John Michael Greer: Archdruid Report Essays

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  • Fri, Jun 01, 2012 - 03:44am

    #31

    Poet

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    The Rumbling of Distant Thunder

Spirituality in relation to the decline that will come in a post peak-oil future. I think this is worth thinking about.

The Rumbling of Distant Thunder (May 30, 2012)
…What can be expected to happen on the downside of Hubbert’s curve, and how individuals, families and communities might be able to respond to that…

…Peak oil events function as a gathering of the tribe, but it would be more precise to call it a gathering of several tribes – the peak oil investment tribe, the environmental activism tribe, the alternative energy tribe, and so on.  It’s one of the oddities of the tribe to which I belong that it’s hard to give it a simple, straightforward name of that kind, just a clear sense of the trajectory our age is tracing out against the background of deep time, and it’s one of the less heavily represented tribes at most peak oil events. What set The Age of Limits apart is that it was specifically for this latter tribe…

And…

…People in that tribe – and, I suspect, across a broader spectrum of society as well – are hungry for meaningful discussions of one of the taboo topics of our age, the relation of spirituality to the shape of our future… Carolyn Baker and Dmitry Orlov, wanted to address the same topic… I talked about the lessons that traditional spiritualities offer for understanding our predicament, Dmitry discussed religion as a mode of social organization that can sustain itself for millennia, and Carolyn explored collapse as an initiatory experience…
http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/05/rumbling-of-distant-thunder.html

Will there be a great revival or a new age of enlightenment? Or will we see religious conflicts come to the fore?

Poet

  • Thu, Jun 07, 2012 - 08:01pm

    #32

    Poet

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    Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush

 

Reading this made me think about our own brave Sager. He’s jumped in head first. Collapse and de-industrialize your lifestyle now, on your own terms. Avoid the rush.

Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush (June 6, 2012)
…The theory of catabolic collapse, which outlines the way that human societies on the way down cannibalize their own infrastructure, maintaining themselves for the present by denying themselves a future.  I finished talking about catabolic collapse and started fielding questions, of which there were plenty, and somewhere in the conversation that followed one of the other participants made a comment. I don’t even remember the exact words, but it was something like, ‘So what you’re saying is that what we need to do, individually, is to go through collapse right away.’

And…

Abundant fossil fuels currently provide an “energy subsidy” to alternative energy sources that make them look more efficient than they are – there would be far fewer wind turbines, for example, if they had to be manufactured, installed, and maintained using wind energy.  Furthermore, our entire energy infrastructure is geared to use fossil fuels and would have to be replaced, at a cost of countless trillions of dollars, in order to replace fossil fuels with something else.

And…

The skills, resources, and lifeways needed to get by in a disintegrating industrial society are radically different from those that made for a successful and comfortable life in the prosperous world of the recent past, and a great many of the requirements of an age of decline come with prolonged learning curves and a high price for failure. Starting right away to practice the skills, assemble the resources, and follow the lifeways that will be the key to survival in a deindustrializing world offers the best hope of getting through the difficult years ahead with some degree of dignity and grace.

The way to avoid the rush is simple enough:  figure out how you will be able to live after the next wave of crisis hits, and to the extent that you can, start living that way now. If you’re worried about the long-term prospects for your job – and you probably should be, no matter what you do for a living – now is the time to figure out how you will get by if the job goes away and you have to make do on much less money. For most people, that means getting out of debt, making sure the place you live costs you much less than you can afford, and picking up some practical skills that will allow you to meet some of your own needs and have opportunities for barter and informal employment.  It can mean quite a bit more, depending on your situation, needs, and existing skills.  It should certainly involve spending less money – and that money, once it isn’t needed to pay off any debts you have, can go to weatherizing your home and making other sensible preparations that will make life easier for you later on.
http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/06/collapse-now-and-avoid-rush.html

Poet

  • Thu, Jun 07, 2012 - 08:42pm

    #33
    Doug

    Doug

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    Age of Limits weekend

Poet wrote:

Spirituality in relation to the decline that will come in a post peak-oil future. I think this is worth thinking about.

