    Posts: 3233

    3+

    Gerry Denies Science?

    GerrySM.

    Dave, you are missing the bigger picture. Migrants will come from everywhere, planes, boats, you name it. And many Americans will desperately try to migrate to Canada … must the Canadians build a wall too? You just don’t see how big this is, and how serious.

    So you have just told us that “science” says that war, disease, famine, and migration are going to happen.  It is baked into the cake already.

    A rational response to “science” is: first secure the border (and experts – “science” – agrees, a physical barrier is required), then a Navy to intercept boats, and lastly, mutual agreements with other nations to control air travel.

    So last first: if you have traveled internationally, you already know we have a system in place to control migration by air.   (If you haven’t traveled internationally, it might explain a lot.)  You need a visa to board a flight to the US.  No visa = no boarding = no migration by air.  Air: check.

    Then, a Navy.  Fortunately, we have one.  The largest in the world.  Boats won’t be a problem.  (See what Australia did with a migrant boat invasion.  We can do that too.)  Boats: check.

    We don’t have a physical barrier.  We need one.   Big Orange President is constructing one.  That’s because he too is listening to “science.”

    So if you deny the need for a wall, in the face of “science” telling us to expect war, disease, famine, and migration, it means you are denying science.

    You aren’t denying science, are you?

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 8:28pm

    Reply to #12

    newsbuoy

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Dec 10 2013

    Posts: 171

    1+

    Denialism On Parade

    Gerry, Don’t waste your thoughts on the “alt-right” knuckle-heads and their “trigger” tricks. These poor souls are lost in their heads, behind a wall. Intellectually embarrassed.  For me they’re quite entertaining so here I am. My wall killing sledge hammer at the ready.

    If Dave or ao have a cool new way to keep radiation from 400 nukes going critical outside their wall. Let’s hear it. Oh! and “thanks for all the fish”

    They are scared to be scared because they believe in their egos ie that they are real because they can think thoughts.

    I know how they feel. I was scared at first, depressed, unable to make sense of my day. But then I realized…

    How precious this moment is, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one, clocks tick’n folks, and this one, and this one, and this one, and this one

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:15pm

    #13

    GerrySM

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    Posts: 54

    Newsbuoy wins the internet today....

    He gets it. Dave is still lost in Partisanville, AO is retreating into creationism. At least some people here are switched on, all is not lost

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:20pm

    Reply to #12

    davefairtex

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    more science denial!

    newsbuoy-

    I’m glad to see the real you has emerged from behind the veil of youtube video postings.  All it took was Gerry.  Thanks Gerry for the assist!

    I am confused by your post, however.  What do you mean by the following?

    If Dave or ao have a cool new way to keep radiation from 400 nukes going critical outside their wall. Let’s hear it. Oh! and “thanks for all the fish”

    WTF?  I’ve studied extensively on the subject of nuclear war and deterrence, and this is a scenario I’ve never heard before.  “Ok, here’s the attack plan.  First we nuke the wall in 400 places…then the flood of migrants can pour across the border over holes we created!  What could possibly go wrong!”

    They are scared to be scared because they believe in their egos ie that they are real because they can think thoughts.

    Normally, science-affirming people don’t try to claim to understand other people’s inner thought processes that they’ve never met (c.f. “Goldwater Rule”).  Surely you aren’t doing that?  That would make you a science denier too.

    Man.  All this science denial really makes me upset.  Where are the moderators?  Will you please take action and suppress the speech of these science deniers?

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:40pm

    Reply to #13

    davefairtex

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    refusing to admit implications of science = science denial

    Gerry:

    Should we just wait and do nothing in the face of the expected wave of migration and let our nation get overrun by half the population of Africa and South America?

    I mean, let’s say I accept everything you say, along with the implications.

    A wall is simply required.  To refuse to protect our borders when science tells us that a massive wave of migration is imminent – its just sheer idiocy.

    And yes, science also tells us that walls do work.

    The true test of a science-affirming person is this: will they acknowledge something needs to happen even if it doesn’t comport with their view on “what they’d like to happen?”

    So for me, “does Gerry support the wall” is my test of you.  If you don’t support the wall, in the face of all the “science” (that you provide and profess to believe in!) that supports the need for said wall, you are a science denier, and a hypocrite, and I don’t need to pay attention to anything you say.

    So what do you say about the wall, Gerry?

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:45pm

    #14

    Adam Taggart

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    The Moderator is here

    Where are the moderators?

    Welp, I’m not sure exactly why this thread is threatening to go off the rails, but I’m stepping in to say “keep it clean, folks”.

