Not the Monthly Post

The End of the Industrial Age

The fourth enduring theme of my blogging over the last sixteen years, the decline and fall of modern industrial civilization, is also the one that most people try hardest to misunderstand. It’s not just that so many people blankly insist that it can’t happen and of course we’re on our way to the stars, just you wait and see.  Nor is it that most of the people who have gotten past that delusion are salivating over the thought that we’ll get flattened by exactly the kind of sudden apocalyptic end to industrial society that history doesn’t provide.

No, the thing that keeps me shaking my head in baffled fascination is that so many people still think of the twilight of our civilization as something that’s still somewhere off there in the future.  It’s not. We’re around seventeen years into the decline right now, hitting our second round of resource-driven economic crisis—the first was in 2008-2010, in case you didn’t notice—and there are many, many more still to come. The Long Descent is unfolding around us. All those things I’ve been talking about since I started blogging about the future of industrial society?  They’re here, taking shape right before our eyes.

It’s important to take a moment here to recall what is declining, and why. The thing that sets industrial civilization apart from other types of human society is that all other examples so far got their energy from the current supply of sunlight. That’s what crops, firewood, and livestock are: sunlight that has been transmuted by the miracle of photosynthesis into edible plants and flammable wood, and by the further miracle of digestion and assimilation into edible animals. That’s also what windpower and water power are:  the winds that turn windmills and fill the sails of tall ships and the rivers that turn waterwheels and fill dams get their motive force from the sun, which drives the atmospheric processes that yield wind and rain.

The earth’s daily budget of sunlight is immense, but it’s also frustratingly diffuse.  Hard thermodynamic limits restrict what humans can do with it, because you have to use energy—lots of it—to concentrate energy.  That’s why plants can only store a tiny fraction of the sunlight that falls on them, and it’s also why attempts to run modern industrial societies entirely on sun and wind have worked so poorly. You can run a complex, literate, creative society on current solar input—all other human civilizations have done exactly that—but you can’t run the kind of complex society we have today, with the kind of extravagantly energy-wasting technology we consider essential. That requires something else.

In our case, the “something else” was fossil fuels. Those are also forms of sunlight—the bodies of living things from the geological past—but they’ve been concentrated to a fantastic degree by millions of years of heat and pressure inside the earth itself.  Nobody had to pay for that heat and pressure, and so it’s easy to forget just how important it is.  To help counter that forgetfulness, imagine yourself shifting an ordinary compact car into neutral and pushing it down the road for thirty-five miles:  the amount of energy your muscles used in that feat is in a single gallon of gasoline. That’s energy concentration, and it’s what made the modern world possible.

There are three serious problems with fossil fuels, however. The first is that there’s only a finite amount of them in the earth’s crust.  What’s more, prospectors and geologists have been hunting them with increasing eagerness all through modern history, and miners and drillers have been extracting them just as eagerly over that same period. There’s still quite a bit left, but all the deposits that were cheap and easy to extract got dug up or pumped up a long time ago. What’s left now are the dregs.  With every year that passes, in other words, more money, more resources, and more energy have to be put back into the process of extracting fossil fuels.  That’s the driving force behind peak oil, which I discussed earlier in this sequence of posts.

The second problem is that when the carbon in all that fossil fuel was still in the atmosphere, the earth was a jungle planet full of steaming swamps, and sea level was three hundred feet higher than it is today. The more fossil fuels we burn, the more of that carbon goes back into the air, and the more our climate shifts back toward the sort of thing the planet had when tyrannosaurs were all the rage. As I also discussed earlier in this sequence of posts, this isn’t the end of the world, but it’s already making life interesting for people who depend on stable climate and rain belts.

I haven’t discussed the third problem yet, but it follows from the points just made.  Back before the beginning of the industrial age, fossil fuels were far and away the most concentrated energy source on this planet.  Now that we’re beginning to run low, we’re stuck with a civilization and a technological infrastructure that requires gargantuan inputs of concentrated energy, and that’s just what we don’t have enough of any more. We’ve invested fantastic amounts of wealth, resources, labor, genius, and emotional commitment into a technological structure with a short shelf life, and that’s left us hopelessly unprepared to make the transition to societies, technologies, and lifestyles that can get by on the modest energy supply we’ll have left when it’s over.

This doesn’t mean, once again, that we’re going “back to the caves.” It doesn’t even mean that we’re going “back to the Middle Ages,” though it’s probably a safe bet that much of today’s overdeveloped world will see periods, ranging from decades to centuries, that will have a very medieval ambience to them. It means that we can expect a troubled period several centuries in length during which societies will get by using a patchwork of brittle legacy technologies and jerry-rigged substitutes, most people will have to make do with a small fraction of their current access to energy and manufactured products, population levels will decline steadily, and an enormous share of today’s knowledge will be lost irretrievably. That’s what happens when a civilization overshoots its resource base and stumbles down the long arc of decline and fall.

Can we prevent that? Not this late in the game. We could have managed a soft landing if the first tentative movements toward a sustainable society in the 1970s had been followed up, but that didn’t happen. We might have been able to cushion the process to some extent if the warnings of the peak oil movement in the first decade of this century had gotten a fair hearing, but that didn’t happen either.  At this point we’re closing in on the end of our second decade of decline.  The truck is picking up speed as it heads down the hill and there are no brakes.

That fact got proclaimed right out there in public a few days ago, though I’m not sure how many people noticed. At the NATO meeting in Madrid last week, French president Emmanuel Macron mentioned in passing that he’d talked to the governments of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, to try to get them to pump more oil to replace what Europe soon won’t be getting from Russia. The response of the Saudi and Emirati governments was that they’re already pumping as fast as they can. With the price of oil above US$100 a barrel, for that matter, every nation that has oil in the ground has been pumping like mad, and of course the Russians are busy selling their oil on the gray market at good prices and laughing all the way to the bank. None of this has driven the price of oil down to levels that modern industrial society can afford to pay.

What this means, of course, is that no nation on Earth has enough spare oil production capacity to make up for the modest fraction of Russian production that’s shut in at the moment, due to the sanctions that the US and its dwindling circle of allies have put in place. Those of my readers who recall the rise and fall of the peak oil movement will recall people in that movement discussing in worried tones what would happen once no one anywhere had enough spare petroleum production capacity to fill the gap if a crisis hit. Guess what?  Here we are.

It’s not as though this is the only warning of trouble, for that matter. Here in the United States, it’s become a rare thing to go to a grocery store and find the shelves fully stocked, and it’s become a commonplace to see restaurants marking up their prices so fast they have to adjust their menus by hand. Our economy is lurching and shuddering in ways most Americans have never learned to recognize, though readers of mine who’ve lived through the disintegration of other regimes know what to look for. As usual in this country, the first response of the people in power is to manufacture excuses for the problem.  Blame product shortages on the coronavirus! Blame oil prices on Vladimir Putin! Blame inflation on not enough people buying into the Democrats’ attempts to exploit the January 6 protest! (I swear I’m not making this last one up.)

As usual in this country, for that matter, most people don’t believe it. No, like the great majority of Americans throughout this country’s long and checkered history, they know exactly who to blame for anything that goes wrong:  the current inmate of the White House. In this case, that’s poor vacant-eyed Joe Biden, who had the misfortune to be saddled with that overrated job when the current cascade of problems started to hit. I’m not a fan of Joe Biden—a Tupperware container half full of creamed chipped beef would likely do a better job as chief executive of our republic—but I pity the man. He just happened to be there, staring blankly out the window of the Oval Office, when the consequences of most of a century of collective stupidity, arrogance, and greed landed on him.

The current mess isn’t Joe Biden’s fault, in other words, and it won’t go away even when his political career comes to an ignominious end and his reputation gets vilified for generations to come. The current mess is the inescapable consequence of the factors I’ve discussed in the last three posts in this series—the accelerating depletion of fossil fuel reserves, the destabilization of the global climate by pollution, and the twilight of the global hegemony of the United States—all playing out against the greater background of the decline and fall of industrial civilization. Biden simply got left holding the bag, the way Herbert Hoover did when seventy years of gaudily corrupt American plutocracy blew sky high in 1929. (Those of my readers who rooted for Donald Trump should thank their lucky stars that the 2020 election went the way it did; otherwise it would be their candidate and their party who’d be up against the wall.)

This is not to say that things can’t get better. In fact, they will get somewhat better in a few years and then we can expect another few years of relative stability before the next round of crises hits. That’s the normal rhythm of events when a civilization tips over into decline. Those of my readers who are interested in the mechanics behind that might want to consider this essay of mine, which talks in some detail about how that happens. For those who don’t want to look under the hood, the basic principle is simple. A society in decline has to shed extravagant habits that it can no longer afford, but no society in history has done this willingly. What happens instead is that it clings to those habits until the pressures of crisis build to the breaking point; then a lot of unsustainable things go by the boards in a hurry, and the losses free up enough resources to allow some degree of stability to return, for a while.

That’s not just the shape of the future, it’s also the shape of the present and the recent past. Look back over the arc of history since 2005, and that’s what you’ll see. Why 2005?  That was when world conventional petroleum production reached its all-time high and began to decline. The paper increases in production since that time have been based on feverish exploitation of a galaxy of unconventional liquid fuel resources—tar sands, natural gas liquids, shale oil, ethanol, you name it—which all take much more energy to extract than conventional oil does. (Are those energy inputs subtracted from the output, on the same principle by which you subtract your expenses from your income to figure out your profit?  Surely you jest.)  Getting honest numbers on the energy cost of energy production is exceedingly difficult just now, so the best we can do is watch proxy measures. The uneven but accelerating breakdown of the global economy is one of the most obvious of these just at the moment.

