Monthly Post

An Anthropocene Worth Having

For more than two years now I’ve been trying to figure out how to introduce a way of thinking about humanity’s relationship to nature that cuts straight across nearly all of the conventional thinking on that subject. It’s been a challenge. I’m glad to say, though, that a project now being lauded by the corporate-enabler end of the environmental movement offers a very good way to talk about the way of thinking I have in mind. That’s not because the project in question embodies that way of thinking. It’s because the project goes so far in the other direction that it offers the perfect contrast to the way of approaching nature I want to discuss.

Nature, as envisioned by the 30 by 30 Project.

The project in question is called “30 by 30.” Its ostensible goal is to have 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface defined as protected areas by 2030. What that label “protected areas” means is very hard to figure out from the websites and press releases; some  talk about “sustainable use consistent with conservation outcomes,” others propose a ban on all extractive uses (that is to say, farming, herding, fishing, etc.), while the great majority dodge the issue and brandish words such as “conserve” and “protect” without ever saying what these mean in practice.

That is to say, it’s the kind of thing that sounds wonderful as long as you don’t ask the obvious questions. We’ve seen a lot of ideas like that in environmental circles in recent years, and those have contributed mightily both to the total failure of environmental activism to accomplish much of anything and to the bitter taste that environmentalism leaves in so many mouths these days. The practical difficulties with the 30 by 30 project deserve discussion in their own right, but those difficulties will also help frame certain broader problems with modern environmentalism.  This, in turn, will make it easy to talk about what might be done instead.

Let’s start with a dose of cold realism.  The most likely result of this whole project is that 30 per cent of the Earth’s surface will be formally designated as protected areas, but nothing will be done to protect most of it—the same result, in other words, that we got from all those agreements to stop greenhouse gas emissions that never got around to doing anything to stop greenhouse gas emissions. For the sake of argument, though, let’s assume that 30 by 30 isn’t just an exercise in virtue signaling, and its advocates actually get what they say they want.  Let’s assume along the same lines that half of the new protected areas have tightly managed sustainable-use systems set up to control what people can do with nature there, while the other half are set aside entirely, with no extractive uses allowed. What happens then?

Because regulations are always effective.

To begin with, the vast majority of people in the no-extractive-use areas will be forced to leave, because extractive uses—farming, herding, and so forth—are how they make a living. Most of them have no other job skills, and it’s not as though any significant number of jobs for former farmers, herders, and so on will be available in these areas. So we’re talking about expelling nearly all the inhabitants from 15% of the Earth’s land surface. How many people?  It’s impossible to know until the areas are specified, but even if the protected areas are chosen wholly from less thickly populated regions, it’ll involve hundreds of millions of people, and it could well amount to a billion or more.

A great many of the press releases about the project insist airily that the rights of indigenous peoples and local residents will be respected. Indigenous peoples, who’ve seen this same song and dance so many times they can recite all the verses by heart, are having none of it. Indigenous communities in the Amazon and western Canada have already denounced the entire 30 by 30 project as “green colonialism,” and of course they’re right on target. You know as well as I do, dear readers, which 30 per cent of the Earth’s land surface is going to be affected by this, and it won’t include the places where rich people like to live.  Barack and Michelle Obama aren’t going to have to hand over their beachfront property on Martha’s Vineyard to be turned back into salt marsh, even though that might actually do some good.  As always, it’ll be the rural poor, including those who belong to indigenous communities, that will bear the brunt of it.

The Obamas could easily afford to have this taken from them and turned into a nature refuge — but don’t hold your breath.

Many of them, indigenous or otherwise, will not leave voluntarily.  They don’t care about the angst of privileged people in the rich part of the world; they want to stay on the land that they and their ancestors have inhabited, and live the way they’ve always lived.  So they’ll have to be forced off their land at gunpoint by soldiers, in a reenactment of the Trail of Tears on an almost unimaginably larger scale. Some will fight back, and there will be deaths.  No doubt there’ll be promises of compensation; if you believe those, dear reader, you might talk to some American Indians, or simply look up how much of the federal aid set aside for small businesses during the Covid lockdowns got slurped up by big corporations that didn’t need a cent.

Even if the money is forthcoming, though, how much good will that do? Whole armies of people will be driven from their land and their livelihoods, and most of them will wind up in urban slums—in an overcrowded world, where else can they go?  It’s not as though there’s plenty of unused farmland, ranchland, and so on waiting for them.  Any money they get won’t last long, and most of them have no job skills that matter in their new setting. So they’ll be crammed into slums, impoverished, bitter, resentful, seething, a happy hunting ground for terrorist groups and charismatic demagogues. We saw last October what kind of violent blowback can come from people in that situation.  Now imagine hundreds of Gaza Strips around the world, with hundreds of millions of people crowded into them. Think for a moment about the potential consequences.

Driven off their land by force — it’s an old story.

Nor will the acreage handed over to sustainable use yield much better outcomes. One of the things that’s been shown beyond a shadow of a doubt over the last century is that the more bureaucracy you load on any economic activity, the more of that activity ends up in the hands of multinational corporations. That’s partly a matter of sheer corruption—only a big corporation has the money to bribe an entire bureaucracy—and even more a matter of the way that  economies of scale apply to regulation, but the regulatory state is also one of the things that keeps big firms from being outcompeted by small businesses that can be more nimble and responsive to public wants. Here again, family farmers, small proprietors, and indigenous people will be on the losing end, squeezed out so some wretched Misfortune 500 firm can add a tenth of a percent to its return on investment. They’ll add their substantial share to the raw material for terrorism and political turmoil.

Now ask yourself how long the international consensus behind the 30 by 30 program will last, and what will happen once it starts to fray. Ask yourself how many charismatic demagogues will rise to power  by promising to let people return to their homes and their land.  Ask yourself what will happen a few generations down the road when environmentalism has fallen out of fashion, as of course it will; all moral crusades run their course and fade away. (Not much more than a century ago, for example, one of the biggest moral crusades in the English-speaking world, backed by big organizations such as the White Cross League, was dedicated to stamping out masturbation. When’s the last time that cause got big corporate donations?)  Ask yourself just what all this will look like from the perspective of a thousand years in the future.

Victorian anti-masturbation appliances, as popular then as electric cars are now.

All in all, the 30 by 30 project is a fine example of a “solution” that solves nothing and creates more and worse problems than the ones it claims to address.  We have a lot of pseudosolutions like that just now.  They share certain traits in common.  First, they’re imposed from above by a managerial elite, rather than rising from beneath out of the lived experience and knowledge of people on the scene. Second, they load all the costs of the project onto people at the grassroots while the benefits inevitably flow uphill—you’ll notice, for example, that nobody’s talking about making the areas set aside for the 30 by 30 program off limits for ecotourism and other high-end recreational uses. Third, they rely on abstract notions, round numbers, and vague generalizations rather than the sensitive attention to specifics that generate real solutions. Fourth, they pay no attention to the realities of history or to the prospects of long-term political and social change.  Fifth, they never challenge the modes of thinking that caused the problem in the first place; quite the contrary, they nearly always embrace and reinforce those problematic mindsets.

It’s this last point that I want to develop in more detail here, because the core presupposition of the 30 by 30 project is the same attitude that’s at the heart of our ecological crisis:  the delusion that human beings are not part of nature and therefore can only harm the biosphere.

That wasn’t always part of environmental thinking.  Many years ago, before it sold out to corporate enablers, the Sierra Club published a fine book addressing this very issue titled Not Man Apart—the phrase is a snippet from a Robinson Jeffers poem, something else you won’t see referenced in today’s fashionable environmentalism. (Some other time we’ll talk about why.)  At the heart of the older environmental vision was the recognition that human beings are part of the natural world, and not just in the sense that we depend moment by moment on nature for our survival, although of course this is true.  It’s also crucial to understand that human flourishing depends on a close, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationship with nonhuman nature.

There it is, aboard the Valley Forge.

That was the logic behind the Conservation Pledge, one of the core statements of the older environmentalism. Fans of 1970s ecological science fiction will remember a copy taped to the wall of Bruce Dern’s cabin in the classic film Silent Running. Here’s how it reads:  “I give my pledge as an American to save and faithfully to defend from waste the natural resources of my country—its soil and minerals, its forests, waters, and wildlife.”

Suggest that at a meeting of today’s privileged environmentalists and you can count on being shouted down in a hurry. Its sins, according to the current way of thinking, are twofold. First, of course, it makes reference to a specific national community, the United States, to which those taking the pledge belong—“my country,” the pledge specifies—rather than profferng a universal dogma to be rammed down the throats of everyone in the world. Second, it refers to natural resources—that is to say, things that human beings can at least potentially use.

It’s quite fashionable to insist that this anthropocentric approach to nature is unacceptable, that nature ought to be valued for itself rather than seen as a set of resources belonging to a given community or political entity. It bears remembering, though, that the attitudes enshrined in the Conservation Pledge were responsible for the great triumphs of late nineteenth and twentieth century conservation, from the birth of the national parks system to the Clean Water Act, while the attitudes that replaced them have accomplished very little by comparison. The reason’s easy enough to grasp: the Conservation Pledge helps ordinary people understand that they have a personal stake in the environment.  These are their resources we’re talking about, after all!

They’re mining cobalt for your electric car.

There’s an ugly subtext behind the insistence that local communities and independent nations shouldn’t treat the local manifestations of nature as their own patrimony. The nations of the industrial West have spent the last half century stripping the rest of the planet of natural resources.  The last thing those same Western nations wanted was to encourage other countries to start thinking of their own natural resources as something to conserve and defend from waste! So planetary environmentalism marches in lockstep with the global economy, and environmentalists in Western countries pretend not to notice that their favorite green technologies depend on minerals from hugely polluting open pit mines worked by child labor across the global south.

Let’s go deeper, though. If human flourishing depends on a close, healthy, and mutually beneficial relationship with nature, that suggests a way of approaching the future worlds apart from the separation from nature envisioned by the promoters of the 30 by 30 campaign. Oddly enough, it’s a way set out in some detail in two of the works of imaginative fiction that were at the peak of their popularity when Silent Running hit the screen:  The Lord of the Rings and Dune.

I mentioned two weeks ago how odd it was that these two works of fiction, both wildly popular on the left in the 1960s and 1970s, were both written by rock-ribbed political conservatives. Both have been praised, and deservedly, for the deep sense of ecology that pervades and shapes them. In both cases, though, it’s the older approach to the environment that takes center stage.

Hobbiton, painted by Tolkien. Notice the trees, hedgerows, and small fields planted in many different crops.

In Tolkien’s trilogy, in fact, you can measure the moral goodness of the nations and races by how thoroughly their lives are interwoven with nature. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got elves living in treehouses in the forest, and hobbits in earth-sheltered homes in a green landscape; on the other, you’ve got orcs, who live in barren mines in the moutains or the industrial wasteland of Mordor. You know that the people of Gondor are decadent because so many of them live in a big stone city with too few trees!  No elf or hobbit would ever have needed the Conservation Pledge, since that type of thinking is second nature to them; no orc would abide by it for a moment.

Then there’s Dune. Frank Herbert’s one great novel is among many other things a triumph of ecological science fiction. Most of the attempts to import ecology into SF are frankly not very good, largely because the authors didn’t take the time to understand ecology before they wrote about it; Dune is the supreme exception.  Herbert was thoroughly conversant with the principles of ecological science.  He worked out the ecology of the desert planet Arrakis with quite a bit of attention to real dryland environments, and the grand project to turn the desert green pursued by Herbert’s Fremen is just as well thought out.

Notice, though, that the Fremen weren’t trying to preserve the deserts of Arrakis in their current desolate state. Quite the contrary, their attitude might as well be taken from the Conservation Pledge. To them Arrakis was rich with resources, if only enough water could be freed up and directed into greenbelts at the planet’s poles. They planned on leaving the equatorial regions as a vast desert belt full of sandworms, but since the worms are part of the ecological cycle that produces Arrakis’s number one export crop, that’s also resource-oriented thinking.

By Fremen standards, it’s a verdant landscape.

Like hobbits, in other words, Fremen favor a well-tended countryside.  Their idea of what a well-tended countryside looks like is different from the Shire, of course, but that’s a reflection of the ecological realities that frame their lives. Notice also that the green Arrakis the Fremen hope to create is better by all the usual ecological metrics than an Arrakis with no human beings at all: its resource cycles are more stable, its ecosystems are richer in biomass, its number of wild species is considerably larger, and so on. That’s where that phrase “mutually beneficial” comes into play: intelligent human action can actively benefit the biosphere.

The same thing is true of the hobbits’ approach to nature. One thing everybody in the older environmental scene knew but nobody in the current scene seems to remember is that an old-fashioned agricultural landscape, the kind that’s full of hedgerows, coppices, intercropping, polyculture, and animal husbandry, is ecologically richer than most wild environments in the temperate zone. What ecologists call the “edge effect”—the fact that biomass, wild species count, and other measures of ecological health go up sharply on the ecotone, the transition zone between one ecosystem and another—goes into overdrive in a traditional agricultural landscape, where every hedgerow, coppice edge, and field boundary functions as an ecotone.

That doesn’t happen in the gargantuan moncultures favored by modern corporate agribusiness, of course. Yet you won’t see the people who back the 30 by 30 project suggesting that 30 per cent of world farmland ought to be handed over to small family farms and local communities to raise crops and livestock using traditional methods. The unspoken assumption is that the only alternative to unfettered corporate exploitation is untouched wilderness. That assumption’s very convenient to corporations that want to squeeze out small farms, which is why it’s so heavily pushed by those environmental groups that get all their funding from big corporations.

Ecologically speaking, this is a desert. There are better ways.

Mind you, there are other ways to weave human life and nature together, and indigenous peoples used a huge number of them. Here in northeastern North America, for example, the native people had a clever, effective, and ecologically sound alternative to livestock raising. They used controlled burning and other methods to increase the habitat and forage for deer and other tasty animals, so that the population of these animals boomed.  They then planted luscious gardens near the forest. Of course a great many deer came to raid the gardens—and of course somebody was waiting for them with a nocked arrow. Garden hunting, as it’s called, was an elegant adaptation that allowed human beings and wild animals to live in harmony with each other; the human population benefited from a richer food supply, while the deer and other game animals benefited from improved habitat and steady but not excessive predation.

That specific approach may or may not be appropriate to any given ecosystem, and of course that’s just the point. Each ecosystem and each bioregion requires solutions relevant to its own needs and possibilities. Combine the knowledge gathered by ecologists over the last two centuries or so with the traditional lore and know-how of local people and indigenous communities, and nations and communities can reshape their relationship to nature in ways that provide stability to nature and human societies alike over the very long term.

This idea is starting to spread in the populist counterculture. It may be the most revolutionary notion of our time.

Does this seem wildly unrealistic?  I’d point out that it’s much more realistic than the global land seizures and mass deportations of the 30 by 30 plan. The changes I have in mind lend themselves well to local projects and individual experimentation—a case can be made that they are are best launched voluntarily at the grassroots level, rather than being imposed by out-of-touch experts empowered by a fragile and impermanent consensus of the world’s governments. Since the current US-centric world system pushing top-down projects of the 30 by 30 variety is looking remarkably brittle these days, for that matter, it may not be a good idea to pin hopes for the future on its indefinite survival.

Some scientists suggest that we’ve entered into a new geological epoch, the Anthropocene, which is shaped by humanity’s impact on natural systems. If that turns out to be true from the perspective of geological time, it’s the approach I’ve sketched out here that gives us some shot at an Anthropocene worth having. What that might look like will be the subject of several upcoming posts.


  1. Are you suggesting a link between the users of anti-masturbation devices and electric cars? 🙂
    I’ve just got in from doing a bit in a friend’s woodland, where a group of us (a traditional farmer, retired businessman, geneticist, mason, intelligence operative, carpenter, actress, and hedge witch are some of us) are restoring old coppice. There are orchids now appearing for the first time in 30 years, hundreds of species of moths, deer, birds, you name it. It feels right, it is a joy to do, nobody wants to go home at the end of the day. We also get a lot of firewood and venison. There’s so much it’s almost a joke!
    This is real environmentalism: getting dirty, cold hands, and actually doing something. No placards, no marches, no shiny brochures or Ted Talks.
    Long live the foragers!

  2. One thing I learned living in the Japanese countryside is how much more time I enjoy spending in nature when it’s heavily stocked with amenities for human beings. There’s something nice about hiking up a mountainside with stone steps in the middle of the woods, to suddenly find a seemingly abandoned temple with a mysteriously fully stocked vending machine.

    I would spend my mornings jogging around man-made lakes built next to the ocean, and my weekends hiking various trails deep into the woods which always had vending machines, sometimes had steps and guardrails, and often led to temples. It was nice and felt a lot more intertwined than the trails here in America.

  3. The book 1491, describing the Americas right before Columbus depicts the indigenous living in managed landscapes gracefully meeting human needs. A great book that blows away the pristine wilderness with no humans. as being necessarily the highest state of nature.

    In Charles Eisenstein’s book, Climate, A New Story my favorite portion was Tending the Wild about how the landscape of California before the Gold Rush was a cultivated landscape, cultivated by the indigenous people and that to them untouched wilderness was a lesser state of being. Yes, for nature to be at her highest state she needs the hand and mind of humanity. I know a present day indigenous leader in California whom I have heard express the same vision. Ron Goode, tribal chairman of the North Fork Mono Tribe in California.

    In the Bible in Genesis humanity is placed in Eden to “dress and keep it” The Hebrew for ‘dress and keep” could also be translated to “serve and observe closely”. This service and observation to me is the real heart of the purpose of the gift of human dominion over the earth for if we wisely meet our material needs the earth is brought to a richer more beautiful state. And for that to happen humanity needed to be fruitful and multiply so there would be enough of us to effect that.

    Here is Tending the Wild from Charles’ book Climate – A New Story, a very wise book and well worth purchasing and reading

    By the way I am not advocating a wholesale return to the indigenous lifestyle once present in California, but an application of wisdom to find new life giving ways using what we know and who are now and finding new knowledges and applying knowledges now on the sideline.

  4. There’s a limit on how many human beings that can live sustainably from local agriculture and local energy sources. That number is probably close to the population size two hundred years ago, at the start of the industrial revolution. The world population was roughly one billion then, we’re now at 8 billion and with serious overcrowding in various poor countries. What happens to the population overshoot?

  5. A wonderful article. I’d never heard of this ’30 by 30′ lunacy. I agree Man can and should behave as part of nature – but unfortunately his mind-set can be so weirdly destructive, that the outcome depends on culture, and that of course is not true of any other species we know. It’s a pity we can’t compare ourselves with other big-brained races, as SETI hasn’t so far apprised us of any. Who knows, it may be that “intelligence” tends to quiver on a boundary between Nature and what one might call anti-Nature (like macrobes worshipped by the NICE initiates in That Hideous Strength).

  6. Mr. Greer,

    I can’t help but notice the modern Western cultural concept of either advanced civilization or untouched nature but not both or some third option seems to be a variation of the future is either Star Trek/Singularity or complete apocalyptic Mad Max world. No alternative options allowed; our way or the highway so to speak.

    And speaking of ecology another thought that a lot of people ignore right now is that the areas with the most abundance of life and the most diverse plant and animal species are all in the warmer zones near the equator. From an ecological perspective a glacier is nothing more then a wasteland but those are not thoughts you are supposed to think these days.

  7. I broadly agree. There was also the push for 50% of land to be re-wilded which I think is akin to what the 30×30 plan is trying to do. Here in the UK I just scratch my head at how that could even be possible (obviously it might be possible at a global level but the colonialism would be horrendous).
    I would welcome further thoughts where you say: “Combine the knowledge gathered by ecologists over the last two centuries or so with the traditional lore and know-how of local people and indigenous communities, and nations and communities can reshape their relationship to nature in ways that provide stability to nature and human societies alike over the very long term.”.
    There are plenty of places without indigenous communities or indeed very much insight into ecology, e.g. the UK. What are we to do to achieve that bottom up / local approach that I think you are describing?

  8. Well put. Ever since taking a permaculture design course a decade ago —and both prior and subsequent to that, deepening my ecological reading and polyculture gardening practice— my own thinking and experience regarding my place as an animal in the ecosystem has been taking the rough trajectory you describe. It has been striking to notice however, just how far away from this perspective I started from and how much further there is to go. Likely the distance is much more than can be traversed in my lifetime. As far as the adoption of something akin to this attitude by any significant portion of the US population, I don’t see many off ramps for either the SUV drivers I see with NOTW (not of this world) bumperstickers outwardly professing their piety of a rather detached sort, nor the Teslas with [insert self-satisfied vanity plate electricity pun here] whose piety is equally detached from the biophysical world. Not least because the two groups seem to think their respective consumer purchases actually represent something fundamental about them rather than simply expressing (among other things) their different demographic silos. Thanks again for a thought-provoking read.

  9. Thanks for this one, JMG. I’ve been thinking along these lines for some time and it’s very good to see others come along in a similar vein. I look forward to seeing you flesh your ideas out here.

    It has been my observation that all the tech, knowledge and resources we need to bring on the Regenerative Anthropocine already exist. What is missing is a widespread worldview to make it inevitable.

    I’ve been wracking my brain for years about how to do this, meanwhile reading your always fascinating blogs. Ironically, I was seeing part of the answer right here, all along, though I have little idea how to make it so. It is very strange, coming from a strictly science upbringing, to arrive at the belief that naming magic may hold the key to our future.

  10. It is not bad. Let them play.
    Let the guns bark and the bombing-plane
    Speak his prodigious blasphemies.
    It is not bad, it is high time,
    Stark violence is still the sire of all the world’s values.

    What but the wolf’s tooth whittled so fine
    The fleet limbs of the antelope?
    What but fear winged the birds, and hunger
    Jewelled with such eyes the great goshawk’s head?
    Violence has been the sire of all the world’s values.

    Who would remember Helen’s face
    Lacking the terrible halo of spears?
    Who formed Christ but Herod and Caesar,
    The cruel and bloody victories of Caesar?
    Violence, the bloody sire of all the world’s values.

    Never weep, let them play,
    Old violence is not too old to beget new values.
    – Robinson Jeffers

    I’ve always found Jeffers vision both jarring and captivating. It’s almost unfathomable that a contemporary liberal could cite him today. Quite a change when environmentalists in the 70s didn’t find his world view anathema.

  11. Bravo! A tour de force of everything that has gone wrong with the environmentalism of my youth…Great points about Dune….I’m happy to say that the sheer wonder and love of Nature continues to captivate me and our sons, and i believe will be passed on to the next generation… whether it’s canoeing in the wilderness or wandering off the beaten track in a national park…Life would be unbearable for many of us in the rat warren that the WEFers want to create….

  12. I guess the farmers of the Netherlands and Germany have figured this out and certainly the farmers of Sri Lanka have. Maybe the rest of us need to catch up.

  13. Thanks for reading about this plan so we don’t have too 🙂 (I googled it and started to read and said — ‘no way am I going thru this’)

    I find it odd that they have such an aggressive date. All the stuff I normally see keeping slipping into the future (like retirement of ICEs and such). If this is more than just a grift, the “slipping” will need to start soon.

    thx again


  14. JMG,
    This is a topic near and dear to my heart, though I have to admit not hearing about the 30/30 movement. I have to agree that from description of it here it is a scheme straight from the Davos crowd and will be as useful and accomplish as much as the EV revolution.
    That said, I will put in my pitch for limited amounts of wilderness and ” wild land”. Most indigenous cultures that managed their lands for maximum efficiency still set aside certain places as sacred. Land to be inhabited only by the gods. To the Hawaiiens these places were Kapau ( sacred). Often the tops of mountains, or special valleys and waterfalls they were deemed off-limits to even the most well meaning.
    I think that during these last days of our ” fossil fuel superpowers” we must strive to accomplish the same thing in a few areas through strict rules . To preindustrial people the preservation of out of the way places like the Eagle Cap in Oregon or Alpine Lakes in Washington was easy because they were cold, remote and not really practical places to farm, or live. Once our bounty of cheap energy is gone they will once again become ” Sacred Land” as their locations ( and hopefully others) make them best suited as places for the gods and not man. We currently have the power to exploit and ruin any place on earth so only some strict rules ( in the hear and now), like the wilderness act from the 1970’s can help us keep them intact until then. To be clear, I am talking about no more than about 3% of land.

  15. I just had to look it up.

    “Advancements are being made to charge Li-ion below freezing temperatures. Charging is indeed possible with most lithium-ion cells but only at very low currents. According to research papers, the allowable charge rate at –30°C (–22°F) is 0.02C. At this low current, the charge time would stretch to over 50 hours, a time that is deemed impractical. There are, however, specialty Li-ions that can charge down to –10°C (14°F) at a reduced rate.

    Some Li-ion manufacturers offer custom-made cells for cold-charging. Specialty chargers will also be needed that decrease the C-rate according to temperature and charge the battery to a lower voltage peak; 4.00V/cell rather than the customary 4.20V/cell for example. Such limitations decrease the energy a Li-ion battery can hold to roughly 80% instead of the customary 100%. Charge times will also be prolonged and can last 12 hours and longer when cold.”

  16. Stuart Jeffery @ 8, there may no longer be indigenous peoples inhabiting the UK, but there are many historical records which describe the ways in which Britons inhabited and managed their environment before industrialism. It occurs to me that the much maligned royal and lord’s forests had what we might now call an environmental purpose. For one thing, the baron needed meat for his table and hunting was a good way to keep his armed retainers in good training. For another, the villeins were allowed to exploit the forest for other resources, such as forage for their pigs, wood for their fires and building, herbs and roots for food and medicine.

    In the American West, ranchers and environmentalists are in many places working together to repair the health of degraded areas. Reintroducing beaver is a favorite technique, also replanting trees along native streambeds.

  17. To Stuart Jeffrey,
    Dear Sir,
    You live in the UK? Did your ancestors come from the UK? If so, you are an indigenous person. If you want to learn what your ancestors knew, I would recommend starting by watching Tales from the Green Valley. I think you can find it on YouTube. There is a wealth of recorded indigenous wisdom for you to feast on.

  18. This is exactly the conclusion which I have had to come to. Modern environmentalism isn’t trying to reconcile humanity with the rest of nature, it’s trying to further separate humanity from nature. The eco-modernists outright say this and assert that the only way for humanity to stop destroying nature is to become independent from it. It’s the most hubristic and absurd thing I have ever heard. We will never be separate and independent from nature.

    Have they ever stopped to consider that the relationship between humanity and the rest of nature could be harmonious and interdependent if we were willing to change our values and lifestyles? How tragic that the remaining part of humanity which has actually cultivated a healthy relationship with nature is the target for these kinds of schemes. This conversation reminds me of William Cronon’s work “The Trouble with Wilderness” which I think should be required reading for all environmentalists.

  19. We’ve got that same picture of Hobbiton up on the fridge!

    Your post offers a glimmer of hope for better ways to sidestep the mechanations of the Misfortune 500. That phrasing was darkly brilliant.

    & it is posts like these that have me coming back every week.

    I picked up the Myth of Disenchantment again to finish reading the second half, and in regards to this convo, I found his discussion of Freud fascinating. The idea that the idea of disenchantment was psychologically “introjected” en mass has some staggering implications.

    On the other hand, now knowing the influence Ludwig Klagges had on Critical Theory shows me just how much influence a mage working on the fringes can have. That kind of influence xan be cery good.

    At the same time, the people who oppose Critical Theory might have more fuel to their fire if they knew it had an occult background – not necessarily a good thing for occultists in the time of the second religiosity. But I dont know how many will be reading his book, probably not a lot.


    Here is a bit of inspiration for those who favor the down home funk flavor of green wizardry, this one with a Taoist spin.

    I listened to this video at work yesterday. Its about a man who has lived off the grid in Appalachia for 50 years. He is very inspired by chinese gardening and is also an herbalist. Fascinating and inspiring. Not all the appropriate tech people of that gen went back to the burbs.

  20. I’ve been arguing that now for 20 years. Enviros never complain that regular citizens are forced to compete with Bill Gates, Hedge Funds, Private Equity conglomerates, Pension funds, Chinese billionaires for land. There are millions of young people who would be happy to return to local communities to run small farms and the infrastructure those farms need to distribute and serve the food produced. That would be healthier for people and the earth. Currently it is impossible for most, because you can’t run a small farm with $300,000 of debt.

    There is something anti-human about today’s environmentalists. So far removed from nature, they are functionally useless in the context of nature, which seems to cause some self loathing, which then gets projected onto people generally, and particularly on rural people and the working poor.

    Much of the mental, spiritual and physical derangement of modern society could be alleviated, if we relocalized productively. But that is hard to explain to people who are mentally, spiritually and physically deranged by modernity.

  21. Benn, huzzah! What a fine project. As for electric cars and anti-onanism hardware, I’ll leave that for my readers to judge for themselves. 😉

    Dennis, that’s utterly charming. I’m reminded of British footpaths, where you can walk for hours on chalk downs with hardly a sight of human existence and then dip down into a valley and there’s a pub waiting for you.

    BeardTree, I heard Goode speak once at an event in southern Oregon. He made exactly that point, and that sparked a major rethink on my part of how human beings can interact with the land.

    Per, not so. We know far more about nutrient cycles and regenerative agriculture than anyone knew two hundred years ago — the revolutionary developments in organic intensive food production over the last century will probably go down as our age’s greatest contribution to human welfare — and sustainable crop yields well above premodern levels are well within reach at this point. Meanwhile, of course, human population growth has peaked on every continent but Africa and is near the peak there; China just recorded its second straight year of population contraction — 2 million fewer people there than last year…

    So it’s purely a matter of getting past the bulge and adapting to the population decline ahead.

    Robert, thanks for this. I should probably reread That Hideous Strength sometime soon, as the contrast between Belbury and St. Anne’s is very much part of what I’m discussing here. As for intelligence being poised on the boundary between nature and anti-nature or (if you like) good and evil, in religious terms isn’t that the whole point to free will?

    Karl, ding! Two direct hits.

    Christina, glad to hear it. I’ve got some ideas already but we’ll see what else surfaces as I research the upcoming posts.

    Stuart, you may not have indigenous cultures in Britain but you certainly have rural people who retain some knowledge of folkways passed down over very long time scales, and abundant records to fill in the gaps. Are you familiar, for example, with maslin farming? That’s the custom, once all but universal in Britain, of planting fields with a mix of different grain varieties and then harvesting and grinding it all up together to make bread. Since different grains thrive in different conditions, maslin guarantees a better harvest no matter what the weather is like, and the bread is far more nourishing. Here’s an article:

    Marc, the SUV and Tesla drivers aren’t the people who matter; like all privileged classes, they’re the last to get the memo. You might be astounded to know how many rural Bible-believing Christians these days are into herbal medicine and organic gardening.

    Donkey, excellent! Yes, and that’s one of the reasons why ages of reason always come to an end: people aren’t motivated effectively by reasoning. It requires magic to move them.

    Bonaventure, thank you for this! Reading Jeffers, for me, is like jumping straight into a lake of icy water: a shock, but refreshing.

    Pyrrhus, thank you. That rat warren wouldn’t even be tolerated by rats!

    Kay, Sri Lanka in particular is a textbook case of just how fracked up things can get when a bunch of clueless elites try to impose a selection of green buzzwords on the people who actually do the work, without taking the time to learn something about the subject first.

    Jerry, oh, I figure 2030 is the 2012 of the privileged environmentalists, the date on which a vast number of hopelessly unrealistic fantasies can be piled, so that people don’t have to think about the world their own choices are making. Once it slips past, there’ll be another date and an even more extravagant set of fantasies.