    Be respectful. And back up your claims with logical argument, or even better, empirical data.

    Slinging unsupported opinions or maligning others is not acceptable and will result in moderation.

    For anyone who’d like a refresher on this website’s community discussion rules, they’re right here.

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:49pm

    #15

    GerrySM

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    Dave, update here

    Dave, please read this page:

    Climate-Change Summary and Update

    Not that I agree with Prof McPherson completely, but he has a lot of it right.

    I’m not sure exactly what the reference to nuke plants is, but one thing we do know: if society suffers a major collapse, here or around the world, then maintenance of nuke plants becomes uncertain. Even when shut down, they require constant maintenance and vigilance to keep them cooled. If not, and if the diesel for the pumps dries up, we go into meltdowns and radioactive releases.

    So a radical, forced simplification of our complex and fragile world will put many nuke power plants at risk. Just sayin’ ….

    What would happen to nuclear reactors if the power grid failed forever. from AskEngineers

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  • Mon, Oct 14, 2019 - 9:53pm

    Reply to #15

    davefairtex

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    nuke plants: that makes sense

    I agree entirely about the nuke plants.  In any simplified world, they’re a disaster waiting to happen.  Nicely done.  We have a point of agreement.  This could happen via EMP, a peaking oil scenario, or pretty much any sort of descent scenario.  I don’t see “400” of them all going critical at the same time because of climate change (which is why the prior comment made no sense to me), but one or two would be more than enough to cause big trouble.

    I accept this scenario as something important that we need to deal with.

    Now how about that wall?

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 12:17am

    #16
    skipr

    skipr

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    I know that economists are talking when everything is described in terms of “capital.”  Natural capital, intangible capital, etc.  Since I’m not married, am I wife capital poor?  In the early 80s there was a local politician who was running for office.  In his ads he said that the word “profit” is the most beautiful word in the dictionary.  I wonder what his wife thought and if the word “capital” is now his favorite.  In the same ad he said that Social Security was bankrupt and that we need to have more babies.  Apparently, he thought that “baby capital” is worth more than “all life on earth capital.”

    This conversation reminded of the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  It has been a while since I read it.  Mixed in with all of the motorcycle stuff, the main character describes how he nearly went insane trying to quantify quality.  Sound familiar?

    I’m also reminded of an updated run of the Limits to Growth’s World3 model.  I take it seriously since it’s “business as usual” model accurately predicted in the 70s what actually happened in the last 40 years.  They took into account all of the emergency ecological fixes that are just getting started.  Their prediction is that it will only delay the inevitable, and when the crash does happen it will be much more severe.  It seems to parallel all of the relatively soft-core economic predictions and our responses to both also look similar.  That model also showed that a sustainable system could only be achieved if we started a Manhattan Project level effort back in the early 80s.

    I roll my eyes at AI.  It’s only as intelligent as the human created algorithms and “learns” in a way that some mathematician thinks it should be done.  Before I retired, I used state-of-the-art optimization algorithms to design systems with extremely complex solution spaces.  They never came close to what an expert I used to work with could do with his intuition.  He did have over 50 years of experience, some of it was before these algorithms existed.

    Nuclear reactor meltdowns are not that far fetched if the trucks, for whatever reason, stop rolling:

    https://modernsurvivalblog.com/systemic-risk/when-the-trucks-stop-its-over/

     

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 3:42am

    #17

    gyrogearloose

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    The Climate Change Paper So Depressing It’s Sending People to Therapy

    Read it. Very light on facts, very heavy on speculative what ifs.

    Written by a true believer in the CAGW religion.

    It may be getting believers to panic, others not so much.

    Skeptics see too many contradictions and failed predictions, the believers seem to be blind (or willfully blind)  to,

    With some believers they cannot even see simple blatantly obvious logical fallacy in their reasoning when pointed out to them (I’m looking at you Mark Cochran…..)

    And his one was a real doozey, in effect making an argument based on the assumption that the output of climate models were random numbers !!!!

    And he never saw his error….

    Regards Hamish

     

     

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 4:03am

    #18

    GerrySM

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    "CAGW religion"

    Written by a true believer in the CAGW religion.

    Well, using that phrase, garnered from the garbage dump that is the denialosphere (e.g. sites like WattsUpWithThat.com, run by a college dropout), pretty much destroys any credibility you may have had. Cheerio.

    Now how about that wall?

    Dave, I agree that there is going to be a migrant crisis in the initial stages of the collapse. I don’t think a wall will help … an 8-year old child can climb it in seconds.