Of course the tightening vise of fossil fuel depletion is only part of what’s happening just now. The rising economic burden of climate change is another part. The disintegration of America’s global hegemony, and the unraveling of economic arrangements based on that hegemony which funnel an absurdly large share of the world’s wealth to the United States, is another part. There are more. Our skies are black with birds coming home to roost.  That’s usually the way things work out in the twilight of a civilization: the problems that have been piling up steadily all along, but have been held at bay by increasingly desperate efforts, finally overwhelm the barriers meant to contain them and come crashing in all at once.

The question that remains is what I recommend readers might do about it all.

My basic advice hasn’t changed. “Collapse now and avoid the rush” remains the keynote of an effective response.  What this means, with the snark filtered out, is that you are going to be living for the rest of your life with much less energy and much less of the products of energy than you’re used to. The sooner you start living that way, the sooner you’ll get competent at it, and the sooner you’ll discover that most of the energy- and resource-wasting activities central to the American way of life of the recent past don’t actually do you any good—their real function, after all, is to keep you shackled as closely as possible to the corporate-bureaucratic technostructure. The more high-tech gimmickry you can do without, and the more you rely on your own capacities instead of slurping at an assortment of technological teats, the more free you are and the more resilience you have in the face of the future.

The same rule applies to families, groups, and communities. There was a lot of noise back in the peak oil days about building sustainable communities, and nearly all of it ended up as wasted breath, for two simple reasons. The first was that everybody wanted the benefits of community but next to nobody wanted to put up with the costs, burdens, commitments, and annoyances that a viable community involves. The second was that a genuinely sustainable community in the deindustrial future taking shape around us is going to involve a lot fewer middle-class comforts and a lot more plain hard muscular labor than most Americans these days are willing to consider.

Those considerations haven’t gone away. Rod Dreher made quite a splash back in the day by urging American Christians to follow the example of St. Benedict and withdraw from a corrupt society, but it’s worth keeping in mind that St. Benedict himself didn’t come on the scene until a couple of lifetimes after the fall of Rome, when the comfortable lifestyles of the Roman middle classes had gone whistling down the wind.  By that time, a life of poverty, chastity, and obedience in a monastery in the middle of nowhere wasn’t that much worse than the ordinary daily round most people could look forward to in the wreckage of a decaying civilization. We aren’t there yet, and we won’t be there for longer than most of you will be alive.

Thus I don’t encourage people to go rushing out into the countryside in one last futile effort to build “lifeboat ecovillages” as the current crisis tightens its grip. Instead, collapse ahead of the rush, and to the extent that you can, network with other people who are doing some version of the same thing. Minimize your dependence on the corporate-bureaucratic technostructure as far as you can; where you can’t, expect disruptions and be prepared to be nimble. Don’t assume that you’ll be able to hang onto whatever wealth, possessions, or status you happen to have, though you might be able to pull this off if you’re lucky and smart; have a plan B in place if you have to start over again with nothing but the clothes on your back.

While you’re at it, you might consider reading up on what it was like to live through hard times in the past. Here in the United States, certainly, there are plenty of good books on the Great Depression, the last period of serious collective trauma in our national history—Studs Terkel’s volume Hard Times is a good place to start. South of the Mason-Dixon line, though not elsewhere in the country, it’s not too hard to find detailed accounts of what life was like during the Civil War and Reconstruction. I don’t happen to know the contents of public libraries in other parts of the world, though most other countries have been through really hard times much more recently than we have here in North America.

While you’re reading these, if you do, I want you to remind yourself of something now and again:  this is normal. Recently a lot of Americans have been making plaintive comments, hoping that things will get back to normal someday. I have bad news for them. The astounding prosperity and sheer extravagance that people in the United States got used to during the second half of the twentieth century, which was the zenith of the industrial age and the heyday of American empire: those were never normal, though there was never a shortage of politicians or marketing flacks loudly insisting otherwise. We are returning to normal at this point—“normal” being defined as the kind of world where most people make their living by working with their hands, where the basic necessities of life cost most of what you can expect to earn, and the kind of lifestyles currently available to the middle classes aren’t reliably available even to the very rich.

To sum things up even more simply:  the dream is over.   Welcome to the gray light of a cold and bitter dawn. In posts to come we’ll talk more about what that means in the short and middle term. In the longer term, well, I think we all know by now where this ends:

Welcome to the future. We’ll talk about that, too.



  1. One day at my local Florida Supermarket, I happen to spot lemons with the produce label saying “Product of Chile”. Right then it reminded me, the levels of wasteful energy required to ship a product thousands of miles to a place that grows the same product. With better quality.

  2. Well, JMG, this is a real beauty. Honestly.

    Yes, the long descent (just how many years ago did I read this book of yours…) is here and we are living it day to day. Now, if that is the case, why is mainstream media telling me (here in Ireland) that things are only going to get better and better.

    Oh, today, the EU (which I generally refer to as ‘pee-u’) has declared natural gas and nuclear energy ‘sustainable’ and ‘climate friendly.’ What can one really say?

    I can only imagine, as I wrote some weeks ago, that many people are buying and driving huge cars (van, lorries, and tractors) and driving faster and faster and more and more; while at the same time buying smaller and smaller technology and demanding it be faster and faster. End points ahead.

    Excellent points you are making, John, and I only wish more people would read (though I suppose many have stopped read and now ‘hear’ books) what you have to contribute. Keep up the great work!

    Stud Terkel’s book, ‘Hard Times’…I wonder how many decades ago I read that book!


  3. Yes, and my current question to anyone is: do you have a non-electric source of heat for when the electricity goes out in winter? Or in the hotter-than-usual summers to come? If not, you may freeze or bake to death.
    Those of us with wood stoves, which require buying, piling, and lugging into house large amounts of cut/split wood, do tend to act a bit superior, which we already have proven to be when the power goes out.
    I also have an oil furnace which just broke down permanently – still deciding whether to replace it, but I’m elderly now and cannot always lug wood from the ice and snow up the stairs into the kitchen………so will replace the oil furnace this time.
    Here’s an example of denialism – I have a sister who, with her husband, can afford to install a wood-burning insert in their large fireplace because “it’s too messy.”
    I cannot help them – they’re 600 miles away – nor will I say told you so. They’re in their 80’s, but they may get lucky and have a neighbor in their gated community who will let them in….generators only last a few days and then……

  4. I basically agree with you, but think that you’re too much of an optimist. The true religion of Western countries is the belief in eternal Progress and Growth. They can’t understand that two centuries of wealth increase has come to an end, and they become very angry when food and energy costs more that what they can afford. They look for scapegoats, and there will be wars. Eventually, as you say, we may end up with stable societies that consume far less energy. But that means going back to the population we had when the Industrial revolution started, a bit less than one billion. What happens to the superfluous 7 billions of us? You assume that the decline will be gradual over several centuries, but it may also become very abrupt and brutal.

  5. Dear JMG:

    Thanks for this. Yes, things are worrisome. Perhaps our real decline started as a moral or political decline, in the generation of 1914. On this interpretation, a long-degenerated moral or political climate in turn encouraged social paralysis when it became clear, from the 1970s Club of Rome onward, that fossil fuels were running out.

    Tom = Toomas = toomas[dot]karmo[at]gmail[dot]com

    PS: I hope that in some subsequent post you will be able to address a topic in which I take a particular personal interest, namely book culture.

    In his Rule, Saint Benedict of Nursia, to whom you refer, recommends that at the start of Lent everyone in the monastery be given “a book” to read through, over the five week leading up to Easter. This is an interesting recommendation, given the general scarcity of books and the general material poverty of the post-collapse West. I guess we can assume that the typical sixth-century monastery had a cupboard or locker not with five or ten codices, but with some larger number, perhaps twenty or fifty or a hundred. I am picturing the cupboard as housing not just a full Bible and some psalters, but additionally copies of such theological authorities as Cassian.

    Perhaps you will be able to write some day on measures that we ordinary citizens can take to slow down the current erosion of book culture. I think you agree with me (1) that we do not want the USA and the European Union to go still further down the current dreary path of reading-from-a-cyber-screen, and (2) that sooner or later cyber screens will disappear from the lives of ordinary USA and European Union people. It will be a negligible consolation if warlords, in their gated manors three generations from now, keep some computers running to impress their serfs on Tribute Payment Day!

    I for my part am hoping to bequeath the workroom I purchased here in Estonia last year, and in which I am now typing, to my local rural municipality, for eventual incorporation into the local rural library system. A Municipal Council member and I think the room might suit this purpose well, since it has the high ceilings typical in a Soviet-era public space. I in the past have made quite a few donations to the Tartu University library, with more donations impending in a range of subjects. In particular, that library, or some other in Estonia, might be an appropriate eventual recipient, via my last will and testament, of the 100 or 200 or so books, both in Estonian and in English, which I have amassed over the past 20 years on the Dark-Ages-relevant topic of radio engineering. Alternatively, it might be good to have my heirs create a kind of radio-engineering (circulating or noncirculating) collection here in this room.

    So it would, I reiterate, be fun to see you, JMG, someday writing on the nuts and bolts of practical Dark Ages librarianship.

  6. A few notes:

    First, thank you and James Howard Kunstler for your consistent warnings. People who haven’t internalized the logic of EROEI cannot understand the process underway. Older baby boomers who remember the 1950s and early 1960s have no idea how to understand what is going on. Life will get worse for them because they remember the ebullience of America on top. For children born after about 1995 for whom 9/11 didn’t mean much, things WILL get better from the current trough. They won’t know that they have it worse, materially, than people born before 1959, because that won’t be part of their lived experiences.