    Siliconguy, what the cities want is increasingly irrelevant, and will become more so as resource scarcity and population contraction really start to bite. Chicago’s a great example, frozen Teslas and all.

    Clay, that’s a valid point, and one that I’ll be addressing as we proceed.

    Siliconguy, and of course nobody thought about that when they launched the big push for electric vehicles.

    Enjoyer, exactly. Exactly. The insistence that the comfortable class can’t possibly change their lifestyles — even though those lifestyles are miserably unfulfilling! — is the rock on which the current environmental movement is shattering. It needs to be said, and said loudly: if you’re not willing to change your lifestyle to benefit the Earth then you don’t actually care diddly-squat about nature.

    Justin, thank you for this. Down home funk is always welcome. 😉

    William, a good, harsh, accurate summary. Thank you.

  22. Recreation and aesthetic appreciation are still human uses of natural resources, aren’t they? Just ones vastly more important to the affluent and the outright rich than to poor rural populations, the latter having different priorities.

    Also, I’ve been seeing the idea that humans should “serve” nature here and there, subordinating their selfish desires to nature’s needs, whatever those may be. I’m sure it isn’t new to you. I suspect it doesn’t appeal to many outside of a very particular political niche. The idea of a mutually-beneficial relationship – of people improving their environment in a specific and systematic way in order to help themselves – seems both more intuitive and more likely to attract widespread support, if stated clearly.

    Then again, the “protected area” people would arguably be trying to improve the environment to help themselves, in terms of recreation, aesthetic appreciation and emotional satisfaction from having “served nature”. Just to the detriment of the material interests of those who would better served by a different use of environment.

  23. I can’t understand why there isn’t more emphasis on individuals (like me!) turning our 1/4 acre yards into fully functioning ecosystems. When we moved in on 1JULY2001, we faced a barren rectangle of hardpacked clay.
    Today, I’ve got a mini-forest, grasses, a wide variety of plants (many of them natives), and critters of every size up to opossums (I’ve seen them).

    If everyone turned their yard into a backyard wildlife refuge (a program the National Wildlife Federation has promoted, mainly as a way to sell signs to alert the neighbors you DON’T have a weed-infested vacant lot), you’d see a LOT more wildlife!

    This isn’t hard.
    It is compatible with a vegetable garden.
    It gives you nature, up close and personal, and you’ve housed plenty of critters.
    You can have a clothesline, too, keeping your backyard functional as well as attractive.

    Where is the push for this approach?

  24. Did anyone else look at this and wonder just how much food prices would increase if all this land was set aside for anything other than farming or fishing, and just how much of a mess that would create on its own?

  25. My immediate neighbors across the road are pushing 90. They are trying to sell their small scale productive sheep farm, they want to sell to someone who will keep together their 18 or so acres rather than breaking it into the seven or so investment lots it can be sub-divided into. The place has great infrastructure a good well, a commercial kitchen, decent barn, decent house, couple of small rentals that could be utilized in a work trade very easily. A mere $1.3 million. Per my back of napkin math (with some actual practice raising sheep and cows in the area) I’d say you could bring in a yearly income of about $25k off the property…. With an outside full time income of $60k that you MIGHT be able to get as an under 35 something in this area and a monthly mortgage of around $8k why you should be able to starve to death no problem, that is IF you don’t have any other debt.

    I watch the world around me ever more rapidly implode, I am left with two significant feelings. First, that there are a whole lot of people with their heads in the sand who refuse to acknowledge that anything can meaningfully change. and those people ought to be scared $#!%less of where things are going because they are utterly (especially mentally) unprepared. Second is a sense of excitement that the next decade or so of turmoil in North America is likely to open a great amount of opportunity for many folks especially in rural areas. The government isn’t going away, but I see its influence at every level starting to recede in the rural areas, even as things are more tightly managed than ever. As our economy falls to pieces something like living as a small scale productive farmer is likely to start getting a lot more viable.



  26. Back in ’97 I came across an essay stating that human beings were meant to be the immune cells of the biosphere body, immune cells and humans being alike gifted with intelligence in their respective worlds. But, we were instead attacking the body rather than defending it, as if the Earth had a case of ecological AIDS. (Maybe today it’d be more apt to liken the march of the multinationals to the endless replication of spike proteins.) The Conservation Pledge strikes me as resonating with this idea of humans’ intelligent role in safeguarding ecological health. And let’s remind ourselves of the ancient wisdom that had Adam and Eve in charge of the of Eden, not the Wilderness of Eden.

  27. One of the modern environmental schemes that is actually useful and effective is the Conservation Easement. This is mostly masterminded by the “Nature Conservancy” which is often maligned as the ” real estate wing of the environmental movement”.
    Recently my father passed away and passed on the ownership of the family homestead dating back to 1885 in the Centennial Valley of Montana. I ended up as the executor of his estate and had to figure out what to do with 288 acres in one of the coldest, and most remote places in the US. I did not want to be the one to hand over ownership of one of the last homesteads in the valley still in its original hands, but at the same time I worried about the risks of maintaining such a place a 16 hour drive from where I live.
    But I was offered the opportunity to place it in a conservation easement with the Nature Conservancy. Such an easement protects it from all future mining, oil drilling, wind tower building ( and specifically prohibit the construction of any buildings not associated with livestock so any future as a vanity ranch is out.) but allows the traditional local use of livestock grazing. Thus I could lease it out to local ranchers ” for an amount that just pays the now reduced property taxes” but be confident the Nature Conservancy had local people to monitor it and make sure it did not turn in to a campground, or a dumpsite and that the creek on the property would be fenced off and protected from degradation. At the same time the property could remain as a piece of a key migratory route for Elk and Grizzly Bear from Yellowstone to the Tetons.

  28. Daniil, yes, that’s certainly one aspect of it. I’m also far from sure that “sustainable use” means anything but “business as usual” once corporations and their pet bureaucrats get control of even more land than they have now.

    Teresa, I see your crystal ball is in working order. Yes, I’ll be talking about that. Are you familiar with the word “refugium” as used by students of ice age ecology? If not, stay tuned.

    Helix, now let’s see more people put those concepts into practice. I’ve seen too many permaculturists whose gardens exist entirely in their own heads.

    Taylor, no doubt huge agribusiness corporations have in fact thought of that, and are drooling over the prospect of the increased profits.

    CC, thank you.

    HippieViking, it won’t even take a collapse. I’ll have quite a bit to say about this in an upcoming post.

    Greg, I recall the same essay — I think it was by wotsisname Zell (I don’t recall which name he went by then). Whether or not it’s more than a metaphor, it’s a valid goal to move toward.

    Clay, that’s quite a useful arrangement — thanks for mentioning it.

  29. I’ve seen the petitions asking for 10, 30, 50% of the earths surface to be protected. Sometimes 70% of ocean is suggested.

    Color me skeptical, but I always wanted to know how they’d deal with food production. I never saw a detailed explanation of how we can do this without substantial rises in food prices and starving people by the people proposing this. The closest I got was an assumption that we’d just stop eating animal products or eat less of them, and that this would solve the problem. Or that because hunger is allegedly solely an issue of inequality, we shouldn’t consider the potential of this policy’s effect on food supply and prices.

    I came to the conclusion that this was impractical, wouldn’t be put into practice, and if it was would likely do a lot of harm to everyone but the rich. Especially the higher numbers, like 30 or 50%.

    JMG makes a very important point about how it would force people off their land and that this would cause major disruption and human suffering by itself that I hadn’t thought through in detail.

  30. @Jmg: Otter Zell, from the last remnant of California’s Church of All Worlds. He’s also responsible for the figurine “Millennial Gaia,” which I bought once, and it looked great on the surface, but made me uneasy. I finally figured out it was here blissed-out smile, that of a world-class navel-gazer.
    Are you familiar with his predecessor, “Gwydion” ” As in “Gwydion sings songs of the Old Religion” – including one very funny one about the real hardships of living off-grid in the mountains, another about “Goodly King Richard,” (being another Ricardian), and a third one about “bury me under the oak tree, and let me come back as an acorn.” Will check my library to see if I have a print copy of his songs, since hearing problems led to giving away my CDs long ago.

  31. i see a lot of useful ideas just in this comment thread! As to population, I am firmly of the opinion that America was a much better place when i was in grade school in the ’50s than it is. now, with more than double the population…..As far as I am concerned, the eventual return to a world population of 1-2 billion, which i think is inevitable, will be a major improvement, and give now vanishing wildlife a chance to repopulate…..

  32. This talk about how Humanity and ecology reminds me of a game that came out back in 2014 called Civilization: Beyond Earth. The basic plot was in the near future Earth is ravaged by a social and ecological cataclysm called the Great Mistake and humanity enters into a new dark age. The game takes place about 300 years into the future after Mankind has clawed its way out of this dark age. Now there was an ideological system in this game based on how your civilization decided to interact with the ecosystem of the new world you were colonizing.

    Harmony ideology was about fully integrating your civilization into the new environment of the new world. Purity ideology was based on the belief humanity’s future is linked to its past and mankind needed to reshape its environment to better meet its needs. The last ideology, Supremacy, stated that mankind was a completely separate entity from its environment and this is the ideology that lead your civilization adopt things like cybernetics and uploading your mind into a computer.

    So when I read Ecosophy Enjoyer’s comment about how modern environmentalism is trying to further separate humanity from nature I thought about that and can’t help but think how much modern environmentalism and singularity futurism are two sides of the same coin. Both view mankind as separate from its environment and both view urbanism as mankind’s true habitat.

  33. HippieViking @ 30, I think your friends need to advertise their property in AcresUSA and Small Farms Journal, or maybe contact the nearest Ag college. They won’t find a buyer through the usual channels, and nor will the RE dealer explore options other than the big ticket, preferably cash, buyer. I hope they have not signed an exclusive contract with the RE dealer.

  34. @Siliconguy(15). I am in Chicago. It is cold. Telsas are having issues (and lots of other stuff as well)

    But know what survived? My Chickens. And today they laid 4 eggs, the other cold days I got 3 eggs a day. As as new chicken owner (have had them for 300 days) I was worried.

    They are tanks, and they are better than Telsas!!!

    And with a good shelter, they know how to stay warm (not like a Tesla). ha ha ha . Just having fun at the expense of Telsas!

    Nature 1, Tesla 0

  35. When I first found out about the Permaculture concept, I was fresh out of college and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I had always loved nature, as a homeschooled kid I was out in the forest all the time, had planted trees and dug a small pond when I was 9, etc, but hadn’t any sophisticated understanding of the place of the human in the world. So when I found permaculture I had my mind blown by systems theory, Odum, all the problems with modern industrial ag and so on, and had an epiphany that the human being was a keystone species, and in a way and magnifying lens of consciousness(which was not separate from nature) and as much damage as we can do to ecosystems we can also do the reverse amount of good. I now realize that being out in nature during my childhood taught me these things in a subconscious way, priming me for that understanding to mature, but this is an experience that many children in the industrial west are deprived of. In a way, I don’t blame the city liberals for having no idea about how ecosystems actually function, and having no notion that an environment well-tended by humans is actually much more beneficial to the rest of life than “wild” land excluded from the human gaze, mind and touch. Of course, that may in turn be better than an environment badly tended (or exploited) by humans a la industrial ag… Great essay!

  36. Interesting in the later novels is when the climate and environment changes in Arrakis that also transforms the Fremen culture.

  37. Forgive me o great and wise Archdruid,
    If my math is correct
    Antarctica is about 9% of the earths landmass.
    Australia is about 5% ( I‘ll take 3% not to offend the Ausis)
    The Sahara desert would be about 8%
    Add in Greenland 1%, the Gobi desert 1%, the inland Soudi peninsula, the uninhabited parts of Sybiria and the Northern Canada and we are suddenly weary near to reaching 30%.
    We‘ll let random some high schooler in southern Iowa make the exact calculations as his geography extra credit assignment.
    And we declare the mission accomplished and send the shills to get real jobs.


  38. The greatest compliment we have ever gotten for the house we live in and that we have spend so much time and energy into to make it what it is today was, when a friend for the first time entered the kitchen through the backdoor: “Oh, that’s how I imagine a Hobbit house!” And I am very happy to say that a young couple bought another old house not far from ours a few years ago and turned it into something which on our first visit spontaneously created the impression “Rivendell!” in my mind. And now, what would the 30x30iers say to this, if they’d got a chance to fulfill their fantasies?

    But there are other ways. A friend of mine once told me how it came that she and her whole family settled over from Russia to Germany when she was a child. They run a small farm there to supply themselves with almost everything they needed. Next to no electricity, everything very simple but from her memory very livable. They left everything behind when her older brother became old enough to serve in the military. The Chechen War loomed and though there were other factors at play, too, but the parent’s fear for the life of their son was finally too much to bear and off they went. And now you hear the war drums all over western Europe and they claim that within six years “we” must be ready to fight against Russia. My oldest son will be eighteen by that time – if these freaks should get their wish, what then?

    A few weeks ago a tragic chapter in my wider family finally closed. It started with the death of a small girl, just one year old, during the flight from the allied bombings during World War II and it ended with the death of her older brother on his 85th birthday who had to witness her death and the pain of their parents when he was just a small boy, maybe four years old. It seems it was a wound to deep to heal in this life – and the energy still continues to descend through his part of the family causing grief and loneliness in those involved.

    Sometimes, when I contemplate these stories and think about how many more of them could be told, how many children and parents have suffered a fate like this or worse – are suffering it right now. A maelstrom both unleashed and suffered by man in all his ignorance. The 30x30iers, they probably don’t know it but they dream a dream full of violence and so do our “masters”.

    Wow now that was an upbeat story… But I guess it had to find it’s way out somehow. And I openly admit that these things are a source of a lot of fear and sadness. I originally intended to start with the story of two guys that should have shown up for their court hearing because they glued themselves to some street somewhere in Germany but didn’t come because they were on Bali… and now see what has happened!


  39. Dear JMG
    “Yet you won’t see the people who back the 30 by 30 project suggesting that 30 per cent of world farmland ought to be handed over to small family farms and local communities to raise crops and livestock using traditional methods. The unspoken assumption is that the only alternative to unfettered corporate exploitation is untouched wilderness.”

    Well, here is an interesting thing. It seems that 70% of the food people eat is STILL raised by smallholders, peasants in traditional ways, on small mixed plots – and yes, that’s on 30% of the land, using 25% of the energy and resources. IOW, while industrial agriculture has gobbled up too much land, and squanders too many resources already, it can STILL only boast of producing 30% of the food people eat.

    That is the argument made here – with plenty of evidential backing – by the ETC.

    This research is brought to you by “THE ETC GROUP…or Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration… a small, international, research and action collective committed to social and environmental justice, human rights and the defence of just and ecological agri-food systems and the web of life. We are aligned with diverse popular and social movements and civil society organisations who share our values, particularly in the Global South.” website
    (not a member, just an interested reader)

    I, for one, find this kind of research encouraging.

  40. Celadon, that really makes it clear that the people at Davos have no notion where their food comes from. I think, for their sakes as well as ours, they ought to give up trying to run the world and do something instead more suited to their intellectual capacities, like playing with dolls.

    Pygmycory, exactly. Nobody’s thinking of the practical implications. They’re just bandying around empty abstractions without a moment’s concern for their impact on the real world.

    Patricia M, thanks for this. I wasn’t sure if he was Tim Zell, Otter Zell, or Oberon Zell when he wrote that essay. (Or has he changed it again? Ozymandias Zell has a certain panache to it…) I never knew Gwydion Pendderwen, but I knew people who were students of his.

    Pyrrhus, it’s happening. It’ll take a century for the population to drop all the way back to carrying capacity, and if it follows the usual pattern it may go lower before it stabilizes — it’s not at all uncommon for population levels after the fall of a civilization to drop to 5% or so of peak, which would put human population a little under half a billion worldwide at the bottom of the trough.

    Karl, another direct hit. Celebrity environmentalism claims to be about love of nature, but it seems far too obsessed with leaving nature behind to make me comfortable with that claim.

    Jerry, huzzah for the chickens!

    Isaac, I came of age ecologically before Permaculture was widely known — I was reading basic ecology books right around the time Permaculture One saw print — but I had a similar experience. As for humanity as a keystone species — yes, exactly. We’ll be talking more about this as we proceed.

    Roger, as indeed it should. Human cultures are just as deeply rooted in environment as nonhuman ecosystems; the problem with our current cultures is that they’ve adapted to an environment with vast supplies of cheap energy and nonrenewable resources, and those are going away.

    Marko, funny. Yes, that might work.

    Nachtgurke, thank you for this. It’s not a pleasant story but it’s a necessary one — too many people are too mired in abstractions to think of the horror that would ensue if their abstractions became realities.

    Scotlyn, thank you for this! That’s a statistic I saw years ago but haven’t seen it updated — this will be hugely useful for the upcoming posts.

  41. @Marko,
    all of those places have people in them. In particular, there are over 26 million people living in Australia,
    56,000 in Greenland, I can’t easily calculate for the Sahara but all of Egypt except the delta right near the sea is part of it according to the map, there’s over 112 million people in Egypt, and there’s about 2.5 million people in the Sahara outside the Nile valley. There’s also people in Northern Canada, often spread out in small settlements. There’s a surprising number of people in Siberia about 36 million. If you’re only considering the northern part of it, that number would undoubtedly go down. The gobi desert I can’t find numbers for, but Mongolia is 3.4 million.

    There’s a few thousand people in Antarctica, generally scientists studying the place. They’re probably the only ones who would go fairly willingly.

    I can’t see Australia willingly decamping en masse, for instance. Nor all of the Nile valley except the delta. Or Siberia. Or northern Canada. You’re also talking about dispossessing the descendants of the mongols of their land. 30 by 30 in this method is something you’d have to fight major wars to do, because the countries in question will fight it tooth, nail, and with all the more modern weapons at their disposal.

    The areas in question contain tens of millions of people, and tend to have economies based on resource extraction, the products of which are used round the world. Mining, farming etc. Australia exports substantial amounts of coal and other mined products, for instance, and there’s quite a bit of farming going on there. Plenty of mining in northern Canada too. Depending on how far north you’re talking about in Canada, there’s also farming, timber, mining, and oil and gas.

    This is not a no victim game, and would have major impacts far beyond the areas named.

    Furthermore, doing it this way would leave many important biomes completely unprotected, including all the most diverse ecosystems on the planet, and many of the ones that contribute most to ecosystem services needed by all. It would defeat the purpose of 30 by 30, while still mangling the world economy and displacing over a hundred million people.

  42. As Wendell Berry quoted a friend in his book, ‘The Unsettling of America’, “My name is David Budbill, and I belong to the chain of being too … ”

    Also in her book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’, Robin Kimmerer writes about the research project that she supervised studying native sweetgrass and various methods of indigenous harvesting. The project showed (with the methods and language of SCIENCE) that any method of regular, respectful harvesting made the sweetgrass healthier. Just like the local indigenous elders consulted on the project had predicted.

  43. In other news, I found it interesting that in last week’s Covid thread on the dreamwidth site, two of us cited papers indicating that, actually our alienation from nature is a GOOD thing, and counseling people to be very, very suspicious of anyone promoting a “natural” approach to anything.

    I myself cited a peer-reviewed paper (from a few years back, admittedly) which made the case that if you recommend breastfeeding as a “natural” way of feeding a baby, you are essentially enabling anti-vaxxers and their ilk to *completely* undermine public health goals, so don’t do that.

    At around the same time, another anonymous poster cited a different paper stressing that “Natural immunity… is a dangerous right-wing conspiracy theory” – linking to this article from 2020

    I suddenly realised that “consorting with nature” is actually being positioned – by the same people who probably think that 30 by 30 style is a good idea – as a crime against progress. We want our nature without people AND our people without nature!

    So, maybe you’d better be careful there, JMG… 😉

  44. @Taylor (#28)

    For years now, I have been puzzling over why on earth the wealthiest and most powerful interests known to man would even give a rat’s pajama about the environment, let alone pour truckloads of money and other resources into ‘protecting’ it. Then I read your comment and the penny dropped: this isn’t about the environment, it’s about the only thing governments and huge corporations ever really care about – money. Yes, food prices are part of the equation, but they are just an opportunistic sideshow; even more significant is real estate, the real focus of the initiative. People need land to live on, and nobody is making more of it, so as the population grows so does the demand for property. Increasing the demand – which is what naturally happens with rampant population growth – without changing the supply tends to drive up prices, making land owners wealthier by default.

    However, the current drop in population growth worldwide is now a threat to those who rely on this strategy for acquiring unearned wealth. So what to do? Simple: match the drop in demand by an even greater drop in supply by rendering vast tracts of land ‘uninhabitable’, thus forcing its current inhabitants to seek out – and pay for – new accommodations. Environmentalism is the perfect excuse to leverage government power to make this happen without having to invest in actually damaging the land.

    It would not surpise me at all to see much of this ‘protected’ land get expropriated, then traded between government agencies and major corporations on a quid pro quo basis (all the while fanfared with declarations of altruism), ultimately to be sold off at astronomically inflated rates as and when opportunity to do so arises.

  45. @Teresa: There are people out there doing it, and showing others how to do it! If you’re interested, one book I’ve read on the subject is: *Create Your Own Florida Food Forest* by David the Good, but a quick keyword search for “backyard food forest” will turn up quite a lot of discussion on the subject. These are oriented toward permaculture-ish food production for people, of course, but the concept also happens to be good for wildlife, groundwater recharge, soil building, and increasing biodiversity, on a scale anybody with even a small yard can participate in.

  46. Hi JMG,

    I hadn’t heard of this 30 by 30 project. My immediate thoughts go to when I messed around with Google Earth about 10 years ago. I liked picking a random “green” looking spot on the globe and zooming in – invariably it was almost never (I mean less than 1% of the time) an actual bona fide forest or something like that. Almost always when you zoomed in it was some form of farmland. You could tell the small farms from the large ones by the degree that a rigid sense of human order was forced onto the land, the older farms have a more organic flow to them and I got the impression they reacted and perhaps co-operated more with the land itself, the larger farms seemed to blast an order onto the land (at least where they could). In the most extreme examples these green areas would turn out to be perfect circles of green on otherwise arid looking stretches of sandy brown, the product of mechanical watering systems. Anyway, 30 seems like a quite high percentage to aim for!

    Something your post made me think about, also, is that I’ve noticed the way animals make use of some of the structures I use in my garden. Birds for instance seem to love the bamboo frames I grow tomatoes and pole beans on, and I seem them perched on them all the time watching for things to hunt below. They seem just fine flying through the gaps in them too and it’s neat to watch.

    Certainly I have seen an increase in biodiversity on our property as a result of all the gardening. This year I saw grass hoppers, tiny frogs and fire flies added to the list, last year I saw a huge praying mantis. All these are just unintended “byproducts” of my project to try to teach myself how to grow at least some of our own food, and have been a surprise to me.

    Something I didn’t get to report back on, is that this year I tried to make all the structures I mentioned earlier out of our own bamboo we planted 20 years ago or so, by binding 3 pieces together to make one. I wasn’t sure it would be strong enough, as each individual piece was really quite weak, but amazingly enough it was, and it was the first year where nothing collapsed on me (well not much, and what did were the exceptions where I did it the old way, with far stronger, but much shorter pieces of bamboo I had leftover from past years).

    This year I have left our bamboo plants in the ground over winter, as I have heard the birds like to eat the seeds off them when food gets scarce, and it’s no big deal to do. I always liked their chirping, but I have grown to like them more with time.

    Thanks, and looking forward to this series!

  47. One last thing. I think the recent post by commenter Alice Em is rather topical.

    In that post, she speaks about the SEC’s move to establish NAC’s (natural asset companies), “assigning tradeable monetary value to “ecosystem services” like “water filtration” and “global climate regulation.”

    She also shares her own contribution to the public consultation process for this move, very reasonably and cogently pointing out that it is one more “enclosure of the commons”, and also that the value these assets (ie ecosystems, and so on) may provide to their future “owners” might not ever come from anything they themselves do to improve them, both only from the fact that what they purport to safeguard will become rarer and more valuable as ecologies continue to degrade).

    Anyway, I recommend reading her original. It’s good. It’s very good. And also very topical.

  48. Hi JMG,

    One more thing, at risk of talking your ear off, I had a guy stop by our place one day over the summer. He was in the city from a small town an hour or two from us to buy a car or some such thing, but since his dad was a master negotiator he’d left him to take care of the details and was just wandering around the place. He was quite shocked to see our garden, and couldn’t believe there was something like that in the downtown of the city which is how he got to telling me about where he’s from. He was really into it and his comment was it looked like a jungle or a forest, which I think is the closest thing it resembles, even though if you see it earlier in the process it actually looks like complicated geometrical shapes – very organized and obviously coming from a human mind.

    That contrast between these two things, the initial mathematical order, and the appearance of a natural chaotic look as it fills in, is something I’ve thought a lot about. The first part may not be entirely necessary, but the orderly stage I think sells the neighbourhood on the project being more “acceptable”. At least nobody has tried to stop me just yet! Anyway, it’s more aesthetically pleasing to me which is why I do it, and I think is something too!


  49. Got distracted into looking at fertility rates in different countries on worldometer.

    Those rates have dropped over time. In particular, India is now down to 2.0. All four of the most populous countries on earth are now at or below 2.1 children per woman. There are few places outside Africa and the Middle East with above 2.1. There are a few in the Caribbean and South America.

    On a worldwide basis, we’re now down to a rate of 2.3 as of 2023. Which is apparently the same as 2020.

    Lifespans seem to still be rising slightly on a worldwide basis. Any effects of the pandemic and response to it are invisible. Infant and child mortality is still dropping.

    On a North America-wide basis, there was a drop in lifespan in 2020, but as of 2023 its now the highest it has been so far. I’d imagine this probably includes Mexico, as this information differs from what I’ve heard about Canada and the USA. I could not find individual information on lifespan in either country on worldometer.

  50. “the “Nature Conservancy” which is often maligned as the ” real estate wing of the environmental movement”.

    They do more good than harm. The usual problem they cause is they get property tax exemptions, and that leaves everyone else paying more. The land they exempt isn’t usually putting that much into the county’s collections, but if you do take too much land off the tax roles things can get pinched, even more so since the cities keep loading on public responsibilities onto rural area that can afford them.

  51. There is a fantasy series in which the environment and it’s apex critters plays an important part and, it matters here too for our future.

    It’s Brian Naslund’s “Blood of an Exile”, the first novel in his series “Dragons of Terra.”
    The cover is fabulous and I’d embed it if I could.
    I reviewed it and went into some detail: on factors good and bad in the novel.

    The point I want to make here is one that, again, many elites safe in their city apartments don’t always understand. I don’t believe Brian Naslund understood this either.

    I don’t care if dragons (his come in a huge number of subspecies and they are ALL apex predators in their respective niches) are vital for the ecology and the environment if they eat my kids, my aged mother, and my sheep!

    But according to Queen Ashlyn Malgrave, keeping dragons alive in the ecosystem are more important than a the wellbeing of flocks of sheep and peasant children.

    Wolves and tigers are great, but I don’t want them eating my kids or my livestock. This is another factor to consider when rewilding.

  52. JMG, it strikes me that your explanation of what an enacted “30 by 30” policy would look like is similar to a scaled-up version of what is happening in many Western cities now. Large numbers of migrants ending up in slums, with few job prospects, contributing far less in taxes than they use in services, resentful, clashing with the local population who is also resentful, the result being turmoil and extremism. Accurate?

  53. John,
    This is really interesting. What could be more logical than a continuation of the ignoble land clearances of the last several hundred years in the West?
    #3 BeardTree, Thanks for reminding me about Charles Eisenstein’s book on climate. I will have another read.
    Pyrrhus #37 In Australia our population is now 5 times more than when I was in primary school. No discernible improvement anywhere though; medicine might be better.
    Nachtgurke #44 Sadly many German families would have similar stories. Karen Armstrong in her book “Fields of Blood” calls war “a psychosis caused by an inability to see relationships”.
    As you can see not exactly an original thinker, rather a taking issue with mind.
    Scotlyn #45 Those are really interesting figures.

  54. “it’s the approach I’ve sketched out here that gives us some shot at an Anthropocene worth having. What that might look like will be the subject of several upcoming posts.”

    Oh GOODY GOOODY GOOOOODY!!!!!! Are we finally getting to the alt-history where the Reagan counterrevolution failed, and what that might have looked like? My parents were very much anti-hippies through my entire childhood, to the point of dedicating the latter half of the 80s to pre-oil shock US-made “muscle cars.” That is not an exaggeration either – along with restoring the 1965 Olds 442 bought in the late 70s, they added a ’68 442 convertible and a 1970 Cutlass S to their list of fair-weather vehicles. Considering they still live in NE Indiana, that completely excludes the road-salt season of the year. (For anyone wondering, I am a bit of a throwback to my grandpa.)

    OT: Pygmycory, I just want to say thanks for your general recommendation in a recent open post about the Team Recorder YouTube channel. I have pulled all three of mine out and am playing again – when hubby is outside, that is. He claims it isn’t my (seriously rusty) playing capability but the instrument itself he just doesn’t care for. It is actually working out fine for us, since he’s been inspired to take archery back up. If I can get enough traction with the art career idea, then perhaps we’ll both get an upgrade later in the year.

  55. Hi John Michael,

    190 years of western culture imposed upon the local forests have produced a total mess, with repeated monster disasters. A person is probably not allowed to say that, but some do. It’s hard to imagine that the firty firty mob would achieve anything better, other than making the entire problem biggerer. They could do that for sure, don’t you reckon? The forests (and in fact the entire continent) down here was actively managed by our species for tens of millennia.

    Balancing the needs of the local wildlife with that of my own in terms of managing the surrounding environment, has been one of the most complicated matters I’ve ever put my mind to. And it is a constantly shifting target. However, the place jumps with life and produce, and not all of the critters are unfriendly and self serving. Far from it actually.

    What the firty mob want is a very old game. However, once a civilisation abandons it’s rural productivity in favour of abstract concepts, it’s game over. The question I always wonder is: How many times do we as a species need to learn this lesson?



  56. Putting this separate in case it won’t fly, but …
    Can I nominate marko #45 for at least a blue star? I know gold stars are our esteemed host’s prerogative, but if there is no silver star I am happy to draw a blue or purple one for that bit of brilliance in totally undermining this 30 by 30 nonsense.

  57. I love this conversation! I very much appreciate your writings, and this essay. When my kids were little I read ‘Last Child in the Woods,’ by Richard Louv (I believe I remember that right), what I appreciated about his book was this very same idea, that nature shouldnt be set aside from us humans. Kids should not observe it from the trail, but come immerse themselves in the woods in order to fall in love with the nature which they later will want to protect, with themselves in it. It helped me take my kids off the trail and they spent hours building forts, climbing trees, noticing the changes in the woods through the seasons….

    More recently, my daughter needed to build a model house construction for her 5th grade class. She chose a sod house. We went to the local forest for material. As we left the woods, she holding a lovely piece of moss which would form the small roof, I was stopped by a fellow who was furious that we were removing the moss. He lyelled about how we ruined his day and he couldn’t be more disappointed in us. Meanwhile oblivious to the 12 year old girl watching him, incredulous. I listened and didn’t see any point in responding. I believe I wished him a better day.