    8-year-old girl scales replica of Trump’s ‘un-climbable’ border wall in seconds

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 6:49am

    Reply to #18

    davefairtex

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    wall

    Gerry-

    Glad we agree on the coming migrant crisis.

    Science says: walls work.

    https://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/Israels-border-walls-A-case-study-For-Trumps-mantra-574517

    After breaking ground in 2010, Israel completed the 242-km. (150-mile) fence in December 2013 at a cost of around $450 million. Whereas about 9,500 Africans crossed into Israel illegally in the first six months of 2012, less than three dozen did so in the first six months of 2013, at which time the major components of the barrier had been completed.

    Illegal immigration through Sinai dropped to 11 cases in 2016 and 0 in 2017.

    The fence also has dramatically reduced the smuggling of contraband into Israel and there have been no security breaches from Sinai since then (although the local ISIS-affiliated group has fired rockets at the Israeli Red-Sea resort city of Eilat on a few occasions).

    So now that you are armed with a real world case study – i.e. “science” about “how an actual wall works as a key component to a total border security system”, versus an 8 year old girl propaganda video – and we agree on the migrant crisis to come, what about that wall?

    We don’t want to be a science denier, do we?

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 7:59am

    #19

    Mark_BC

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    Maybe I’m missing something in this debate but after the financial crash, won’t people be trying to LEAVE the US? Mexico will be one of the more desirable countries to be in.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 8:27am

    #20

    blackeagle

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    What about the wall? My 2 cents...

    The video of this 8-year old girl shows that a wall is ineffective. I did climb walls when i was young, and I confirm, they are all climbable with the right gear.

    The science (empirical observation) shows that WALLS + ARMIES are effective as long as the armies are present.

    Without armies, any wall can be climbed by a 8-year old girl.

    On top of that wall never solved issues at their core. The Berlin wall never solved the differences between the east and the west. The Israeli wall will never solve the differences between Israelis and Palestinians. The Peace Wall in Ireland does not bring peace in this country. The Wall of Shame in Lima will never solve the differences between the rich and the poor. And on and on

     

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 8:31am

    Reply to #19

    Chris Martenson

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    No, Mexico won't be a positive destination

    Mexico will be one of the more desirable countries to be in.

    I don’t think so.

    This chart of Mexico’s oil production explains why:

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 8:44am

    Reply to #20

    Chris Martenson

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    On walls...

    The video of this 8-year old girl shows that a wall is ineffective. I did climb walls when i was young, and I confirm, they are all climbable with the right gear.

    The video shows the girl free-climbing the wall.  That’s climber speak for using just hands and feet.

    Also in climber speak, is the concept of aid climbing.  Using devices to hold & hoist one’s weight up a rock wall.

    Here’s the aid version that renders an undefended border wall useless:

    Which brings us to this:

    The science (empirical observation) shows that WALLS + ARMIES are effective as long as the armies are present.

    I’ll agree, except to diverge by pointing out that armies are what you used to need to defend a wall.

    Now we have AI, and killer drones, and it would be relatively simple to put machine guns with sensors along a wall.  Or use landmines, or whatever other deterrents one might wish to deploy.

    It all depends on how serious one is.

    In my view, the immigration debate is horribly unsophisticated on all (both?) sides.

    The immigration debate ought to begin with a determination of the carrying capacity of the land.   Once determined, the next step is to select a population buffer below that level to account for the inevitable string of bad years, and then decide how to manage to that level.

    Can the US support another 100M people?  Great.  Let’s discuss who we’d want to fill those spots and why.  Is the US already beyond carrying capacity?  Then it shouldn’t accept any more people and devise a way to get back below the carrying capacity buffer level as humanely as possible.

    Without knowing how much sugar is left in the vat, we’re really not demonstrating much in the way of sophisticated reasoning in the population/immigration debate.

    And you know what?  It would probably cost about a quarter of a single day’s worth of the Fed’s not-QE pumping ($500M) to conduct that study.  Yet it doesn’t happen.

    Any guesses as to why the nation prioritizes higher stock prices but knowing the most important and basic information any society should really know about itself?

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 8:44am

    Reply to #18
    ao

    ao

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    lots of holes here Gerry

    So Gerry, you discredit WattsUpWithThat.com because it has views contrary to your and it’s run by a college drop-out?  That’s an incredibly weak argument since Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, James Cameron, and a panoply of other highly intelligent, highly successful people are all college dropouts.