    Second, I’d take issue with the collapse of Roman Civilization, even in the West, at the time of Benedict. Great Britain absolutely experienced a collapse; post-Roman rule they lost the talents that the Celts there had before being conquered. It took until the 7th Century and the Islamic Conquest of Egypt and Syria to end trade with the east and bring on the dark ages. An excellent book in this regard is Mohammed and Charlemagne, which dispels the view of history originating in Perfidious Albion.

    Last, I’ve started my collapse with what has to be the best technology of late industrialism: the electric-assist bicycle. I suppose at some point I will be unable to recharge my batteries and I will certainly be unable to buy new ones when their capacity diminishes, but this technology gives me 15mph transport for much less than the cost of owning a horse, let alone a car. We won’t have the money to repair all the roads, but perhaps we can maintain enough of the networks to travel by bikes. I recall reading that most people before 1860 never went beyond a 20-mile radius of where they lived. I expect that, even without electric assist, a widespread bicycle path network will mean future people will have up to a 100-mile radius on their own power.

    Getting in shape for this future is the best step we can take now. For older folks, you might want to get that hip replacement while it can still be paid for. For younger folks, lose the weight so you won’t need unavailable joint replacements.

  7. “Nor is it that most of the people who have gotten past that delusion are salivating over the thought that we’ll get flattened by exactly the kind of sudden apocalyptic end to industrial society that history doesn’t provide.”

    Hello JMG and Kommentariat:

    Here a recent exemple of “collapsism” (I mean sudden imaginary collapse) in this famous French mini-series (famous at least in France and Spain inmmediately before the COVIDian crisis).

    Have you watched it in the “anglosphere”?(excuse me, John I know you don’t even have a TV,ahem).

    I’ve seen it twice, and I think it’s artistly well done, but it’s so unrealistic…OK John, our destiny is multisecular decadence. I think the problem is human beings don’t like very much long historical processes; so people like more sudden disasters. It’s a terrible blindness. ¿Cultural or biologically based? I don’t know.

  8. I can’t find a single thing to disagree with in this essay. You’ve summed things up nicely.

  9. Greetings JMG,

    Very good.

    A local friend in the town told me a story recently that I found encouraging:
    Six years ago, there was a big flood and the local economy completely stopped for two months.
    There was little food available and none for sale. He said he went to the woods to find edible plants,
    he ate eggs of chicken he could access. It was hardest for the families that could not access corn
    and make tortillas.

    He said it was hard yet not extremely hard and the town’s economy gradually recovered.

    It tells me that people will be able to overcome shocks of the long descent, though over the past
    fifteen years I have seen that the people who struggle the most mentally, and eventually physically are those who cling to the status quo and are in denial. I can see them every day with a fake smile that hides the pain.

    You wrote recently that you expect climate change to begin to have serious impacts in ten years.
    What kind of of social groups do you think will do well when the climate is unstable in 2030 and 2040?

    For professions, my initial thoughts are that those that will be in demand are tech/low-tech & product maintenance , trades & crafts people , low-tech doctors, mobile merchants, some construction, utility companies and resources companies, maybe some industry, security, some useful finance , teachers . Basically professions that are really useful for society or will the useless professions cling to their little corner of the economy …
    What do you think?

  10. John–

    I’ve been noticing an increase in “articles” showing up on the Yahoo Finance feed discussing this or that breakthrough in energy production or, more recently, energy storage. Thing is, you read through said article and when you get to the end, you find out the “breakthrough company” is a start-up in search of its next round of VC funding.

    And the “yeah, there are a few wrinkles we still have to solve, but we’ll figure it out for sure!” caveats are also fun to read. One I came across recently talked about sand batteries for long-term renewable energy storage. Storing thermal energy in the sand after converting the renewably-generated electricity to heat? Not a problem. Converting that heat back into electricity in a way that doesn’t involve horrendous losses? Well, we’re working on that.

  11. John,

    I’m thinking back to a post you wrote some years ago on the Archdruid Report, about scarcity industrialism, because I may have seen it becoming mainstream.

    A British entrepreneur Dale Vince is promoting a plan to harvest hay from meadows and feed it into biodigesters to produce methane, i.e. natural gas. Apparently, even the densely populated UK has enough meadows just sitting idle (about a quarter of the country’s land area by his estimations) to be put to this use “with no downsides” and produce an amount of gas almost equal to the current UK’s consumption, and under some additional assumptions even exceeding it. The plan gained enough recognition to be mentioned in the Guardian (but only to criticise it as a land grab by a sinister technomaniac). For those interested, a quite detailed report describing the plan can be found here:

    But on page 21, there is this:

    “the price unit of biomethane would be £71.4 per MWh, which could fall to £69.5 per MWh by 2050. The unit cost will be reduced to £58.5 per MWh through the development of new technology and the addition of seaweed enzymes”

    – i.e. even if all the (inevitably optimistic) assumptions behid these figures are taken at face value, the end result will be gas at the average price over the last year. There are millions of UK households which already face a choice elegantly described as ‘heating vs eating’ with gas at those same prices. Meaning, even a nominally rich country would struggle to afford to buy all this gas, which is bound to reduce the scale of the plan correspondingly.

    Frankly, it is a bit of a shame. The scheme is rather cheaper than plastering the same countryside with solar panels and wind turbines (and the storage to go with it), and methane is a truly amazing substance, both a powerful fuel easily adapted to many uses at all scales and a feedstock for a wide variety of products. And all these meadows may even turn out to increase the overall biodiversity.

    There is still a lot of things that can be profitably done with gas at those prices, or even at whatever higher price it may end up costing. But there are also many other currently common uses to which it cannot be put, because the wider economy will not be able to bear the cost of the resulting end products. It’s at once bittersweet and comforting to contemplate.

    Migrant Worker

  12. Bracing stuff! I’m so thankful for your balanced insight on this topic over the years. I feel at least somewhat prepared – gardens, practical skills, kids suitably informed, and I collapsed out of the PMC lifestyle long ago. But now I’m into my 60s and despite all the preps I’m know the rest of my life will be rough and tumble all the way down! Gulp. Although as you say, we’ll hit a plateau or two as we go.

    My dream is that the next few years of hard knocks will push the lifestyle-clinging, hand-waving types to the sidelines so more realistic and practical people can come to the fore on a local level, at least. I’m not expecting anything helpful from national leadership at all. I’m guessing we’ll see at least one attempt to redo the Reagan moment – some sunny, optimistic candidate will try to crank up the shining city on a hill dream, just one more time. I think perhaps Trump saw himself in that manner, without uderstanding the bigger picture. Maybe Carter will live just long enough to have the last laugh and remind us again of the value of thick winter sweaters.

  13. Immensely grateful for this straightforward post. Thank you! I plan to forward to friends who may be open and ready.
    I’ve read your work for decades but Covid and now poor health leave my brain less able, so please forgive my naive questions: Have you personally spoken with Nate Hagens? Or David Ehrenfeld? Or Sam of Collapse Chronicles? Dean Walker? William Rees? I ask because I long for your wisdom to be more widely broadcast; more widely heard and considered as the unraveling becomes more obvious to all.
    I see all of this as a spiritual crisis with a spiritual — I won’t say solution. But perhaps our current predicaments are portals leading to potential spiritual evolutionary leaps. It’s a long shot. But it’s my last stand as a 50 years now collapse-aware person. My remaining bit of hopium. I do think it’s too late for us. But pockets of humans will survive .. or if not, certainly there will be a morphogenetic imprint from our current and near-future efforts to spiritually grow from this experience?

  14. “the problems that have been piling up steadily all along, but have been held at bay by increasingly desperate efforts,”

    Those “efforts” = energy. That’s why they can happen, and why they cannot be sustained. That may seem kind of basic but it’s not. There’s a lot in that one sentence and one idea.

  15. The decline of industrial society seems to be popping up more and more; must be something in the Zeitgeist. I was reading this article by Ian Welsh yesterday (, and that chart from “Limits to Growth” which seemed familiar ( Looking at the chart Mr. Welsh cites from “Limits and Beyond,” I see that I will be in my seventies when that death rate line hits about an 88 degree angle.

    Talking with friends and family, there is a “everybody knows its happening” feel about being at the beginning of the decline, with varying levels of acceptance or denial.

  16. Dear JMG,
    Good checklist of some practical steps. I think the hardest part for many is when family and friends are not ready to take up this way of looking at the world. It can feel lonely and even pointless. We need more conversations. Lots of conversations. I suspect there are a lot of people on to the situation but who are afraid to acknowledge it publicly.

    A data set I’ve started tracking lately is how many businesses have had internet outages recently. Shops can’t process transactions, doctors can’t access records, help desks offline. Anyone else notice this or is it just my confirmation bias?

    Thanks again. I really appreciate these posts and the thoughtful community responses to them.

  17. Thank you JMG

    Many people are facing the future of industrial society the same way alcoholics face their condition before they hit rock bottom. Until they are faced with unambiguous hardship, they will deny that their drinking is out of control and make all kinds of excuses for continuing in their self destructive habit. Once they hit the wall, however, and reality sinks in, treatment for their condition is possible.

    The kinds of reforms that would allow for N. American to live within its means, such as abandoning the imperial project and concentrating on local concerns, won’t be possible until we hit rock bottom. The silver lining in a serious defeat might be the opening of an opportunity for serious changes.

  18. “The dawn is chilly…but the dawn has come.” Kaddish (death prayer) Leonard Bernstein’s third symphony – choral; 1962, if I remember correctly. Prophetic stuff!

  19. If I could humbly add a book to the “living through hard times” reading list:

    The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan

    These were my people, who made a rush on the land of Oklahoma before the turn of the century, and were gifted with tens of feet of soil below their homesteads. My people who dun goofed by stripping that soil to make a quick buck by sending grain around the world in the lead-up to, and aftermath of WW1. My people who finally fled their disaster as Okies to Southern California to build planes for the next war. And kick up more dust on the dry lakes after the war with chopped and channeled 32’s.