  58. A far more useful exercise than the nonsensical 30 by 30 movement would be the late great Dave Foreman’s concept outlined in his book ” Rewilding North America”. Instead of the nebulous idea of protecting 30% of the earths surface is the idea of protecting certain land to avoid fragmentation of habitat to avoid more species extinction. If we agree that minimizing excess species extinction is a good idea. It makes more sense to holistically look at what species are endangered by habitat loss ( as opposed to other causes) and then figure out how to minimize the destruction of that species habitat. The main point Foreman makes is that the key is not how much habitat is protected, but how it can be interconnected so species are not marooned on islands of habitat.
    The problem is the blanket concept of protecting land wholesale ( outside of wilderness areas) . Instead we should be looking at which things are involved in habitat loss ( pollution, chemicals, clear cutting etc. and limit those things not remove the humans from the land. Then figure out how to link those habitats so species can migrate and evolve in response to a changing climate.

  59. One of your best!! Many thanks. As I read it my own thought was stimulated in time with your words, which I love to experience.
    Definitely one of your best, which is saying a lot. I am eager to read what comes next.
    Two books come to mind, one of the most beloved, the other, well it made a good fire.
    First, a book of poetry, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil by Tolkien. In it we watch as Tom moves through his world. First, he is caught by Old Man Willow, whom he tells to go back to sleep. Then the Badger catches him and drags Tom deep into his hole. Tom tells him to go back to sleep, Badger says oops I beg your pardon. Then the Barrow-Wight catches Tom, eliciting Tom’s most extreme reaction, “go away and never return.”
    Tom moves through his world gently, non violently, and when possible, respectfully. Tom would appreciate your writings.
    Ah, then comes E.O. Wilson’s “Half Earth”. As I recall, I burned it. It made a nice fire.

  60. Have any of you heard of the concept of ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’ – which is a kind of spurious objectivity in my opinion of measuring how much a project will affect biodiversity? The idea is they have some infrastructure project that might destroy some wildlife habitat but they then have to promise to do something else that allows them to claim they are getting 10% net gain or however much. As long as you don’t ask too pointed questions on what that means in reality rather than abstractions/buzzwords.
    A true cynic might think this is a step on the way to financialization of the whole conservation sector along the same lines of carbon offsets you could have biodiversity offsetting which might explain corporate interest in some ‘rewilding’ projects.

  61. Hi John,
    Yes it is true that in parts of the world, indigenous people will lose access to land for traditional hunting/fishing. I remember during the days of Prime Minister Harper when First Nations people in Canada blocked bulldozers belonging to those wishing to profit from mining and logging. The protesters said “You can’t destroy this land, this is our supermarket”. On the other hand there are many places in the Western US and here in my home state of Maine where no one occupies the land except for corporate interests who seek to make a tidy profit. In the West some of this land is already public land. Here in the East it is corporate owned. This land would be better off preserved and allowed to sequester carbon than to be pillaged by profiteers. Much of our problems with a warming climate are due to the fact that humans have reduced tree cover from 6 trillion to 3 trillion trees. Here in Maine many land trusts have done a great job raising money and purchasing corporate land, some of which has been severely degraded but is now being allowed to recover. Out West the leases on public land can be expired. These leases are so cheap that they are more like corporate subsidies than they are leases.

  62. Are you familiar with the entomologist Doug Tallamy’s Homegrown National Park project ( He argues that the time for conservation of the kind 30 x 30 is proposing is long past. Even if we did want such a thing, preserves of that ilk require enormous contiguous zones and frankly they no longer exist. But what we can do instead is create one, because humans are agents in nature. He is creating a network of backyard gardeners who are cultivating their properties to support ecosystems. Honestly, it is the most hopeful and practical project I’ve seen in a long time.

  63. These paragraphs are from the recent exhortation from Pope Francis, Laudate Deum:

    25. Contrary to this technocratic paradigm, we say that the world that surrounds us is not an object of exploitation, unbridled use and unlimited ambition. Nor can we claim that nature is a mere “setting” in which we develop our lives and our projects. For “we are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it”, and thus “we not look at the world from without but from within”.

    26. This itself excludes the idea that the human being is extraneous, a foreign element capable only of harming the environment. Human beings must be recognized as a part of nature. Human life, intelligence and freedom are elements of the nature that enriches our planet, part of its internal workings and its equilibrium.

    27. For this reason, a healthy ecology is also the result of interaction between human beings and the environment, as occurs in the indigenous cultures and has occurred for centuries in different regions of the earth. Human groupings have often “created” an environment, reshaping it in some way without destroying it or endangering it. The great present-day problem is that the technocratic paradigm has destroyed that healthy and harmonious relationship. In any event, the indispensable need to move beyond that paradigm, so damaging and destructive, will not be found in a denial of the human being, but include the interaction of natural systems “with social systems”.

    I find it interesting that here, he dismantles both the techno-utopianists and eco-apocalypticists, insisting that man and nature are part of the same Creation and that God’s original purpose was to have man fully in communion with the rest of nature. Unfortunately, as with the usual things in journalism nowadays, this was ignored largely in favor of the usual hot button issues that get attention in the news hype and controversies cycles. I also wish that in the latter half of the document, the Pope went all old-testament prophet instead of making some naive aspirations about high level international agreements. Then again, the document was written to address COP28, and it’s not like the powers that be back in the old testament days listened to their prophets either.

    On another note:

    > Many of them, indigenous or otherwise, will not leave voluntarily. They don’t care about the angst of privileged people in the rich part of the world; they want to stay on the land that they and their ancestors have inhabited, and live the way they’ve always lived. So they’ll have to be forced off their land at gunpoint by soldiers, in a reenactment of the Trail of Tears on an almost unimaginably larger scale. Some will fight back, and there will be deaths.

    I’m quite optimistic that we’re not going to get anywhere close to that point. I mean, it’s already happened to some extent as you point out, but I don’t think it’ll get much bigger. Remember when China, in the mid-2010’s, broke the world’s “recycling system” by finally putting a stop to Western exports of literal garbage? The “exporters” then tried to continue by shipping garbage-filled containers to Southeast Asia instead (illegally, in mislabeled containers). That didn’t go over well, obviously, and thousands of tons of waste was sent back to their origins. Then-President Duterte of the Philippines even threatened to break diplomatic relations with Canada over such waste shipments!

    Nowadays, the “natives” don’t just have their own ideas on what to do with their own lands, they have their own armies too. I say, good luck to the 30-by-30 crowd, and bless their hearts!

  64. Kfish, thanks for both of these.

    Scotlyn, I was just thinking of that. It’s fascinating to watch people who used to give at least lip service to nature swinging around and spouting this kind of nonsense — and then still insisting that they care about the environment. If natural things are so politically incorrect, why not just pave the planet?

    Johnny, the sort of nature-centric backyard gardening you’ve discussed in comments here has a significant role to play in what I have in mind. Stay tuned!

    Scotlyn, thanks for this.

    Johnny, that’s high praise.

    Pygmycory, yep. The population bomb is in the process of giving way to the population bust.

    Teresa, and that’s one reason why rewilding isn’t part of the package I have in mind.

    Taylor, quite accurate.

    JillN, exactly. It’s the same mentality, inflated to the scale of absurdity.

    KM, in a certain sense, yes. I plan on talking about how to pick up where things left off in 1980.

    Chris, I wish I could answer that. Some kinds of stupidity appear to be hardwired into human consciousness.

    KM, well, you can certainly hand out a star of your own…

    Tamar, I wish I could say that surprises me. That guy badly needs a proctoplexiotomy — that’s the operation that inserts a pane of plexiglass in the belly, so that those who have their head up their backsides (the technical term is “cephalorectal impactation”) can see the light of day. (Yes, I learned these from nurses back when I worked in nursing homes!)

    Clay, that’s one approach. I’m going to be arguing for a somewhat different one, as species turnover is a constant in the history of life on earth.

    Michael, I have to admit that the thought of Tom Bombadil confronting E.O. Wilson made my day!

    Mawkernewek, I hadn’t, but it doesn’t surprise me. Sheesh.

    Peter, the one thing you can be sure of about top-down bureaucratic projects like 30 by 30 is that whatever gets said in the press releases, it won’t be the multinational corporations who lose access to their profit sources. It’ll be the local and indigenous people. Thus it’s a good idea to walk away from the whole boondoggle and look for other options.

    Brandi, I wasn’t, but that very concept is an important part of what I intend to suggest, so thank you!

    Carlos, good heavens. I thought that “bless their hearts” was purely a Southern US way of saying “frack them and the horse they rode in on”!

  65. I think a lot these problems just boil down to urbanisation and large cities. They have the habit of treating everywhere else as either a store of resources to be sucked dry or a play park to be kept free of pesky humans, and an intellectual habit of abstracting into oblivion. Power concentrates there, along with decision making, and you get some pretty horrible results.

    The way industrial agriculture currently operates is the most efficient way for the city to dominate the countryside, with very little benefit for the countryside. Grain crops themselves are great for urban areas because they capture the productivity of a piece of land over a given year and produce something that is energy dense and stores very well.

    The solution to many of the problems is simply to get more people living rurally in smaller settlements (more people rather than less), as many beneficial things will flow on from that, including even just the desire for greater amenity and less agriculturally induced ecological deserts. However, It will probably take something drastic for that to happen.

  66. I will piggy-back on Marko’s comment (#43), because what immediately came to mind was: If you discount The Antarctic, the Sahara and Gobi deserts, the Himalayas and other similarly rough and not-quite-accessible mountain ranges… you have given yourself blanche-carte permission to strip mine pretty much the rest of the planet like there’s no tomorrow.
    And that might be just it, because from the subjective point of view of the mostly Old, mostly Atheist elites and their enabling lackeys, There-Is-No-Tomorrow. They are going to die soon; they have not given a signs of caring for their legacy or even the fate of their own offspring; they believe themselves to be beyond consequences. What they care about is to not be haunted by a last minute pang of conscience while they wither away in their robot-staffed eldercare retirement homes! This way, they can pretend to have “at least saved as much as feasibly possible”. With “feasible” meaning “without causing me the least inconvenience”, and “saved” meaning “leaving untouched whatever I did not wanted in the first place”. In this sense, the vagueness of the 30-30 proposal is not a bug, but a feature.

  67. Bravo! This is the kind of future I can get excited about. ‘From consumption to production’ is a revolutionary notion indeed. I am looking forward to the upcoming posts.

  68. A keystone species is a species whose presence sends positive reverberations and effects through an ecosystem – wolves, sea otters and beavers are examples. Yes, humanity can be the beneficent keystone species for the earth! Green wizardry – humanity’s most powerful magic. The possible abundance and healing effects of the biosphere and what it may produce has yet to be fully plumbed and manifested.
    An example – The Mono tribe in the Sierra Nevadas had a tradition of maintaining the meadows in the forests of those mountains – burning, weeding, pruning, thinning, planting. They were forbidden to do so on the federal land that occupies much of the Sierras.
    So nature did what it does “naturally” filling those meadows in with trees. Result – less biodiversity, fewer food sources, even poorer absorption of water into the soil. The tribe received permission to restore and maintain meadows. So they went in with chainsaws and fire. The result – more diversity, food sources for animals and insects along with craft and food items for the indigenous, better water absorption and retention, dried up springs began flowing again. And an expansion of beauty. Ecologically an ecosystem if it has an element of mild disturbance and neighboring different ecosystems in contact is more alive. Again, the earth needs us to be at its most beautiful and alive!

  69. I think of my country, New Zealand, which was perhaps the last major landmass on earth colonised by humans, well certainly since the last interglacial. NZ basically had to be terraformed to support any sizable population, begun by Maori, and then with great zeal by Europeans. Whilst Maori have usually been adaptive and enthusiastic adopters of any technology or cultural concept that enabled them to work the land or the sea better and never worried too much provided papatuanuku is looked after, NZ’s environmentalists have doubled down increasingly on the separate from nature approach, to the point now where basically we have to cancel ourselves. I laugh because if NZ is to work at all, it requires incredibly active engagement with nature, both to protect native ecosystems that cannot adapt to mammalian predators, and to support a population. But yeah, our main environmental organisations have, like the Sierra Club, become entirely focused on othering nature, except perhaps for the self appointed good people who are occasionally allowed in to see her…

  70. KM Gunn,
    you’re welcome. I’m glad it’s working out for you. Does he like the lower recorders? I’m asking because a lot of people who don’t like soprano recorders like the sound of a tenor or a bass. The tenor is a bit big for people with small hands and short arms though, and some find they need extra keys or a bent headjoint, or if you’re me, both.

  71. When I first heard of 30 by 30 a while back, I thought it was a mere slogan. The wiki article about it is rather alarming. 50 countries signed on? Maybe that is just to placate someone and not intended to be taken seriously.

    In most if not all states in the American West, more than 30% of all land is either National Forest or BLM. I believe the figure for Oregon is 50% up to about 80% or so for Alaska, if I remember correctly. The desert Southwest is fast becoming uninhabitable for dense human settlement, and the Basin and Range cold deserts are not far behind. IDK about other countries, but I do know that some in Africa have huuge national parks. Possibly the 30% is approximately the size of the land a diminishing and impoverished human population will have to abandon.

    As for what is this scheme is about, I think Old Steve is onto something. The one thing American elites will not tolerate, besides white and non-white working class folks working together, is falling real estate prices.

  72. What is it about the term “rock-ribbed”? Can it apply to people other than conservatives? It has been many years since I read “Dune.” I’m gonna have to re-visit it soon.

  73. Thinking about the desire to inflate real estate as a factor in the 30 by 30: that does make a worrying amount of sense to me. It fits with what the Canadian government has been doing in terms of actively encouraging record immigration the past couple of years, (seriously, look at a graph of Canadian population, not immigration total population. There’s a big vertical jump.) which has poured fuel on the pre-existing housing crisis in my area. It feels like the people in charge are actively trying to making living standards for ordinary people, and related capita CO2 emissions, take a nose dive. And they don’t care what, or who, gets broken in the process.

    The one silver lining is that people are actually openly that immigration is way too high, and this is showing in the media, and the fact that it is being driven by economics and access to housing and health care is actually recognized. Accusations of racism are barely being made anymore, the problem is so obvious.

  74. At the turn of the millennium, while I was in my early twenties, I read The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris. It effectively dislodged any notions I had of Man being uniquely special or divorced from the rest of nature. Your essay The Next 10 Billion Years did a fine job elucidating the world view that emerges when the lessons of evolution and deep time are truly internalized.

    While that world view does not spur a sense of urgency, it certainly frees the mind to consider more immediate concerns. The goals of fresh air, clean water, and fertile soil are immediate to those who know they depend on them for their existence.

  75. So I am thinking about ways to turn a concept like Regenerative Anthropocene into a viable political ideology in America. This would require integrating resource nationalism and scarcity industrialism into a coherent economic platform; it would bare quite a bit of resemblance to old school Mercantilism especially with an emphasis on local domestic manufacturing and a reduction of imports. As you would want to move away from corporate control and re-center the economy around small businesses we would also see reforms along the lines of Distributism.

    It would probably see the implementation of a new Homestead Act. I remember back in the 1930s the Department of the Interior had a Subsistence Homesteads Division that was part of the New Deal programs, might be worth looking into reviving. Banking system would need to be reconfigured; with a focus being given to credit unions and mutual banks over these large private banks. Lean heavily into development of local machine shops and blacksmiths to repair equipment and to manufacture replacement parts for agricultural equipment. You would still need some amount of heavy industry for military production as rival states are not going to go away. Massive expansion of America’s railroad network along with America’s inland waterways.

    To sell this to the general public you would have get a bunch of young men to buy into it. Best way to do that would be to lean rather heavy into America’s frontier past. Every nation/civilization has an iconic warrior. For Europe that was the Knight. For Japan that was the Samurai. For America that was the Cowboy and luckily the imagery of the cowboy and frontiersmen lend itself well to this project. Wrap it up in the symbolism of Davey Crockett, Daniel Boone, Oregon Trail, Wild Bill Hickok, Buffalo Bill, etc…. Especially lean into the backlash the destruction of all those statues and demonization of America’s historical figures by the Progressives is generating.

    The thing is you are also going up against the religion of Progress so to a large extent this is a religious struggle so you have to either create a religious movement to counter it, co-opt the teachings of an existing religious movement or perform some kind of theological judo to turn Progress against itself.

  76. This is a very encouraging essay because of the chance to contribute to species richness on one’s own little piece of land (if one has land) or even on one’s balcony or community garden.

    Pope Francis has been much maligned by commenters on this blog. I wonder if you, JMG, or a commenter can point out any difference between the arguments of the essay and the paragraphs from Laudate Deum that Carlos M. extracted.

  77. Reminds me of what I’ve seen of solarpunk visions, minus the backyard fusion plants and other forms of wretch-inducing Utopianism.

  78. I’ll probably have more to say when you get down to specifics on what we can do, since I spent three decades working with three different backyard-scale vegetable gardening techniques, gathering more than two decades’ worth of data that pointed to one of the three techniques as working the best for me and learning the yields I can obtain from it. For this post, I’ll mention a recent book, Feeding Cahokia: Early Agriculture in the North American Heartland, by Gayle J. Fritz, since it describes what has been learned about the agricultural practices around Cahokia, North America’s most populous city a thousand years ago, with more people than any European city of that time. It’s a 20 minute drive from my house, in the American Bottoms on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River across from St. Louis. Fritz describes the domestication of the crops forming the Eastern Agricultural Complex (bottle gourds, squash, sunflower, marshelder, goosefoot, erect knotweed, maygrass, and little barley) over thousands of years and argues that corn and beans contributed little to Cahokia until later in its development, with the Eastern Agricultural Complex crops being dominant instead. This is relevant to eastern areas too: while corn was the dominant crop when Europeans first arrived on the east coast, the Eastern Agricultural Complex crops were domesticated much earlier and were later displaced by corn. It’s also relevant because the domesticated or cultivated forms of the last five crops no longer exist, the link between the crops and the people who grew them having been broken sometime after Cahokia was depopulated (by 1400 CE).

  79. PumpkinScone, unfortunately you can’t move a billion or more people out of big cities without turning the places they go into big cities.

    CR, I’m quite sure that the vagueness of the plan is a feature rather than a bug. You’ve suggested one of the reasons why.

    Dylan, glad to hear it.

    BeardTree, that’s an excellent example.

    Peter, thanks for this. That’s a fascinating point.

    Mary, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Steve is quite correct.

    Phutatorius, I’ve never heard it applied to anything but conservatives.

    Pygmycory, that makes a great deal of sense to me.

    Misty, I’m glad to hear it. Too much of a sense of urgency leads to rushed decisions, and therefore usually to bad decisions.

    Karl, to my mind a new ideology is exactly what’s not needed. A new praxis — a set of practices that can be justified by various different, and even competing, ideologies — may be more useful.

    Aldarion, I’ll pass, though if someone else wants to discuss the Bishop of Rome’s comments they’re welcome to do so.

    Zachary, the other difference — at least in terms of the solarpunk literature I’ve seen — is that what I have in mind doesn’t have a Utopian flavor. It’s much more a matter of down home funk.

    SLClaire, that’s utterly fascinating. I wasn’t aware of the earlier pre-corn agricultural complex — thank you.

  80. Ken (offlist), nice try. If you want to participate in the conversation, you need to address at least one of the points I raised in the post, rather than stringing together a set of canned talking points irrelevant to what I said.

  81. The second book (Year of the Flood) of my favorite dystopian trilogy, Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood, features this apocalyptic environmental religious sect that has always stuck with me, God’s Gardeners. They have lots and lots of saints (Saint Rachel Carson, Saint Dian Fossey, Saint Shackleton, Saint Crozier, etc.), spend a lot of time teaching children conservation, scavenging, and organic gardening techniques, and, as opposed to a lot of made-up religions, feels very real and lived in.

    While I could do without the vegetarianism, apocalypse preaching, and wide-eyed optimism of some of the group’s more zealot adherents, I love the name (God’s Gardeners) and think that the concept could work either as a polytheistic religion or as a reinvention of Christianity. If we could get a large enough chunk of humanity to reimagine themselves as Gardeners or Wardens of the Garden of Eden, maybe we’ll stop acting like Psychlos, the space pirates from Battlefield Earth.

  82. Glad you got around to discussing the whole ‘30 by 30’ insanity, JMG. It’s as good a point as any to discuss the cornucopia of crap that the WEF crowd and their ilk revel in. They seem to view ‘us’ as an invasive species that must either be extirpated (or pretty darn close to it) ASAP and/or confined to a massive global penitentiary. Here I am thinking of the ‘brilliant’ idea that’s been bandied about of having a giant self-contained linear city three miles wide and hundreds of miles long which can incarcerate the population of an entire continent. Kinda like Gaza Strip on steroids. Oh – won’t it be wonderful when the hermetically sealed ribbon-cities are surrounded by million-acre farms owned by mega corporations and run by robot farmers and where not a single stalk of corn is out of place or is either smaller or larger than the neighbouring corn stalks. And then beyond that the once-again unspoiled wilderness where the ruling elite can hunt elk or catch swordfish or just kill wild animals for the sick fun of it! Finally, paradise regained!

    Such hideous imaginings can only spring from insular hyper-urbanized people who hardly ever encounter a wild critter in a tree or a weed peeking out of a sidewalk. The same kind of folks who think that men can become pregnant and that gender is a purely social construct. Funny how kids raised on a farm don’t have that delusion; I wonder why, eh? I’m sure they’d love to invite a city-slicker to come and milk the bull or collect the rooster’s eggs!

    I remember back in my university days having a rather disagreeable conversation with a fellow-student who had swallowed the whole ‘humanity is a plague upon the Earth’ malarky. She could not stand me waxing poetic about the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature in a traditional small farm (including a variety of crops, livestock, and the back 40 acres of wilderness, as was the practice in Ontario) and claimed that farmland is a species-starved wasteland and is just plain evil. Sigh. I did not bother to argue with her, knowing full well that she had spent her entire life in the heart of a big city and was only repeating talking-points from books; while I had loads of direct experience living on such a farm (but, since I wasn’t David Suzuki or have three PhDs in ecology, why would she think that I knew what I was talking about?).

    I am also glad that you picked up on the fact that Indigenous communities in western Canada have been calling out the 30 by 30 project as “green colonialism”. Oh, yeah – big time. Virtually anything that is advocated by any ‘white’ government they consider to be a lie; and when it is about the environment it is a lie squared! I can never forget how back in the 1970s through the 1980s, the federal government tried its darndest to stop Canada’s Inuit from conducting their annual spring killing of narwhal. Each community would catch one narwhal, bring it ashore and slaughter it, distributing every single morsel among all community members as per their centuries-old tradition. “The narwhal is an endangered species – there are only 140 remaining in Canada” the wildlife ‘experts’ would sternly lecture the Inuit. “Bullshale” the Inuit would steadfastly reply, “there are many thousands; we know their ways and you don’t know what you’re talking about”. By the mid-1990s, the Inuit were vindicated.

    Totally off topic, but I had a ‘Retrotopia moment’ this afternoon when I saw an article about churches without God: Not my cup of tea – but an interesting read!

  83. I happened to catch a short interview with ex-Australian Prime Minister and now ambassador to the US, Kevin Rudd, at Davos a day or two ago. He was asked why he was there and he said something about addressing global food shortages. How was he going to do that? By “raising capital”.

    Compare that to another Australian, Tony Rinaudo, who was on the other end of the capital raising machine in Niger and watched the money get wasted on projects that weren’t working. He realised the solution one day almost by accident. The story is well worth a read and proves the point about needing to be on the ground to find solutions that work. It’s here for those who want to read it –

  84. Love this essay! Here’s a sheerly pragmatic question: I have heavy curtains on the windows of my small house that I pull closed as soon as the sun sets in winter and pull open when the sun rises in the morning. (In the summer, I pull them shut during the daylight hours to keep the sun out and the cool in) I have heard it is a good idea to stick the curtains to the wall somehow, but I am not sure how people do this. Magnets? Velcro? Is it OK if any of the curtain, such as the top part, lets the air in and through?

  85. JMG, Your point about how the greater the bureaucracy trying to protect a segment of the environment the greater the power the corporations have to corrupt the process and export the land for their benefit.
    That exact same dynamic played out in the national forests ( at least in Oregon and Washington) starting in the late 1950’s. Most of the land designated as National Forest back in the early part of the century was not of interest to the timber companies. It was too remote, too steep, and too far from transportation or mills. The Forest Service was a small obscure part of the department of agriculture and most employed rangers, and biologists. The timber companies were content harvesting trees from their massive private holdings and state forests which covered most of best land in the coast ranges of Oregon and Washington. Their was little pressure to log the National Forests because in most cases it was not economic and the forest rangers had little interest in promoting it. That all changed as all parts of the Federal Government grew after WWII. Soon the agency found itself packed with office bureaucrats, timber managers and the like. They were then persueded by the timber companies that it would be a good idea if the government built and paid for the roads and bridges that would make logging the national forests profitable. And thus the rush to log the national forests that ran from the 70’s to the 90’s was kicked off.
    If the timber companies had replanted and managed the land ( they got for nearly free as sidekicks of the railroads) none of this would have been needed. An example of this , and a model of how humans can live with the land was Pacific Lumber in California which managed its Redwood Forests sustainably, provided good jobs for life and a pleasant company town. But it was purchased by a leveraged buyout guy from Texas and most of the Redwoods cut down in just a few years to line the financial pirates pockets.

  86. Thanks @Scotlyn for sharing my piece, yes I was sucked into that web-rabbit hole and hadn’t come up for sharing it here which I should have done! Also I SAW that with the thing about not calling breastfeeding natural. Too right about the people without nature as well as nature without people.

    A curious part 2 has happened with the Natural Asset Company rulemaking. The rule was withdrawn by the NY Stock Exchage today after thousands of comments saying NO.

    @JMG I haven’t taken the time to read the comments first as I usually do but I just have to cheer this post before I quit for the night. We are all in on a Small (to medium) Farm Future in a region that still has a relatively large number of human-scale farms. Here’s to Hobbiton! To “restoring the Garden”, to an Anthropocene worth living! And yeah, the Conservation Finance people are NOT talking about opening up millions of acres for smallholders to manage for food without debt. That’s not the game they are playing at all. Love this trajectory for the some upcoming posts. I have been pulled a thousand directions seeing the deep deep rot at the center of our current centralized power structure, built over generations. And then instead of worrying over it today we met with a guy who has just about got his slaughterhouse (I prefer this to the more euphamistic “Processing plant”) built and needs a regional scale branded beef project just like what we working on to team up to fully utilize the infrastructure. To privately held infrastructure (neither corporate nor government).

  87. I’m excited to see how you imagine an anthropocene worth having. Personally, I think a lot of work could be done through theology. The concept of the sabbath needs to be dusted off and put back into practical use. The sabbath is more than just one day in seven to rest, it is also an entire organizing life principle as it applies to our projection through time. It teaches people to give the land one year in seven to rest and the economy one year in 50 to forgive debts. It is built from the ground up to put breaks on economic growth in order to respect the land and cultivate a better inheritance for posterity.

    Also, I thought you might like to know that in my blue-collar neighborhood in the middle of rural, Chrisitan, fly over America I am surrounded by gardens. My neighbors to the right of me have one, the people directly across the street, across the street to the left of me, and across the street to the right of me, as well as other people around the block, all have gardens. Heck, the one guy several houses down processes cows and pigs that are perfectly good to eat but the meat packing industry throws away because they are too big or too small or have an injured leg. I should note though that I live in the factory worker section of town.

  88. Your comments about garden hunting reminded me of one of my hippie friends who moved country land near Ukiah, CA. He and others in the land buying group were mostly city-bred “Bambi lovers” who did not contemplate any hunting. Then they discovered that deer love gardens, including marijuana gardens. Later my friend’s slogan was “Anything in the garden is food. ” This followed a period of “Well the deer panicked and got caught in the fence. I had to put out of its misery.” There are also feral hogs on the land, which are also hunted. On one visit my then 3-year-old ran up to me to announce excitedly that “Pigs have meat inside.” I agreed that this was true but asked what had brought it up. Turned out she had been curiously watching a couple of returned hunters butcher out the hogs they had hunted that morning. This led to a series of questions of “Do -animal- have meat inside?” with answers of “Yes and we call that -beef, pork etc.” or “Yes, but we don’t eat -dogs, cats, songbirds-” until the ultimate question:”Do people have meat inside?” “Yes”, I admitted, “but we definitely don’t eat people.” As interesting as these conversations were, I somehow intuit that a children’s picture book called “Do pigs have meat inside?” might not have a large market.

    On nature adapting–crows in Australia have been reported as having learned how to eat the poisonous cane toads that some fool introduced to control insect pests. As is usual with such schemes the toads did not in fact control the pests and have poisoned many native predators that tried to eat them. Crows have learned to avoid touching the heads, where the poison glands are, beat the toads against the ground and consume the legs and bellies and internal organs. It is not clear that the crows are teaching one another these tactics, but it seems likely since crows are highly imitative.

    Several years ago, I was with a group of liberal friends discussing some piece of wilderness that was proposed for Federal protection> This was opposed by some groups. (I think it was the Bear Paw wilderness.) My companions were all pro-park. However, I had recently read the memoir of a man who had worked for California in the area near Auburn that had been planned for Auburn Lake until the dam was abandoned due to fears of earthquakes. While the issue was in the courts the land had to be patrolled to control squatters, poachers, illegal marijuana growers and other criminals. Such patrols cost money and the more remote and “untouched” an area is the more attractive it is for some undesirable activities and the more difficult to patrol. I could not convince my group just slapping a sign on the gate and a label on the map does not in itself “protect” an area.

    As a former Anthropology major, I will caution against regarding all indigenous people as eco-saints. Consider that the evidence suggests that humans helped the megafauna of N. America on the road to extinction. The Sea Dyaks of Borneo overpopulated their island with the result that they sped up the slash and burn agriculture cycle to the point that fields could not recover, worked their way down the mountains to sea and ultimately turned to piracy when they ran out of arable land. _Sick Societies_ by Robert B. Edgerton gives more examples of societies with maladaptive customs. Moreover, certain lifestyles led to chronic illnesses-for example, living in small huts with open fires aggravated chest conditions and irritated eyes.


  89. Thank you! I can adapt the garden hunting concept to our situation on the island, where we have wild sheep and goats, rather than deer. More such tips and discourse will find an increasingly broad audience. And the use of bow and arrows instead of firearms gets around current, indiscriminate hunting restrictions.

  90. Please read _Social Forestry_ by Tomi Hazel Vaarde. (Synergetic Press, 2023). He speaks of combining Tradition Ecological Knowledge (TEK) with Indigenous Ecological Knowledge (IEK). The final section of the book, entitled “Visioning,” paints a picture of the yearly cycle of activity in a social and ecological system in which I would happily live: strange echos of JMG’s _Retrotopia_ and Lao Tzu’s _Tao te Ching_.

    And he is not only talk; he describes in detail the work he is doing reclaiming and rebuilding a productive ecosystem in the Pacific Northwest trying to bring back “Beaver. Salmon. Fire.” Man has a role to play within natural systems. An obligation, one might even say…

    He has an unconventional, rambling, story-telling writing style but is highly worth reading, particularly in light of this week’s essay.

  91. 30 by 30 is exactly the kind of tripe that gets lauded when it’s on a PowerPoint slide deck created by an overeducated overpaid diversity hire in a vapid make-work consultancy

  92. JMG,
    A big thank you for today’s article. I knew there was something wrong with that movement, when it stops considering human a key species, which it is.
    And it also validates my efforts at creating a public garden.
    Twice the happiness!

  93. Excellent post, JMG. I’m not sure what surprises me more – the fact there are many adults who would back the 30 by 30 project thinking it’s a great idea, or the fact that today’s Western culture cannot seem to recognize or value wisdom. Those in charge seem to be stuck in a drunken stupor or dope smoking buzz that does a fine job of glossing over details, and checks logic at the door. I like to think I left that behind when I graduated from college, but of course just replaced some of those immature bad practices with others.