    With regards to the 8 year old girl climbing the wall, I wonder if you actually watched the video.  First, she was assisted by a taut belaying rope the entire time which prevented her from falling.  Second, when she approached the top where there were no handholds, she went around the side.  The handholds on the side would not exist on a complete wall.  Third, one particularly adept individual does not mean the majority of others will have her skill.  By using your logic, if we have Harry Houdini in a jail cell or in handcuffs and he manages to free himself, does that mean jail cells and handcuffs don’t work?  No, obviously not.

    Walls do work.  That’s why China built one.  The Israeli walls pointed out by DaveF work.  The Berlin Wall worked.  Walls built around virtually every prison on the planet work.  A few exceptions of people getting over or under a wall do not obviate their obvious utility.  Even Obama built a wall around his property in Washington, D.C.

    I’m afraid your arguments just don’t hold water.

    But perhaps we should expand the concept to barriers rather than just walls.  Barriers involve both active and passive measures.  And although no barrier is 100% effective, they don’t have to be.  They just have to work most of the time.  And given the right measures being applied, they will.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 8:57am

    Reply to #20

    davefairtex

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    carrying capacity

    Chris-

    I’m in total agreement that immigration policy should be entirely about carrying capacity.  Total 100% agreement.

    How many people do we want here?  If we want to let in new people, what sort of people do we want?  Just anyone?  Smart people?  Stupid people?  People with skills (language, and education) that will help us as soon as they arrive?  Do we just pick people at random?  [Do we do that when hiring workers?  Just hire workers at random?]

    Regardless of what our immigration policy actually is, having people able to physically circumvent whatever said policy happens to be, is probably not the right thing.

    Israel’s case says that – in the main – walls work.  Nothing is 100%, but I’ll take 98%.  That’s good enough for me.  And if you have it defended by CBP, drones, vehicles, and sensors, the 8 year old girl will be hard pressed to flee from them using whatever she can bring with her during her climb and descent.

    That’s probably why Israel’s wall was so effective.  The wall was a critical physical component of a total border protection system.

    I’m guessing they have ladders over in Africa.  And ropes too.  And yet…that Israeli wall did pretty well.  That’s why I like case studies of systems actually deployed rather than what-if stories, pictures, and videos of little girls doing whatever.  The case study represents what performance we might be able to expect if we deploy a similar system here.

    Last point.  If we do have a flood of migrants coming – “fleeing poverty”, driven by either of peak oil, or climate change – its practically a criminal act to leave the border undefended.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 9:16am

    #21
    Penguin Will

    Penguin Will

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    Chris: “In my view, the immigration debate is horribly unsophisticated on all (both?) sides.

    The immigration debate ought to begin with a determination of the carrying capacity of the land.   Once determined, the next step is to select a population buffer below that level to account for the inevitable string of bad years, and then decide how to manage to that level.”

    END QUOTE

    If I remember correctly that was the gist of the debate that resulted in shattering the management team of the Sierra Club a decade or two back. Quite the civil war for a while there.

    I have held for some time now that immigration and free trade are two issues where the will of the majority has been stymied by an alliance between those who benefit from it on the right and left. It has amounted to an economic carpet bombing of one group by another. And, over time, as demographic change allows policy that would have never been possible previously, a political carpet bombing as well.

    Complete with vermin like Krugman, who provided intellectual cover for the obvious lunacy, emerging decades later amid the still bouncing rubble to admit he may, possibly, have been just a little outside the plate on that one…

    This is like the Brexit debate. There will be no prisoners taken. And don’t be surprised if rules are not implemented according to Hoyle. It is a collision of world views and the future.

    This weekend I tilled a truckload of horse manure, 6 trash cans filled with composted grass clippings, and about 400 pounds of composted chicken manure into my garden… no illegal labor was used in this endeavour. That’s about all the influence I have on this political booby trap. :p

    Will

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 9:33am

    Reply to #20

    Quercus bicolor

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    what migrants are fleeing

    Last point. If we do have a flood of migrants coming – “fleeing poverty”, driven by either of peak oil, or climate change – its practically a criminal act to leave the border undefended.

    Carrying capacity is probably the most important consideration in immigration policy.  It would perhaps be the only one if migrants were simply fleeing a situation in their country that had nothing to do with us.  However, consider the possibility that they are fleeing extreme poverty, environmental degradation and violence that exists in large part due to military and political intervention by the United States in their internal affairs.  This intervention has been going on since at least the 1950s and serves to protect American corporations in their role of funneling wealth from the periphery to the center of the empire, and, in particular to the elites.