    It’s a fantastic account of what they lived through when the clouds really started forming. I obviously wasn’t there, but reading this book, I could feel the dust on the level of a cellular memory, echoing through time. I knew then why I grew up being told to clean my plate before I got up from the table. Some lessons stick. This book made the crisis palpable.


  20. Hi JMG,

    When you write about decline, I have a cheery week. When you write about something else, I have a gloomy week. This is going to be a jolly good week‼️

    💨Northwind Grandma

  21. I let go of the commercial space I had been using for my music lesson studio earlier this year. The aftermath of the reaction to Covid took me down. Other financial depressions didn’t get me — I started the commercial space routine in the 2010s and there were fourteen years of being able to stay afloat and relatively prosperous. Now I am teaching out of my house and my parents’ house and it is working out well for me. Last week was the busiest I have had in 2.5 years. Despite being better off now, it broke my heart to walk away from having a beautiful, established music studio. The thing that made it easier and perhaps a blessing in disguise is the massage parlor that moved in next door a few years before the lease was up. I have some fairly damning evidence that the massage parlor is a thin and rather obvious front for prostitution/human trafficking. They are still there from what I know and I have been gone for six months. Of course my sign is still on the general marquis. The landlord knows about the massage parlor. I suspect the town does as well and just does not care. There are massage parlors all over town that are doing the same thing. It’s the type of “prey on addicts” business that proliferates when legit ones like mine cannot make rent or offer benefits to employees.

    I am planning on re-starting the library, by the way. I need to put labels and codes on the book collection. Unfortunately it will be mail only with no physical location for anyone to come in and browse, though I am considering making it available to people outside the US and affordable to all.

  22. I just became aware of peek oil and it’s implications in 2005. When I tried to discuss this with family and friends , I was just a nutty tree hugger to them. Now some of them are into conspiracy theories and think that everything happening now is a global conspiracy of the elite.
    I have been collapsing before the rush . No debt , big garden , reducing my dependence on “stuff” , preparing to retire on a tiny poverty pension. My family and friends that blame “Trudeau” , for everything , don’t seem to have noticed that we have been declining for a long time , and it’s only going to get harder , regardless of who heads the government.

  23. Ah, you’re such a DOOMER, JMG, 😉 Though of course there is a fine line between the attitudes of optimism, pessimism, doomer-ism, wishful thinking, and so on. Even now, almost two decades into the OBVIOUS decline of industrial civilization, the vast majority of people still seem oblivious to the trend – the downward trend.

    One thing that sets your writing apart from many others on the topics of peak oil, climate change, and the decline of Empire is that you weave the lessons of history and what I think of as “the human effect” into the analysis. When I first started following your posts about 17 years ago or so, the factors of history and cultural response to the predicament of Descent didn’t sink in as much. Surely political and business leaders would be able to connect the dots, and respond in a logical and effective way, wouldn’t they? Surely the scientific evidence and the laws of physics would prevail, and everyone would get on board with “war footing” to adopt the correct solutions? Ah, no. Instead we have now ominous signs that in the near term we’ll see more supply chain problems, energy disruptions, food shortages, etc., as the perfect storm of decline and lack of mitigation breaks. The electric car is the model of a poorly thought out alternative.

    Another aspect I didn’t take into account was how challenging it can be to “collapse now and avoid the rush”, even though it’s the necessary thing to do. Back in 2005 this seemed like a quaint idea that could smoothly be transitioned to with minimal effort. But in the U.S. at least, the reliance on motoring and fossil fuels and the “modern” lifestyle presents some obstacles to this, and I also grossly underestimated the effects of government and society’s responses that impact my life. I didn’t count on the black swan of a “pandemic” and the economic uncertainty of increasing energy costs to have such insane results. I feel like I made it out of the burning theater, but now am torn between running further away, or going back inside to help others escape.

    Like you’ve mentioned, there’s no shortage of things that can be done now while we adjust to the “new normal”, and look ahead to the “future normal”. Leading by example, and cutting back on energy use is just the start – while navigating the bumps in the road, and keeping an eye on the brick wall which will abruptly remove some options in our lifestyles on impact. It creates a nervous tension, and a feeling of “…nuts, I’m behind schedule…”

  24. Another book worth digging back out is the Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn, based on her newsletter. It was printed back in the early 1990s, before online shopping or smart phones with their apps were a thing. Some of her very low-tech solutions may make a few people blink.

    But convincing people to stop wasting stuff will be a real trick. I often peruse the discard bookshelf at the local recycling station when dropping off recyclables. On this last trip, I saw quite a pile of various books, some of which were in a perfectly usable tote bag also discarded. I used the tote bag to collect the books (four, two of which were gardening books) I was interested in plus a pair of composition notebooks which only had a few pages torn out and the rest was perfectly usable blank lined paper. I’m guessing I saved at least $50.

    Apparently, the empty spaces on the store shelves haven’t tipped off people that maybe they need to make better use of the stuff they do have. The prospect of permanent shortages hasn’t really sunk in yet.

  25. Speaking of former Presidents Hoover and Trump… as soon as Trump was elected, I drew some parallels between their careers, and (to make a long story short), I fully expected a major financial crisis during his term. Yet, somehow, our world managed to skid along on the icy road long enough to put President Biden at the wheel before we slide into the ditch.

    Why Biden? I think too many smarter people saw what was coming, and didn’t want to be in the public eye when the manure hit the spreader. (If you haven’t personally seen a manure spreader at work, you might think that this is just a figure of speech. See, for example,, and skip ahead 1:30 to the action.)

    And, in the near term, the debate at is whether The Recession is coming, or already here.

  26. Verily, the gas flow from the east seems to stop all too soon for Europe and Austria.

    And take a look at this:

    Claims I haven’t yet verified from more official sources say:

    – Canada refuses to return the turbine, one of six, for NordStream 1, which is there for maintenance.
    But anyways, Russia will shut down the gas flow for officially 10 days starting from July 11th, and even our politicians
    do little in the way of expecting anything else than permanence, officially.

    Meanwhile, there is a protest of farmers in Netherlands and our media are still very silent about it (verified), (unverfied:)while a new law to cap nitrite and carbon emission in agriculture wants to disown 30% of the farmers and leave their lands barren. In the 90s they were paid to do so.

    They must sign a contract they will never take up farming again in this country.

    Alternative sources also claim that tanks are in action already, police fired shots…but the official sources also say there’s violence, in the major dutch papers.

    Our environment minister recommends using oil instead of gas for heating as a side note.

    In my informatics company, people are already discussing the coming gas shortage. I contributed many ideas from this blog, and they were well received. Opinion on the viability of unicorn power and the value of progress is not unanimous among my colleagues. The one with the most progressive view said to me “But maybe something new will be found and…” – I looked at him, “…or something old we had but haven’t anymore will be…” he then, to my perception a little hastily, added. At least he certain added THAT to the outlook of possible options.

    Also on grubby 9gag I must say, and also while many already complain it has become a political slaughter match garbage dump, there ARE more and more frequently appearing memes of how horses and oxen are the perfectly “fossil free” alternative, also in the comments. Of course, behind all is still the unwillingness to consider hard physical work, for many.
    The young are especially fracked over, many people agree. The young and the addicted; when deprived of electronical entertainment and spectacles.
    At least for those of the young who make it, this will be a remarkable lesson of their lives, especially those still in a middle class or halfway financially stable setting.

    We are eating, I think, the harvest of 2021 here in Austria, and around Austria in the EU.

    And in October as in every year, it will be the annual harvest gratitude festival.

    regards, and all the best to everyone,

  27. If I may make a request of the readers living outside the USA?

    If you know of a good book on your own country’s hard times would you please post the author and title?


  28. A recent headline from the financial press: “Oil Frackers Brace for the end of the US Shale Boom.” (I didn’t change a word of it, by the way, to evade moderation.) I wonder HOW one does that? Sell off the drilling equipment to the last fracker standing?

  29. Dear Ms Kimberly Steele:

    You write, “I am planning on re-starting the library, by the way. I need to put labels and codes on the book collection.” This is encouraging. I have a small comment to offer, namely that you might now enjoy reading up on the subject of cataloguing-and-classification. Low-grade libraries in North America use the Dewey Decimal System. Academic libraries, on the other hand, use Library of Congress (LC) codes. LC codes have one large practical advantage, in that practically any book in English which one is as an ordinary citizen liable to possess is held also in that gargantuan Washington library, and accordingly has already been assigned an LC code by some duly trained cataloguing specialist. The LC code can be ascertained in seconds over the Internet via a lookup in Such lookups potentially save local librarians in smaller institutions the trouble of having to assign codes on their own, when they (1) affix labels to spines and (2) type up their inventory-control shelf lists as their first step toward tracking impending losses (and perhaps also (3) generate a public catalogue).

    One of my own books is a textbook on cataloguing-and-classification, likely used by its previous owner as the assigned textbook in some “School of Library Science”, or similar, within the 1990s University of Toronto. It is a fascinating read: some clever people in Victorian times devised and fine-tuned the LC system, and indeed also the less satisfactory Dewey Decimal System, thereby bringing order out of pre-Victorian chaos.

    In our local universities here in Estonia, things did not go quite so well as in the Victorian-era USA. However, we do at least now have a national all-campuses union catalogue, the ubiquitous-in-Estonia “ESTER”. Some details can be had from ESTER, while having to cope with pre-1991 and pre-1939 and pre-1917 chaos, nevertheless in some or many or all instances applies to new acquisitions the European equivalent of LC (“UDC”;


    Tom = Toomas

  30. Rod, shipping lemons to Florida is right up there with shipping coals to Newcastle — and yet, as you point out, we’re doing it. People in the far future will laugh at how stupid we were.