    I see a battle of the Bigs vs. the Wise Ones ahead. Big Farming, Big Pharma, Big Government, Big Banks, etc., all with the momentum of infinite growth and expansion and cheap energy versus the realities of limits, physics, and human faults. I thought forecasting weather was tough, but it’s tiddly-winks versus predicting how this all plays out. And trying to figure out what role to play before getting swept aside as collateral damage.

  94. Per Stangeland at #4 expresses concern that the human population of today, let alone that of the future, would be unable to live entirely locally, etc. I can say a few things to that.

    One is that the role of fossil fuels and technology is often overestimated by us in the West – probably because we ourselves use so much fossil fuels and technology. For example, people will say that absent artificial fertiliser, there would be mass famine. Not necessarily. Currently, a bit under half of the world eat food produced with artificial fertiliser – – which means half are fed with none at all. And those fed with artificial fertiliser, of course if you removed that their food production would not drop to zero. Let’s be unscientific and pessimistic and say that it’d be halved. This means the post-fossil fuels food supply would be 50% (the amount already made without fossil fuels) plus 25% (the amount made with them, but halved). In other words, 75% of our current amount.

    Would this be enough? Well, as the FAO reports – – current world grain production is 2,823 million tonnes. That’s about 353kg per person annually worldwide. Take 75% of that and we get 265kg each. That’s 720g each a day, which comes to 2,700kCal. That’s about right for a medium-sized active adult, and is much more than needed by children or sedentary older folk.

    Of course, nowadays a lot of this grain is set aside for livestock and biofuels. But then, there’s also oilseeds, beans, fruit, vegetables – and meat, fish, eggs and dairy products from those animals.

    So even in the impossible circumstance of the world’s supply of artificial fertilisers disappearing overnight, nobody would starve as a result. There will of course still be famines because of tyrannical governments, civil wars and so on. But nobody would starve because the world overall didn’t have enough food to keep them going. It’s a problem of distribution, not production.

    Obviously fossil fuels will decline over time, not overnight, so this fictional decline of 25% would take decades, at the least. Now, what’s going to happen to the population of the world in that time? It’s likely to peak and decline. If you look at a list of countries by total fertility rate – the number of children per woman, on average – – you’ll see that half of them are below 2.1, replacement rate. And if you do an image search for “Country X TFR” you’ll see that essentially every country in the world has had a declining fertility rate for some time. That’s the education of women. Once you educate women, they choose to have fewer children – even in very patriarchal societies like Iran and Saudi Arabia, whatever the law says, in the end a man has to be able to get through his day peacefully with his wife, so she’s going to her way on many issues provided she’s articulate enough to express what she wants.

    China’s TFR hit 2.1 around 1990, and its population peaked a couple of years back and is now declining. India has hit TFR 2.1, which means its population will peak and then start declining from the mid-2050s at the latest. Niger currently has the highest TFR in the world at 6.7, but that was India’s in 1960, 17 years later it was 5, 13 years after that it was 4, 14 years after that it was 3, and now it’s close to 2. Africa will give us the world’s last surge of population, but it won’t be enough to take the world as a whole much above 9 billion by mid-century.

    With more and more of the population over-65, there simply won’t enough people to care for them all. And so just as the plummetting birth rates have dropped population, increasing death rates will drop it further – it takes huge resources and work time to keep elderly and sick people alive. Nobody sensible would project numbers a century out, but it’s fair to say we’re not going to be tens of billions living on Niven’s Ringworld.

    These population changes, of course, will take generations to play out. But that means that the socioeconomic and cultural changes which would be involved in more local living will have time to happen. Again – about half the world are already living with little or no fossil fuels and technology. To abuse a technofuturist saying, the deindustrial future is already here, it’s just not evenly-distributed yet.

  95. “Then there’s Dune. Frank Herbert’s one great novel is among many other things a triumph of ecological science fiction.”
    Well, JMG, Dune is my favourite science fiction novel…

  96. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, I dunno either. Probably a lot, until we have no other option. That’s my best guess.

    For your interest, the reach of ‘them elites’ is already on the decline, at least that is what I’m observing. The thing that I believe is rarely mentioned is that ‘reach’ in the preferred format it takes these days requires an awful lot of energy to keep up. There are cheaper ways to do it, but they got lazy.



  97. Stuart Jeffrey,
    I’m very sorry that the mainstream media has covered up the genocide of the Britons. I remember years ago on TV seeing an interview with the direct descendant of Cheddar Man, who lived in the same area as his famous ancestor’s cave. Do you happen to know when he and his family were liquidated? Did the last Cornishman or Welshman go down fighting? I hope so– their Celtic forefathers got to the isles around the same time the Ojibwe conquered the clay I’m standing on. Those are deep roots to be severed completely. Or perhaps there was no secret genocide and we just have different definitions of “indigenous people”?

  98. >Of course a great many deer came to raid the gardens

    And they still do. I don’t know how many times I’ve said “Make lemonade out of those lemons and shoot those deer”. Although these days you have to watch out for zombie deer disease.

    >If natural things are so politically incorrect, why not just pave the planet?

    Is this, this era’s “We must destroy the village to save the village”?

  99. >you can’t move a billion or more people out of big cities without turning the places they go into big cities

    Ahem. You can move them into cemeteries.

  100. Thanks JMG,

    Looking forward to this series! I had been doing the bare-ish minimum version of gardening for quite a few years prior, but I only started to really push that further over the past 5 or so. I’m glad I took your advice and just got started on this early as it’s given me the freedom to just mess about, and risk total failure. I do learn about various correct ways to do things, but then sometimes I combine the thinking in ways that nobody is particularly recommending, to see if they’ll work, and I don’t get too stressed about the results. I guess I was thinking, maybe it’ll take me 10 years to get the hang of it, but actually it’s been going better than that.

    It’s been better than just worrying, which is what I think I would have been doing otherwise, and when it’s all working I get a different sense of satisfaction from pretty much anything else I’ve ever done. I remember last year sitting with my son out in it for maybe 10 minutes or so, and we were just watching all the different bees buzzing about, just hundreds of them really, or all sorts of varieties, and it felt like like a sign that this was the right thing to have been doing.

    Thanks again,

  101. Thank you for this. The turn in mainstream environmentalism towards this desire to separate us even more from an alienated nature has left me baffled and dismayed for a while now, and I appreciate the saner course you propose here. I do think there’s something to be said for establishing some areas of untouched wilderness now that human activity has penetrated into ever far corner of the globe, but in general I fully agree that we need to work towards symbiosis and healthy landscapes that can serve human needs where most people actually live.

    In a way, the “separation” approach infantilizes both us and nature: nature is weak and fragile, and we’re nothing but a scourge on the biosphere. It downplays and denies all our capabilities to do things for ourselves rather than rely on megacorps, as you point out. So yes, your vision of symbiosis and a well-tended countryside (with the occasional wilderness) makes a lot of sense to me.

    On occasion you’ve made a tongue-in-cheek suggestion that Gaia came up with humans to burn all the fossil carbon and raise the temperature. I always felt that gave present-day industrial humanity too big a role, and inspired me to come up with an alternative along the lines of this essay: what if humanity is here to make connections and modify the landscape in ways the rest of nature can’t, to increase overall biodiversity and health? Maybe that’s what our intellect and nimble fingers are for, rather than Progressing to the stars. 🙂

    I suppose you won’t mind bringing occultism into the conversation, so I also wanted to say I appreciated seeing a parallel to this thinking in the AODA/DMH magic system. That’s an aspect of that system I find really appealing personally: humans can “stand in the middle” and create the Grail of the lunar current by acting as a sort of mediator and joiner, and in doing so use our unique abilities as a species to improve the health of the natural world on the magical level too. At least that’s my possibly mistaken interpretation of it.

    “Yet you won’t see the people who back the 30 by 30 project suggesting that 30 per cent of world farmland ought to be handed over to small family farms and local communities to raise crops and livestock using traditional methods.”

    That’s basically what Chris Smaje is suggesting with his Small Farm Future writings. I know I’ve mentioned him before here, but I think his views go very well with the line of thinking in this essay and would be of interest to readers here.

    @Karl Grant #81

    Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t think fighting the tide of Progress is going to be that much of a problem at this point. I suspect the religion of Progress is reliant on a steadily rising standard of living, iPhones or not, and when that’s out of reach for enough young people, their faith will shatter. I’d guess a lot of young people already have sufficiently meaningless and miserable lives inside the official narrative it wouldn’t take that much to entice them to something along the lines of your vision.

  102. the delusion that human beings are not part of nature and therefore can only harm the biosphere.
    Yes! An under-scrutinized aspect of current-day ‘environmentalism’ which deserves a much closer look.,c_limit,f_webp,q_auto:good,fl_progressive:steep/

    The hyper-empowerment of both and that characterizes current reality needs to go down. How well or how badly would the world do without incessant top-down control by utopianists?

  103. A rich essay indeed. Thank you. I’d like to add two lines for consideration:

    Firstly, that the artificial distinction between man and nature as 30×30 intends is an outer manifestation of society-level failure to integrate our shadow. “Nature” is demonized – quite literally in the form of Pan – and we thereby lose a counterbalance to egoic impulses. Prompted by discussion on this board, I’ve been reading Sacred Disobedience: A Jungian Analysis of the Saga of Pan and the Devil by Sharon L. Coggan. It’s excellent. Of all your words, your exhortation to observe and be wary of false binaries has too me been the most valuable. And 30×30 is a case in point.

    Secondly, I fear 30×30 is effectively misdirection. In the future, trying to halt damaging development in the remaining 70% will be met with the response: “no the 30% is where we don’t do development. Here anything goes”. But beware too the bait and switch: as soon as valuable resources are identified in the 30 zone, powerful actors will ensure administrative redesignation.

    Best wishes,

  104. Mostly for my own amusement, I pursued the term “rock-ribbed” in the OED. Its first use in print was in William Julius Mickle’s (1734-1788) translation of The Luciads (the Portugese national epic). After that it began showing up in poetry, referring to natural features. It entered politics in 1887 in a newspaper article; “Strauss is a rock-ribbed Democrat.” In a 1950 article “rock-ribbed Republicans” shows up in a discussion of fanaticism among both Democrats & Republicans. (So I satisfied myself that the expression didn’t originate from the likes of Walter Lippman or Eddie Bernays.)

  105. @JMG @Boy

    I am interested if this isn’t an attempt at a veiled land grab for development for elite special interests.
    Consider a wetlands for example. That can be identified as a lakeside floodplain instead with the right surveyor. It become a floodplain if water levels drop at a certain time of year. Add in some climate change jargon and a surveyor might say – due to climate change unfortunately this wetlands is now a flood plain. Then the zoning changes and so the permission of what can be done under the right management. This happens all the time already… and it happens in environments where the land is being managed by so called eco fri3ndly organizations. I’ve posted before that I watched this happen. Land managed by a German billionaire national living in Canada, who bought an entire forest, was getting eco awards while backfilling kilometers of shoreline rezoned as floodplain for ski chalet sized cottages…at the same time running a campaign called ‘save the shoreline’. The whole process took the publicly accessed Beach from the locals. They fought back but they lost quickly. The blue herons are gone, their habitats destroyed, and the monstrous cottages sit empty most of the year. There is precedent for what this 30 x 30 could turn into. I see it could be that the 30′ porrtion just becomes a massive playground for groups of billionaires larping as conservationists.

  106. What bothers me is that I’m not sure anyone made what to my mind is an obvious connection: food prices rising is a reliable way to topple governments, even without factoring in refugees and the like. The fact that no one seems to have realized a lot of countries will have revolutions if this 30 by 30 is implemented is quite concerning to me.

  107. “Or perhaps there was no secret genocide and we just have different definitions of “indigenous people”?”

    It’s called intermarriage. Just ask the red-haired green-eyed lady with the last name of Garcia at the insurance office. :-).

    My gene scan came up with “broadly northwestern European” as a category, along with minor amounts of Balkan and Jewish. The former may explain why I tan easily and deeply, the latter may be from Poland or possibly the upper Rhine.

  108. This seems like a characteristic example of what Thomas Sowell called the “unconstrained vision”, which has become ascendant among the upper classes since the middle of the last century, since obviously the people promoting this scheme think of themselves as morally noble and just, since they are promoting it “for the planet” and obviously not for their own pleasure or benefit, and are quite convinced that all the people who would be displaced from the “wilderness” areas will do so willingly, even eagerly, because the fundamental underlying assumption postulates that all people are naturally good and kind and caring and selfless, and of course they would want to do something that obviously benefits all mankind.
    This is what environmentalism has become, a moral cause for “ecological justice”.
    Many years ago, I disconcerted my ‘progressive’ friends when I pointed out that every single example of extreme horror, e.g. Pol Pot’s Killing Fields, Mao’s Re-education camps, Stalin’s Gulags, Hitler’s Holocaust, Enver Pasha’s Armenian Genocide, &c. &c. which have caused so much pain and suffering over the centuries, began as a morally righteous cause with a sense of injustice and oppression, and became an overwhelmingly horrific example injustice and oppression. While not all moral causes end up going to such extremes, since most peter out, all of the extremes going back through all of history began as moral causes. Environmentalism has morphed from caring about the environment to a moral cause that, if it continues unchecked, could lead to the kind of insanity that “30 by 30” proposes.
    It will, of course, be entertaining to watch how this moral policy proposal faces off against the current moral support for Indigenous Rights and anti-colonialsim in the circular firing squad.


  109. “I think a lot these problems just boil down to urbanisation and large cities. They have the habit of treating everywhere else as either a store of resources to be sucked dry or a play park to be kept free of pesky humans, and an intellectual habit of abstracting into oblivion. Power concentrates there, along with decision making, and you get some pretty horrible results.”

    A concise description of what’s happened in Washington State since the mid 2000s or so.

    This happened largely as a result of a Supreme Court decision,Along%20with%20Baker%20v.

    If population is the only thing that matters, the countryside will inevitably be run over, rural people will become second class citizens, and already are. Even NPR is going on about The Crisis in Rural Health Care, the Crisis in Rural Education, Rural Poverty, etc etc.

    Either the Court will have to admit they messed up and created a legally allowed underclass, or it will take a constitutional amendment to overturn that decision. I don’t see either happening.

    The 17th Amendment didn’t help either. Seattle has two senators. One of them actively hates the Eastside, the other is indifferent at best.

  110. @Kimberly Steele (#90)

    If there is too wide a gap between the curtain and the window, the temperature difference across the curtain will produce an air pressure difference that can set up a convection current that compromises the effectiveness of using the curtain as a thermal barrier. Sticking the curtain to the wall around the window reduces the convection effect by limiting the airflow. You should also keep the curtain less than 4″ (10 cm) from the window glass (but without touching it) other wise this convection effect will start happening in the gap between the window and the curtain, causing the heat to flow right through without even creating a draft in the room.

    As to how to go about it, that’s more a question for a decorator rather than an engineer like myself. But in most cases, just pinning it to the windowsill with a woodblock or book would do the trick.

  111. @ JMG – Excellent essay! The Native American stewardship of the land needs to be hauled back into the public imagination in a big way. I can think of a number of examples of its efficacy right off the top of my head. The Anasazi people surviving and even thriving in Four Corners region in the wake of century-long drought that destroyed the Hohokam people springs to mind. Talk about a real-life Arrakis situation!

    Or the peoples of the Pacific Northwest producing one of the only (known) sedentary cultures that lacked recognizable agriculture, presumably because they managed their natural resources so well, intensive agriculture wasn’t really necessary.

    Add to that the Plains Tribes that used controlled burns to manage the American Bison. Without the use of horses! Just fire and dogs. A good example of the kind of small-scale project that actually works is the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Osage County/Nation. The preserve manages a herd of about 2000 bison with prescribed burns and regular culling. The result is a preserve that manages (in part) to pay for itself, sequesters carbon in the deep roots of the prairie grasses, and actually boosts a healthy ecosystem. And it does it all with support from the locals. Now if we could only replicate its success elsewhere…

    If one wanted to convert a lot of US farmland from agriculture to nature preserve, one of the easier, and cheapest, would be to eliminate subsidies for corn to produce (fuel) ethanol. That should end the growing of corn for biofuels, as those don’t make economic or ecological sense. My back of the envelope estimates show that, if all land used for fuel ethanol, roughly 26 million acres, were converted to nature preserve, that would yield about 41,000 square miles. That’s and area right between Kentucky and Tennessee in size.

    I’m not saying that neat solution would just automatically happen if the federal subsidies were eliminated, I’m sure the farmers would just start growing something else on that land, or plant feed corn for livestock, or maybe export. My point is that if we took those ethanol subsidies and just paid farmers to take those lands out of production, we could do a lot of good for a fairly low price. I haven’t seen anyone seriously suggest ending ethanol subsides. Have you?

    Of course, the average age of a farmer in the US is something like 70, and the median age of average age in most rural counties in the US somewhere north of 50. So in one sense, the rural areas of the US are depopulating themselves, without the use of soldiers or nature preserves. I do wonder what will become of US agriculture over the next decade or so. I know a lot of the hand picking in, say the Central Valley of California, is done my migrant laborers. Here in Oklahoma, a cattle ranching culture still exists, but even that is aging, and not near as healthy as it was even in the late 1990s. My guess is argo-businesses will take of the land and hire managers to operate the farms, fully stripping the ‘culture’ part out of agriculture. I hope I’m wrong. What do you think will happen?

  112. WRT the 30 by 30 displacement.

    Our government did this in the 1930’s when they made Shenandoah National Park. It’s a jewel in the park system today, running up and down the Appalachian mountains with lodges, roads, hiking trails, and what not, much of it built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.
    It’s gorgeous, loaded with all kinds of critters including, possibly, cougars, according to park rangers who spoke about this with my father, an amateur naturalist.

    BUT! They had to evict plenty of tiny farmers and their families to do it. When you hike there (and I have), you see the ruins of walls and chimneys. Some of the displaced citizens were happy to be bought out. Others were forced and their descendants still resent it.

    The citizens got some compensation from our Federal Government but I doubt the 30 by 30 crowd will compensate any peasant.

  113. If you want to read a fictional treatment of 30 by 30, search out Lloyd Biggle, jr.’s 1974 novel, Monument.

    Land grabs, getting rid of the indigenous population, “because we’re making everything better, etc., etc.

    It’s all there.

  114. This article by Samo Burja at Palladium magazine – – seems to be channeling this blog:
    “When archaeologists discover a sophisticated artifact like the Greek Antikythera mechanism, we conclude that some ancient societies may have been more advanced than previously believed. When we think of advanced civilizations, the image is usually one of advanced technology. Our civilization is advanced because we have rockets and nuclear power. Technology is the systematic application of knowledge, achieving goals that would otherwise be impossible. But not all technologies are material. The ability to organize human relationships, actions, and groups in organized and effective ways is itself a specialized form of knowledge called social technology.”

  115. Dennis, it’s an intriguing idea that’s been brought up tolerably often over the last forty years or so. The irony is that everyone who proposes it hopes that somebody else will be inspired to devote their lives to some such project — they themselves aren’t willing to do so. We’ll have a sect of God’s Gardeners or the equivalent when somebody says, “This is a great idea, and I’m going to do it.”

    Ron, “cornucopia of crap” is a great phrase; I’m borrowing it. With regard to the Inuit, there was a similar fracas in Seattle when I still lived there; the Makah nation on the Olympic peninsula, after a long court struggle, reclaimed their treaty right to take four gray whales a year. The Pacific gray whale isn’t endangered; in the IUCN categories, it belongs to the “least concern” class — a robust population that won’t even be dented by the Makah hunt. (Gray whales are common orca food, so it’s not as though they don’t face predation.) But once word got out, the white environmentalist scene turned on the Makah in a very ugly way, complete with ethnic slurs. So none of this surprises me.

    Simon, thank you for this! “Raising capital” benefits capitalists — not farmers, nor the people who depend on them.

    Kimberly, if the air can get in at the top and out at the bottom, it forms a chimney that helps refrigerate your house, as shown in the diagram below:

    There are various gimmicks to block air flow in at the top, and you should plan on doing one of them. As for the sides, magnets are the device I’ve seen most often — you sew little magnets into the edge seam and then have a strip of metal down the side.

    Clay, oddly enough, that was one of the examples I had in mind. Growing up in western Washington, I heard an earful about that!

    AliceEm, thanks for this. Here’s to locally owned and operated infrastructre!

    Stephen, I’d love to see more theological exploration of these issues, though if it’s Christian theology you have in mind you probably have to find (or become) a Christian theologian to do it.

    Rita, au contraire, I think a book titled “Do Pigs Have Meat Inside?” would have to find a specialty publisher, because the big boys wouldn’t touch it, but once it found a publisher it’d sell like hotcakes. As for eco-saints, I’m not suggesting that — simply that a lot of indigenous people know things about managing their local ecologies that the rest of us haven’t learned yet.

    Marco, bows are good effective hunting weapons, and you can learn to make the ammunition yourself. They take much more practice to master than guns, but shooting with the bow is a lot of fun.

    Brian, thanks for this. I’ll see if I can scare up a copy.

    Nitin, a fine crisp summary! Exactly.

    Abraham, you’re most welcome and thank you.

    Drhooves, one great advantage our side has is the knowledge that what’s unsustainable will eventually not be sustained. Another is that opponents who make their plans in a drunken stupor aren’t exactly nimble, and can be evaded more easily than those who have a clue.

    Scotlyn, and in fact she herself has also posted here. It’s good news all around.

    Hackenschmidt, thanks for this — I hadn’t yet found some of those details.

    Chuaquin, Dune has been voted the greatest of all SF novels, so you’re in good company.

    Chris, I’ve been watching that happen with a grin on my face. I note with equal amusement that the Davos meeting currently under way considers “misinformation” the greatest threat to the world today — that is, of course, to their control of things. And what is this “misinformation”? It’s the awkward fact that more and more people no longer believe a word their supposed betters say and roll their eyes at the latest products of the official propaganda mills. The Davis set is plaintively asking how they can regain the trust of the public — but you know that telling fewer lies is not something they’ll ever consider. To misquote Bugs Bunny, “Whatta buncha maroons!”

    Chris, thanks for this. I’ve bookmarked him.

    Other Owen, presumably so!

    Johnny, you’re welcome and thank you! Every person who does that becomes a role model for others and a pioneer of the deindustrial future.

    Kim, I know the feeling; watching environmentalism turn into its own opposite has been a very dismaying experience for me as well. I suspect you’re right about humanity in the long term, but then we’re nearly finished digging up fossil fuels and getting carbon back into the atmosphere!

    Karalan, that’s so astonishingly dumb it deserves more circulation:

    Come to think of it, “astonishingly dumb” isn’t really the right word, but I’m having trouble coming up with something strong enough. If the scientists in question are really that concerned, they ought to take the lead in solving the problem by tying plastic bags over their own heads, to keep their dangerous breathing wastes from contaminating the air…

    Boy, that’s a fascinating suggestion — nature as the shadow of humanity! Hmm; I’ll have to reflect on that.

    Phutatorius, thank you! Now I know something I didn’t know this morning. 😉

  116. Taylor, and of course that’s also a good point.

    Renaissance, also a good point. The conviction that everyone really does agree with the Good People, unless they’ve somehow been misled by some villain or other, is one of the pervasive delusions of our time.

    Ben, I expect corporate agriculture to spread disastrously all over the middle of the country, resulting in the same mess the Soviet Union had in its last decades: most of the food that people actually ate was grown on little private plots, while the vast agricultural communes that occupied most of the land produced very little. Only when the system that supported the communes crashed to ruin did all those acres end up being put to productive use.

    Teresa, that was in part a “response” to rural poverty: if people in Appalachia are poor, why, evict them so they can be poor somewhere else! The same thing was done on a much larger scale a couple of decades later when the US freeway system went in — the freeways were reliably routed straight through minority business districts, destroying them.

    KAN, interesting — I’ve bookmarked it. Burja is very often worth reading.

  117. It should be no surprise that environmentalism is best served by those who wish to “conserve” rather than those who seek “liberation” from the restraints of nature.

    Sadly, modern paradigms reject the telos of premodern times, with the concepts outlined in Aristotle’s ‘Ethics’ and Aquinas’s ‘Summa Theologiae’ abandoned in favor of the more liberal ideas of Bacon and Hobbes, with corporations have no self-restraint, embodying what Hobbes called “power after power that ceaseth only in death”. Liberalism has inculcated the idea that there are no hard choices in life, only lifestyle options, and the power of the state has grown to enforce individualism over the common good.

  118. Hi, JMG
    re: Karalan’s comment #110 & your reply #123: I’ve got a few colourful, descriptive catch-phrases to offer for “astonishingly dumb” which I have acquired over the years. How about…
    Dumb as a barnyard of turkeys
    Not as bright as a bush
    Dumb as a sack of hammers


  119. These are ideas I’ve been interested in since childhood. Thanks to JMG for the essay, and to commenters for plenty of information and food for thought.

    A city kid, throughout my life I’ve enjoyed hiking and backpacking, countryside drives, briefly living for a while after college in a trailer in a nut tree orchard (beautiful and quiet, but too long a commute to work in town).

    I’ve read Rachel Carson, the Whole Earth Catalog, Integral Urban House, several nonfiction books by holistic small-scale sustainable farmers about what they do, well informed novels with farmers and ranchers, etc.

    Doing something myself about any of this has always been out of reach, though, when step one is to buy some rural acres you can homestead, or at least a house on a large lot. I’ve never been able to buy real estate, and only briefly was able to rent a house with a yard many, many years ago.
    As some previous JMG essay pointed out, becoming a farmer without relevant basis of skills and knowledge could be a ten year project, and one very precarious for a single broke person in 50s with less than stellar health. A comment here points out a highly affordable farm is now over a million dollars.

    The essay describes how a few worthwhile ideas can be combined with a lot of bad ideas, to make a plan ineffective in its own stated terms, cruel and draconian to those affected without being consulted.
    If we are in a time of decline, could a consortium of technocratic governments really forcibly relocate a billion people, redline a third of the land for themselves, and stay fully in power?

    It seems this series of essays is working towards recommendations of what individuals can do, without either a million dollar budget, and without a guaranteed way to convince everyone to vote the right way to get the manipulators out of office.

    Karl Grant # 81 “Lean heavily into development of local machine shops and blacksmiths to repair equipment and to manufacture replacement parts for agricultural equipment. You would still need some amount of heavy industry for military production.”
    Henry Ford’s book “My life and work,” co-written by Samuel Crowther, includes discussion how farm life and home based light industrial production should be integrated. In a previous discussion I tried to post the relevant quote, but it was longer than JMG wanted in a comment. The book’s now in the public domain, readily available online.
    I would like to bring Christopher Alexander’s work into the discussion, but don’t know how to have a short enough summary of his key points to be agreeable here.

    I guess the pigs with meat publisher will bring home the bacon?

  120. Hi JMG,

    Great essay. I’m looking forward to the individual-scale suggestions you are planning for future posts. It’s better for someone to go out and do something about the environment–even something modest–than to hope someone else, or the government, will do it for them.

    You and others might be interested in a new book out by Peter Alagona called the Accidental Ecosystem, in which he argues that urban environments are in fact bona fide ecosystems and humans are the apex predator and keystone species. The chapter on coyotes colonizing Chicago was fascinating. He profiles a real, but typical, coyote family which made its den in the third story of an in-use parking garage near Soldier Field.

  121. So deliberate catabolic contraction of the industrial ecosystem.
    Anabolic expansion of a human tended ecological commons. ( what is the opposite of the Enclosure Acts?)
    Complete replacement of the financial / control systems.

    easy peasy LOL
    But what other real choices are out there?

  122. Thanks, JMG, for another great essay. Some of your points resonate well with the ideas of the late political philosopher Roger Scruton. He thought that an environmental politics that actually deserves the name has to be conservative, in terms of both structure (civic associations, not bureaucracies as the driving force) and sentiment (‘oikophilia’, love of home, instead of power fantasies hiding behind abstractions). After all, ‘conservation’ and ‘conservative’ have the same root!

  123. Back in the peak years of the old growth forest battles ( Oregon, Washington and California) a few wonks from the Oregon Natural Resources Council ( a very anti-logging group) put forth the idea that the best way to protect the National Forests from Clear Cutting and Corporate exploitation was to monetize them so they would have more value left alone than they would have turned in to 2×4’s. The idea was to open them all up to recreation and even improve them with more roads, campgrounds etc. But then charge for visits so that they would generate income equal to or greater than they would generate by being logged off once every 100 years. The theory was that they could provide more income left alone, and an equal or greater number of jobs building roads, trails, and such as they would being logged. Seemed a useful idea but it was an anathema to most of the hard core activists that wanted to see the natural forests as pristine natural areas, so not much ever happened. Of course, even if the idea had gotten traction it still might have ended up being exploited by corporations in a different way, ” Come visit the Disney, Lucasfilms Ewok Woods with convenient drive-thru dining and tree top accommodations!”

  124. The Ecosophia Prayer List celebrated its one year anniversay on December 22nd! In the last year, there were many more prayer requests than I originally anticipated, but I’m happy for it. Several people reported serious illness recovering faster than doctors expected, including cases which weren’t expected to turn around at all.

    One piece of feedback that I’ve gotten is that some people are overwhelmed by the sheer number of prayer entries. This is completely understandable; there are indeed many, and is a bit daunting even to me. I think some new tactics are warranted to manage the list.

    First of all, as I’ve been warning I would do for some weeks, I’ve removed all old prayers older than 6 months (with a couple of exceptions that my intuition encouraged me to keep). Next, I am revising the policy regarding how long entries remain on the list:
    Except where specifically requested otherwise, all prayers for the dead will come off of the list after a month and a day. The same goes for prayer requests for pets: a month and a day, unless specifically requested otherwise. All other prayers can remain for 3 months without an update (though updates are appreciated). This will be a harder line than I allowed before. I reserve the discretion to allow certain prayers for longer, when serious medical issues or the like are involved.
    As before, updates on how things are going with what you’ve made a request about are always appreciated. Every time you do, if your prayer is not yet resolved, the 3 month clock starts over.

    As I’ve changed the terms, all entries that are currently remaining on the list are grandfathered in, and safe from such removal until the Spring Equinox.

    May the coming year be filled with blessings for all!

    * * *This week I would like to bring special attention to the following prayer requests.

    May the surgery for Yuccaglauca’s mother Monica‘s malignant mass be safe, successful, and conclusive of the matter.

    May Frank Rudolf Hartman of Altadena California (picture), who is receiving chemotherapy, be completely cured of the lymphoma that is afflicting him, and may he return to full health. 

    May the brain surgery that Erika’s partner James underwent for his cancer on October 16th have gone successfully; and may he be blessed, healed and protected, and successfully treated for all of his cancer.

    May Kyle’s friend Amanda, who though in her early thirties is undergoing various difficult treatments for brain cancer, make a full recovery; and may her body and spirit heal with grace.

    Lp9’s hometown, East Palestine, Ohio, for the safety and welfare of their people, animals and all living beings in and around East Palestine, and to improve the natural environment there to the benefit of all.
     * * *
    Old guidelines for how long prayer requests stay on the list, how to word requests, how to be added to the weekly email list, how to improve the chances of your prayer being answered, and several other common questions and issues, are to be found at the Ecosophia Prayer List FAQ. (It does not yet accord with the new policies I’ve listed above; I’ll update it soon.)