    If this is indeed the case, it puts us in the position of being responsible to a large degree for their need to leave, and yet unable to accept them due to carrying capacity issues.  Of course, this is just the normal state of affairs in a world of overshoot – a plethora of predicaments with no good solutions.

    One thing that would help is for us to stop meddling down there and perhaps give some support to make life a little more viable in places like Guatemala and Honduras.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 9:57am

    Reply to #20

    Mark_BC

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    I agree, White Oak. Central America has been a basketcase ever since western fruit companies decided to turn it into their own private farm. And the Panama canal. And the “war on drugs”. Nation destroying at its finest.

    As to determining our carrying capacity, what baseline will we use? Today’s oil consumption? Predictions of 20 years from now? Zero oil consumption? In the latter case we are overpopulated right now.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 11:03am

    #22

    Pipyman

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    Immigration

    I agree with most of the wall, defend and limits comments. And, I’m glad the UK has that Chanel thing. But, doesn’t it make you sick? The “western world” screws people and planet, then, closes the door.

    F**k you losers!

    ☹️

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 11:10am

    Reply to #19

    Mark_BC

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    Right, but Mexico is the 12th largest oil exporter in the world. They live more simply and can get by with less oil. They are better at taking siestas in the palapa by the beach. The US would be hit harder being the world’s second largest oil importer. The US only produces 5x as much oil as Mexico yet they still need to import so much. US production will decline more sharply. If it wasn’t for the Fed paying for the shale oil industry with printed dollars, the US curve would look worse than Mexico’s. I suspect that the powers-that-be at some point realized that peak oil was real so they prop up both Tesla in a vain attempt to transition away from oil, and the shale oil sector to try to buy some time. But it won’t work.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 11:32am

    Reply to #12
    RocketDoc

    RocketDoc

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    The Wall

    I am not gung-ho about a Wall.  It requires a lot of infrastructure support; manpower, detention centers, and repairs.  And once people are “in” they are untraceable as is the case today. The Great Wall of China doesn’t keep out Mongolians, it is a tourist destination.  It seems better to manage the incentives of those who come by denying benefits to the undocumented.  Workers should be paid into a bank account that must have a work visa to be established.  Penalties on employers who hire the illegal would help.  Guest workers should have a permanent address (where they come from) and a temporary address where they can be found here.  I do not know all the benefits the undocumented currently enjoy but if they were eliminated, it would be impossible to be here.  For those who get a work permit, then their withheld taxes could be returned to them when they return home.  Be generous but manage the incentives.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 11:38am

    Reply to #19

    Chris Martenson

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    Mexico No Longer A Net Exporter

    Right, but Mexico is the 12th largest oil exporter in the world.

    That’s either very old data you’ve got there, or it is gross exports, not net.

    Mexico is now a net importer of oil.  Here’s the data.

    Here’s consumption (down, but still just over 1.8 mbd):

    And here’s the production chart again, but presented slightly differently and with the consumption line overlaid:

    The prospects for any nation decline severely once they become a net importer of energy.

    Just how it is.

    Mexico being riddled with corruption and soap-opera level ruling family drama is going to do some dumb stuff politically and monetarily, as they have historically done.

    Maybe not, but the odds are quite strong.

    This will mean a falling peso, and an increase in social and political unrest.

    Maybe not, but the odds are quite strong.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 1:13pm

    #23

    Mark_BC

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    I’m on the road so i googled it and got wikipedia. Data from 2016 so it says

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_net_oil_exports

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 3:26pm

    Reply to #23

    Chris Martenson

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    Yep MX still a net exporter in 2016

    I’m on the road so i googled it and got wikipedia. Data from 2016 so it says

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_net_oil_exports

    Mark – yep.  That makes sense.  Amazing what a couple of years can do, eh?

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 3:44pm

    #24

    Matt Holbert

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    Great Podcast...

    One of the best in my opinion. I must admit that I have not gotten much out of the comments as they only tangentially relate to the discussion. It makes me think that many — not all, mind you — are uncomfortable about assessing non-financial types of capital and making the tradeoffs that are necessary. I’ll be getting a copy of the book.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 6:22pm

    #25
    ezlxq1949

    ezlxq1949

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    What happens to the Canadian border…

    …when things get bad? I can see it becoming irrelevant, unenforceable, in effect evaporating. Might an adequately bestial regime patrol it with drone-mounted machine guns?