The Rumbling of Distant Thunder (May 30, 2012)
…What can be expected to happen on the downside of Hubbert’s curve, and how individuals, families and communities might be able to respond to that…

…Peak oil events function as a gathering of the tribe, but it would be more precise to call it a gathering of several tribes – the peak oil investment tribe, the environmental activism tribe, the alternative energy tribe, and so on.  It’s one of the oddities of the tribe to which I belong that it’s hard to give it a simple, straightforward name of that kind, just a clear sense of the trajectory our age is tracing out against the background of deep time, and it’s one of the less heavily represented tribes at most peak oil events. What set The Age of Limits apart is that it was specifically for this latter tribe…

And…

…People in that tribe – and, I suspect, across a broader spectrum of society as well – are hungry for meaningful discussions of one of the taboo topics of our age, the relation of spirituality to the shape of our future… Carolyn Baker and Dmitry Orlov, wanted to address the same topic… I talked about the lessons that traditional spiritualities offer for understanding our predicament, Dmitry discussed religion as a mode of social organization that can sustain itself for millennia, and Carolyn explored collapse as an initiatory experience…
http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2012/05/rumbling-of-distant-thunder.html

Will there be a great revival or a new age of enlightenment? Or will we see religious conflicts come to the fore?

Poet

I attended the Age of Limits weekend also.  It gave me a chance to put faces to names  JMG, Dmitri Orlov, Carolyn Baker, Tom Whipple and Gail “the actuary” Tverberg were the main presenters.  I wasn’t particularly interested in the spiritual side of things, so missed the presentations you mentioned.  The setting is a combination retreat, farm and commune.  The attendees covered a broad range of people from aging(ed?) hippies (the old swimming hole isn’t nearly as pretty as it used to be), to young hard-bodies who were well armed, to intellectuals and activists of various stripes to journalists.  They came from the four corners of the US as well as Iceland, Sweden and who knows where else.  The Currens from Transition Voice were there as well.  The presentations weren’t as interesting to me as the time spent between presentations and over dinner and breakfast with the same cast of characters over most of four days.  On Sunday night a string band came in and everybody danced, lubricated with wine made at the retreat.  It was great fun – intellectually stimulating in a very informal atmosphere.  The place was a buzz of conversations all weekend all over the compound, which, btw, incorporates many of the attributes we discuss here as the kind of community we aspire to. 

This was the first of a hopefully long series of annual events.  Definitely worth the trip.

Here’s a link to the schedule to give you a flavor:

http://4qf.org/index.php/age-of-limits/225-the-schedule

Doug

  • Thu, Jun 07, 2012 - 09:16pm

    #34

    Poet

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    Doug, Lessons From The Age Of Limits?

Doug:

Thank you for that info! Would you care to share with the rest of us, some of the lessons you learned at the sessions you attended, or in conversation that struck you?

Poet

Doug wrote:

I attended the Age of Limits weekend also.  It gave me a chance to put faces to names  JMG, Dmitri Orlov, Carolyn Baker, Tom Whipple and Gail “the actuary” Tverberg were the main presenters.  I wasn’t particularly interested in the spiritual side of things, so missed the presentations you mentioned.  The setting is a combination retreat, farm and commune.  The attendees covered a broad range of people from aging(ed?) hippies (the old swimming hole isn’t nearly as pretty as it used to be), to young hard-bodies who were well armed, to intellectuals and activists of various stripes to journalists.  They came from the four corners of the US as well as Iceland, Sweden and who knows where else.  The Currens from Transition Voice were there as well.  The presentations weren’t as interesting to me as the time spent between presentations and over dinner and breakfast with the same cast of characters over most of four days.  On Sunday night a string band came in and everybody danced, lubricated with wine made at the retreat.  It was great fun – intellectually stimulating in a very informal atmosphere.  The place was a buzz of conversations all weekend all over the compound, which, btw, incorporates many of the attributes we discuss here as the kind of community we aspire to. 