    If there are any among you who might wish to join me in a bit of astrological timing, I pray each week for the health of all those with health problems on the list on the astrological hour of the Sun on Sundays, bearing in mind the Sun’s rulerships of heart, brain, and vital energies. If this appeals to you, I invite you to join me.

  125. Karalan, Mr. Greer,

    If you think that’s dumb there is a video circulating right now of Joe Biden admitting the airstrikes in Yemen are doing nothing to stop the Houthis but they are going to continue anyway.

    Christopher from California.

    Thanks I will take a look at it.

    Kim A,

    I am not so sure about that. A lot of what Progress has amounted to is replacing horse thievery with grand theft auto but doesn’t seem to have dissuaded a lot of people. The idea that technology advances according to the needs of its host civilization and technological development varies from civilization to civilization are two of the biggest heretical thoughts in Faustian civilization.

  126. Harry, that’s a fascinating point — the power of the state (a collective entity) has come to enforce individualism against the collective good. Over the long term, that would seem to undercut the collective bonds that make the state function in the first place.

    Renaissance, thanks for these! 😉

    Christopher, the failure of the ecological counterculture of the 1970s is directly linked to its obsession with the idea of “back to the land” — and thus to options that only people with upper middle class incomes can afford. I’ve been trying to discuss other options for years now, but people are still stuck on the fantasy of going to the country and becoming instantly self-sufficient.

    Samurai_47, thanks for this! Alagona is quite correct, of course; it’s as natural for humans to build cities as it is for bees to build hives, and the result is a genuine ecosystem. In most cases it’s a badly impoverished and unbalanced ecosystem, but the way to fix that is to look at ways to make cities richer and more stable ecosystems.

    Dobbs, nah, the third factor is sitting back and watching the financial and control systems negate themselves. I’ll be discussing that in due time.

    Robert K., Scruton was of course quite correct. The temporary alliance of environmentalism with liberalism in the late 20th century is an anomaly, and one that’s fading fast. One thing I’d like to do is help conservatives relearn how to conserve!

    Clay, I remember that. It seemed sensible to me.

    Quin, thanks for this as always.

    Karl, I’d call Biden as dumb as a box of rocks but that’s an insult to rocks. I’m reminded of that grand prophecy uttered by H.L. Mencken: “As democracy is perfected, the office [of President] represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.” I think we’ve arrived there…

  127. It strikes me that this separation from nature seen in things like the 30 by 30 is related to biophobia. Also to the louder parts of the vegan movement and the people who want to severely restrict or ban keeping pets. Reptiles seem to be particularly in the crosshairs at the moment in the USA, but there’s also people against keeping anything in captivity under any circumstances.

    Keeping people away from everyday personal interaction with the natural world is convenient if you want to damage the biosphere in a major way, because you can buy scientists and advocacy to support your course of action, and most people won’t be able to look at your proposed policy and go ‘this is a bunch of baloney. What will actually happen if you try it is x. Which is to your benefit, but not mine or the particular ecological issue you claim to be addressing.’ It’s hard to argue back if all you know is what they’ve told you.

    The one argument in favor of separation I find somewhat convincing is that’s simply so many people now that it is very easy to cause damage by accident through sheer weight of numbers. If you let kids do what I did as a child, they’re going to damage the area. But if I hadn’t been able to tear the bark off the log in the backyard, or keep a caterpillar in a jar until it turned into a butterfly (good old cabbage white crop pests) and I let it go, or catch water insects in a jar and try to ID them from a book, or keep tropical fishes, or grow up with finches and cats and mouse pets, or grow vegetables, or turning over rocks on the shore to find out what lives underneath and then carefully putting the rock back, or birdwatch, or kidnap tadpoles and salamander larvae for the mini pond at home, or propagate houseplants how would I have learned? There’s got to be a balance here.

    Kidnapping amphibians is probably a bad idea these days, but surely growing and propagating plants, keeping captive-bred pets, and kidnapping common local invertebrates does little harm compared to what you learn from doing it. If killing a woodlouse that is eating my strawberries is acceptable, why shouldn’t I keep it as a pet? They’re quite endearing when they’re not eating things they shouldn’t.

  128. Hi JMG,

    Thanks for another great essay. I just have a few comments to add. The tl;dr version is that you can grow a lot of food (and earn a decent living) on a much smaller plot of land than you might think.

    Those interested in farming who lack access to acres and acres of land may be interested to learn about the work of Curtis Stone:
    “Curtis’ farm, Green City Acres is located in Kelowna, BC, Canada and was established in 2010. In an eight-month growing season, the farm generates over $75,000 per year on only one third of an acre. This is done by specializing in a select group of high value, quick growing crops that allow for multiple plantings in the same beds as well as calculated intercropping strategies. The farm has been recognized internationally, as flag ship example of how profitable and productive urban agriculture can be. There are over 40 million acres of lawn in North America. In their current form, these unproductive expanses of grass represent a significant financial and environmental cost. However, viewed through a different lens, they can also be seen as a tremendous source of opportunity. Access to land is a major barrier for many people who want to enter the agricultural sector, and urban and suburban yards have huge potential for would-be farmers wanting to become part of this growing movement.”

    As well as the work of JM Fortier, another very well-known market gardener:
    “The biointensive farming method outlined by JM Fortier is all about how to make a good living from working with living soils and cultivating a small amount of land. It relies, notably, on the use of tight spacing between plants thanks to a system of permanent raised beds and succession planting, coupled with the use of appropriate hand tools. This approach allows one to produce healthy vegetables, work on a human scale, improve soil quality for sustainable, long-term production, and earn an attractive income on a small piece of farmland. We focus on maximizing the productivity of a small plot of land (roughly 2.5 acres or less) by optimizing systems and by intensifying production.”

    If I recall correctly, JM Fortier was in part inspired by the market gardeners of 19th century Paris, whose gardens were characterized by their proximity to the city, intense cultivation, crop diversity, and labor-intensive manual cultivation. Mind you, they also had easy access to large amounts of horse manure which was a big part of how they maintained fertility in their intensive plots, so the urban gardener of the 21st century may need to develop some new strategies (importing high-quality compost is what many small market gardeners do now).

    And just one more thing, an urban farm in the heart of Hamilton, Ontario, that makes use of a former school yard to grow food for the community:
    “As part of an initiative to increase food security in the McQuesten area, we have developed a 3-acre urban farm in the green space behind the former St. Helen’s school. Not only does our urban farm address the issue of securing a nutritious and sustainable food source for the community but is creating a positive change in the neighborhood by providing volunteer opportunities for citizens of all ages, adding economic value to the community, and fostering strong bonds amongst residents in McQuesten.”

    If you look around most towns, you might notice the amount of unused land currently covered uselessly in grass, especially around schools, hospitals, manufacturing plants etc. Some of that land could be converted into intensive market gardens following the model of McQuesten Farm.

  129. @ Scotlyn

    On avoiding “nature” being good for health, you may recall back at the start of the corona debacle that we were told the virus came from bats. One of the main organisations pushing that line was the “Ecohealth Alliance” the president of which is none other than Peter Daszak, a name which should be far more notorious than it is.

    Anyway, the Ecohealth Alliance was all over the MSM at the start of covid pushing the line that this was a lesson for us all because civilisation had been getting too close to the bats and if we just stayed away from the bats none of this would ever have happened.

    Of course, we have subsequently learned that Peter Daszak and the Ecohealth Alliance had channelled US government money to the lab in Wuhan. So, the same people warning about staying away from “nature” have no problem bringing “nature” into the middle of a city with 10 million inhabitants and trying to make it even more dangerous. It would laughable if it wasn’t so serious.

  130. This elite “30 by 30” plan reminds me strongly of a dystopian science-fiction novel I read sometime in the ’50s or early ’60s. It made an exteremely strong impression on me at the time. Alas, I can’t remember either the title or the author.

    The novel began with almost all of the earth’s population confined to large enclosed cities. Only the elite could come and go as they pleased. They, and only they, got to enjoy the “unspoiled” earth utterly free from the noxious presence of teeming humanity. There were doors into and out of the enclosed cities, which opened only in response to the fingerprint of one or another of the few elites.

    As I remember the plot, one of the city dwellers and one of the elite fell into a romantic relationship, and eventually his fingerprints, too, were entered into the database of fingerprints that could open the doors of the enclosed cities. He and his lover went of an excursion outside of his city (to the island of Iona, I think it was). Having experienced the world outside of the cities, he felt the injustice of the enclosed prison-citiy system keenly. So, having returned to his city, he opened one of the doors and kept it open for all to escape who wished.

    However, his altruism brought him an ugly death. He was mobbed, and his arms with their fingerprints were cut off and sent around to open all the other doors in the city’s enclosing dome. The final scene showed him trampled to death by the mobs of city-dwellers rushing to leave the city, crying out in vain.

    Does this ring a bell with anyone? Can anyone supply the author or title?

  131. JMG, according to wikipedia this 30 by 30 idea came from an org called the High Ambition Coalition for Nature and People. So I looked to see who funds such a lofty sounding society because as a general rule you follow the money.

    I found from the webpage of Carbon Pulse that High Ambition is backed by philanthropical funders. Who might such noble people be? Bezos Earth Fund, Bloomberg Philanthropies were mentioned (familiar names, no?) as well as Rainforest Trust.

    Who funds Rainforest Trust? On their website they say that they partner with companies from around the world who are taking bold steps to invest in the protection of nature, to reduce their own carbon footprint, and to create efficiencies that support sustainability. No less.

    So who is Carbon Pulse? According to their website they are an an online, subscription based, B-to-B service providing in-depth news and intelligence about carbon pricing initiatives and climate change policies around the world. Their coverage focuses on emissions trading markets and other methods of using taxes and market based mechanisms to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

    Is anyone getting the unworthy notion that all this is about money?

    Actually this 30 by 30 stuff is impossible not to mock as yet another astoundingly stupid idea from our supposed best and brightest. It brings to mind the Nazi scheme to empty large areas of eastern Europe of 30 to 50 million people to make room for German settlers. Lebensraum IOW. Where would they have put all these many millions? Not hard to imagine that they would have ended up dead from starvation or shot on sight or as landfill next to industrial scale extermination camps. This from the most educated country in Europe.

    The Germans back then killed with religious zeal for the cause of German greatness and German racial purity etc. Could it happen again? Are environmental zealots lunatic enough to have another go this time for the cause of saving the planet?

    They’d need buy-in from their billionaire paymasters and the political class and no doubt they’d get professional medical ethicists (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one) to re-purpose their vaunted philosophical and reasoning skills to justify it. Yes, you need the greatly learned to furrow their brows and shake their jowls. But no idea after all is too crazy that the intellectual class wouldn’t buy into it.

    Maybe it’s like Ian Duncombe sez, the billionaires need some distraction from their many worries and pressures. So why not an environmental West World?

  132. Pygmycory, that analysis seems very reasonable to me. Biophobia disguised as love of nature — well, that would make sense of all those people gloating over planetary dieoff, for starters.

    Stefania, thanks for this. Many years ago I read and took notes on a book by David Duhon titled
    One Circle : How to Grow a Complete Diet in Less Than 1,000 Square Feet
    . It wasn’t simply handwaving, either; Duhon was affiliated with John Jeavons and the early west coast biodynamic intensive gardening scene, and he’d tested his proposal in practice. So none of this surprises me! I’d like to see more people get into this kind of intensive growing.

    Robert, I don’t recall that book, which is unfortunate — I think I’d like it. Anyone else recall it?

    Smith, thank you for doing the detective work. Yes, I think we can take it as given from here on that the 30 by 30 business is just another greedy scheme by our current corporate kleptocrats to make money at everyone else’s expense.

  133. If I was a super villain, who supported this 30 x 30 plan, but I knew it would face significant opposition, I would have something like a nuclear meltdown or other radiological accident that would force people to leave. Much like Chernobyl, Bikini,or Fukushima.
    Problem solved!

  134. Has anyone tried or known someone to use Steiners biodynamic practices. Specifically the strange stuff involving cow horns, etc.?

  135. Noteworthy and ever-interesting Archdruid, I wonder if you’re familiar with the author and philosopher Alex Epstein. I own his book “Fossil Future” in which he discusses something he terms the “Human-Flourishing Framework” regarding how fossil fuel benefits far outweigh their negative side effects. A concept he discusses is the embedded notion in much of western society asserting humans are “parasite polluters” and our planet is a “delicate nurturer.” Mother Gaia in lipstick and lace! He makes the powerful argument our planet is actually: (1) Dynamic (2) Deficient (3) Dangerous.

    He states: “…Earth has the potential to be a highly livable place if we impact it positively enough” (p. 92 in the hardbound edition.) He acknowledges humans can be quite destructive, but making Earth a better place to live for ALL organisms is an achievable and noble goal. We can be, and should be, stewards of the Earth!

    He feels those who promote the “delicate nurturer” view of the Earth actually have anti-human goals, viewing Homo sapiens as a horrible mistake deserving of eradication or at least severe restriction. Prettified, that sounds like: “[We] just want to save human beings from themselves.” (p. 94.)

    Epstein makes solid arguments for humans having the innate capabilities & talents of making the planet a better place: more ecological diversity, more beauty, more comfort, less pollution, less erosion, healthier ecosystems, more joy, more birds and dolphins and bugs and plants and fungal mats. The 30 by 30, Net-Zero, and Just End Oil goofballs REALLY dislike what he has to say, piling on all possible oppobrium.

    As a sidelight, I found myself initially thinking when reading this essay: “30-30? Gee, kinda weak. 30-06 is a better choice (though I’m a fan of 270 Winchester myself.)” 😀

    I’m very much looking forward to your ongoing thoughts about the Anthropocene Worth Having!

  136. Three items that popped up on my newsfeed this week relating to conservation:
    Feds want boats to slow down to protect whales
    The mouth of the Savannah river forms the calving grounds for North Atlantic right whales, a species on the verge of extinction. Only 360 remain, but boats are reluctant to slow down to avoid whale strikes during the breeding season.
    Flood risks rise as federal wetlands protections disappear: SC needs help, senators told
    “Now, because of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year, it is becoming easier for developers to fill and pave wetlands across the country. The ruling, according to some estimates, could eliminate federal protections for more than 60% of the nation’s wetlands.”
    Commentary: Can the Sierra Nevada bighorn dodge extinction? It may mean reining in another wild animal
    The protected mountain lions are eating the endangered bighorn sheep. Oh dear, what a conundrum.

    Here in South Africa we have magnificent game and coastal reserves, but it is an endless struggle against poachers, businesses demanding mining rights, indigenous people demanding the right to hunt and graze their cattle, etc. It needs a major commitment of resources, but what do politicians say when they are accused of caring more for an obscure animal or bird than their own starving people?

    The oceans are worse. Patrolling them requires a decent navy which most 3rd world countries can’t afford. As a consequence they are getting fished out by wealthier countries which can support deep-sea trawlers and fish factories.

    “Nearly 80% of the world’s fisheries are already fully exploited, over-exploited, depleted, or in a state of collapse. Worldwide, 90% of the stocks of large predatory fish, such as sharks, tuna, marlin, and swordfish, are already gone! ”

  137. Hi John Michael,

    Exactly, who gets to decide what is covered by the term ‘misinformation’? The word itself is meaningless, and so it looks like an attempt at censorship under another name. The funny thing about such efforts is that the law always trails, and how could it not do so?

    If such efforts begin to get enforced here, and it’s possible they may, I’ll get even more ‘down home’ in my writing. Why not? Maybe even anthropomorphise animals! Fancy that, huh? 😉 It’s been done before I believe. People are smart enough to get the message.

    The back to the land folks have always fascinated me. Given the cost of land these days, it’s a hard ask to make money from rural land, and I doubt things were any easier back in the day. That’s one of those weird stories which makes me wonder at what point does the whole sordid set of financial arrangements fail? Dunno really, and will be interested to read what you have to say on the subject. The author Gene Logsdon had something to say on the subject, which I agreed with, but I also believe that the ageing population may have an impact on that story. Anywhoo, I’m observing that rural land has recently become much harder to sell, and that alone piques my interest.

    Heading rural is not for everyone. It suits me, but I’m only quirky, and not wealthy enough to be considered eccentric. Hey, as an amusing side note, the wealth step below quirky, is otherwise known by the word ‘odd’! 🙂



  138. Simon (#89) Whenever you hear someone talk about “raising capital” or “financing a project”, they’re talking about “selling debt”. They obviously talk as if taking on this debt will be of benefit for the debtor; they also assert that it will provide beneficial returns (“interest”) to the lender, and undoubtedly believe that it will benefit the deal-making middlemen (themselves). And, it often ends up benefiting the high-level representatives of the loan recipients, who find ways to skim the lion’s share of the funds. The ironically titled “The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the. Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good” (2006) tells the story in detail.

  139. I always giggle a bit when someone calls Dune ‘well thought out’. The stillsuits, for instance, are ridiculous. Sweat that isn’t allowed to evaporate can’t cool you down, so walking around a desert in a stillsuit is a kind of hightech slow motion suicide.
    I remember reading it when I was fifteen and re-reading it when I was two years older. I loved it the first time around; the second time I considered it crypto-fascist tripe, with all its talk of pure bloodlines and of war being necessary to re-invigorate the human race.
    Apart from those minor quibbles, Herbert could certainly write though.

  140. When the Territory is completely off the Map, it will be hard to find 30 percent of it… while the Davros elite are getting their knickers in a twist about the plebes, why not tune in to music from the realm of pure imagination? [Seriously, Klaus Schlob really does look like Davros.]

    Imaginary Stations presents: WDWD: Off the Map Radio going out to Europe (aka, the backwaters of Asia) via Shortwave Gold on Sunday 21st January 2024 at 1000/1400 hrs UTC on 6160 kHz and then on 3975 kHz at 2100 UTC. Think of large maps flapping in the wind whilst out in the wild and places far far away.

    Then on early Monday 22nd January 2024 we have KTAB, “Yesterday’s music today” at 0300 UTC on 9395 kHz via WRMI. Step into the shortwave music time machine for some real vintage old-time classics next Monday morning. Enjoy.

  141. @Ian Duncombe,

    I am unsure whether the architects of 30×30 are naïfs or villains. Given my limited insight into how these things get done, I suspect it is most likely a hashtag in search of a problem to solve.

  142. Pygmycory, Mr. Greer,

    The comment got me thinking about what other ways our ‘elites’ biophobia and distain for the rural population manifests it and one of the ways that really sticks out is cryptozoology. They absolutely hate the idea of unknown or unusual animals operating on the edges of the cities. And its not really stuff like Bigfoot that sets their teeth on edge either. What they really don’t like is when you start talking about the most commonly encountered class of cryptid; unknown big cat species or known big cat species inhabiting areas where they are not supposed to be.

    And I mean that quite seriously, one of the ways almost guaranteed to set them off is if you tell them something like you encountered a mountain lion/cougar on the Appalachian Trail or you saw a black panther. In fact, a lot of people in the rural South as usually very surprised to learn after reporting an encounter that according to the US government black panthers don’t exist. Hell down here in the Carolinas we have been having for decades reports of a big cat in the woods with tiger-like stripes and people have been catching this cat species on trail cameras and home security cameras for awhile now. I have found that if you really want to make a wildlife ‘expert’ uncomfortable bring up one of these stories, especially ones concerning a picture taken by a trail camera.

  143. JMG said: “unfortunately you can’t move a billion or more people out of big cities without turning the places they go into big cities.”

    That’s contingent on the city and its surroundings, isn’t it? You couldn’t empty London into the English countryside by any means. On the other hand, one could empty Toronto with room to spare if you were willing to see rural Ontario as densely populated as rural England.

    You might need to use parts of the Canadian Shield, that’s true. And yes, the Canadian Shield isn’t great farmland– but that’s not why it’s empty. It’s empty because there’s *great* farmland to the west, on the Prairies, and there was no population pressure to force people to take sub-par land. It’s the same dynamic which has lead to New England being covered in second-growth forest. Why farm rocks when you can go West? As New England from the 17th to 19th century proved, however, you can absolutely build a country of small villages of rock farmers.

    Emptying Toronto is an economic non-starter in our current civilization. Eventually, though, I suspect those villages will exist– on shield land and in New England. Those ‘marginal’ lands are well-rested compared to what was once good soil ruined by industrial agriculture.

  144. re: Teslas,
    It was below -30C here overnight, and I saw the normal handful of electric cars drive by on my morning walk. Hyundai is more popular than Tesla in this town, but there was one who made it past. I suppose the difference is that here, everyone knows to plug in an automobile when it gets cold. I suspect everyone who can afford an electric car around these parts can also afford a garage as well, which helps. Remember that the temperature limits for charging refer to the BATTERY temperature, not the AMBIENT temperature. Tesla et al put heating elements in their batteries, and if you leave it plugged in, at least according to the people who own them in this climate, those elements run off mains power and keep the battery from freezing.

    If you bought a Tesla in Chicago and don’t have a garage with a battery charger you can plug in to trickle current and keep the heaters on, why! The battery has to run itself down to run those heaters to keep from freezing, in this weather. Then you wake up with a flat battery that’s too cold to charge. In the immortal words of The Donald, “Sad!”

    If you have a diesel you’re in a similar pickle when it gets close to 40-below. If it were much colder than it got last night, they would have cancelled school: the bus company parks their busses in the open, and just like Chi-town Teslas ,when they get to cold, they absolutely will not start. *

    Even gas cars all have block heaters here– 120V powered heating elements to warm the engine– because you can easily run your (cold) starter battery down to nil trying to crank over a cold engine, even with fuel injection. Some (most?) dealers won’t even sell a vehicle without that option installed.

    *Yes, they could put additives to keep the fuel from gelling, and they could run power at the school bus depot for block heaters and glow plugs… but they don’t, and the school board lets them get away with it, because reliable service would cut into the bus company’s profits.

  145. JMG – Off-topic for this essay, but in line with the general themes… I saw an article in a trade publication for the battery industry breathlessly promoting a battery with a 50 year lifetime, which never needs recharging, and (as written in the article) has an energy density of 3,300 MW hours per gram. (It’s based on beta-decay of nickel-63.) To US readers, “3,300” means three-thousand, plus 300, but in other parts of the world, it means 3, plus 3/10ths. To US readers, “MW” means “MegaWatts”, that is, million watts, but this actually makes more sense if the “M” means “milli”. We can usually figure out from context whether we’re talking about millions or millionths, but the reaction to this “amazing” battery disproves that assumption. As it happens, Wikipedia’s article on betavoltaic cells cites Russian work demonstrating 3.3 milliWatt-hours per kilogram, right in line with the least-favorable interpretation of its capacity. I guess the yearning for a better battery has led some people to overlook absurdities.

  146. Per this old land use chart:
    This looks like an easy “Mission Accomplished” for anyone willing to define “conservation” as some sort of “fair use”. Just animal pasture is like 30%. That’s pretty nice to nature, no? Bam, we’re done. Throw in the existing parks and some agriculture and we can do 50 by 30!

    Apologies if this is a repeat, I did a quick search for “land use” and didn’t find it, but didn’t have time yet to read the 100+ comments 🙂

  147. Benn # 1 “a group of us (a traditional farmer, retired businessman, geneticist, mason, intelligence operative, carpenter, actress, and hedge witch are some of us)” Some glimpses at your conservation work and conversations could be fascinating on Youtube or a blog, if your group was at all interested in taking turns presenting! Youtube has some channels with very enthusiastic younger audiences, happy to watch simply made videos from people with some wisdom from the countryside.

    Dennis Michael Sawyers # 2 That’s fascinating about Japan! Do you think it will continue to be this way as population declines? I sometimes see discussion of rural villages trying to get families to move in, with great deals on housing.

    JMG # 135 “I’ve been trying to discuss other options for years now.” I look forward to catching up on that, and on what more you’ll discuss into the future! (At first, out of habit I wrote “going forward” when I meant the future. Then I realized that’s not necessarily appropriate for any future you see as likely.)
    I referred to some counter-culture era material from my youth. I also meant to refer to some more recent books by currently successful, pragmatic, holistic farmers. Unfortunately while I remember what they were about, I don’t remember titles or authors. I wish I could because they were very much in line with your points here.

    pygmycory # 136 Sounds like you had a lot of fun as a kid!

    Stefania # 137 Thank you for those inspiring examples!
    I see a few tiny suburban front yards around L.A. where the lawn has been replaced by luxurious abundance of wildflowers and bushes that attract bees. These are always a delight that cheer my days with long walks, something I miss very much during this foot healing time.

    Robert Mathiesen # 139 I know there’s more than one sci-fi story with domed cities. I wonder if what you read was inspiration for THX1138, Silent Running, Logan’s Run, or the 70’s Buck Rogers.

    Smith # 140 “professional medical ethicists (a contradiction in terms if there ever was one)” I can see how this could be a corrupt priesthood to bless inhumane power grabs. But the job of medical ethicist seems like it could be valuable if done by someone of integrity, perhaps as a non-religious chaplain of sorts. Who among other things would have a devil’s advocate role when leaders say “great new weird idea, what could possible go wrong!”

  148. Regarding the unknown novel, I did a search using Robert’s description. Bard suggested “the 1952 novel World Gone Mad (also known as No Blade of Grass) by Cyril M. Kornbluth”

  149. And the trolls are starting to pile on. This is entertaining. I’ll be interested to see if any of them has anything original to say, or if it’s the same canned talking points from the same corporate agribusiness playbook. Meanwhile…

    Dashui, that would require something that would render more than 17 million square miles — a space the size of Asia — unfit for habitation. Not even a nuclear war would do that.

    Celadon, I know people who’ve done it, and they report good results.

    Bryan, no, I haven’t encountered that Epstein. I’ll put his book on the look-at list.

    Martin, thanks for these.

    Chris, I’m also watching the crusade against “misinformation” closely, since of course what the corporate system calls “misinformation” is my bread and butter. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

    Thijs, I didn’t say that Dune was well thought out in general; I said that the ecological elements Herbert put into it were well thought out. High-tech garments that wouldn’t work were quite fashionable in 1960s SF — do you recall Le Guin’s “impermasuit” in Rocannon’s World?

    Justin, thanks for this.

    Karl, that’s an excellent point. It’s very much as though they can’t stand the idea that nature might do something they didn’t authorize. No doubt the advanced age and failing health of a lot of the kleptocrats feeds into that…

    Tyler, okay, that’s fair.

    Lathechuck, no surprises there. Insisting that progress is still on track when we’re half a century into accelerating decline gives them lots of practice overlooking absurdities.

    Bob, no doubt some such formula will be cooked up if needed.

  150. @Celadon #143
    Yes, there are farms dedicated to the practice. You might checkout the “Demeter” organization dedicated to biodynamic certification for farms and vineyards, etc. (, for instance their Canadian org lists several active, profitable, and certified-biodynamic farms:

    There are many farms/vineyards (mostly vineyards, I think, for some reason) certified around the world using these practices too, it seems, and that’s just the certified ones, not counting all the quietly practising farms, homesteads, and market gardens who do it without making a big deal of it.

  151. Hmm. It’s just struck me that the argument humans are not part of nature often includes the dramatic effects we have on our environment; but by this logic, neither are beavers. I wonder if we could get environmentalists to turn on beavers for the massive disruptions they cause to the natural world….

  152. pygmycory @ 136, if reptiles are “in the crosshairs at the moment” it is because of the Florida pythons. Not to mention the king cobra which escaped from its’ owner a while back, also in Florida. I would say, for me, the objection is not to pets as such, but to irresponsible pet owners. I was once told online to not be putting hot pepper flakes around my vegetable plants to deter neighborhood cats because the flakes get into the cat’s paws and from there into their eyes. I don’t want to eat or serve vegetables fertilized with cat poop, and I do think that vet bills are part of responsible pet ownership. For me, I am not understanding how or why an exotic reptile has the same status as someone’s family dog.

  153. Thanks JMG!

    That is also high praise! I’ll just have to keep at it, but I’ll report back if there’s any new developments worth sharing.


  154. JMG, thanks for that! I had followed his advice on bees, and had iffy results so I wondered if something was up with the other. The chamomile did make good tasting honey but I’ve never gotten syrup fed bees to overwinter, and that’s a fail in my book. This year looks better. My neighbor puts fondant in spacers inside hive , and it works for him. Perhaps Steiners stuff on bees needs reworking and more filtering out of stuff like feeding them syrup. It just seems to make them lose their initiative.

  155. Chris at Fernglade # 146 “The back to the land folks have always fascinated me.”

    I just remembered what had been at the edge of my awareness!

    My ex is a couple years younger than JMG. She grew up in a city. Her free love, all is groovy hippie parents divorced when she was in adolescence. Her Mom took her and her older sister a thousand miles away to a Back To The Land lifestyle in the countryside, with Mom working as a rural mail route driver. I have no idea if they had any connection with the state where the farm was.

    As a teenager, my ex’s sister could stop her foot and get the cows to pay attention, but my ex found the farm animals were blissfully indifferent to the younger city kid! My ex had a miserable time at the farm, including some other relatives being abusive to her.

    We were together when my ex was around 30. By now the family were all living in the city again, upstanding citizens and workers in the modern world. One day at dinner with her Mom, her Mom apologized for having put my ex through that whole rural experience.
    Ex’s Mom: “I’m sorry we took you girls to that farm.”
    Ex, breezily: “That’s okay.”
    Mom, talking slowly and seriously, with direct eye contact and humility: “I’m sorry.”
    Ex, after a moment’s pause: “Thank you.”

  156. Yeah, I did. The hands-on experience was very helpful when I did a degree in biology too – though that eventually ran aground on the rocks of my health issues and didn’t turn into a long-term viable career.

  157. Old Steve #50:
    “the current drop in population growth worldwide is now a threat to those who rely on this strategy for acquiring unearned wealth. So what to do? Simple: match the drop in demand by an even greater drop in supply by rendering vast tracts of land ‘uninhabitable’, thus forcing its current inhabitants to seek out – and pay for – new accommodations. Environmentalism is the perfect excuse to leverage government power”
    Brilliant reasoning. Seriously.

  158. If they want us to smoke and drink less, they tax cigarettes and alcohol. But if they want us to eat less meat, they make us feel guilty, they develop ersatz meat, and they get us used to the idea of eating bugs, but they don’t tax meat. Why is that?

  159. @Karl,
    that’s something I have seen referenced in the media occasionally. I don’t have any personal experiences of that sort, well unless you count finding a population of brook lamprey in a lake they weren’t known from, and getting the local fish biologist come with me and go collect some specimens for a bio professor friend of his. But nobody really cares about weird little fish you hardly ever see. I don’t think that lake had sticklebacks on the official list either, and there were lots of those all round the docks, all year every year.

    But I have no particular problem believing that big cats got out and started breeding somewhere far from their natural range. Or that cougars might be expanding their range back into areas they used to roam freely.

  160. JMG,

    I thought it was common knowledge that the buffer zone around a “protected area” is always more critical to the long term health of flora and fauna than the “protected area” itself. This is why the buffer zones are always contested between advocates for the “protected areas” and people living in close proximity to “protected areas.”

  161. Dear JMG,

    I have LONG awaited an opportunity to address a particular subject out of science fiction, one which you have raised here, and that is the ecological awareness of Frank Herbert in his book “Dune”.

    While “Dune” had a very large impact on me when I read it at age 16, and I still regard it as a science fiction masterpiece, I ironically find its ecological underpinnings to be its weak link. This relates to the extreme scarcity of water on the planet Arrakis.