    And in which direction(s) might the flow go? Depends on wherever the resources are, I guess, and what differential exists. I have this mental picture of thousands of desperate people fleeing in both directions at once and no-one really in charge.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 10:25pm

    #26

    GerrySM

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    Errors

    you discredit WattsUpWithThat.com because it has views contrary to your and it’s run by a college drop-out? That’s an incredibly weak argument since Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Oprah Winfrey, James Cameron, and a panoply of other highly intelligent, highly successful people are all college dropouts.

    AO, the people you name were doing well at university but left because they began running highly lucrative or promising businesses. Anthony Watts, on the other hand, tried for FIVE years to get a BS degree and just couldn’t. He left to become a low-level employee of a radio station, or something similar. If you cannot see the differences there, it would explain your other mental SNAFUs, like preferring Creationism to evolution, and predicting a new Ice Age. I would prefer not to engage further with you, if you don’t mind … life is too short. Forgive me if that seems rude.

    Chris’s comments about ladders are on point. Walls are symbolic, nothing more.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 11:20pm

    Reply to #26

    davefairtex

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    Backfire Effect Wins Again

    GerrySM

    Chris’s comments about ladders are on point. Walls are symbolic, nothing more.

    As AO said, people build walls around prisons, walls around high end homes.  And in Israel, they have a wall and a border security system which – in real life – has dropped migration to zero.

    In your worldview?  Walls are symbolic.  In real life?  Walls have stopped migration into Israel.  [Rumor has it, they have ladders over in Africa too.]

    Why do I make this into a deal?  I suppose I held out hope that a climate change believer who placed such a heavy an emphasis on “science” (and was so critical of “science deniers”) would actually be able to change their mind if facts were presented that invalidated their worldview in another area.  I had hoped that you guys were some special breed of human that really did follow the evidence wherever it led.

    Right.  So that experiment hasn’t gone well at all.  Clearly, the facts say walls work, but your worldview on walls remains unchanged.

    So what has been accomplished?

    Well, we now know that a) I was foolish for even trying the “fact” approach because I supposedly know all about the backfire effect already, and b) you’re a regular human being, not anyone special.  You aren’t better-than-normal at following facts, you are just like the rest of us.

    Ok, that’s it.  No more wall discussion for me, no more climate change – I’m done.  Sorry for dragging you all along with me.

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  • Tue, Oct 15, 2019 - 11:38pm

    Reply to #26

    mememonkey

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    It must be nice

    to know everything for a fact!

    Gerry,

    Your certitude and righteousness feels out of place here amongst a mostly thinking group of people able to see shades of grey and willing to entertain heterodoxy in the pursuit of better understanding.

    mm

    “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

    ~Bertrand Russell

     

     

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 12:45am

    Reply to #26

    gyrogearloose

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 359

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    Logic....

    Ah,  lets not rely on logical analysis and reasoned arguments when you can rely on logical fallacies.

    I just call it a Religion when the devout traipse out the good old ‘denier’ lable

     

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 12:58am

    Reply to #1
    peter31

    peter31

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    Posts: 29

    Armed gangs raiding the cabbage patch...?

    I agree with the comments about carrying capacity and population overshoot, and I’ve moved to a low population density area surrounded by water (Isle of Man, British Isles).  I’m learning to grow food on a small scale and I’ve thought about the possibility that desperate and less well prepared people may come and try to steal it from me.  There’s probably only a limited amount I can do about that, but hopefully it would mainly be a problem only for the first 12 months or so after a sudden collapse.  The raiders would have to come at the time the harvest was ready – no point stealing immature crops which are not ready to be harvested – and having done so, they would then have to find a way to preserve the crops through the winter until the following spring – not easy for an unprepared person or gang.  That’s probably the point at which most of them would die off, not to mention being killed in unsuccessful raids on other properties.  Hope those thoughts are (sort of) comforting to any gardeners out there.

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 1:31am

    #27

    GerrySM

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    Posts: 54

    Last response on walls....

    Clearly, the facts say walls work, but your worldview on walls remains unchanged.

    China Built a Big, Beautiful Wall, Too. It Failed.

    The ultimate lesson of the Great Wall of China is that a physical barrier, no matter how expensive and impressive, will fail if detached from a broader set of policies to alleviate the sources of insecurity along the border. The Ming never figured that out. Hopefully Washington’s mandarins will

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 6:08am

    #28
    Penguin Will

    Penguin Will

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    See what I mean? :p

    Many are the nights spent on the couch over less controversial topics. It’s more than facts and it is more than right or wrong. This strikes at the very heart of national identity and what you wish the future to look like. No offense, but I think very few are going to change their mind once that mind has determined where its emotional investment lies.