    Brian, if the EU is insisting that natural gas and nuclear power are sustainable and climate-friendly, all I can say is that Ireland’s reputation as the world’s great fount of colorful nonsense is at risk. Did someone steal the Blarney Stone and move it to Brussels?

    Nancy, it’s certainly important to make sure you have ways to heat or cool yourself in extreme weather, but central heating isn’t the only way to do it. Those who live in rented homes might be better off familiarizing themselves with the other options.

    Per, people tell me this all the time. Meanwhile the slow decline picks up speed. Human reproductive rates are already below replacement levels in all but one of the world’s continents, and they’re falling in Africa too; every other measure of the Long Descent is unfolding at a normal pace — that is to say, slow by human standards. There will be wars, granted, but it’s not as though there’s been a shortage of them any time in recorded history, including right now! Still, if you want to keep on waiting for a fast collapse while the slow collapse is taking place around you, hey, you’re welcome to do so.

    Toomas, European civilization began its decline in every sense in 1914, and the temporary transfer of power over the European subcontinent to Russia and the US and the frantic exploitation of fossil fuels only postponed the inevitable for half a century or so. As for Dark Age book culture, I’ll certainly consider it.

    Electricangel, you’re welcome. Yes, I’m aware that the British experience of the early dark ages was harsher than many other places, but iirc there’s still plenty of evidence for severe economic contraction, depopulation, and other markers of steep decline all over the western Roman world from 400 to 700 AD. That said, I’ll have a look at the book you recommend as time permits.

    Chuaquin, well, I certainly didn’t watch it! People love to fantasize about fast collapses; there are lots of booms and bangs, everything plays out over the length of a movie script, and then you can sit back and watch the credits roll. The real world isn’t so pleasant.

    Z and Pygmycory, thank you both.

    Tony C, that’s just it. Most communities can survive a sudden catastrophe in pretty good shape, and rebuild thereafter. It’s the long slow decline that’s harder to cope with. As for who’s going to do well over the next decade, anybody who can provide a necessary service to ordinary people at a reasonable price will be fine; those whose income depends on feeding the corporate system — not so much.

    David BTL, no surprises there. The inevitable result of a spike in energy prices is a rush of energy-themed startups out to prove that an investor and his money are soon parted. 😉

    Migrant Worker, er, you might want to read the post by David By The Lake immediately above yours, and look for independent verification of the guy’s claims. If it was that cheap and easy to generate methane, don’t you think someone would have done it already? Energy-related scams of various kinds are pandemic whenever the price of natural gas or petroleum go up…

    Mark, what made the Reagan-Thatcher counterrevolution possible was that there was still plenty of oil to be had cheap, so long as you didn’t mind burning through the last hope of staving off a new dark age. People are doubtless still that silly, but the planet’s supplies of fossil fuels are a lot more heavily depleted than they were then, and I doubt it can be done a second time. So there’s hope!

    Jenny, Nate and I knew each other back in the days of the Peak Oil movement; I haven’t spoken to the others. They know where to find me. 😉 As for “pockets of humans surviving,” er, our survival as a species isn’t at risk. We got through the frightful Younger Dryas climate crises at the end of the last ice age in quite decent shape, and those were much worse than anything on the menu now. (Mother Nature packs a much meaner punch than anything humans can do.) It’s too late for industrial civilization, but that just means the generations to come will have to learn to get by on much, much less in the way of absurd extravagance.

    Jasper, bingo. Excellent.

    Chris, that’s excellent news. The sooner it sinks in that we’re not going to the stars, and our remaining efforts might be better spent cushioning the descent and getting helpful legacies to the future, the better.

    Daniel, you’re most welcome. I’d like to do more to encourage such conversations, but there’s only so much that one blogger on the fringes can do! I don’t have much contact with online businesses, but I’ve noticed the internet running unusually slowly and having a lot of trouble finding sites of late.

    Raymond, here’s hoping! I wonder if anyone’s drafted a 12-step program for falling civilizations…

    Greg, thanks for the reminder! I’ll make time to listen to that soon.

    Murmuration, thanks for this.

    Northwind, there may be quite a few happy weeks ahead, then…

    Paleobear, interesting.

    Kimberly, glad to hear that things are picking up.

    Sue, I know how hard it is to cling to common sense when everyone else is rushing off to the giddy fantasy du jour! Hang in there.

    DrHooves, I’m just glad I’m not yet fielding comments from people saying, “Okay, doomer!”

    Jeanne, that’s a good one. Another — I wonder if anybody remembers it any more? — is Possum Living by Dolly Freed. As for the broader point, nope — I think people will have to do without, in a big way, before that sinks in.

    LatheChuck, nah, Trump was our Calvin Coolidge. Biden’s got the bad luck to be our Hoover. And Bloomberg will figure out that a recession has arrived about a week after it’s become a depression.

    Curt, many thanks for the data points. The situation in the Netherlands has me watching closely; it wouldn’t take much at this point to spark an actual uprising.

    Lathechuck, hmm! About time they noticed.

  31. Funny that you mention energy from the sun – I am trying to start a business selling hikers dehydrated meals – something that does not currently exist in my country. I decided I will not buy an expansive electric dehydrator at this stage, opting instead to build a solar dehydrator out of things I have laying around. It’s basically a miniature greenhouse with a fan on one side and a tray of fruit or vegetables for drying inside.

  32. @Rod: Here in Israel we grow apples, export them to God knows where, then import apples from Australia and the US. What kind of sense is that?

  33. For what’s worth, I think the sinking of the Titanic (04/15/1912) was the harbinger of the collapse of the West.

    The Titanic was longer, heavier and in general larger than any other ship before (curiously enough, it lost its record to the German liner Imperator a little longer than a year after its demise, but somehow this fact does not play into the legend). It was a pinnacle of naval engineering for its time and it was supposedly designed to withstand crashes with icebergs in good order. Unfortunately, it did not crash into the iceberg, but collisioned with it during its maneuver to avoid it and slashed its whole “belly” in the process.

    Other interesting fact I just learned (through wikipedia page) is that, since 2 days prior to the sinking, the Titanic received warnings over radio from other ships concerning drifting ice. It is possible that at least some of this warnings were ignored because the radio operators where not part of the ship’s crew, and therefore their main concern was to send and receive messages for the passengers, only incidentally reporting weather conditions to the people tasked with doing something about it.

    If that sounds familiar… well… you are not alone.

  34. Hi JMG,

    Thanks for this essay. Muchly appreciated. The first sentence had me cracking up. So blithe.

    One commenter mentioned St. Benedict. Benedict was definitely a force to reckon with. A great collection of novels set in 1300s England near Wales (Shropshire?) was Ellis Peters’ “CADFAEL,” which in the 1990s British made into a terrific Public Broadcasting System (PBS) TV series. Derek Jacobi plays Cadfael. Before TV/Internet/streaming disappears, this TV series is well worth catching. Hulu, I think. Or Amazon, or Netflix, or whatever. (“What are you crazy, ugh⁉️cooties.) Ellis Peters was a woman writer.

    My favorite saint is Julian of Norwich (no-one knows her actual name). She lived in Norfolk County, England, in the 1300s. She witnessed half of everyone she knew, intimate family and strangers, young and old, died of the Black Death within five years.‼️50%‼️She likely had married and had had kids. She was on her deathbed (in a coma) for several years. After she recovered a modicum of health, she wrote and wrote. To me, the most important thing she wrote was “All will be well.”

    Not a lot of people can fathom that. We (as individuals, families, nations, &tc.) don’t have the spiritual depth to intuit that “out of death must come wellness, or we die too.” She knew firsthand about massive loss, and came out positive.

    I discovered Julian before finding out that I am related to pretty much every farmer in Norfolk County, England, going back to before her time. I take solace that I am likely related to her, like 28th cousin. She was somebody. I need to re-read her writings.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  35. “As for who’s going to do well over the next decade, anybody who can provide a necessary service to ordinary people at a reasonable price will be fine[.]”

    The regulatory burdens on actually making anything for sale on a small scale are huge – at least if the product is useful; you can sell decorative carp much more freely. Fixing things too, often. Business licenses. Residential-only zoning. Liability insurance. Testing and double-testing, exacting labeling requirements, restrictions on what materials you may make things from. It seems like few services don’t require credentialing and licensing. Are the regulations going to decline in parallel with the globalized economy? I would guess not, because the corporations will be trying to keep workers shackled to their jobs and consumers shackled to their products.

    As a woman who is too old and spindly to do real manual labor, so am limited in the range of skills I could develop, I worry about this. I would have the skills to be a junior-level herbalist, surely useful in any resource-limited society not being run by witch-burners. But in today’s society, if I tried to practice as an herbalist I would expect to get sued and fined out of existence. “Practicing medicine without a license,” elaborate paperwork requirements for every single product made; just seeing clients in your house would violate zoning laws. I work at a desk most of the time. I recognize I may not be able to do this forever, but I don’t know what I could substitute.

  36. There’s one last source of fossil fuel that is untapped, and that’s oil shale (which is not the same thing as shale oil), and there’s lots of it.

    Oil shale is shale containing kerogen, a waxy substance that turns into oil given heat and pressure, for instance by being buried deep underground. It is possible to mine the shale, crush it, and cook it, and recover oil that way. But it’s a very polluting process and the amount of energy needed to heat the shale to produce a barrel of oil makes it uneconomic at the moment.

    If they ever become desperate enough to start mining and processing oil shale, it will be a sure sign that peak oil is finally and irrevocably behind us and we are on the downward slope.