    In the book, the population of Arrakis is never given precisely, but is certainly in the millions, perhaps 10 million or more. Yet water is supposedly so scarce that ordinary people are eager to scrounge, and pay for, the drippings from the hand towels of the elite. Water, in fact, is described as the economically, if not also ecologically, limiting factor for the existence of the human population.

    Yet, if water on Arrakis were so extremely scarce as this (and as the entire book emphatically emphasizes), then from where, and how, is food being grown and produced?

    I’m sure that I do not need to tell you that it takes VASTLY more water to grow and produce the food to feed one human than that person requires for direct consumption. So if there is so little water that people can barely afford it, then certainly there is no way that they could afford food, even if there were enough water to allow crops to be grown on-planet. And in the book “Dune”, interstellar travel is a very expensive proposition, limiting even the elite in their travels from one solar system to another. So importing food via interstellar trade is, by definition, out of the question as well.

    I thought it was doubly ironic that, in one scene, the Fremen were described, rather casually, as eating a spiced rice dish. RICE, one of the most water-intensive crops known! I have had to wonder if Frank Herbert actually wrote that scene tongue-in-cheek, so utterly improbable does it seem to me.

    These thoughts on the ecological impossibility of human existence on Arrakis came to me with my second reading of the book, several years after my first reading of it, and have haunted me ever since. Please tell me, am I entirely off-base for noticing this, or for thinking along these lines?

  162. I am assuming this 30×30 idea is the product of some western environmental think tank or group. In today’s world I can see Russia, China, Iran and most of the global south wetting themselves laughing at it. “Fine: one more way for you to destroy yourselves; go for it” Even within the “west” I imagine the countries that go for it thinking ” great idea; lets start with you over there”, or even finding areas in their own countries with poor populations with no political influence and no resources and then feeling smug about “preserving” that area. Maybe they can find some countries like Holland, Germany or Sri Lanka that seem willing to try it on themselves, though at least elements of the first two seem to be waking up and fighting back.
    I suspect the whole thing, if it even gets tried, will be a real dog and pony show.

  163. Hi John,

    what magical traditions would you recommend to those of us who might not be inclined to ceremonial magic? I know perhaps there isn´t one tradition where ceremonial magic is just absent, but maybe is there a tradition whose curriculum delves as deeply into other areas such as divination, meditation, talismans etc. ?

  164. Anonymoose, these days? Probably, yeah, you could start an anti-beaver crusade. (No lewd remarks, please!)

    Celadon, the beekeepers I know say that Steiner’s material on bees is very badly flawed. His work is always a mixed bag, but the odd stuff with the cow horn was something he got from his teacher Felix Kogutski, not something he pulled out of his own, er, clairvoyance.

    Martin, because they don’t want to have to pay the taxes. They just want everyone else to eat less meat.

    GlassHammer, it’s common knowledge among those who pay attention.

    Alan, er, you may want to reread the book, then. Arrakis produces the most valuable product in the Imperium, the geriatric and psychoactive spice melange. That pays for its food imports. It’s very much along the lines of the petroleum states on the Persian Gulf, which don’t have to produce food for their population — they just have to sell oil and use some of the proceeds to buy food.

    Stephen, oh, it’s going to be a total three-ring circus. I suspect most nations that do anything about it will blithely declare vast tracts to be “protected” while doing absolutely nothing to protect them.

    Marco, please ask this during an open post or on my Dreamwidth journal’s weekly Magic Monday open post on occultism. I like to keep the conversation on topic here. Thank you!

  165. Thijs, Alan, and JMG – Regarding the science of Dune. I also had objections along the lines of “captured sweat doesn’t keep you cool”, and “where does the food grow?”. But I answered those with “Arrakis is very dry where the stories action takes place, but that doesn’t mean that it’s hot, and that doesn’t mean that there is no water elsewhere on the planet.” Suppose Arrakis is between 50 and 70F? People would still lose water through their lungs and skin, even if not specifically for cooling, and that could be captured. I have vague memories about regions of Arrakis which are not open to public inspection (“the windows must be closed as you approach the planet”).
    Still, Alan has a good point: if rice is grown anywhere on Arrakis, there must be a trade route and rumors of the water needed to grow it. (On the other hand, rice paddies are flooded (at least, in part) to control weeds and distribute fertilizer, and rice tolerates flooding, but doesn’t require it.)

  166. JMG re: ‘I’d like to see more people get into this kind of intensive growing.’

    I think they already are! JM Fortier has a relatively new online ‘masterclass’ that teaches his farming method in depth and says that 4000 people have already taken it. So, there’s hope.

    And on another note, have you been following the Dutch farmers and fishermen’s protests in Holland? It seems the Dutch government is not waiting for 2030:

    “In 2022, Dutch farmers made worldwide news when they began protesting government plans to move them off their lands. Less known to the outside world is the fact that Dutch fishermen, too, are being driven out of their centuries-old fishing grounds, as wind farms and “protected natural areas” take their place. For the current political class at the local, national, and global levels, and for the uninformed public at large, farmers and fishermen stand accused of damaging nature—with officials claiming that policies to “restore” nature and keep it free from human activity are necessary.
    How did this false dichotomy of “man versus nature” arise and come to the forefront of policymaking? To answer that question, one has to dive into the history of industrial agriculture and the rise of global agribusiness (see Some Post-WWII Historical Background). That history shows that United Nations (UN) treaties to “protect” nature—such as Habitat I (1976),1 Agenda 21 (1992),2 and the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)3—have encouraged rapid urbanization while emptying out the countryside. Even more significantly, these treaties are a direct (albeit stealthy) attack on private property and the sovereignty of nation-states.”

    That’s the opening of a comprehensive report by By Elze van Hamelen, who was commissioned by Catherine Austen Fitts of the Solari report to investigate the situation. She interviewed many local farmers and fishermen who are being regulated out of their traditional professions and off their lands.

    It may be a bit conspiracy-theory heavy (as Fitts does tend to be, I’ll admit) but claims the real reason for the so-called protection of nature is to destroy individual property rights. I’ll just note her final thoughts:

    “The real solutions to combat environmental destruction lie not in further separation but in stewardship and in reconnecting the bonds between animals, the land, people, and communities. ”

  167. JMG and Renaissance Man #126:

    May I offer a helpful local German phrase (translated into English, of course): “(s)he’s as bright as a coal cellar”.

    For some totally unexplainable reason, that phrase is being used a lot over here in recent times… 😉


  168. #146 The whole counter-disinformation field has become a industry in its own right, and is trying to find as many ways as possible to justify its existence. The one thing that worried me was the concept of ‘malinformation’ that someone had come up with – the problem with misinformation / disinformation / fake news is it actually has to be false or at least exaggerated and misleading, whereas I assume they wanted something defined in a way that the information presented doesn’t have to be false, but just not something the powers that be want too many people to know.

    #167 I assume they realise that the people aren’t ready for that yet, but intend to tax meat at some point. Once they are sufficiently out of touch with ordinary people, they’ll surely try it.

  169. “GlassHammer, it’s common knowledge among those who pay attention.”-JMG

    Are there even states in the U.S. where Encroachment of “protected zones” isn’t agitating a local community? From government controlled land out west to fisheries in the east it’s really hard to avoid this topic in your local bar, townhall, or church.

  170. Hi John Michael,

    There’s a lot of possible mischief in that set of ideas. One of the easiest things for the Dagos-set to achieve are changes in the legal landscape. You at least have some constitutionally enshrined rights in that regard. Spare a thought for us down here with no such history and/or custom. Hmm. The image of cops dragging away a young lady for saying stuff on the interweb during you-know-what, told me everything I needed to know about where our elitez want to head. Hmm.

    Anywhoo, I have wondered about the inner workings of environmentalists who want to lock up land and pretend that’s how things have always been. You see, I’m coming around to the idea that people hate on things they’ve wronged. A person sort of has to do that as a self protection mechanism, otherwise all their previous decisions, beliefs and actions get called into question. You sort of see that playing out. Dunno, but was curious as to your thoughts in the matter?



  171. I’m reading the book, Yankee Kingdom, about the history of Vermont and New Hampshire. As Ohio and Indiana opened up, many Yanks moved out of Northern New England for better farming. With fewer farmers and unused land, the locals discovered sheep were a perfect addition to the landscape and they provided the necessary wool for the local mills. The land was adapted to a new source of income and it was highly sustainable.

  172. “Karl, I’d call Biden as dumb as a box of rocks but that’s an insult to rocks”

    In mining the term “incompetent rock” is a real thing, and means just what it says, rock that crumbles, cracks, falls down, etc. Dealing with it a mine can be very expensive.

  173. Reading through the conversation this evening I can’t help but be reminded of a ‘Far Side’ cartoon by Larson (circa late ‘80s if I recall correctly) that depicts an idyllic scene packed full of vegetation and wildlife In the midst of it all there is a huge broken glass with the label ‘humans’ on the side of it. The bewildered inhabitants of the jar have made their way out and have set out, one would guess, to wreak havoc on their new habitat. A deer and squirrel look on worriedly. From up above comes a Divine Voice from the clouds saying “Uh-oh…” I sometimes think that the wooden-headed wizards of the WEF think that the cartoon is the gospel truth…

    @Karl re: big cats. I know what you mean. The ‘elites’ really can’t stand the thought that in this day and age they could suddenly (though not likely) become some large predator’s dinner, presumably because ‘ze vorld’ is supposed to be putty in their grubby hands. I’m not much of a TV watcher, but the series ‘1923’ captured the reality that we are not always the apex predator very vividly. Every now and then I get a report from my sister, who has a farm in eastern Ontario, about the latest cougar sighting. Folks in the area have been reporting sightings, paw prints and even the occasional sheep of cow kill by one of these big cats for decades. According to the all-wise authorities, cougars are very scared of humans and inhabit only the most inaccessible and remote corners of Canada. Whenever a farmer reports a cougar encounter to the local wildlife officers, the latter state that it is ‘impossible’ – though I’m not sure if they’ve ever tried ‘swamp gas’ or ‘the planet Venus’ as an explanation. 😊

  174. Hi JMG,
    I’m hosting a Permaculture tour as part of a Permaculture Design Course, on my small farm this morning. I’ve participated as a teacher on these courses for over a decade. I often wonder if it is worth it as the talk:do ratio in Permaculture has always been a source of frustration and disillusionment.
    I always discuss the shift from mindless consumption to responsible production and like to lighten things up with a quote I attribute to you: Collapse now and avoid the rush.
    Do you think Permaculture’s time is yet to come and it will boom as it becomes a necessity, or will people starve as their eco modernist high rise farms fail to feed them and their endless meetings and planning sessions fail to produce a single calorie? I suppose a mixture of both.
    Is our sense of entitlement, at least in the affluent world, the biggest impediment to change and even adaptation in the face of crisis?
    Cheers, Jamie

  175. This may be a bit tangential, but I can’t resist, JMG. The same kind of WEF loonies who dream of ’30 by 30’ are also planning for a net-zero (that is carbon-free) military. War’s a big polluter, don’t you know, so governments that are serious about saving the world need to plan to wage net-zero wars. No prob! They just need to wave their virtue-signalling wands, squander a whack of dough on some consultants and – presto! – problem solved! Think I’m jesting? Well, think again!

    It warms my green-loving heart to think that the next time there are major peaceful protests in Ottawa, instead of trampling protesters with those horrible carbon-emitting horses, they can crush the proles under the treads of battery-operated tanks! Oh, and I bet those battery-operated tanks, trucks, choppers and globemaster planes will perform spectacularly in the winters at Cold Lake (northern Alberta) military base, and/or if stationed at the Finland/Russia border in February!

    However, I think that Canada’s Prime Sinister is a bit late on this net-zero stuff when it comes to the military, as it presently has no ammunition (all sent to Ukraine) or artillery (ditto), no soldiers worth their salt (thanks to mass resignations and dismissals on account of a combination of mandatory ‘mystery shots’ and woke-Marxist ideological training), no new recruits, and no morale. Looks like it’s already ‘net-zero’ to me!

  176. Lathechuck, one of the other details the book mentions is that Caladan, the former fief of House Atreides, is particularly known for growing and exporting a crop called pundi rice. That shows that there’s an interplanetary market in grain, and that rice in particular is shipped offworld from wet worlds such as Caladan. Thus there’s zero need for rice paddies on Arrakis, since — again — it’s got the most lucrative cash crop in the Imperium, and thus can afford to import pundi rice.

    Stefania, yes, I’ve been watching the Dutch situation on and off. It’ll be interesting to see what happens now that German farmers are getting into the same strategy.

    Milkyway, ha! I like that. Would that be “hell wie ein Kohlenkeller”?

    GlassHammer, another good point.

    Chris, yeah, we had a revolution that was largely over that issue; Australia, like Canada, never got around to that, and it shows. As for your hypothesis, hmm! Yes, I could see that.

    Jon, interesting. I wonder what the next New England adaptation will be.

    Monster, thank you!

    Siliconguy, it occurred to me suddenly this morning that the privileged environmental set doesn’t actually love, or even tolerate, nature, because nature is eternal change. What they want is a Barbie-doll imitation of nature that just sits there until they want to play with it. As for “incompetent rock,” ha! Thank you. I needed to know that.

    Jamie, whether Permaculture will be part of the future mix of sustainable subsistence methods during the dark age ahead is an open question; it depends on how many people who are at least notionally into it get off their buttocks and put the principles to work. As for the sense of entitlement, it’s certainly one of the big ones.

    Ron, I wonder if Trudeau realizes that if he continues along those lines, his government will likely be overthrown by force. A government that no longer has effective means of violence — and an understaffed net-zero military is not an effective means of violence — is a sitting duck for the first putsch, coup d’etat, or popular uprising that gets under way. I mean this quite literally; revolutions happen, and the bigger the gap between the elite and the rest of society, the more likely they become.

  177. The news broke late Thursday that in the UK two of the four remaining blast furnaces in the country would be shut down. Sky high energy prices and a push for net zero have killed the business in Port Talbot. There are plans for electric arc furnace that can convert various grades of steel to other grades of steel but can’t make steel from iron ore.
    Britain has two furnaces left on the East coast but their future looks doubtful.
    It’s hard to love a blast furnace and they don’t fit into Tolkien’s vision unless you count Mordor, but none of the commentary I’ve read so far seems to have realised how strategically dangerous the situation is given that steel is a basic input to the defence industry. I wonder if anyone in the government is fantasising about wooden tanks.

  178. @Jamie Re Permaculture

    From personal experience I can say that it is having a far more positive effect in the parts of the world that are not the industrial west. But I feel this was always part of the movement, as Mollison and his successor Lawton leveraged income from the industrial world into funding projects less privileged places. Vietnam in particular as somewhere I have visited that really did a great job of putting these ideas into practice during the war rebuild. Walking through many of the streets and houses was a permaculture wonderland, and of course this was built off long held traditional practices.

    David Holmgren himself has always had a healthy scepticism of the permaculture movement, and from conversations with him he assumes it will (as it has for the last 40 years) come and go with ecological fashion in the industrial countries. Getting a small minority engaging with production side to potentially expand and offer an alternative to the hardened corporate food system when things start accelerating downhill is probably the best that can be hoped for.

    I actually think we are entering a fashion swing back the other way against things like permaculture and homesteading as pluto is leaving capricorn and going into aquarius, and all the would be rebels will go out of capricornian themes like back to the land and off into aquarian themes. Those who remain will be those who want to get stuff done rather than just rebel so it’s probably a good thing.

  179. I’m at the three-quarter century mark, which is relevant why? Because I remember having many of the same observations and insights about the state of our culture and its probable future as are commonly discussed here, and the mind-boggling waste of resources represented (for instance) by millions of 1/4 acre lots being given over to grass and decorative shrubs in the American suburbs.

    When I was a youth in the 1960s, I discussed all sorts of things like this with my family: they listened politely and then changed the subject to something like preparations for a forthcoming society party. It was also clear to me that the French bio-intensive methods that were being written about then were thrilling not just to me. Even then, although not in my family, there had to be people who thought along these and similar lines. I remember being outraged when some government officials bragged about forcing third-world subsistence farmers to engage in monetary agriculture. I think I was about thirteen at the time. So many books relating to this deeper ecology began being produced as I grew into young adulthood. Theodore Roszak and Vine Deloria come to mind as being among the authors exploring the craziness of how we (still) live.

    In many parts of the world, those wealthy enough to have a home of their own or live in a detached dwelling also have walls around it and no one questions what they do with their yard area, if they have any. There are no homeowner’s associations to demand compliance, in other words. My guess is that at least some of the herbs used in their cuisines come from those yards.

    As you yourself mentioned, JMG, such luminaries as Steiner and Tolkien were also appreciative of small-scale and diverse gardening and farming landscapes. My point? There is a longing for this kind of development that runs deep and has been an ongoing thread, not always in the background, of our culture. What I fail to see is the path whereby this vision can become manifest. I look forward to your future discussions on these points.

  180. @Eric (#157):

    Thank you so much for trying to work out the authorship of the dystopian science fiction novel I remember reading. Unfortunately, World Gone Mad ( = No Blade of Grass) is not it, although the time-frame is right. — Also, what is “Bard”?

  181. A good real world example to illustrate the Arrakis food situation is the American South prior to the 1860s. It had some of the richest farmland in the world but this was focused entirely on growing cash crops: cotton, tobacco, indigo, etc…. It didn’t grow enough food to sustain itself and this wasn’t a problem because exports of those cash crops to European industries paid for whatever imports they wanted. But once the Union blockade managed to choke the South economically they ended up dealing with food shortages pretty quickly.

  182. Andy, good gods. Yeah, that basically amounts to unilateral disarmament.

    Clarke, I’m not quite that far along in age, but I also remember these same conversations from the mid- to late 1970s. One of the things I’m trying to do here is remind people that there’s a road we didn’t take, and it’s still open. As for how to make it happen, yes, we’ll be talking about it; the very short form is that it can’t replace the current system while the current system still functions — but there are steps that can be taken now to prepare for the current system’s inevitable fall.

    Karl, a solid historical example. Thank you.

  183. Ron M re: 186

    Now if Turdeau would only plan for some net-zero vacations, we might actually achieve something worthwhile!

    (Sorry…he just makes it so easy.)

  184. JMG
    Priceless post, a very important journey begins. Many thanks for your efforts.
    Regarding “bless their hearts” (seemingly a nuance rich blessing). Could this be a way to ask for blessings for others without their permission, by-stepping the ethic requirement for said permission? I can think of any number of persons who could benefit (as well as the rest of the inhabitants of this plane of existence) from some heart chakra softening of those self styled elites suffering from “head buried in a dark place” syndrome.

  185. As for permaculture – I love the idea, and have taken some abortive stabs* at implementing some of it, but I wonder if it has failed to take off here because it is difficult to make it work in a temperate climate at a backyard garden scale. The tropics have tons of plants suitable for a food forest; temperate climates have significantly fewer, and many of the ones that do exist are unfamiliar to most people, e.g. Apios Americana. And the temperate tree crops other than fruit trees (e.g. nuts, acorns) take up a lot of room.

    * blueberries, cherries, asparagus, rhubarb, pawpaws, perennial herbs, sea kale, ramps – all but the sea kale have been reasonably successful

  186. Reading the comments about how growing up in a more rural environment makes you more attuned to nature reminded me that I also grew up climbing trees and turning over rocks at the beach. Later, at 13, my friend and I would hike for three or four days through a national park, carrying our sleeping bags in our backpacks. Today, my daughter loves animals above all else, but we have never taken her to anything resembling wilderness, not even any wood bigger than an urban park.

    This brings me to a dilemma which is certainly well-known to some or many of you. We live now in the second-largest country in the world with untold wilderness areas, but we don’t have a car. Can you reach a national park or any other wilderness without your own car? When I was 13, parents or an elder brother drove us to the trail start. When I was 19, we drove through Scandinavia, parking the car at the entrance to national parks that were closed to vehicles.

    Our living without a car is both for ecological reasons and also one of the components of our “collapse to avoid the rush”. On average, 15% of Canadians’ expenses are for mobility, while in our case the fraction is less than 3% (on public transport fares), and we want to use that difference to live a life nearer to what feels right. We would very much like to acquire a property with at least access to some garden space. That would be more feasible in a small town or in the countryside, but we probably wouldn’t be able to live without a car outside big cities. So the most probably outcome, if we manage to buy anything at all, would be in this big city, not too far from a metro station, and basically cut off from the wilderness.

    I suppose there is no one answer right for everybody, but I would like to hear how others deal with this dilemma, since I know we are not the only ones living without a car.

  187. JMG, thanks for tackling this subject, and I look forward to the upcoming posts. I was an environmental activist in the 90s but have felt disaffected from that movement ever since the early 2000s, due to the internecine battles plaguing the movement and many selling out to corporate/government interests.

    One thing I’ve been mulling over and preparing to tackle myself in an essay are the silos keeping gardeners apart. The native-plant gardening crowd sometimes regards with hostility the small-scale homesteaders who might want edible annuals and animals as part of the equation, which doesn’t fit with the “homegrown national park” ideal of the former, as one example. Just more internecine battles, and probably the selling out will follow.

  188. Robert (#191):
    You are most welcome.

    Bard is a Google Large Language Model (LLM) AI product. LLMs don’t always get it right, in fact, sometimes they return what are called hallucinations. Completely made up results! All in all, I find them useful as long as I keep in mind the limitations.

  189. Fernglade Chris #179
    ” I’m coming around to the idea that people hate on things they’ve wronged. A person sort of has to do that as a self protection mechanism, otherwise all their previous decisions, beliefs and actions get called into question.”

    This put me in mind of Eric Hoffer, who wrote in “The True Believer, Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements” that:

    “There is perhaps no surer way of infecting ourselves with virulent hatred toward a person than by doing him a grave injustice. That others have a just grievance against us is a more potent reason for hating them than that we have a just grievance against them.”

    It is a short book, but full of keen, pithy, observation. If you have never come across it before, you might enjoy it. If you have, well, never mind. 🙂

  190. Currently in some of the small health and wellness circles there is an idea about humanity being vectors and using that concept for healing-to your point! Thank you again

  191. JeffinWA, on a Southerner’s lips, “bless your heart” can mean anything from “why, that’s so sweet of you” to “frack you and the jackass you rode in on.” Given the flexibility of the egregor thus established, I’m not sure it’s wise to try to use it in any more focused way!

    Isaac, it may well be that permaculture is best suited to tropical and semitropical climates while a more annual-focused approach is best suited to the temperate and subarctic zones. One of the great lessons of ecology is that one size never, ever fits all.

    Aldarion, I also don’t own a car, and though I visited wilderness areas now and again in my childhood my defining nature experiences were all much closer to home: in parks, vacant lots, organic gardens, and just looking out my window at the panoply of living things. Cities are full of nature; there’s a fine book titled Tom Brown Jr.’s Field Guide to the Forgotten Wilderness, all about the wild things you’ll find thriving in urban environments. What I’d encourage you to consider is an urban orientation toward nature: window boxes full of pollinator-feeding plants in your windows, a container garden on a balcony or scrap of yard, close attention to the “hidden wilderness” Tom Brown Jr. discusses so cogently, and so on. This is just as relevant as trips to big national parks, and for city folk like you and me, much more ecologically respectful.

    Brunette, the greatest challenge we face right now is getting it through the yard-thick skulls of the various groups that one size does not fit all, that there ain’t no such thing as one right way for everybody, and having different people growing different kinds of gardens is a wonderful thing, as it maximizes the range of potential food and habitat for pollinators and other living things. I’m not sure how best to do that, though I’ll be including that point in upcoming essays.

    Mindsaftgap, hmm! I like that idea. Can you point me to an online discussion? I’d like to read up on it and include the concept in future posts.

  192. @Mary Bennett,
    do please consider that ‘exotic reptiles’ also includes my pet crested gecko, which is 9 inches long and can’t survive outside in Canada, or in most areas in North America. She is far less dangerous to humans or wildlife than either a dog or a cat. Seriously, I’ve had worse bites off hamsters than I have off any member of her species. She’s also captive bred, and currently quite elderly by her species standards. She also costs less to feed than a cat or a dog, doesn’t require spaying or vaccinations, and will not bother people in the next apartment. As such, she’s a pet that works for a lot of people who can’t keep dogs or cats.

    I have no problem with banning giant pythons or venomous snakes. They are also banned in my area and have been for a long time. That’s not the issue.

    What I am seeing lately is people trying to ban reptiles (or moving reptiles between states) that do far less harm to anything than most common pets because they don’t like reptiles or think they shouldn’t be pets, sometimes based on information about the pet trade as it was in the 20th century. Standards of care, knowledge and equipment have improved so much since then this is massively misleading. Or when they lump every single reptile owner in with the idiots keeping venomous snakes in poorly constructed cages or in places where they aren’t legal. There are a lot of people keeping reptiles these days, the vast majority of whom aren’t being a problem.

  193. @Isaac,
    I sort of ended up with a food forest by accident, mostly inherited from the previous gardener. A large apple tree, with a riot of raspberries and a redcurrant bush underneath. There used to be a rhubarb plant, but it seems to have been outcompeted by the raspberries. There’s lots of squills in spring, very pretty though not edible.

    I’m in Canada.

  194. @Aldarion,
    I’m also living in a city without a car in Canada. I garden in several ways:

    1) I’m living in a basement suite. I have an agreement with my landlady that I’m allowed to grow food in her backyard, though if I’m going to make big changes I need to get permission first. I also give her extra produce on occasion. I grow raspberries, blueberries, salal berries, redcurrants, strawberries, wintergreen berries, lots of different types of herbs, tomatoes, winter squash (or try to), cucumber, tomatillo, lettuce, spinach, assorted baby greens, corn salad, kale/sprouting broccoli, potatoes,onions, pole beans, broad beans, snap peas, snow peas, swiss chard, leeks, garlic, carrots, parsnips, mini bell peppers, though I don’t grow all of them every year and I may have forgotten one or two. Radishes. There’s also apples off the pre-existing tree, there used to be rhubarb and peaches, but the old peach tree died and the new one hasn’t produced anything yet, same with my baby cherry tree in a pot.

    2) I grow sprouts in a jar in my kitchen. Very useful in winter/early spring especially. They grow faster if the temperature isn’t too low. Doesn’t produce huge amounts at once, but if you keep at it it adds up. It’s also very easy, and doesn’t need any outside space at all.

    3) I used to run a community garden at my local church, and got to take some of the produce home. I also learned to grow things I wouldn’t have picked for my own garden, like zucchini, corn, and beets. And failed at pumpkins.

    4) I wildcraft blackberries, and occasional fruit I have permission for, or that is hanging/falling off of street trees. This is nice because I didn’t have to grow them.

    5) I tried cultivating mealworms, but would have needed a much larger setup to do anything useful. I made one stirfry. It wasn’t very good. The mealworms were an accident, since I bought them for my geckos, who then decided they didn’t like them and would not eat them. So then I had a mealworm colony for years before eventually deciding to donate the current mealworms to the petstore because I was tired of keeping them.

    At other times I’ve grown food indoors on a windowsill. Tiny Tim tomatoes, radishes, and greens. The greens were the best.

    When I was growing up, my parent grew lots of food in containers on the patio. He also grew cut and come again greens indoors under lights.

    I do not grow most of my food. I buy it. But I certainly supplement the storebought food with a lot of homegrown organic produce, and I’ve learned a lot. Much of it what not to do. Do not use mulch on Vancouver Island near seedlings… the slugs will live in the mulch and come out to destroy your spinach crop before you get anything. Greens planted in the second week of september don’t normally grow enough before winter to make this worthwhile. Try last week of august instead.

    I also find growing food to be good for my mental health. Helps keep me grounded.

    Best of luck in finding a method that works for you. There are a lot of potential options out there. If you really want this, you can probably find a way.

  195. @Aldarion re connecting to nature in the city,
    without a car, I very rarely leave greater Victoria. But there are lots of small parks and semi-natural areas within the city. I know all the ones a reasonable walk from me very well. I am lucky to be in an area where’s there’s quite a lot of them. There are also others I occasionally take the bus out to.

    Some aren’t even official – just giant lumps of rock the highway was blasted through, covered in interesting native plants, and wildflowers at the right time of year. And when I was living in a small town, the best place for reptiles and amphibians I knew of in the area was the unpaved parking lot at the edge of the park. Loads of garter snakes sunning themselves, rarely alligator lizards, and salamander larvae and frog tadpoles in puddles in the parking lot. Yes, really. I was so cheesed off when that got paved over I wrote poetry about it.

    When I was growing up, my parents generally had vehicles, so I got more time in larger parks and so on. And then I did a couple of biology field internships. I did get to see some very interesting things then that I wouldn’t have seen the way I live now, and that most people don’t get to see. But it is perfectly possible to learn a lot and interact a lot with nature in the city. You do need to seek it out, and be able to see the nature that is present inconspicuously under your nose.

    For me as a child, being able to get up close and personal with nature instead of just looking from a distance was so important. It doesn’t have to be with rare or large wildlife. Pigeons work, insects work, planting a flower in a pot and watching it grow works. Compost bins work. If you can find an empty lot where nobody will care if your child pokes things or picks up snails or swings a net through tall grass for grasshoppers, that can be great fun. You might also try the routes for electricity lines. It’s usually open and grassy underneath, but not mown or weeded. Grasshoppers love them.

  196. @Aldarion,
    Also ditches full of water by the side of the road can have interesting aquatic life. And they’re so easy to overlook. Also, because it’s not an official park, it is merely weird rather than likely to get you into trouble to go muck around and catch some of what’s living in there, look at it, identify it, and let it go.

    This set of posts is getting long; I should probably stop now.

  197. Hi John Michael,

    Yeah, it kind of works doesn’t it? I get eerie insights into peoples motivations – it’s no gift, I can assure you due to the grubby world view! 🙂 I also made a long habit of reading widely upon the subject of human behaviour. It’s been my observation that if in interactions you can get past: self hatred + greed + laziness + self interest, the person is worth knowing.

    I’ll be very interested to read what you have to say about employing a diverse range of gardening techniques. Twenty years ago I became curious about the ‘food forest’ concept as promoted by the permaculturalist folks. There may be other areas of the planet where the concept works, but here in a cool temperate mountainous area where I trialled the concept for many years, the thick vegetation was most excellent for the rats and rabbits. And also it is worth noting that the short growing season meant that the intense competition among the many diverse plants (all with different needs) resulted in very slow growing fruit trees. And I won’t even discuss the issues caused by the excessive humidity around the trunks of the fruit trees. Hmm.

    Anywhoo, many years ago I cleared and thinned the lot, and since then the orchards have grown and produced better. In addition to that, I now plant annuals in arrangements that my grandfather would have understood. What he wouldn’t have known about was like you’ve correctly asserted, the soil remineralisation efforts. The difficulty I face on that front in the long run is that the rainfall leaches some of the minerals away, and at the moment I can simply bring in replacements, or more than required for replacements in fact. To counter this future possibility, I’m practising crop rotation and also physically relocating growing beds, but I dunno and am learning as I’m going. It’s complicated.

    Hi Scotlyn,

    Thanks for the book shout out, and little nuggets of wisdom are precious things don’t you reckon?



  198. One of the key principles of ecosophia clicks into place. “Hands on.”

    Let’s see, in the past year on and near my river bank, I’ve cleared ivy that was stressing a row of oak trees, trimmed back the surrounding wall of phragmites (common reeds) that’s gradually encroaching on the tidal cattail bed, pruned various trees and shrubs, collected fallen branches into piles that house small birds and mammals, gently controlled and harvested knotweed, moved plants and [redacted for legal reasons] to sculpt parts of the river bank and slow erosion, gathered and spread mulch, and removed poison ivy for my own safety when doing all those other things. But I don’t “garden!” 😉

  199. >Can you reach a national park or any other wilderness without your own car?