    Perfection is unattainable but consider this: Perhaps those who think a wall is the end all and be all to our predicament don’t want to recognize their shortcomings. Or, at least the work entailed to make them work as a part of a successful system. And perhaps those that dismiss them as useless understand, deep in the subconscious, that they will do a decent job of limiting illegal immigration. And they desperately don’t want this to happen.

    Ask yourself this: If we were serious about curtailing illegal immigration then why not just short circuit the whole thing with national E-Verify and strict enforcement?

    Correct Answer: Because it would work. And the wrong people would get hurt and the wrong people would get helped… at least according to the beliefs of those who make the rules.

    Will

    PS: This is a long way from figuring out a way to increase our personal capital….

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 7:54am

    #29

    Quercus bicolor

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

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    Consensus?

    Here are some points that are somewhere on the continuum of slightly educated guess to fairly well established.

    1. Walls are effective when part of a complete border control system.
    2. We may be able to maintain a complete border control system for a time, but lack of political consensus/will and or economic contraction/other crises will sooner or later lead to failure of that system.
    3. To a significant degree, all of those refugees are chasing the capital we stole from them or destroyed over the past century through imperialistic policies such as engineered coups and proxy wars to create an environment friendly to American corporations, the “war on drugs”, canal-building, etc. This complicates the moral justification for a wall.

    What d’yall think?

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 9:01am

    Reply to #1
    MAV

    MAV

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    Re: Armed gangs raiding the cabbage patch...?

    Peter31 said:

    “The raiders would have to come at the time the harvest was ready – no point stealing immature crops which are not ready to be harvested”

    The raiders will not care about your harvest.  The fact that you are alive means you have some sustenance.  That’s what they will be after.

    I know, going down this line of reasoning things get very bleak.

    Like Mark_BC early on in this thread talking about building his EMP resistant 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser.
    Why?
    If it is at all useful in the scenario we are talking about, a gang of men with a lot more fire power than you will block the road.  At that point the Land Cruiser will be theirs. If you deem it worth fighting for, you will be killed.

     

     

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 9:21am

    Reply to #26
    ao

    ao

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    wrong for the umpteenth time

    Gerry,

    It must be tiresome being wrong so often.  Perhaps being wrong in your debunking of the paleo diet was the final straw for you, especially when you seem so attached to educational elitism.  I note that people of your ilk generally “abandon the field” on some pretense other than the truth of being outclassed.

    You projected about me preferring creationism over evolution.  I never said any such thing in our discussion.  I did note that there are many weaknesses in evolutionary thought and perhaps you, like many others, confuse natural selection with evolution.  You evidently view that debate in a very binary fashion but those who have investigated it in the most depth (at least in my opinion) are actually coming up with a third option that embraces elements of both as well as new elements.  That’s why I gave you the reference of that name but you evidently chose to ignore it.  That’s fine.

    I also never predicted a new Ice Age.  But sometimes, when one is in a panicky mind state, one’s mind can construe some strange things.  Otherwise, I have no explanation for why you have that erroneous thought.

    I also prefer not to engage with you anymore.  You’re obviously more interested in being right than in the truth and there’s no arguing with that.

    I will leave you with one final thought though.  If walls are purely symbolic, am I safe in assuming you live in an abode without them?

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 10:16am

    Reply to #1

    Quercus bicolor

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    "Your" homestead

    I was thinking the same thing.  Why just steal crops when you can just use your superior firepower to simply steal the entire homestead and make it yours.  Simply boot out the current occupant and kill them if they resist.  Not pretty, but not so unlikely.

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 10:46am

    #30

    thc0655

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    Don’t give up so easily MAV

    The raiders will not care about your harvest.  The fact that you are alive means you have some sustenance.  That’s what they will be after.

    I know, going down this line of reasoning things get very bleak.

    Like Mark_BC early on in this thread talking about building his EMP resistant 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser.
    Why?
    If it is at all useful in the scenario we are talking about, a gang of men with a lot more fire power than you will block the road.  At that point the Land Cruiser will be theirs. If you deem it worth fighting for, you will be killed.

    There’s no reason to give up so easily, MAV, though the possibilities down this rabbit hole are indeed bleak. I too assume that a lone individual or family in a worst case Mad Max situation will have little chance of survival no matter how well they’ve prepared. But what if we band together in a small town or neighborhood and throw up our own well-armed militia BEFORE the criminals and raiders get significantly organized. So then WE man the road blocks and defend our territory together, while seeking mutual assistance pacts with our contiguous neighbors. Our productive gardens, running vehicles and fuel stores would then be significant assets and force multipliers.