  37. Hi JMG,

    What are your thoughts on “The Great Reset”? To me it seems like rich people trying to convince themselves they are in control of all of these crises, or at least looking for a silver lining amidst the chaos, but a lot of people, including many I respect, place it as a major contributor to our current situation. That the Davos crowd is intentionally destroying society, basically, and the covid pandemic, the energy crisis, supply chain disruptions and inflation (etc!) are all engineered parts of their plan.


  38. I’ll second Amy Dacyczyn and Dolly Freed’s Possum Living.

    In fact there are many “how to be thrifty” books lurking in used book stores. Like cookbooks, the older thrift books are much better than the newer ones because they assume you’re poor and they aren’t trying to replace high tech stuff.

    One of the many, many things anyone can do right now (besides insulating, learning how to cook, sew, and garden, and paying off all debt) is building your home library.

    The more home libraries there are, the more likely more knowledge will survive.

    Now is the time to check every local library discard sale, used bookstore, thrift shop, yard sale, and piles of books left along the side of the road.

    Much of what you find won’t be useful (diet books). But there are always gems among the dross.

    Look for practical “how-to” titles, older cookbooks, and histories, especially ones that focus on a specific tight subject rather than huge overviews. Gardening books, food preservation, sewing, animal husbandry….

    The list is endless.

    Do it now while books are cheap and readily available.

  39. Curt, when you mentioned the young being deprived of spectacles, it took a bit of thought before I realized you meant entertainment on demand, rather than glasses. I am very short-sighted and would indeed be in trouble without my glasses. Legally blind. There’s a reason I just ordered a new pair and keep old pairs around until their prescription is too off to be useful.

  40. Took your advice and for years now worked to simplify life on a liveaboard sailboat with minimal tech. Just got back to “society” after a couple of weeks of no internet wandering the inside passage. Minimal use of the diesel engine as I try to sail like it’s 1890.
    Oddly, one major positive mental adjustment in adaptation to our current times comes from being a deplorable 2nd class unfoxed with loss of access to a lot of Canadian society. Currently restored but ‘winter is coming.
    Tim10- excellent book is Barry Broadfoot’s Ten lost years. Collected stories from all across the Land of the folk who lived through the Great Depression. A lot of lessons there.
    Ordered a serious small oven fireplace from Quebec meant for tiny homes/RV. It’s to alternate with my diesel fireplace for the coming winter.
    I’m way past being angry at our grossly incompetent ruling class. Moved on to mentally feeling like 1950s optimism “get er done” and enjoying the challenges.

  41. @Rod #1 – The latest carton of Florida Natural orange juice mentions that Mother Nature has been so harsh lately, they’ve had to fill out their orange juice with juice from Mexico. And this is the largest orange juice farmer’s cooperative in Florida.

    Meanwhile, The Village @Gainesville is going out of its way to buy locally sourced food for its dining rooms and snack bars. Of course, The Village @Gainesville is also an expensive luxury, which I’m expecting to raise its rates considerably in 2023.

  42. Egg Man, solar thermal is a whole different business than solar photovoltaic. Solar dehydrating, solar water heating, solar space heating, solar greenhouses — all these are proven technologies that can be maintained on a very simple technological basis and provide serious benefits to human beings, as you’re in the process of proving. It’s the fetishistic notion that everything has to be electrified or motorized that takes modern society past what sunlight can do.

    CR, a fine point. It’s also noteworthy that the whole disaster was predicted in advance in the pages of a novel, The Wreck of the Titan, or Futility by Morgan Robertson, which saw print in 1898. It features a British ocean liner named RMS Titan, the largest passenger ship afloat, which hits an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sinks, and there aren’t enough lifeboats for the passengers…

    Northwind, the books are quite good, and I recommend them instead of the video for those who don’t want brain worms.

    Apteryx, that’s why so many people these days are working under the table, for cash, and evading the regulatory state. Expect to see much, much more of this as we proceed.

    Martin, kerogen shale isn’t merely uneconomical — you have to put more energy into the process of extracting the waxy goo and turning it into fuel than you get from burning the fuel. It’s exactly the equivalent of trying to make a living by buying dollar bills for $1.25 each.

    Johnny, the Not-so-great Reset is the last attempt of a bunch of half-senile boomers to manufacture the future they thought was on its way back in 1966. I don’t doubt that people committed to that scheme are responsible for some of the stupid decisions that have landed us in this current mess, but we’re not talking about malevolent masterminds here. We’re talking about a bunch of clueless old rich men who were faux-radicals back in their teens and are trying to get the world they thought they were promised.

    Teresa, excellent advice!

    Longsword, glad to hear it. Deplorability has its advantages, no question.

  43. Hi JMG,

    Over here in our collapsing now adventure we’ve tightened our budgets a fair bit in an attempt to “brace for impact” for whatever it is we are about to get (seems like a depression is very likely), so for me this means activities like buying twine and a couple pots at the dollar store need consideration I wouldn’t have given them before. Today I ate rice and beans plus “whatever was ready to harvest from the garden”, so, rice & beans plus some green beans, peas and a bunch of radish greens steamed to go with. I use radish greens during the day because my partner hates them, saving our fancy greens for meals we eat together.

    In other news I met the son of the old Ukrainian woman I tried to give a tomato seedling to when she was by with her walker, he is a nice guy and we talked for a while. I saw her again too, on her rounds, and she told me she came back later and took one of the seedlings from our free ones out by the curb. Those still move, although it’s slowing down.

    Gardening aside, my favorite collapse activity has become flying a kite. It’s something I never did as a kid with any success, but I’ve gotten the hang of it now. It’s really fun to feel the pull of the different currents that are hidden from us normally, and the way you can substitute for wind by just running with the thing trying to get it high enough to catch. The kids enjoy it too. It’s sort of a funny response to the all-you-can-eat buffet of bad news we are being treated to now, but at least it doesn’t use any fossil fuels. I have wondered if I could learn to build them myself as it’s not completely unrelated to the structures I make for growing tomatoes and beans already.

    I wanted to say too, I found your discussion on the two types of evil last week really interesting and useful to think about. Is this something that applies to all problem behaviour? I think I remember you before mentioning that Aristotle said the opposite of a vice is another vice, with virtue being a balance between the two. I don’t think it had ever quite clicked in my brain before though, but having an example helped me to get it. I’m curious if it’s a general rule of thumb that can be applied in many places.


  44. >Speaking of former Presidents Hoover and Trump… as soon as Trump was elected, I drew some parallels between their careers, and (to make a long story short), I fully expected a major financial crisis during his term. Yet, somehow, our world managed to skid along on the icy road long enough to put President Biden at the wheel before we slide into the ditch.

    If you were paying attention to what Trump was doing, he was kicking the can just as hard as he could, one last final kick down the road. Someone had to deal with the unkickable can – Biden won the sweepstakes. He probably just wanted a page or a footnote in the history books, but he’ll get a whole chapter devoted to him, if there’s enough of a civilization left to print history books 100 years from now.

  45. Excellent post. The price of gas in my area has many people seething in anger; you can guess the culprit they are pinning the blame on.
    Though I see the importance of community living, I have found it incredibly difficult to find common ground with others. I consider myself quite willing to overlook politics and religion, but it appears others are convinced on holding onto these very ideologies until the living end. Do you have any suggestions in dealing with these situations?
    Please consider emailing me directly in response; it is difficult to find a reply through the vast majority of comments.

  46. Hi Mr. Greer, I really appreciated this post as it helps tremendously knowing I’m on track with reality. My partner and I have only be writing about our “collapse” offgrid lifestyle since this past January but we have definitely seen how Americans are glued to their entitlements of modernity. Suggest anything you or Mr. Kunstler says and they lose their minds. We have been called hypocrites, fakes, slimy salesmen (we don’t sell anything LOL) and much more all because we point out talking about these things is great but we need to implement them into our lives. Reducing consumption, living simpler, building skills, growing your own food as much as possible really infuriates a lot of Americans. Yikes! Either way, we keep at it and hope others will do the same. No amount of their nasty words or transference will stop my fruit trees from growing or turn our solar power off 🙂 the freedom collapsing now brings!

  47. @Bakbook says: #34 That’s just underlines the premise that energy and fossil fuels drives the economy. Chris Martenson in his recent video here –> ( ) makes the case that as energy consumption goes up, so does growth. Why? Because it creates jobs. That dishwasher or refrigerator that no longer works because it needs a part that cost more than the appliance itself was designed around cheap and affordable energy. So instead of fixing the appliance you now have to buy a new one, which requires energy (fossil fuels) which enables growth by creating or maintaining jobs.

    As the author of this website says, in the future, generations will look back and shake their heads at the level of stupidity of wasting of precious resources and that’s before they go over the NATO vs Russia proxy war.
    Here’s a personal story. I worked part time at a Florida, Lowes. One day I was asked to take two large garbage bags back to the dumpster to throw in the trash. As I grabbed the bags I noticed they were full of vending machine popcorn and corn chips. So I opened the trash bags and noticed the product were 2 days from expiration. Mind you, that when it comes to those types of foods with all the preservatives inside, you can add 2-3 months.

    So, I took the bags back to the front and informed the Head Cashier that those bags contained food. Was it a mistake? I was told NO and they could not sell me the food. I wasn’t looking to buy it and wasn’t hungry but okay. So I dumped both trash bags in the dumpster. The following day I asked another Head Cashier about the incident. I questioned why not give it to the employees in the break room as a nice gesture because it would be gone within two hours and it was two days from expiration. I was told that if somebody eats the food and chokes, they could sue Lowe’s. So I mentioned what a wasteful society we have become, throwing away perfectly good food.