    Anything’s possible given enough money or time. You could get a bicycle and pedal it to your nearest park. People have done long distance trips on a bicycle, if you have the time and you don’t mind getting cold or wet. Or don’t mind working on your bike. You will get good at replacing spokes and patching tires.

    Speaking of Mordor, all the recent wars weren’t won by military superiority but by manufacturing strength. The real advantage any country has had has been their ability to marshal factory workers and get them cranking out whatever widgets that are needed to win. I just point this out to ask “How in the heck did Mordor lose when they were the premier industrial power of Middle Earth?”

  200. Just to add a couple of phrases to the list. the first two date me: not the full quid and 19 bob in the pound; a couple of sandwiches short of a picnic, and not the sharpest knife in the drawer. A young friend of mine used to say: the mall is open, but no one is shopping.
    As to a carbon neutral army: i heard an interview with the US under secretary of defense, who will probably become the secretary of defense once Austin resigns or is forced to for going awol for two weeks to go to the hospital without telling either his superiors or his assistant where he was going; I guess his absence wasn’t even noticed for awhile. However her priorities were to make the military more inclusive to race, gender chosen gender, etc, without regard to competence, and to change it over to hybrid and electric trucks, tanks, plane, etc. to make it more carbon neutral..They also make less noise she says. Watching her, I thought at first that it was a comedy skit. Multi generational military families are just waiting to retire and telling their kids not to go in. They would probably do just as well not having an army at all.
    I have been involved with permaculture communities on and off for a long time: obviously I am not someone you would build a community around, but that’s me. A lot of permaculture is just common sense and more gardeners are pretty nearly practicing it than they realize. I think a lot of people are put off/scared off by PERMACULTURE and its more purist advocates. Some of this now skates pretty close to the whole woke world.

  201. I wonder if part of the dilemma faced by permaculturists in temperate regions is that they’re not considering that northern latitudes’ most productive terrestrial biomes are savannahs. Rather than absolute food forest (thickly grown and often sans animals), think toward The Portuguese and Spanish dehesa systems very reliant on trees and other perennials, _and_ annuals and animals, just as pre-European California was.

    There’s some interesting work coming out of the tropics that has yet to be proven (as per usual) in temperate areas, but it suggests that human input in the form of extensive pruning stimulates massive plant growth (in much the same way that appropriate and concentrated grazing does for grasses and forbs). This goes against permaculture tendency to let plants run rampant, but puts humans in a good and helpful role in stimulating plant growth hormones and increasing root exudates to build soil way more quickly and reliably than just relying on decomposition of biomass.

    Having assisted a flourishing perennial system in one part of our yard (natives and otherwise, supporting lots of birds and insects), we created a similar community of annuals (aka cover crop) in garden beds that never seemed all that vigorous. And wow, a species- and plant-family-rich polyculture has really taken off. You can hardly tell I got 22 lbs of daikon radishes and greens out of it last week (and a huge amount of pea shoots and garland chrysanthemum greens too) – the bed hardly looks rumpled and is teeming with life.

    Next will be translating this to a larger scale on a few recently purchased acres a bit outside town – we intend to be future hobbits who share a home with many species as we trial-run versions of visions for a better Anthropocene.

  202. The reason for sharing the personal, secondhand anecdote was because I suspect it’s not unique, that that there are many other people who went “back to the land” or were taken there by parents, and who had a miserable time of struggle, not the wonderful bliss promised by the advocates of this escape from society. I wonder how many lives were ruined by this fad.

    JMG, you might be amused by this Reuters report on two sci-fi fantasy progress lies for the price of one, from the maker of the popular ChatGPT Large Language Model chatbot. “OpenAI’s CEO Sam Altman on Tuesday said an energy breakthrough is necessary for future artificial intelligence, which will consume vastly more power than people have expected. Speaking at a Bloomberg event on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Altman said the silver lining is that more climate-friendly sources of energy, particularly nuclear fusion or cheaper solar power and storage, are the way forward for AI. “There’s no way to get there without a breakthrough,” he said. “It motivates us to go invest more in fusion.””
    Since fusion is always 15 years away, I suppose we can put universal, general AI at 20 years out on the perpetual calendar.

  203. “Can you reach a national park or any other wilderness without your own car?”

    It’s not convenient, but Amtrak gets pretty close to the southern end of Glacier National park. That same route goes over Steven’s Pass in the Cascades. Just before it stops in Leavenworth. Just south of Leavenworth is Mount Stuart and Icicle Creek which is quite the wild area. It kills the unprepared fairly often.

    Check the map of Amtrak routes and you can get close to major wilderness. Then there might be a bus getting even closer.

    And for Aldarion, another interesting book on plant communities moving in response to rapid climate change is “After the Ice Age: The Return of Life to Glaciated North America” by E.C. Pielou. It was quicker than you think, the difference between 5000 feet of ice and 500 feet of ice is pretty minimal, but as that last 500 feet goes things really speed up.

  204. TemporaryReality, do you have a blog or anything detailing how you have set up and run your garden? It sounds wonderful and as I am struggling with my small New England lot I would love to see others’ successes! Though I *have* discovered that arugula absolutely explodes here if given half a chance.

  205. Pygmycory @ 294, your gecko is no concern of mine and I was unaware of calls to ban all reptiles from the pet trade. Neighborhood cats in my vegetable garden are a concern, especially since I live in a cold, damp climate where mulch attracts slugs, as you say, and also retards warming of the soil. The cats can fertilize the flower beds all they like. A granddaughter lives in Florida and I do worry about the snakes, indigenous and imported, as well as about alligators. When I was visiting her I noticed that every empty lot where water might gather was fenced. I supposed that was to keep small children away from snakes and gators.

    Have you found any way to deal with slugs?

  206. When we first moved to Providence, somewhat more than half a century ago, we had an apartment in the heavily Portuguese area called “Fox Point.” We soon noticed that there were plenty of mulberry trees wioth branches overhanging the sidewalks, so we would go out most mornings with our babies in strollers or buggies and pick berries from the branches in the public space. Delicious! We had very little money in those days; meat was a thing to be eaten sparingly, for purely economic reasons. Frances Moore Lappé’s Diet for a Small Planet really helped us survive. Foraging really works in small cities.)

    (Don’t get me started on how cheap Brown University was, and maybe still is! On one occasion, not long after we came there, when I very gently raised the issue with an administrator, her scornful response was, “You should be GLAD to suffer for Brown!” — Ah well, my ancestors and their stories that I inheritedn stood me in very good stead back in those days. If they had survived much, much worse, then we could surely survive our employer’s cheapskatery and that small deliberate cruelty. And we did! As my coffee mug says, “Scars are tatoos with better stories!”)

  207. “Can you reach a national park or any other wilderness without your own car?”


    Leaving aside individual buildings like national monument Castle Clinton in New York City’s Battery Park, and Fort McHenry where that star-spangled banner did wave:

    Bus tours can get you to parks including Acadia in Maine and Yosemite in California.

    You can take a bus to the Redwoods national and state parks group in northern California. “Marin Transit operates a shuttle on all weekends and holidays and during select peak weekdays, providing service to Muir Woods from Sausalito, Marin City, or Mill Valley (Route 66); the National Park Service recommends that visitors use the shuttle when it is operating to avoid difficulties in finding parking.”

    “Unlike many other national parks, where the main access to the park is by motor vehicle, bicycle or foot, the primary access to Voyageurs is via water. Many visitors travel by kayaks and canoes, while others rent houseboats or take a guided tour boat.” – Wikipedia

    Everyone needs a boat for islands like the American Samoa, southern California Channel Islands, Isle Royale, and Virgin Islands parks. There’s regular ferry service to Washington’s San Juan Islands.

    There are bus, horseback, and helicopter trips to the Grand Canyon.

    Hot Springs National Park is in the town of Hot Springs.

    Cabrillo National Monument is in town in San Diego.

    There’s a scenic excursion railroad to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

    This is before looking at state level parks and protected areas for even more options. And of course that’s without considering renting a car, or splitting the cost of a shared ride without an app. For example, this week on Craigslist someone looked to share a trip from L.A. to Joshua Tree.

    You don’t need to keep lack of personal car ownership keep you from enjoying some places officially recognized and protected for their natural beauty.

  208. @Boys

    I used to think figuring out what elites are up to, how they work and plan, what their networks are etc was a good use of time. After some prolonged conversations with other minds though I became disillusioned with the purpose behind that kind of detective work. They can shape systems to their advantage for self interested exploitation. Your explanation works I think. If you can use your billions to change gigantic portions of land then all you need is a how to hashtag; #developewetlands
    until rebellion

  209. Re this business about what’s happening to the Canadian military or lack thereof, it’s a reminder that while a lot of people outside the US, especially the highly educated, have this idea of Americans as ignoramuses, just look at that fool in Ottawa and his fat, farcical provincial counterpart in Ontario. And those knuckleheads Cameron and Boris and Farage and Theresa and Liz over in Old Blighty and that shambles of the EU and the preposterous crew running it and Americans don’t look so bad. But only in comparison.

    The American elite are surely scaling daily the Everests of absurdity but then their foreign counterparts in what we laughingly call Western Civ are doing their best in wearing out their own climbing gear. Just look at how many of their so-called ‘best’ signed onto this 30 by 30 baloney. The highly degreed clerisy on both sides of the water deploy their own ladders and grappling hooks in storming the last societal redoubts of common sense and logic and reason.

    Is it possible that there’s such a thing as elite dementia as a cause of civilizational decline and fall? Could it be catching? Is it a brain devouring zombie disease? Could it be the result of generations of inbreeding degrading their collective DNA plus congenital syphilis plus the deleterious effects of opium and pills and alcohol? Beats me, I’m grasping at straws.

    Their memory sputters and fails. So I guess they forgot about the armed Bundy standoff. They airily dismissed the trucker’s convoy as the work of morons and fascists and racists and extremists. Imagine that convoy as a rehearsal for something far more dangerous. Imagine the same for the J6 festivities. First farce then tragedy as you put it. Not to mention Brexit where the Brits told their betters to stuff it. And a multitude of other examples. You can imagine if they seriously try to institute something as boneheaded as this 30 by 30.

    OUR democracy they call it. And on msm you hear all the time about assaults on THEIR democracy. Maybe it really is theirs. I mean, they’ve appropriated the intelligence assets and enforcement apparatus of the government for their own protection. And so they feel secure and immovable. You can wear out your gums and type your fingers to the bone warning them otherwise. But you know they won’t listen.

  210. I totally agree that the biggest problem with the permaculture movement, just like transition towns later, etc… is that people talk about it and dont do it. Boy, have I seen that ! They are just waiting for the perfect place to live to implement it properly, while they fly to a yoga retreat .. I love permaculture, but Im not holding my breath, well, not for my area. This area has moved on to Equity and all Electric homes and cars. I hear no talk about Permaculture or transition towns. On the other hand, I have in recent years, heard Permaculture taken up by preppers, people in the central part of the country, and republicans and libertarians and what I have heard is that they are trying to get a yield not a show place. Then there is New Forest Farm, out in corn growing country, where with a lot of time and hard work, over 20 years they have converted over from row cropping to a mostly perennial system, trees crops livestock with some annual crops intertwinned, very inspirational. Start now.

    Permaculture is a set of design practices, and you can use those without having any food forests or — or — keyhole garden beds. So, The book cover on the Frugal Friday a few weeks ago, the Integral House that was in Berkeley back in the day, is basically a permaculture project, the design is about all your impacts and needs, not just food, also shelter, etc

    So, a tropical food forest or a keyhole garden bed may be appropriate some places. Example solutions dont mean they are supposed to be solutions for everyone, or that they are the only things or must be implemented.

    The Ethical basis for Permaculture is very much like the conservation pledge in the Original post. It includes people as having needs that they need to be allowed to meet, unlike the 30x30project…. There is also reminders that there are different categories of resources, some are reduced by use, some pollute or destroy other resources when used, some are unaffected by use, some increase with modest use and some disappear or degrade if not used. The idea that there is change in nature, and that Man can make an area better, as some resources are increased by our intervention, again, very different from the 30×30 project.

    A mollison principle is that Everything gardens, by which he means that everything has an effect on its environment. That includes people who dont have yards, so think what your choices and their effects are….

    Most permaculture designers talk about zones. That is the area around your house. Zone 1 is up to 20 feet away. that means for alot of people, everything is zone 1. Or in an apartment, zone 0, there is no zone 1. Zone 1 is typically seen as an area with alot of intervention and home to things like an annual vegetable garden for the people living in the house, maybe a few vines or espalliered fruit trees, a greenhouse or cold frame for the winter, small animals like guinea pigs or bunnies for food that eat garden waste, a compost pile. These are typical things. The difference would be that you are then supposed to minimize your inputs to have that garden and those bunnies, and I have seen this on modest scale in a busy suburban household. All for the bunnies is garden waste. A roof tank catches rainwater for the house and garden. Compost or sheet mulching provides the fertility. Things are set up to not take much time of the household vs the yield returned. fruitng vines cover the small rain catchment tank. etc..

  211. @ Mary Bennett,
    Slugs: I go on slug patrol early on spring mornings when I’ve been having slug trouble. Walk round collecting them, then squish them. Slugs like to collect under boards or cardboard, so if you have that look underneath for slugs and you will find their hiding spots.

    Yeah, cats in your garden digging stuff up and leaving stuff behind can be a pain. I’ve had that too.

    The SPCA round here doesn’t approve of reptile keeping, and doesn’t reply if you try to talk to them about their policy. Even though they aren’t usually the ones doing reptile rescue. There’s other people doing that.

    It’s kind of funny – after years working in a petstore dealing with coldblooded animals, and in the wild with fish and wild birds, the worst animal injury I’ve had was a series of catch scratches across my bare legs, and the scariest incidents all involved dogs. Though okay, maybe the bear is up there in the scary category too. But no reptiles. No fish. No birds.

  212. Thanks for all answers. I will definitely take a look at Tom Brown’s Field Guide. We currently don’t have any backyard or balcony, which is why we are looking for some other place. We do have permission to enter a huge private school’s grounds right next to our house on weekends and have been observing and interacting with the marmots and squirrels there and making friendship with one particular willow, and have been visiting all the official urban parks that we can reach. I will pay special attention to abandoned lots, ditches etc.

    My impression is that in Canada it is even more difficult than in the USA to reach actual wilderness parks by public transport, but you have encouraged me to keep looking. When my daughter is a bit older, we might think about biking, or staying overnight at the park.

  213. JMG, no argument from me! I believe that Turdeau is Canada’s equivalent of Marie Antoinette. He has no idea what he’s doing and mentally lives in a galaxy far far away… He and his ilk seem to imagine that if they control ‘the narrative’ (i.e., carpet-bomb the populace with propaganda) then they control reality. Given the track record of him and others such as George W. Bush and Indira Gandhi, I’d say that any sane democratic government would make it illegal for the offspring of a prime minister or president to serve as prime minister/president. It seems to me that the damage that their insecurity, ignorance, arrogance and hubris wreaks on their countries are so extensive that it takes decades to recover.

    Stephania #194: thanks for the chuckle!

  214. This isn’t relevant to this particular article of JMG’s, but I thought I might have forgotten about it by the time the right opportunity comes up, and it’s relevant to his general theme of technology reaching a point of diminishing returns, so that a significant number of people are rejecting at least part of it, or even corporations rejecting it – in this case, self-checkouts in stores.

    “In a 2021 survey of 1,000 American shoppers, 60% of consumers said they prefer to use self-checkout over a staffed checkout aisle when given the choice, yet 67% of consumers have had the technology fail while trying to use it. […] “It’s not that self-checkout technology is good or bad, per se… [but] if we try self-checkout and realise we’re not benefitting from it, we might switch back to not using it,” says Amit Kumar, an assistant professor of marketing and psychology at the University of Texas, who studies consumer behaviour and decision-making. […] However ubiquitous the technology is, and however much consumers get used to using the kiosks, shoppers are likely to find themselves disappointed and frustrated most of the time.”

    Surely if we’re not benefiting from it… it’s bad? Imagine saying to your spouse, “it’s not that you’re good or bad, per se, it’s just that I’m not benefiting from you. Also I’m disappointed and frustrated most of the time.” This would, I think, be taken as a sign a separation is coming soon.

  215. Regarding the discussion on organic gardening and permaculture, I think one valid criticism of them is that they at most provide enough nutrition for a household. Most forms of gardening will provide very little protein.

    I think Mark Shepard, author of Restoration Agriculture, offers a good answer to that — he applied the principles of permaculture on his own 100-acre farm, where he grew a polyculture of asparagus, walnuts, chestnuts, hazelnuts, shiitake mushrooms, pigs, cattle, and more. In a podcast he also described how he and some of his neighbours converted their vehicles to run on vegetable oil, they also grow sunflower for the seed oil, which they then use for oil (possibly buying the waste oil back from fast food restaurants, I don’t remember exactly). His farm is also a habitat for hundreds of indigenous species in the midst of monoculture cornfields.

    I’m nowhere close to owning a farm and in my current situation I am just getting started on hydroponics but I found it very inspiring as a vision of how sustainable agriculture, with no fossil fuel inputs, can scale.

  216. It’s funny how different the permaculture movement (or interpretations of it) must be from where I am. It seems that a lot of commentators think it’s only a method for subtropical/tropical food forest creation, rather than a system of design. Temperate gardens and orchards are always going to do best when set up in the traditional temperate manner, anyone telling you otherwise is off in dreamland. The key is the connection and interrelationship between different parts of the system rather than food forest dictums. The original focus on the tropical forest agriculture was because of the damage being wrought by the application of industrial temperate methods (ploughing etc) in global south tropicals areas; doing the same in reverse is stupid.

    As usual, certain leftward parts of western culture takes something that at the outset has never made claims to universal application of methods and used it to claim universal application of methods.

  217. re: Karl Grant #38
    I think that cities can be a human habitat. But the way that cities are built today are totally undeserving of that title. Cities today are built for cars, not for people. We need to build thriving cities in which you don’t need to have a car to get around, which make efficient use of land, and have lots of public spaces and parks. I think rural and urban areas are both important human habitats, but we need to stop urban sprawl.

  218. 30 by 30 sounds like another example of, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.’ Perhaps someday you can do an essay about the dichotomy of urban vs. rural culture. Every civilization since Sumer and Akkad have elevated city life as urbane, superior, sophisticated, cultured, and advanced whereas country dwellers are always depicted as backwards, stupid pagan, superstitious, and deplorable. ‘People of the Land,’ is a euphemism for ‘People of the Manure.’ Never mind the fact that before the Industrial Revolution, cities killed more people than were born into them and were only sustainable via immigration.
    Yet the Shire folk of the world have all found a way to live with nature, more or less. I remember reading an anthropology journal article in grad school about Asian-Indians. Urbane Westerners condemned the veneration of cows as wasteful in a starving population, but what they missed was that not eating cows meant that they were available as fertilizer producers and farm machinery for their entire lives. And the unspoken truth about Hinduism is that they do eat cows.
    When a cow dies, it is given to the untouchable class of the village who then get a jolt of much needed protein in their diets. When this barbarous practice was stopped by enlightened westerners the Indian farmers suddenly needed diesel powered equipment and fossil fuel generated fertilizers to feed themselves. The new trinity of gods to the poor were Big Oil, Big Fertilizer, and Monsanto.

  219. I wonder that when considering the point of the essay, and the folly of “marking off” boundaries between nature and people, that it can still be so easy to wonder how to get from where *I* am to where *nature* is.

    It seems to me that the lesson of this essay has to be 100/100. Which is to say 100% of the world is where nature is at, and 100% of where people are at is FULL of wild nature. 🙂

    I think that thiis idea that whereever people are at, nature has to be somewhere else is part of the “enchantment/disenchantment” story our host has been outlining through so many posts over the years. What we need is to open our eyes to see the enchantment, and the nature that is *here* already, wherever *here* IS for each of us.

    The very next time you walk out the door, look around you, especially at the edges – between the buildings and landmarks you normally “see”. There are undoubtedly some plants, animals, birds making their lives all around you. Listen, *who* do you hear. When you spot something alive, look it up. Get to know its call-name, and what it is known to offer to human life. Also talk to it, ask what human life can do for it? Also, look at the people. They, and you, are nature too. And in every single human being, a wild thing, somewhere, not tamed, not domesticated, able to see and hear the wild that is everywhere.

    Awaken the wild thing within, whereever you are, and you will already be in the “wilderness”. Be well, stay free.

  220. Aldarion: I own a car (several to be honest) but don’t think not owning one should be an impediment to wilderness. Even in New York City one can take a train to several trailheads. Surely Canada must have similar options? Around the Appalachian trail there are folks who are known for offering rides to town or public transportation. When we were canoeing, we would park the car, paddle downriver, then hitchhike back to the car. We quickly noticed you get a ride much faster if you are bring your paddle. I suspect if you and your kids are carrying backpacks, you would probably also get picked up right away.

  221. Looking at the big picture, a new species cannot muscle its way into the environment without taking resources away from existing species. For instance, Americans wanted meat and grain so they killed and ate billions of passenger pigeons, wiping out the species.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way. If the new species can improve natural productivity it can earn its place. As Alan Savory pointed out, cattle actually improve dry grassland by tramping seeds into depressions created by their hooves which then collect water to aid germination, not to mention drinking at waterholes then peeing on the countryside, bringing water and life to otherwise dry areas.

    Incidentally, did you know that the mass of termites below the ground is greater than the mass of cattle above the ground? That extra grass benefits more than just the cattle.

    Which shows the way forward for humans. Instead of creating genetic deserts with vast expanses of monocrops, create new self-sustaining ecosystems teeming with every variety of life.

  222. Alvin,

    “Regarding the discussion on organic gardening and permaculture, I think one valid criticism of them is that they at most provide enough nutrition for a household. Most forms of gardening will provide very little protein.”

    I’m curious what makes you say this. I’m familiar with a number of broadscale permaculture and/or organic projects and farms that produce hundreds of millions of calories per year (far more than household-scale), and the vast majority of even smallish permaculture projects with which I am familiar provide protein in the form of livestock. And of course there are tons of industrial-scale certified organic producers.

  223. @Siliconguy #215: Yes, I bought Piélou’s After the Ice Age some time ago and read it to great profit. The review by McElwain I linked to above complements PIélou in a way because it covers a much longer time period (400 million years) with much greater variations in temperature and CO2. Of course the level of detail is lower than in the book, but being a review, it contains hundreds of references. By the way, I have struck out all references to RCP8.5 in my PDF. It is still valuable. JGM has mentioned extinction events in the Triassic before, and McElwain’s review will give you a chart and maps for context.

    Some phrases I underlined:
    – “the vast majority of plant species are resilient and adaptable to climate and atmospheric changes, given sufficient time”
    – ferns, ginkgos and other long-lived lineages “are likely more adapted to a high CO2 atmosphere, such as that predicted to occur during the next few centuries, than are very recently evolved lineages (such as many angiosperms) that lack the genetic memory of super-greenhouse conditions”
    – “Prior to the origin of grass- dominated ecosystems, savannahs of pteridophytes (ferns and Equisetales) prevailed where climate conditions did not support fully wooded vegetation.”
    – “during times of high atmospheric CO2 concentrations and global warmth, the temperature gradient between the equator and pole is shallow, which results in fewer (<5) distinct vegetation biomes compared with today’s 10 biomes in an icehouse climate "
    – "In the tropics of Colombia and western Venezuela, a palynological study suggested that tropical rainforest vegetation increased diversity in response to global warming at the PETM" [Paleocene-Eocene temperature maximum]
    – "The tundra biome was absent for much of Earth’s vegetated history"
    _ 56-49 million years ago: "Estimated canopy heights of between 25 and 40 m have been reconstructed for Metasequoia forests at 79 N, with aboveground paleoproductivity estimates ranging from 2.8 to 5.5 Mg/(ha·year)"

  224. I had a very direct demonstration a few years ago of the difference in attitude between “professional” environmentalists and, well, ecosophians. One day, one of the cygnets of the swan family that regularly visits me along the river bank showed up with a large fishing lure hooked clear though one of her feet, trailing a meter of line. She was otherwise healthy but doomed in the long run if it stayed there.

    Understand that we lose a third to a half of the cygnets every year. When one of the local predators takes one, I wish both the cygnet’s spirit and the predator the best. But a careless fisherman or a carelessly abandoned fishing lure aren’t my idea of legitimate swan predators. So over the next several days, I called several conservation organizations for advice in how to help or how to arrange for others to help. This was, as you might imagine, futile. The conversation with an Audobon Society representative was particularly memorable. She was utterly indifferent to the plight or fate of the entangled cygnet, but outraged that (as I unwisely let slip) my wife and I, on our own property, sometimes feed those swans.

    Just in case anyone thinks that might have been a result of superior expertise regarding the welfare of swans, actual experts such as the King’s Warden of the Swans in England say that judicious feeding of swans does them no harm. Here in southern New England, the same swans are considered “invasive,” so it’s just possible that the nasty Audobon lady’s real objection might have been, how dare I aid an undesirable species. But what she actually said was much closer to, how dare I interact with a wild creature without the proper credentials.

    As for the fate of the cygnet: no aid was forthcoming, and I had no way to attempt to intervene without a high chance of doing more harm than good. (I did spend a few hours in the water quietly waiting to see if they’d be willing to come to me for help, but they weren’t having that.) All I could do was pray to the local gods and nature spirits for the cygnet’s rescue. A few weeks later, something happened on the river bank I wasn’t present to see, which left quills of an adult swan, some disturbed wet soil, and a few smaller feathers behind. The next time I saw the swan family, the hook and lure were gone from the cygnet’s foot, and there had been no further injury to any of them.

  225. @JMG #187,

    Yes, the German version is „Er/Sie ist so hell wie ein Kohlenkeller.“ (The „so“ is the comparative word = „as … as“ in English)


  226. Chris, that’s just it. Food forests work well in some climates and not so well in others. The design principles of Permaculture? The same rule applies, because, ahem, there ain’t no such thing as one true way for everybody. Dissensus, not consensus, is the way forward.

    Walt, thank you for this! An excellent example.

    Other Owen, because The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy novel, of course. To quote the otherwise forgettable Mad Magazine parody of the trilogy, “Of course it helps if you believe in elves!”

    Stephen, thanks for the contributions! As for the comedy skit masquerading as the Pentagon, it’s very clear to me that never in their darkest dreams has it occurred to these people that they could lose. That’s an attitude that normally leads to catastrophe in the near term.

    TemporaryReality, are you posting information about your methods anywhere online, or better still, turning it into the raw material for a book? A lot of people could benefit from learning that approach.

    Christopher, thank you; I needed a really good belly laugh. The upside is that it’s now clear that AI is not going to accomplish much, because of energy restrictions.

    Robert, thanks for this! Mulberries were something I’d never tasted until I came to the eastern states; yum.

    Smith, funny. Not that you’re wrong, mind you! The thing is that this always, always happens to decadent aristocracies in the twilight of their power. Since the goal of every aristocracy after a few generations in power is to make sure that none of its members ever have to deal with the consequences of their actions, aristocracies always become stunningly incompetent, capering around in a fantasy world where they’re always destined to get whatever they want because they’re the good people. That delusion lasts until the tumbrils start to roll.

    Atmospheric, that’s interesting that Permaculture’s been dropped in your area. Maybe the people who are picking it up in the flyover states will do something with it.

    Aldarion, the grounds of that private school will likely frame some of your daughter’s favorite memories. Enjoy the treasure for what it is!

    Ron, the delusion that controlling the narrative equals controlling reality is probably going to be listed on the death certificate of the current order of things under the heading “Cause of Death”…

    Hackenschmidt, notice that most people would still rather use the self-checkout despite its failures. That’s because going through the line with a clerk is usually worse. That’s not surprising, since the clerks are paid sweatshop wages and have zero motivation to do more than the bare minimum, but it gets kind of tiring having to repack all your own grocery bags after the clerk or the bagger just piled everything in at random, putting tin cans on top of ripe tomatoes and so forth.

    Alvin, a valid point! Most working permaculture projects only feed a single household because small gardens are most of what people have had the chance to experiment with. With experience on bigger spreads, the possibilities broaden out. As for protein, well, yes — to produce that efficiently on a small scale you need, ahem, animals…

    PumpkinScone, and of course that’s just it. The Permaculture design philosophy is one item in the toolkit; here in the US, though, it’s very often been marketed as a kind of green Amway, in which you pay money and do the trainings so you can teach the trainings and get people to pay you.

    Jon, I’ll certainly consider a post on that.

    Scotlyn, thanks for this!

    Martin, exactly. Exactly.

    Walt, that’s bleakly funny. I’m glad the cygnet ended up okay anyway.

    Milkyway, danke schön.

  227. “…here in the US, though, it’s very often been marketed as a kind of green Amway, in which you pay money and do the trainings so you can teach the trainings and get people to pay you.”

    So is Amway based on the pomo University model? Where you go and get a degree in hypocritcal theory so you deconstruct it for the next crop of students coming in to learn about hypocritical theory?

  228. @Aldarion,
    You’re a Canuck, right?
    Canada is too big to generalize. Forgive me if I give the cliched example, but… in southern Ontario, anyone can all get to Toronto and Toronto has the Parkbus service to Algonquin Provincial Park and iirc Killarney. Or take ViaRail north and catch the ViaRail “bud car” on the Sudbury to White River line that does mile-marker stops in the deep woods. (At one point is was possible to connect to the Algoma Railroad’s Agawa Canyon train by hiking betwixt the two railroads, but that may no longer be possible.) I suspect other large urban centres have similar options to Toronto as I can’t imagine the demand being different.

    As others have pointed out, cycling may be an option. Or perhaps you can find a group willing to car pool, or you could rent a vehicle for a once-in-a-blue moon adventure.

    Or look for periurban protected areas– some of the better city-run “conservation areas” can be as biodiverse and “wild” as the more popular (and tamed) provincial/national parks.

  229. Re: ecological fiction,
    Has anyone else read “Legacy of Heorot” or it’s sequel by Niven, Pournelle and Barnes? It’s no “Dune”, of course, but if any science fiction novel makes ecology the key science to it’s plot, “Legacy of Heorot” is it.

  230. How much background did Herbert have in occultism? Not necessarily practical, but at least knowledge of? It seems he knew some stuff, but I dont know much about Herbert.

    The Orange Catholic Bible and Zen Sunni stuff in the books points to him at least being familiar with ecumenical and universalist trends. The use of the voice by the Bene Gesserit and their eugenics program shows he was probably familiar with some occult ideas. The Mentats and their system show he might have been knowledgable about the art of memory and its relatives.

    In other news the script for a version of Dune Messiah as written by David Lynch was recently rediscovered in Herbert’s archives with Herberts annotation.

    “I wrote half a script for the second Dune. I really got into it because it wasn’t a big story, more like a neighborhood story. It had some really cool things in it.”

    That would have been cool to see. Less Hollywoodish and more Art House.

    Jodorowsky’s Dune, while never made, did spawn his amazing Metabaron graphic novels with artist Mobius. What intetests me about Jodorowsky and Lynch’s filmic visions of the book, is that neither are averse to the metaphysical side of life, both actively embracing it. Thats somewhat missing from the new film, but at least it is getting a new generation to read Herberts books.

  231. How can swans be invasive? Have they not been migrating from the arctic to the warmer parts of North America for millennia. On the West Coast, trumpeter swans are protected. The places set aside for them cannot even be entered without a permit, and visitors are required to remain within their vehicles, which must not venture off road.