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 12:10pm

    Reply to #30
    MAV

    MAV

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    I can sound defeated at times

    My wife and I have been taking steps toward the collapse for more than a decade.

    But we have not been community minded, just going solo.  Now the more I think about it – I come to the conclusion that we will not make it.  We will be overrun.

    I do find the entire thing fascinating.

    • A collapse is coming
    • NO ONE knows what it will look like
    • Some people who have prepared for 20 years will not make it
    • Some people who didn’t prepare at all will make it

    The community you are talking about sounds great and something I would like to be a part of but VERY difficult to find or build.  I can’t even convince my brothers we are headed for interesting times.

    This community is what Chris is trying to build.  We will continue to hear how that develops as time goes on.

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 12:45pm

    #31

    sand_puppy

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

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    Posts: 1975

    4+

    Form Your Own Gang ..er..I mean Tribe, First

    Post Apocalyptic Fiction explores this situation in great detail with many, many variations.  Reversion to a more primitive (but efficient) hierarchical social structure is required in most stories.

    Though “gang” is usually pejorative, it implies a tight tribe with a single leader and a clear hierarchical structure.   A gang can act quickly without the time consuming process of getting each person’s buy in.

    Sometimes a survival band will have not just an overall leader but have topic-specific assistant leaders:  John is the VP in charge of the gardens, Jill animal husbandry, Bill water resources, and Sally (who is a brutish and cunning ex-soldier) security.  And those situations are ranked.  When security is threatened, Sally is 100% in charge with everyone else offering their thoughts when requested, but instantly obedient to her orders when security problems are moving quickly.

    Street Gangs hold initial superiority after collapse as they are already organized, already have clearly designated command structures and understand that the usual moral reasoning and legal processes are irrelevant.

    GREEN Meme citizens are still wanting to discuss options, each share their ideas, give outsiders “the benefit of the doubt” and preserve the principles of civilization, the Street Gangs fire first and the GREEN Meme citizen dies by the side of the road.  GREEN adapted too slowly to the new situation.

    Almost every collapse novel has characters who must lose a family member in order to awaken into new ways of behavior.

    This is why I believe that “talking violence” is an important part of prepping.  Fortunately, YELLOW Meme thinking is very common here at PP.  YELLOW is able to understand the value of each first tier memes and understands when RED is needed to meet RED.  Inside the safety of a community, there is plenty of room for GREEN trust, compassion, listening and honoring diverse opinions–when times are good.

    Lights Out by David Crawford

    Fire From the Sky:  The Sanders Saga by N.C. Reed

    Jeremy’s Run:  L.A. Dark by GF Gustav

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 5:53pm

    #32

    Mark_BC

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    Posts: 315

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     Like Mark_BC early on in this thread talking about building his EMP resistant 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser.

    Why?
    If it is at all useful in the scenario we are talking about, a gang of men with a lot more fire power than you will block the road.  At that point the Land Cruiser will be theirs. If you deem it worth fighting for, you will be killed.

    Yeah, the thought has definitely crossed my mind. I guess I’d hope that I’m close enough to the outskirts to escape any hoards of angry urbanites. I wont make it look pretty. Ideally I’ll make it look like it doesnt run. Pretty hard to do that when it’s driving down the road though.

    Which raises a good point. There will be survivors. So who will survive? I admit, I watched a few episodes of the reality show Survivor a few years ago. The person who ended up lasting till the end was not the strongest, loudest, with the most friends, sneakiest, most clever, or the quietest. It was an average person who stayed under the radar but no one payed much attention to. Unremarkable, not boasting anything, not getting on anyone’s bad side, or trying too hard. Just someone who gets accepted and overlooked, not really noticed.

    Those in gangs likely won’t last, I recently watched Narcos on Netflix. Most of those guys died.

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  • Wed, Oct 16, 2019 - 10:18pm

    #33

    Mark_BC

    Status Bronze Member (Offline)

    Joined: Apr 30 2010

    Posts: 315

    If you want to be richer stock up on this item

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  • Thu, Oct 17, 2019 - 12:35am

    #34

    gyrogearloose

    Status Gold Member (Offline)

    Joined: Sep 08 2008

    Posts: 359

    4+

    NZ's wall

    My parents thought Trump was nuts for wanting to build a wall.

    When I pointed out we already have a wall, called the Pacific ocean and our Govt vigorously controls entry, they started to see things a bit differently.

    Unfortunately Govt policy lets too many legal immigrants in…….

    But at least to get in you have to be skilled at a needed profession (pretty much)

    Regards Hamish

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