This was the first of a hopefully long series of annual events.  Definitely worth the trip.

Here’s a link to the schedule to give you a flavor:

http://4qf.org/index.php/age-of-limits/225-the-schedule

Doug

  • Thu, Jun 07, 2012 - 09:20pm

    #35

    pinecarr

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    Great post, Poet! Reading

Great post, Poet!

Reading this made me think about our own brave Sager. He’s jumped in head first. Collapse and de-industrialize your lifestyle now, on your own terms. Avoid the rush.

Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush (June 6, 2012)
…The theory of catabolic collapse, which outlines the way that human societies on the way down cannibalize their own infrastructure, maintaining themselves for the present by denying themselves a future.  I finished talking about catabolic collapse and started fielding questions, of which there were plenty, and somewhere in the conversation that followed one of the other participants made a comment. I don’t even remember the exact words, but it was something like, ‘So what you’re saying is that what we need to do, individually, is to go through collapse right away.’

This really rings true for me.  I just wish that ‘personal collapse” -achieving personal/local sustainability and resiliency- was the “only” thing we had to worry about.  

It’s the period of transition between now and “after’ that I have a hard time coming to terms with.  It makes me concerned that my preparations for the time “after” are self-delusional, like “after the tsunami engulfs our town, I will be very well prepared to live life more simply, with what is left.”  -I feel like there is a huge assumption of “making it past that event” that is often made, without adequate consideration of incorporating ‘making it through/past that event” into the planning. Not that it is an easy problem to address, it is so full of unknowns, including wondering about the wisdom of preparing for an unlikely  (???) extreme outcome at the expense of less extreme, more probable (???) outcomes… 

It is alot to get one’s head around.  Even with the preparing I am doing, I still often feel like a deer looking into the headlights.  I see the car approaching, and grasp the inherent danger of what is coming, but I don’t know how to move to avoid it…

 

  • Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - 02:09am

    #36
    Doug

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    Poet, thanks for asking

 I’ll share some observations with you, we’ll see if they turn into lessons.

JMG, as you would guess from his blog, is very well read and is nearly impossibly quick of wit and voluble.  I wouldn’t attempt to debate him.  He was the most entertaining of the speakers as he sprinkled in anecdotes and was very energetic and responsive to the audience.  He sat at the same level as the audience and treated it like a big conversation.  This paragraph from his Rumbling of Distant Thunder post I thought summed up the weekend pretty well:

     One of the repeated pleasures of peak oil events is precisely that those of us who take that recognition seriously have the chance to share a meal or a couple of mugs of beer and talk openly about all the things you can’t discuss usefully with those who are still in the squirming stage. I mentioned in a post last fall the way that peak oil events function as a gathering of the tribe, but it would be more precise to call it a gathering of several tribes—the peak oil investment tribe, the environmental activism tribe, the alternative energy tribe, and so on.  It’s one of the oddities of the tribe to which I belong that it’s hard to give it a simple, straightforward name of that kind, just a clear sense of the trajectory our age is tracing out against the background of deep time, and it’s one of the less heavily represented tribes at most peak oil events. What set The Age of Limits apart is that it was specifically for this latter tribe, and the enthusiastic turnout in response to very muted publicity—little more than a few posts on blogs—shows me that the audience for such discussions is a good deal larger than I had any reason to think.

The energy and enthusiasm this weekend reminded me of the first Rowe conference I attended in March 2009.  I’m sure you recall that month.  666 stands out to me as the appropriate symbol for the month and that conference.  It was sold out and groups of people were up at all hours of the night discussing the collapsing economy and what it all meant.  I haven’t seen anything else that evoked that kind of enthusiasm and energy until the Age of Limits weekend.