    Meanwhile the same store on occasion purchased sandwiches for the store during noon time and would leave those sandwiches for 8-10 hrs out in the open along with other foods that should require refrigeration, you know because someone might get sick. So I mentioned that along with Lowe’s insane policy of encouraging dog owners to bring their dogs to the store. Perhaps if a dog took a bite out of someone, they might sue the company. Or perhaps some employee purchased something from the vending machine, choked and decided to sue Lowe’s because they bought food from a vending machine on Lowe’s property. My argument was met with silence.

    So I said, you know what would be a nice gesture? Instead of giving the employees free food they decided not to buy, how about donating it a week before the expiration date to the local Food Banks so struggling Mom could giving Johnny or Joan a bag of chips or popcorn with their lunch. No response. To me this was all about the employees weren’t going to be encouraged not to buy food from the vending machines. This is another example of the wasteful society we have become.

    Two weeks later I saw another Head Cashier walk into the break room, open individual bags of vending machine food and pour it into the trash for everyone to see. Beyond wasteful. I left shortly thereafter.

  48. @Apteryx, #37

    Been there, done that. If you are interested in that line of work, here are some thoughts.

    Personal coaching is currently unregulated, though it is impossible to know how long will this remain the case. While the shadier side of it is in the business of selling feel good platitudes and multilevel crap to the gullible, some coaches do genuine good treating non psychotic mental disorders (mostly in the neurotic spectrum). You need some psychology fundamentals to know when you are out of your dept and need to derive the customer to a licensed professional that can prescribe drugs, though.

    Energy healing, like reiki (and to a lesser degree homeopathy), is unregulated as well because science cannot accuse you of harming people with something they claim don’t exist. The worst case scenario is you are accused of preventing the patient from seeking “real” treatment. If you can find a friendly doctor to work with, you can provide your service in addition to (not instead of) pharmaco-chirurgic treatment. Depending on your jurisdiction, there are options to obtain certification/licensing in some alt-health modalities. This is the path I am pursuing now.

    You may also go full time occultist. Astrology, tarot, palmistry are all services people want and are willing to pay for. AFAIK, you just have to put some wording in your advertisement saying “for entertainment purposes only”, and you are in the clear.

    Most important, there’s people today working in all these trades; surely some of them at your own town. You probably want to meet them, talk to them, and ask how they work around the obstacles you have outlined before.

  49. [John, I didn’t see a way of uploading my two graphs and I tried to find them again online. I found them both but the first is a little obscured by “hiding” on page 62 of the report.]

    Up above, John wrote:”Look back over the arc of history since 2005, and that’s what you’ll see. Why 2005?”

    Here is the 2016 Liquids supply by type from Exxon Mobil: Page 62

    John is referring to the ~2005 peak in dark green which are the Developed conventional crude and condensate. Later, the dark and light green areas have been lumped into one category. This is the 2021 view extending the areas out to 2050 instead of 2040:

    Virtually no shift and the 2005 hump is still there.

    We and Europe do not have the oil for WWIII. One of the reasons Putin has been so bold.

  50. One of the normal things around here now are the frequent storms. We always had lots of storms, but there are even more the last number of years. There have been at least two small tornadoes hitting the greater Cincinnati area, and one today in Goshen outside the city.

    Power has been on and off since the storm hit. Lots of trees and tree limbs down. Traffic lights erratic.

    Getting used to these situations and the probable increase in time and longer delays for the power and to “normal” services to come back on, seems par for the course at this stage.

    Peak-oil, end of US hegemony, climate change, all coming unglued, and people coming unglued too.

    Good time to buckle down on a variety of spiritual and magical practices, and bone up on some more on other skills.

    I’ve always wanted to read Terkel but haven’t yet. Hard Times is on the cue now.

    Thanks again for another great essay.

  51. Apteryx #37,
    You still have skills even if you will not be building or repairing any railways. You can make the tea for the workers, visit sick or poor friends and see that they are fed, comfortable, have clean linen and have some company. You don’t need to charge for this as that might be where it causes you trouble. Some people might call this community building.

  52. Another beautiful piece, JMG.

    A bit of synchronicity: As I’ve mentioned before, I’m part of a shortwave radio revival project (Radio Angela on WBCQ) and last night our leader emailed us a brief explanation that the sun plays in shortwave radio reception, particularly the band used by our project, which does much better at night and tends to fade out with the sun. In fact, his exact words was that our band “thrives in darkness.”

    Your mention of the sun, and how it has powered our planet for so long, had me chuckling. As we slip into a dark age, what is perhaps most reliable form of mass communication can, in some instances, thrive in darkness. It all seems quite fitting.

  53. Well, for the Titanic remembered, if this doesn’t violate language guidelines: on the condom dispenser in the gents’ toilet in a London pub in the 70s was printed ” manufactured to British standard abcxyz”, beneath which someone had written ” So was the Titanic”.

  54. What do you make of the mess going down in the Netherlands right now? On the one hand, current methods of farming are among the most destructive and unsustainable aspects of the industrial economy. On the other, the Dutch government’s “solution” seems incredibly wrongheaded and tyrannical.

  55. Was thinking to add to my previous comment that it would make a pretty good metaphor for our times.

  56. A very succinct summation of a 16 year corpus, John Michael.
    Has it really been that long? It seems only yesterday that the entire comment stream could be read in a few minutes…
    OTOH, since stumbling across the ADR, I’ve managed the transition from jet-setting IT insultant to farmer, which is no rapid process in itself, so maybe it really has been that long 🙂
    Learning to live within the sunlight budget is huge. The steepest learning curve I’ve ever attempted.
    And Nature herself can be one hard mistress. 182mm of the wet stuff in the last 24 hours (a bit over 7″ for those of you stuck in US customary units) and the towns downstream are all flooding again (for the third time in 12 months). Yet it was just a little over two years ago our farm dams were nearly all empty and we sold almost all our livestock because we couldn’t keep them watered; trees died all over the place and things were looking pretty desperate.
    Interesting times ahead, if the climate continues in this nicely unpredictable fashion.

  57. Hi John Michael,

    Yesterday I was involved in attempting to resolve a complicated work problem which basically boiled down to unnecessarily complicated oversight – in other words: red tape. And the problem requires yet still more work to resolve. As far as I can objectively view the outcome, nothing of any note, or worth, is produced by the task. That’s compliance for you, and it’s bonkers. Fortunately, the long view suggests that the seeds of destruction are sown into the system, and we’ll eventually get back to something more sensible.

    Yeah, renewable energy sources are good, they’re just not good enough. My experience with the technology reflects this insight. But here’s the thing, historically speaking, the energy produced is amazing, it’ll just never be repeated, because the technology is manufactured using fossil fuels. Some schools of thought suggest that the technology is an expenditure of energy, which can produce a more dilute flow of energy over time, for a while. Such an outcome suits me just fine and is a workable strategy, for a period of time.

    I became aware of the concept of peak oil back in about 2004, and back in those days it was widely reported upon that the extraction of conventional oil peaked in 2005. It’s not like it was a big secret or something like that. Now that was 17 years in the past, and in all that time I’ve not seen anything to convince me that the reporting back then was incorrect. Of course, I did not consider that fracking was going to occur, but oh my, did the promoters of that mad-as scheme consider the economic consequences? Hmm. And the consequences are most certainly appearing – an impressive display of mad abandon, sorry to say. The problem with unleashing monsters (as you would know) is that once unleashed, they’re kinda hard to restrain again. Oh well, mate what do you do – it wasn’t yours or my idea.



  58. JMG:

    Good words all. Only thing that I could even potentiallly disagree with is the timing behind the phrase “We could have managed a soft landing if the first tentative movements toward a sustainable society in the 1970s had been followed up, but that didn’t happen.” I tend to put the date much earlier for the point of no return. I am thinking that the date is closer to 1945.

    I am pondering writing something on the 1945-1976 period. That is where things went all scattywampus. I’ll let you know.

    Be well everyone. Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.


  59. David BTL, Migrant W and JMG – I think the most abused word in the English language is “could”. Whenever this word is used in the context of the latest breakthrough technology, the implication the author wants the reader to take away from ‘this technology “could” revolutionise (insert technology here)’ is “will”, when the real meaning is closer to “maybe, possibly, perhaps in the event of a miracle”
    It annoys the heck out of me.

  60. Patricia Matthews, et al
    The price of fresh squeezed orange juice here in Mexico has recently gone up because the price of oranges has gone up. I guess now I know why. They have gone to become Florida orange juice. I bet no one hassled them at the border or built a wall to keep them out.
    I remember Dimitri Orloff comparing the then recent collapse of the Soviet Union to the coming collapse of the USA as the difference between falling out of the ground story window and falling out of the penthouse. I guess much of the western world has moved to the penthouse just in time to fall out of the window

  61. People often suggest ham radio as a sustainable means of communicating in a post-industrial world. Maybe; maybe not. There’s an activity on the air right now that can teach some lessons on the topic. It’s called the annual “13 Colonies Special Event”. Every year, during the first week of July, there will be (at least) one ham radio station in each of the 13 original colonies (now “states”), available to log a contact with ordinary hams. Some hams strive to make a contact exchange with each of the stations. The prize? Just bragging rights, really.

    Each of the special event stations will pick a frequency and make an announcement, such as “This is K2A, New York. QRZ.” And dozens (or more) of individuals will respond with a cacophony of call signs, each hoping that K2A will hear them, and recognize them with a call back, and both stations will update their logs. Such a contact may take 5-10 seconds, then it’s “QRZ” again, and the cycle repeats.

    Lesson #1: Just by scanning for the special event stations, I get some experience with the variability of HF radio. What’s the best time and frequency to get from my home to each of their locations?