    If the idea is to control the population of introduced mute swans, why not sell permits for hunting?

  232. Justin, nah, the pomo University model is based on Amway. Amway was founded in 1959, when American universities still sometimes taught things worth learning. (“Hypocritical theory” is a keeper, btw.)

    Tyler, no; those three aren’t exactly my favorite SF authors, by a long shot. Still, I’ll consider it.

    Justin, that’s a good question to which I don’t happen to know the answer. Anyone else?

    Mary, I think at this point it’s far more useful to control the population of bureaucrats…

  233. @ Robert (#218)

    I’ve seen a lot of immigrants (usually East Asian) foraging for weeds and berries in our city, I’ll see them walking about with plastic bags harvesting a lot of greens that are growing on the periphery, outside of people’s hedges and whatnot.

    One woman used to come by to clear off the overhang from our neighbour’s Mulberry tree out back. We couldn’t communicate verbally as she didn’t seem to speak a word of English (not even hello), but she was able to indicate that she wanted to be sure I was cool with her taking the fruit, which I obviously was, and she gestured that she was happy to see we were growing food in our backyard. I haven’t seen her in a while, so she must have moved, but she had quite an operation, used to lay out a large sheet and hook low branches and just shake the whole tree to fill her baskets.


  234. I’ve been wondering about something. We inhabit many worlds simultaneously. Our dead, for instance, aren’t exactly gone, they’re just not here with us. Where they are is a complicated question with too many answers, but at least mentally we operate in a world filled with layers. There may be some kind of objective reality to egregores, great collections of thoughts and attitudes. And gods may not just stay safely within our books or on our shrines, and may also not always manifest in what we would call helpful ways.

    What I’m wondering is the mind-disease of the people who think they are running the show, their lack of discernment and, to be honest, their lack of character. To me, it appears as if they are (in the terms of exorcists) dealing with something or someone that is obsessing them, pushing them to behave in ways that are, at least ultimately, self-destructive. In other words, they appear to be, collectively, haunted by negative spiritual forces of one kind or another.

    And not just our so-called elites, but many of us have trouble tracking thoughts and actions to take into account even the simplest chains of cause and effect. This can’t possibly be how humans evolved to be so successful! So, among all the many other causes we have discussed on this blog, might there not also be something we might call supernatural about this mass epidemic of stupidity?

    And, assuming for a moment this might be so, how on earth are we to respond? I gather direct confrontation of “higher” beings is not advisable, whereas dream haunts and so forth need to be confronted in this manner. We can’t necessarily, entirely by our own efforts, create an island of spiritual sanity, or at least I don’t think so…although there are plenty who might say otherwise I guess.

    My thought, and it applies to this issue of creating an Anthropocene worth having, is that we need to cultivate a touch of humility. Just a little, at first, and admit we don’t know everything and can’t do everything, and then supplicate the god or goddess (or multiples thereof) of our choice for help. They might not be omniscient or omnipotent, but it’s just possible they know more than we do and can at least see our situation from a different perspective and provide a nudge here and an insight there, etc., and sometimes a good deal more.

    Just emphasizing that we have both to not only pay close attention to our everyday material reality (i.e., the nature of which we are an integral part) but that focus shouldn’t be to the exclusion of also paying attention to what some might call “inner” realities. I’d like to see more here about how folks incorporate spiritual ecologies with the material ones we tend to call “nature.”

  235. @Walt,
    “how dare I interact with a wild creature without the proper credentials.”

    This reminds me of a project I did in university as part of my ecological methods course. We had to design and carry out a hands on field biology project. I and one of my friends were both mainly interested in animals, so we wanted to do observational studies of some of the animals on campus (hummingbirds in my case, feral rabbits in hers). But we weren’t permitted to any study that involved animals because that would require going in front of the ethics committee, and we were too low in the pecking order for them to waste their time on us. This is despite neither of us wanting to do more than watch very outgoing animals in a public place from a distance, which we were both already doing with no one having any problem with it. I did my project on lichen diversity vs. distance from roads in the end.

    I agree with the need to make sure that animals are not being mistreated by stupid undergrads doing poorly done research of little practical value, but their attitude meant that perfectly harmless studies couldn’t be done, and two budding zoologists couldn’t do their research project on anything similar to the organisms they’d gone to university to study.

    When I entered a science fair as a child, my project had involved watching my goldfish, and learning differences in behavior and who would eat what. I took better care of the goldfish in question when I was paying so much attention for my project. They benefited. No one told me I couldn’t work with animals, so I did. I told a friend about it later, and they told me that the science fair they’d been in wouldn’t allow working with macro-organisms. Like, not even plants. I probably wouldn’t have been able to have that major formative experience if I was a child now.

    This kind of gatekeeping makes it awfully easy for the people in charge to control what research gets done and who is allowed to do it, doesn’t it? And its very discouraging to be on the receiving end of as a student. How can we learn, if we aren’t allowed to study what we’re there to study?

    I did to get to do my honors thesis on fish. But they were dead fish, collected in the 1970s by the professor in charge. And there were live animals featured in various classes. Including flatworms(planaria) that we shocked. Granted they don’t have a proper brain, but surely this is more ethically problematic than what I wanted to do?

    Why are biology students required to genetically engineer micro-organisms to resist antibiotics in order to complete their degree (required genetics class), but zoology students can’t take on studies that they thought up that are blindingly obviously perfectly harmless to the animals involved?

  236. @Tyler: Thank you very much! I am not a true-born Canuck, but I do live in Montréal. Your travel advice sounds as if you have actually followed it 🙂

    @scotlyn: Most people have latched onto the national park question in my original comment – probably my fault due to the way I wrote it. I was asking just as much about living in a smaller town/rural area with one’s own garden and absolutely dependent on a car vs. in a big city and very reduced garden/backyard/balcony space, but without depending on a car. pygmycory and JMG responded to that part of my question.

  237. @Mary Bennet #243, the consensus among ornithologists is that the current mute swan population in the eastern US descends from swans imported from England for decorative purposes (such as for ponds at formal gardens at country estates, and the like) starting in the mid 1800s. You might be thinking of tundra swans (aka whistling swans) that migrate from arctic North America.

    The mute swans have large appetites and clearly alter the volume and variety of aquatic plant life in “my” river. But they were already here in this town long before I got here, and in this country long before any immediate ancestor of mine was, so I’m not going to complain. They have a reputation for being aggressive which is often caused by humans acting stupid and disrespectful around them. There’s no question they’re territorial from mid spring to mid fall. There’s an often repeated claim that “a swan’s wing can break your arm” but it’s false. However, at a pond in Pennsylvania I once watched about six hundred Canadian geese being corralled on “their” side of the pond by a single swan (probably a cob protecting a hidden nesting pen) who claimed the entire other half, which was pretty impressive. The swans here selectively chase away geese too, while ignoring cormorants, seagulls, and all kinds of ducks.

    There’s been no permitted hunting or planned culling of swans in New England so far, because there’s been insufficient consensus about the need for it. The mute swan population in Massachusetts has approximately tripled in the last 25 years, but they spread themselves out so that the tripling has been mostly in their range instead of in their population density. Permitted hunting might be needed eventually, in which case I hope the towns that have been longer accustomed to their presence can opt to exclude it. In the far future I suspect they’ll be a food resource, either hunted or farmed in many places in North America.

  238. The Other Owen #211 re: “all the recent wars weren’t won by military superiority but by manufacturing strength.” This dovetails very nicely into the news that I heard over the weekend that an Indian company is putting the final nail in the coffin of British steel production. To whit: Tata Steel has told striking workers at Britain’s only remaining steel plant – Port Talbot steelworks – that “it could no longer afford to continue production at the loss-making plant in south Wales”. I recall that a few centuries ago, the conquering Brits – that military colossus that stood astride the entire globe – deliberately destroyed India’s thriving textile industry; that Wheel of Fortune just keeps on a-turning and ain’t karma a bitch? Another ‘column’ of Britain’s industrial economy is being destroyed. An economy that does not produce steel cannot be considered a ‘major economy’. And one can forget about ‘ramping up production’ in war time. Andrei Martyanov discusses it here:

    Of course, the fact that the entire British military force can fit into one of the country’s larger football stadiums, with room to spare, does not bode well for Britania militarily. No doubt its troops are morphing into what closely resembles a Gotham City freak show (what with long hair coloured every hue of the rainbow, piercings and rings dangling everywhere, facial tattoos, etc.) just like it is in the USA and Canada these days. If the WW2 veterans could weep in their graves, surely they are doing so …

  239. I think we need to start with detailing what we’ve lost. The night sky, food that’s wholly digestible by human beings, free time, peace of mind, knowing your neighbors, kids playing en masse outside, there’s a lot about our current society that absolutely sucks and is the direct result of the way we’ve industrialized and the way we’ve incorporated technology into our life.

  240. @pygmycory #248, back when I was competing in science fairs, there were new restrictions being enacted on projects involving vertebrate animals, with special paperwork required. Prior to then, thinking up yet another reason to put mice or rats inside a maze had been so common for science fairs it was a cliché. (Does that explain why people a generation later had so much trouble figuring out who moved their cheese?) I didn’t pay much attention to the details because I was doing computer projects by then, but I’m pretty sure no one at that time imagined experiments on insects or worms ever being restricted, let alone plants. (After all, one can buy a can of Raid or a bottle of Round-Up with no committee approval at all. Even if some kid enters “The Effects of Axially Refracted Solar Radiation on Arthropods of the Family Formicidae,” you might want want to quietly schedule a parental meeting, but there’s no need to ban it for the sake of the ants.)

    To answer your actual question, the reason was demonstrating control over your course instructor, by denying him or her the discretion to approve of obviously harmless observational studies by their students, without taking on the trouble of adjudicating the approval of such trivial matters themselves either. As a bonus, they also expected you and the other students to take note as well. As to how this can be corrected, refer to our host’s answer to Mary in #244.

  241. @Justin P. Moore: Jodorowsky: I watched “The Holy Mountain” some years ago in a Japanese release VHS tape with English subtitles. It was disturbing, to say the least! I knew J. was involved with Gurdjieff groups and I could see the “Mount Analog” comparison. I don’t know what to make of the guy. But it might be an interesting off topic topic.

  242. @Walt,
    I would not be sad to see some petty minded bureaucrats lose their jobs. I suspect a lot of people feel the same way.

  243. Isaac and JMG, no I’ve not got anything particularly public about the project because frankly I don’t consider myself a particularly good gardener and I’m not at all sure yet what we’re actually doing.! I have a sense of a whole and many moving parts, and everything I’m working on learning and synthesizes gestures toward that with a little blown-kiss as a well-wish and a lot of thoughts attempting to join the pieces that want connecting. The principle is kind of “I’ll show up and do everything in my power, I’ll invite the beings who want to commit with me (us) to the betterment of a place, and then let biology do what it does best.” Then assess, reconsider, refine, etc.

    To be honest, I’m still reading and learning from a very many others.

    I do have a few photos from a few years ago, though – the “after” from a before that was a basic suburban lawn of bermuda grass. I designed and planned and planted a perennial front yard and what this part of the yard tells me is that plants WANT to be in a varied community and not just plunked in the ground, an island in a sea of woodchips or gravel.

    As of yet, the larger project is an over-hayed pasture in the still-nebulous handwaving stage mentioned above.

  244. Hey JMG
    This talk of Humanity not only co-existing, but improving nature reminds me of an idea that I have contemplated for awhile, which is using selective breeding or even full-on genetic engineering to increase biodiversity. I wonder if future cultures may consider doing this as a way to make up for the loss of species our civilisation is causing. Do you think this is something to encourage?
    It’s not a purely academic question, since Australian scientists are currently using selective breeding to improve the heat-resistance of coral, to save the Great barrier reef.

  245. Clarke #246
    You might be interested in this lecture by Ian McGilchrist.
    He says the same thing as you (and JMG) in a different way.

    JMG – I listen to a lot of talks on various sites and am heartened by all the pushback I am hearing from every corner – political, ecological, financial, tech, everything. Yeah the society is going down (thank the gods) but I am starting to think the kids’ll be alright. (My kids finally stopped calling me Negative Nancy and Debbie Downer.)

  246. @Phutatorius: Jodorowsky would definitely be an interesting off topic topic. Maybe I’ll bring him up again at the next open post. I’ve not seen Holy Mountain yet. I’ve watched El Topo (also disturbing and out there but also spiritual in its way) and Santa Sangre. Jodorowsky knew Leonora Carrington and was a student of Marcel Marceau, the famous mime. He is an avid tarot reader and wrote a book on the Marseilles deck, as well as several other books on spiritual topics. I didn’t know about his Gurdjieff connection (don’t know much about Gurdjieff’s system either, though I listened to a bit of his music). The surrealist connection is intriguing, and there are apparently a ton of alchemical and magical references in Holy Mountain. Speaking of Mount Analogue, the composer and avant-garde saxophonist based an album on that tome. I picked up Rene Daumal’s selected Pataphysical Essays at home to read but haven’t gotten around to them yet.

    Here is a track from it, The Alchemy of Happiness. This one is in a more harmonic mode, and not his sax squelch (he composed the piece but doesn’t play on this one).

    “Cyro Baptista: Percussion, Prayer Bells, Vocals
    Shanir Ezra Blumenkranz: Bass, Oud, Gimbri, Vocals
    Tim Keiper: Calabash, Drums, Percussion, Orchestral Bells, Vocals
    Brian Marsella: Piano, Organ, Vocals
    Kenny Wollesen: Vibraphone, Chimes, Vocals

    Drawing inspiration from the life and work of the towering spiritual figure Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff, Mount Analogue is one of Zorn’s greatest creations. Taking the form of a mystical journey, the music jumps from one world to another weaving a rich tapestry that blends world music, jazz, contemporary classical and more. Featuring Cyro Baptista’s fabulous quartet Banquet of the Spirits augmented by the brilliant Kenny Wollesen on vibes, this is the latest volume in Zorn’s mystic series, and a major new extended composition”

  247. @ JMG – those are the broad strokes of how I see the story of US agriculture resetting.

    At this point, it would take a decade of concerted effort to undo the consolidation and control the big six enjoy, at the expense of the rest of us. Eliminating agricultural subsidies might help, but there would have to be a carve out for small farmers. Which will create future financial troubles. Enforcement of anti-trust laws would be difficult, because even though the big six are vertically integrated, they ‘only’ control 15% of any given market. And yes, they operate as an oligopoly, but that isn’t what anti-trust laws were written to combat. As for the end customer, it’s doubly difficult to shift purchases away from the big six because 1-their products are packaged as independent brands, so it makes it hard for people in the grocery store to determine who they’re ultimately buying from, and 2- grocery store buy wholesale from big producers, so even when they do offer local or small products, it’s often in niches the big six have had trouble monopolizing.

    Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any good solutions. Other than growing your own food. For me that’s fine. We ‘own’ (or at least rent from the bank) our land, so I small scale farm our 1/6 acre. Most people my age (41j and younger rent from a landlord, so they have no incentive, or in some cases legal option, to engage in the years long effort of improving soil and building experience, when they can be evicted or priced out at any time. It all truly is a predicament, rather than a problem.

  248. Interesting survey, though I never heard of the group before, and it’s an election year so take it with a truckload of salt:

    The definition of the elite is interesting, it requires a post graduate degree, $150,000 a year income, and that you live in a zip code with a population density of 10,000 per square mile. They said this includes 1% of the population.

    The report starts with a F. Scott Fitzgerald quote.

  249. You know, I just saw something that does a pretty good job of summing up our “elite’s” approach to environmentalism and ecosystem management. A mechanical tree that is supposed to do the job of 1,000 natural trees. How much diesel fuel is burned to run the earthmovers at the mines, the trucks hauling the materials and the construction equipment used to build the thing is conveniently ignored. Biophobia and a make-work jobs program for the overproduced managerial class rolled into one convenient package.

  250. @TemporaryReality
    In regards to the savannah as model instead of forest, that’s actually how most successful broadscale temperate permaculturists manage their landscapes, such as Mark Shepherd. Rows of chestnuts/oaks/apples etc on contour/keyline, with wide lanes of pasture in between.

  251. Hello JMG and commentariat,
    Of course we will end up in a new somewhat sustainable/ecologic living arrangement when this civilization has completed its nosedive.
    However, there are many different roads there, with significant differences in “collateral damage”. For me, it is inspiring to figure out how to save as many species as possible during the on-going mass extinction event.

    Also, the next living arrangement within planetary boundaries can be done in a myriad ways. As other commenters have mentioned, Chris Smajes’ work on a “small farm future” is his proposal for how to organize (and arrive at) a convivial future with quite a lot of freedoms and rights.
    There are no guarantees, though, and we could end up with most of us being chattel slaves.
    The point is, there are many possible outcomes, and I think that this week’s post is very important – we need much more discussion about *which* small farm future we want.
    (I think this is the main point of the last book by Graeber and Wengrouw – The dawn of everything.)

    Thanks for sharing your Retrotopia vision, and there are many more, either historical (Farmers of 40 centuries) or fictional.

    Many of us living today are just one or two generations away from a small farm past, so we can reinvigorate the skills and traditions around seasonal eating, cooking, care etc. Tools and techniques are nearby and it is possible to find people who know stuff. Myself, I learned this year to paint with eggs and to plaster with local clay, all learned from a senior thought-leader in the local rural community. It is great fun. The convivial future, as described by David Fleming in e.g. Lean Logic can be a much more interesting place than the bland uniformity of middle class mediocricy. I meet much more interesting people now, compared to my years working in multinational industrial corporations…


  252. >If the WW2 veterans could weep in their graves, surely they are doing so

    Everybody lost WW2. It was obvious what the Germans and the Japanese lost but everyone else lost just as much. It’s becoming obvious only recently.

  253. >Other Owen, because The Lord of the Rings is a fantasy novel, of course

    Yeah, I know. 😛 And Tolkien wasn’t really interested in military history all that much or how wars or battles got won (and lost) but in writing poetry in made up languages and ripped off alphabets from the Indian subcontinent. Yeah, look it up sometime. That “elvish” alphabetic script he used on the One Ring – it comes from India. India is full of elves. Doing things in the street.

    Ironic. All the things that people really care about when it comes to LOTR, to him they were mere afterthoughts, just frameworks that he built so he could do what he really liked doing.

  254. JMG – thanks again for this. It reminds me of SITES, which looks like a virtue signaling program plus maybe some make-work for bureaucrats… the initial video clip I saw described how they (SITES ? contractor) first physically removed all the topsoil at a site, took it offsite and amended it, then returned it. They showed off the installed rain garden with some native beds, next to turf and sidewalks… Acts of Restorative Kindness encourages thoughtful use of the space you have – half for natives/nature support and half for producing organic food. Made me smile. Our library has their book.

    If you have no space, master gardeners or nearby community gardens can often help, so you can network with others and learn what works in your locality. Many gardeners are passionate and like to teach, though you may want to see what they consider good results and find those who emphasize organic food, with minimal inputs. Learning now, when food is relatively plentiful, may help preparation for when more space is available or shortages increase.

    Rudolf Steiner starters and can be had at a reasonable price at They also have some resources and books about the methods. Of note, some scientists suggest that starters made in a similar climate with similar soil as your garden, work better than that from afar. JPI also sell empty horns, so you can make your own. These are designed to jump start the soil biome, best with reasonably good soil, to increase vigor. After you add these organisms, they require care. Feed with organic matter/living plants and pamper the soil (cover soil with plants or mulch, gentle superficial cultivation to loosen enough for roots and water drainage (, numerous regenerative agriculture sites). Water plants regularly if inadequate rain, until cover is established.

    Small scale does not make the news, but there was a real increase after people saw poorly stocked shelves. As so much is local,

  255. @TemporaryReality, thanks for sharing the link to your blog. Your climate is so different from mine I am not sure much applies to New England but hopefully it will be helpful to others.

  256. Thank you for your response and interest I got the concept from Jeffery C Yuen he is a Daoist priest you can check him out at and I can always forward you some info on his upcoming seminars!

  257. The discussion of ecotones at hedges, and the maps in the review of paleobotanics I linked to above, have made me think about something. When people try to define an absolute, impersonal measure of the richness and health of a terrestrial biosystem, they tend to use (among others) overall biomass per area. Rainforests, tropical and temperate, win hands-off by this measure. Even the less wet temperate forests, like the maple forest of Quebec or the beech forest of Germany, contain much more biomass per area than a grassland. By this measure, any decrease in forest cover is a loss, whether it is brought about by by chainsaws, grazing or lower rainfall.

    However, in a tropical rainforest, animals are the underdogs. There are not many large animals because there is little space and little light near the ground. There is of course a profusion of insects and other small animals, but they make up a small fraction of the overall biomass. Do zoologists estimate such fractions? Beech forests are often compared to cathedrals, but in the empty spaces between the colonnades, there aren’t all that many animals either.

    If a warmer and (on average) wetter earth increases forest cover, overall biomass might increase. In fact, many people hope to offset carbon emissions this way.

    I love forests, but it is not necessary to consider them the best possible ecosystem. In Pleistocene Europe, even in the interglacials, when it was as warm as today or warmer, the big mammals, the hippos, mastodons and horses, browsed tree saplings and kept the spaces open. That steppe, by many accounts, was species richer than the forest that replaced it in the Holocene, after many mammals had gone extinct. The greater number and variety of animals allowed a greater diversity of plants to flourish, too.

    If human-scale agriculture maintains hedges, pastures, ponds or fire clearings among the new-grown forests of the North, then humans may actually contribute to a richer world.

  258. Isaac Salamander Hill, I’m reading Shepard’s book now 🙂 . My thought was based on possibly outdated observation from when I took a permaculture design course 20 years ago- there just didn’t seem to be the emphasis on ruminants like I’m seeing now – and of course emphasis on suburban scale because even then, CA was expensive and that meant more *foresty* food forest efforts to cram as much into a space as possible and less open canopy and meadow/pasture.

    (other) Isaac – yeah, gardening’s always very specific-context-dependent. Normally I come across so much information for the eastern US, or the UK, so I understand your feeling. 🙂

  259. Aldarion #249, my comment was not aimed specifically at you, although the thread that developed in response to your question was eye-opening! 🙂

    FWIW I think JMG’s advice that you treasure the open ground of the school next door – is sound.

    Also, FWIW, I am very much a rural dweller, living on a farm a few miles from a very tiny town which is simultaneously a largish fishing port, and I gave up my car a few years ago. It was only after giving it up that I realised the extent to which my “dependence” upon it had really been more a matter of framing and attitude. I thought long and hard *beforehand* about giving it up, but once I permanently severed the link I never looked back.

    So, just as I have found that I CAN live rurally without depending on a car, I have no doubt whatsoever that you will soon begin to find that your own urban, small apartment, lifestyle’s purported “distance” from the “wildlands” may turn out to be more a matter of framing and attitude than of irremediable reality. In which process of discovery, I wish you well! 🙂

  260. Dear Ian Duncombe, Dear JMG,

    Is #30×30 – what I sometimes think of as government policy by hashtag, possibly also some form of incantation? It is eloquent in its simplicity, lending itself greatly to virality in social media. And difficult to argue against, as it sounds churlish in this day and age to oppose nature. Similar to the other new piece of jargon, “nature positive”.

    JMG, in thinking about whether there is a magical quality to the 30×30 expression, could you also kindly comment on the runic quality or meaning of the Extinction Rebellion logo.

    Or am I just being paranoid!?

    Many thanks,

  261. Boy, the symbol of Extinction Rebellion is the Dagaz rune (Proto-Germanic for “day”), rotated by 90 degrees. The symbolic meanjng has to do with daylight and brightness. The form may be, or may not be, a coincidence.

  262. John,
    Thank you so much for this particular essay. Contemporary misanthropic and classist environmentalism, or what passes for environmentalism, is a complete turn off. There’s a reason great many people want to have nothing to do with it. Keeping people away from nature, or defining us out of nature has a demonic feel to it or sounds like the work of a villain in an old fashioned fairy tale, like the old European ones before they were culturally strip mined by Disney.
    Looking forward to future installments of Anthropocene Worth Having. My own particular view of it includes plenty of joy, everything from parties with all sorts of tasty food and drink, to the satisfaction of a job well done building a fish passage into a local dam, as well as watching a beautiful sunrise on a bedewed spring countryside. Of course the future will have its own frustrations and heartbreak, but that can’t be escaped only dealt with.

    — Michael

  263. Clarke, I think it’s at least partly a function of our place in the historical cycle. Vico talked about the “barbarism of reflection” as the last stage in that cycle, the point at which a society became so mired in abstraction that its members were no longer able or willing to pay attention to concrete realities that contradicted their preferred abstractions. That strikes me as a very good description of where we are now.

    Dennis, why not start instead with some idea of what we could gain in a better future? A fixation on the negative isn’t effective if you want to encourage positive change.

    Temporaryreality, I’m going to encourage you to rethink that, and consider at least regular posts on your journal describing your experiences. Your failures as well as your successes are data points that could help other gardeners.

    J.L.Mc12, it’s potentially a very smart idea, especially if the selective breeding is done to geographically restricted subsets of species — that way you end up with more fodder for evolution to work with.

    JustMe, thank you for this! I’ve been seeing some of the same thing, but it’s good to know it’s more widespread than my somewhat limited range of vision.

    Ben, there’s no top-down solution, which simply means that the solutions will have to come up from the grassroots. The more people grow at least a little of their own food, the more people cook their own food from scratch rather than buying preprocessed crap, and the more people make choices based on what they themselves want rather than on what big corporations are pushing at them, the more the problem will begin to solve itself — especially once you factor in the impact of increasing energy and transport prices.

    Siliconguy, thanks for this.

    Karl, ha! Theodore Roszak, in a footnote in his book Where the Wasteland Ends, aimed a witty putdown at Buckminster Fuller by pointing out that he wouldn’t be a bit surprised to hear Fuller insisting that he’d designed a better tree. As so often, yesterday’s joke becomes today’s straight-faced absurdity…

    Goran, what I’d like to suggest is that we don’t need one small farm future, we need many different small farm futures all at once. That kind of dissensus is the best way to figure out what works, and also to encourage the kind of convivial future Fleming describes so vividly.

    Other Owen, no, not quite. Tolkien’s Tengwar alphabet is partly influenced by Indian scripts but also has strong traces of Arabic — that’s why in the classic form (as on the Ring) it has no vowels, just vowel points over the letters:

    Gardener, thank you for all of this! I wasn’t familiar with the “we are the ark” people — that seems very sensible.

    Aldarion, that’s an important point.

    Boy, it’s an image of stalemate:

    Notice how the two triangles push against each other, frustrating any attempt at movement. The surrounding circle shows that the whole thing is safely contained — the triangles barely touch it. So you’ve got an image of t forces locked up unproductively in a frozen conflict, resisting rather than creating, and doing it off by themselves where they won’t affect much of anything else. Quite an accurate description, wouldn’t you say? 😉

    Michael, good! Yes, exactly — what we need is something closer to a potluck party than a rebellion.

  264. @JMG

    Could you recommend some good books that discuss the scientific principles and mechanisms that drive various aspects of regenerative agriculture? I’ve looked online, but the only books available were either collections of research articles or conference papers. I’d prefer a book with an old-school textbook-like approach.

    Also, in my spare time, I’ve been studying and working through the problem sets in Prof. J. H. M. Thornley’s book Plant and Crop Modelling: A Mathematical Approach to Plant and Crop Physiology. So far, I’ve found it very interesting; what’s more, is the fact that this approach can be conveniently extended to research problems pertaining to regenerative agriculture. Quite fun, IMO.

    Also, while not directly relevant to agriculture but relevant to ecological concerns, a data point that you might find interesting – my boss has now stressed that we should be focusing mainly on discovering and validation of scientifically valid (at least according to current science) mechanisms of action of herbal medicines, even more than pharmaceutical medicines; the reason being that “herbal medicines are the future” – especially with respect to the gut microbiome, for example. Interesting times, indeed.

  265. The list of projects that are inherently bad is enormously long – and certainly 30 by 30 will join that list. By chance one great example came to my ears today: a modern sea shanty of the monstrous oil carrier ship, The Esso Northumbria, constructed as an ‘answer’ to the 1956 Suez Crisis, composed and sung by the band The Dreadnaughts:

    The lyrics which really hit home are:
    “So come all you good workman
    Beware the command
    It comes down on high from the desk of a man
    Who’s never held steel or torch in his hands
    Roll Northumbria, roll”

    Disclaimers: (1) the shanty takes a small liberty in history, as the notoriously unseaworthy vessel never caused an oil spill; (2) yes, this is a shameless plug of Canadian artists – but dear ones to my heart, nevertheless. Just thought some others in the group may appreciate it!

  266. Our Canadian Federal Court just ruled the war measures emergency act used to stop the freedom convoy protests against the mandated lockdowns was unconstitutional, and therefore illegal. Anyone who helped those truckers can rest a little easier for now.
    The protest wasn’t environmentally friendly by a Longshot, trucks sat idling for weeks on end. It was a rebellion though, and it was also a bit of a potluck at the same time. The government will appeal it, but it is a cause for celebration!

    May the honking of trucks, and Canadian geese, be a symbol of inspiration this day and always.

  267. Re realities and abstractions, I seem to remember Churchill railing in his writing about the world of theory taking precedence over the world of practical fact, I think the issue at the time being whether there was a better way of conducting war than sending soldiers to chew barbed wire in front of machine gun emplacements. Churchill thought that the battle of Verdun was a heroic piece of work but wouldn’t it have been better to concede to the Germans some land to draw them into a salient and then attack the flanks. And Hugh Dowding, not for Hugh Dowding anything dramatic, no sir, no Charge of the Light Brigade for him, nope, just a steady degradation of German air power via careful management of Fighter Command resources. And Stuffy Dowding emerged the winner. And they bloody well fired him. So much for practical fact. Can you argue with success? Apparently you can.

    Anyway, this problem has been unfolding for a while so it looks like Vico was onto something. Good for him. And this 30 by 30 thing is the latest manifestation. Bad for us. If what’s behind this is a simple grab by corporate interests for money and power, at least it’s not all high flying theorizing. So good for them (the money men). The question is how many useful idiots they’ve enlisted. The answer would likely be disheartening. Maybe not so good for us. Is this thing headed for the garbage barge of historical failure anyway? Most likely as it’s pretty hard to see how it succeeds. In which case, in the end, not so bad for us.

  268. JMG, about the symbol of Extinction Rebellion I had a bit similar thoughts. It reminded me vaguely of fascist symbols, but otherwise, I could make neither head or tails of it.

  269. “Then there’s Dune. Frank Herbert’s one great novel…”

    I’m not sure what the cutoff for “great” is, but I quite enjoyed The White Plague. I haven’t read it since the early 90s, so it may have improved as my memories of the specific details have faded.

    Also, the main point of the first Dune book, “Beware of heroes,” doesn’t really come into sharp focus until the first sequel, Dune Messiah.

    As for “30 by 30,” yeah. Sounds like the usual goofy virtue signaling and blame shifting.

  270. Nothing is realistic at a human population of 8 billion.

    The only solution to such overshoot being a commensurate onset of undershoot.

    Only then can positive outcomes be engineered again. It’s coming, at any rate.

  271. Per Stangeland #4

    They have to be killed – on purpose & actively, or by denying them long-term access to their government-dictated digital-savings accounts. The govt. will eliminate welfare and middle-class small businesses.

    Because without America, there will be no free world. But then who will rule the world – Chinese Communist authoritarians, Muslim authoritarians, black nationalist authoritarians, Hindu authoritarians – pick your poison?

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