Orlov has a very deadpan style.  Unlike the other presenters, most of whom used some type of power point presentation (except JMG), he just stood at the mike and used 3X5 cards.  He was the most doomy and gloomy of the bunch.  I thought it was wildly inconsistent with his message that he lives on a sailboat, so asked him if he thought that it is sustainable and/or defensible.  He didn’t try to make a case for it, he just likes living on a sailboat.  I don’t know if he has a bug out place to retreat to or any type of preparations in place.  Over dinner one evening I asked him what he thought of the derivatives bubble.  He said that he thinks if they are ever activated by a bank or sovereign collapse, they will just lock up the whole system.  I haven’t figured out yet how to think about that, but it would certainly be a collapse of sorts.  Money would just stop flowing.  I can only imagine that chaos would follow.  That’s probably a good reason why tptb might never declare a ‘credit event’ that would trigger them.

I had a fairly long conversation with Tom Whipple, who I wasn’t aware of before the weekend, while standing in line waiting for food.  He’s a big peak oil guy who is former CIA (30 years ago).  Very knowledgeable about energy.  I found it interesting that he is a big believer in cold fusion.  I threw my usual objection at him, no peer review and no patents, and he responded with the conspiracy theory defense that we hear from Arthur on this site.  I’m from pretty close to Missouri, so I want to see peer review or demonstrations of it actually producing power that is being used in a practical application.  He did say that we are probably many years away from any kind of household or automobile use.  So, under the best case scenario, there are still problems of scalability that will take a long time to overcome.  At least, that’s my take away.

I’ll write more if there’s interest, but need to wash dishes and get some sleep now.

Thanks Poet, you got me thinking about what I did get out of the weekend.

Doug

 

  • Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - 02:34pm

    #37
    Doug

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    “Collapse now, avoid the rush”

 I attended that talk.  For me, it was one of the two best of the weekend.  The theme really struck home for me and made me realize how lucky I have been in this whole prepping endeavor.  We bought our place 20 years ago.  I was shocked when a real estate agent told us how much we could afford to pay for a house.  Her numbers were so far over of my own calculations as to seem absurd.  Fortunately, we stuck to our numbers and by pure luck bought a place that is about as well positioned to take on collapse as any of the places we looked at.  In a sense, we have been going through collapse ever since.

Catabolic collapse is a concept that I grasped as soon as JMG described it.  I view it as essentially the result of eating your seed corn.  In our case, that is fossil fuel.  If we were smart, a more efficient use of the remaining cheap fossil fuels would be in the service of preparing for life without so much of it.  Gail Tverberg’s talk gave this notion a little more urgency in her handling of Hubbert’s Curve.  She is a numbers person and had lots of charts and graphs in her presentation.  For a number of reasons she shifted Hubbert’s Curve to the right so that the run up to peak appears a bit more leisurely, and the descent down the other side much more precipitous.  If her take is correct, JMG’s catabolic collapse will happen much more rapidly than even we preppers are ready for.  

That brings to mind my take away from all the presentations I heard.  There was not much new for those who have been obsessing on these topics for a few years.  The oft repeated axiom that collapse will happen slowly then all at once was driven home.  I think that our energy future was summed up pretty well in JMG’s article:

Quote:

Third, these problems leave only one viable alternative, which is to decrease our energy use, per capita and absolutely, to get our energy needs down to levels that could be maintained over the long term on renewable sources.  The first steps in this process were begun in the 1970s, with good results, and might have made it possible to descend from the extravagant heights of industrialism in a gradual way,  keeping a great many of the benefits of the industrial age intact as a gift for the future. Politics closed off that option in the decade that followed, however, and the world’s industrial nations went hurtling down a different path, burning through the earth’s remaining fossil fuel reserves at an accelerating pace and trusting that economic abstractions such as the free market would suspend the laws of physics and geology for their benefit. At this point, more than three decades after that misguided choice, industrial civilization is so far into overshoot that a controlled descent is no longer an option; the only path remaining is the familiar historical process of decline and fall.

Despite this rather dramatic vision of where we are in the progress of collapse, he goes on to cite previous collapses that played out over 100-300 years and found no reason to believe ours will be much different.  I disagree with that view pretty strongly, but perhaps we just have different views of how far down down is.  That said, I agree strongly with this statement:

Quote:

In all likelihood you’ll be experiencing the next round of crises where you are right now, so the logical place to have your own personal collapse now, ahead of the rush, is right there, in the place where you live, with the people you know and the resources you have to hand.

One other observation from the Age of Limits weekend.  The fellow who founded the retreat where the event took place, Orren Whiddon, gave a talk about what he and his true believers have done with the site in the 18 years since he originally bought it.  He takes the notion of building a sustainable community seriously and has worked pretty hard at building it there.  If he ever had illusions of what building such a community requires, he long ago lost them.  He spoke of the many hard choices they have had to make along the way and stressed how far they still are from being “off the grid,” metaphorically speaking.  I am suspicious of the commune nature of his community.  As anyone who has studied past communes knows, they are absolutely dependent on a charismatic leader.  Orren apparently fills that need, although to all appearances, he’s just a down home boy growing old with a smoker’s cough and a beer belly.  It is still not self supporting, needing the income from those who come to the retreat for various spiritual and recreational reasons.  But, nonetheless, he has taken on some big challenges.  On a mundane level, they put is a giant septic system designed to be viable for a very long time.  They actually do farming on the land, although it isn’t clear to me how much they are supported by it.  The business model is pretty traditional, but everything is done with community involvement.  Among the things they haven’t dealt with is what to do with people when they get old and sick.  On a model that is reminiscent of the Amish, when members get sick, they hold fund raisers and collect donations to pay for their care.  Whiddon has had cataract surgeries and some other serious health care needs paid for by these methods.  It is notable that this way of managing healthcare is dependent on a relatively prosperous outside community and will probably cease to function in economic collapse scenarios.  That’s an important lesson.  We can’t continue to think of healthcare in the high tech insurance covered model we have grown up with.  Healthcare services may well devolve into something much more basic and far less heroic in preserving life.

Enough for now, the garden is beckoning.

Doug

  • Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - 04:28pm

    #38

    Tycer

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    Thanks Doug

 Thanks Doug!!

  • Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - 05:50pm

    #39

    Poet

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    Thanks For The Insights, Doug!

Doug

Again, thank you so much for sharing.

I am glad to hear that John Michael Greer is just as quick-witted and voluble in person as he appears in writing. Definitely a great mind there (I bet he’s got himself a “memory palace“). And it is nice to know that since he is only about 50 years old, he may very well be around for a lot longer to guide us.

I believe Gail Tverberg’s (I think she’s trained as an actuary) shifting of the Hubbert chart is taking into consideration the “Seneca effect”, where decline is faster than growth. The assumption is that: Sure, regional oil extraction follows a relatively smooth growth and decline because operators can move on to other regions, but what happens when it’s the world and there are no more regions or areas to viably extract from? In that case, it may make sense to look at a civilization’s decline a la Easter Island, or the growth and decay of bacteria in a Petri dish.

Sober lessons indeed.

Poet

  • Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - 08:05pm

    #40
    Doug

    Doug

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    no problem

Poet wrote:

Doug

Again, thank you so much for sharing.

I am glad to hear that John Michael Greer is just as quick-witted and voluble in person as he appears in writing. Definitely a great mind there (I bet he’s got himself a “memory palace“). And it is nice to know that since he is only about 50 years old, he may very well be around for a lot longer to guide us.

I believe Gail Tverberg’s (I think she’s trained as an actuary) shifting of the Hubbert chart is taking into consideration the “Seneca effect”, where decline is faster than growth. The assumption is that: Sure, regional oil extraction follows a relatively smooth growth and decline because operators can move on to other regions, but what happens when it’s the world and there are no more regions or areas to viably extract from? In that case, it may make sense to look at a civilization’s decline a la Easter Island, or the growth and decay of bacteria in a Petri dish.

Sober lessons indeed.

Poet

I would encourage anyone here to attend next year’s event.  Perhaps Chris could be a contributor.

 

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