    Lesson #2: When everybody talks at once, nobody can communicate. The number of concurrent conversations that HF radio supports within the 13 colonies region is somewhere around 60. The other 100 million of you will need to wait your turn.

    Lesson #3: Just from listening to the exchanges, one can hear where radio communication is feasible. If I, in Maryland, hear a ham in New Jersey take a call from a ham in Michigan, that means that, technically, we could hold a 3-way conversation (under current conditions). But if I only hear half of the exchange, then I could only expect to reach one of the two stations in any kind of emergency.

    Lesson #4: My radio transmits about 50 W (from about 200-300 W grid power), and I was able to work every station from Georgia to New Hampshire. 300 W could be provided by solar panels (during the day), or a hard-working athlete cranking a bicycle-generator. So, energy-wise, it could be feasible.

  62. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I grew up in the Cuba of the 1990s right after the end of soviet welfare. I have lived through a collapse already and know how things devolve but also how people can adapt and how to down shift in energy and technology. After learning about you in a podcast I began to read your works and agree with your advice. Collapse now and avoid the rush! Great advice! I learned how to brew pretty good beers and now I am learning to bake breads, can food etc. Anyways, just wanted to say thank you for your works!

  63. I disagree with your conclusion that we are seventeen years into the decline, but only because I would argue that the decline actually began 52 years ago in the year 1970. No matter which statistics you look at, that year seems to have marked a massive turning point with regards to demographics, economics, energy, and the overall advancement of technology. I think you may have originally been the one who pointed it out in an earlier post of yours, however.

  64. I’ve tried many times to describe the issues of fossil fuels (as outlines in your paragraphs 3 to 8), and I don’t think anyone ever accepted it. Of course you’re much better at explaining it, but I think people are just too caught up in all the other more appealing mythologies that explain how we got where we are. “We just found all this coal and oil” doesn’t sound so all that flattering.

    Anymore I don’t bother to explain, I just try to live by example. Given the rising energy costs and inflation, some are suddenly more interested in being more self reliant.

    I’m hardly a shining example though. As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to understand that just because you can see the train coming doesn’t mean you can get out of the way. At 58 I’ve accumulated a lifetime of attachments and commitments, all of that in a nation that was converting all of it’s infrastructure and living arrangements to be dependent on fossil fuels long before I was born. Even our community and family structures, which used to be multi generational for greater mutual support, are now isolated thanks to all our fossil fuel energy slaves.

    I end up feeling like I have one foot on the dock and one on the boat. Still, I’ve got used to that, and don’t expect it to change. This will be playing out longer than my lifetime, and it’s too late for me to grow up on a farm and learn all the things required to live that life well. Maybe next life. In the mean time I’ll just muddle along as best I can, and try my best to set things up for younger people I know.

  65. Before they sign off, they want to make sure you got your injections for the greater good!! Let’s hope they are good – but let’s just say I don’t think the data supports that.

  66. Re: home libraries. I found, among my books, a 1974 pamphlet-sized book from Dover Press called “Braiding & Knotting techniques & projects. I no longer have the coordination or strength to do braiding or knotting, so I’m offering it here. The last pages are a catalog of other Dover Press booklets of the same vintage covering just about everything under the sun. The inside back cover is “Dover Books on Crafts, Needlework, and Handicrafts.” Another Dover book advertised there is the History of Philosophy. Some of the novels listed are those mentioned in Dion Fortune’s The Goat Foot God. Some may not be available these days. But –

    If anybody wants it, email me at mathews55 at msn dot com, and I’ll mail it to you.

  67. >Other interesting fact I just learned (through wikipedia page) is that, since 2 days prior to the sinking, the Titanic received warnings over radio from other ships concerning drifting ice.

    It has been my experience, very few disasters come “out of the blue”. There was always some warning before they happened. Sometimes quite a bit of warning, so much so that when the disaster happened, someone would be around to say “I told you so”.

  68. Ahem. Nothing is going to be normal for a while. Normal will be whatever comes out the end of this century. Everything and I mean everything that is going on is abnormal. Both good and bad.

  69. @Apteryx

    In my experience, the regulatory burdens are immense, but they are also very widely ignored without consequence. Permits, building codes, labeling requirements, licensing, you name it. Unless you’re dealing in something that is actively policed and regulated – like alcohol – it may not even be necessary to be “under the table”.

    Most rule-breaking is only investigated on a complaint basis, so as long as your customers love your product or service and you’re on good terms with your neighbors, the chance that The Man shows up uninvited is rather low. Not zero, but low enough for me…

    Also @JMG thanks for a reminder that we’re still on track :-).

  70. Once again I’m immensely grateful I came across your work (almost 10 years ago now!)

    To be honest, the thing I’ve put the most investment into in terms of dealing with the decline of industrial civilization is probably my mental/emotional/spirtual health. At least then, whatever happens I have a clear head when the proverbial hits the fan (as of course it is right now).

    I haven’t quite yet sorted out what my postindustrial/decline carrier will be, Although I’ve built up extensive knowledge of gardening/nature (without machine tools or sprays generally), and I’ve now almost 3 years of experience in self employment (Don’t think I could ever go back to ‘ordinary’ employment now lol!). I’ve also just started doing a permaculture course

    Here in NZ of course people are kicking and screaming about the rising cost of fuel (and everything!). Our government has (IMO) sensibly made all public transport across the country half price until the end of next month to encourage a transition towards less car use, although given that our cities are built around private vehicles will half hearted public transport at best, I can’t see this being easy. And we’ve also finally got a government who are getting (at least semi) serious about sorting our our long neglected railway network (whatever one might say of Jacinda Ardern’s govt, they’ve actually got more than a few things right).

    Other good news, my local library has the 12 volume set of ‘A study of history’. Reading through it is quite a mountain to climb! I’m of course seeing some very familiar themes prevalent in your writing

    Anyway, just a report from my end of the world 🙂

  71. I’ve been aware of all of this my entire life, and I’ve lived and do live, on the edge of it all, in extremely modest circumstances. However, I see something coming – better than the profligate spending of the Earth’s rersources. I see it in my art. But it isn’t warm and fuzzy. It’s hard. And it doesn’t matter who lives and who dies. It’s just life.

  72. A collection of books of hard times – these are all from my bookshelf, and some may be out of print. They are all autobiographies, except for the first, which is a classic novel:
    Who Has Seen the Wind, by WO Mitchell – the Depression as seen from a small town on the Canadian prairies. One of my favourites.
    Three English biographies:
    A Country Child by Alison Uttley, late 1800s, growing up on an English farm. This is autobiography written in novel form.
    A Child in the Forest, by Winifred Foley, child of a miner in the Forest of Dean during the Depression.
    A Ragged Schooling, by Robert Roberts, tells of his life growing up in a slum in Manchester during the early 1900s.
    New Zealand:
    A Fence Around the Cuckoo, by Ruth Park, the novelist’s Depression childhood.
    A Fortunate Life by AB Facey, a poverty-stricken bush upbringing, early 1900s.
    These two autobiographies are a celebration of choosing the simple life:
    Shantyboat, by Harlan Hubbard. A couple build a houseboat in Kentucky in 1944 and sail it down the Ohio and the Mississipi for 8 years.
    Payne Hollow, by Harlan Hubbard. Same couple builds a tiny cottage on the bank of the Ohio and live out the rest of their lives Thoreau-stye, with no electricity, using old technologies and having a marvellous time.

    Happy reading!

  73. @ JMG,

    It seems only one or two shale oil fields in the US are growing their production even with the current high prices. I am thinking the output will begin to decrease quite rapidly around 2027.
    What is your outlook on that point?

  74. Nice essay JMG – succinct summation of where we are. Love reading this finally – if this were my blog I would be putting out much the same.

    I have collapsed myself as much as possible, but mainly I have prepared for my offspring a place they can go should they need to my small farm. Right now, my son the park ranger is living there and plans to maintain it for the future. I have other kids who have switched to alternative income streams ready to go (weaving cloth using 2 big looms in the former dining room, making non-grape wines and distilling, machining small parts, etc.) I have outfitted the farm with most every tool that will be needed, along with teaching my offspring how to repair and maintain most everything on the farm. We recently took in several broken washing machines, repaired them and sold them.

    The building there is designed to be cooled with 110V fan OR 12VDC fans from solar panels. We just planted numerous shade trees for the future. We have planted figs, yams, blueberries, huckleberries, blue potatoes, pears and several local grape varieties all across our 40 acres. We are harvesting briar shoots, mushrooms and maypops routinely now as food sources, along with the local blackberry varieties. We have plenty of hogs to slay at will, along with deer and lots of local fish and gators on tap. We have a small grove of pawpaws, which used to be plentiful here, but their habitat was cleared – these are growing with zero inputs other than our gray water. We have castor beans planted along the fence lines that are growing rapidly, even in the current drought – and a screw press the extract the fuel later.

    My family is involved in most of this to one degree or another. Grandkids aren’t yet old enough, but we rope them into what we can – and they enjoy it all. The beauty of children is they take the world as it is, not as they think it ought to be, as they have no memory of “before”. I think this will be a saving grace for many of us going forward.

    My home in the burbs is tooled out as well – no tool I don’t possess according to my kids – LOL… We just put in window unit AC, and shut down the central air. Electric bill went from 300 to 150 the first month. I will put in a house fan next year if we are still here – I have no idea if we will be.

    We are as collapsed as we need to be so far, and my kids have developed their own networks and have long term friends interested in trying out for the farm in exchange for living space – we are working out those details as we see who is really ready to switch to simpler rather than dream about it. As your readers are well aware, many folks talk the talk, but far fewer even begin the walk…

    I hope others are doing the same. If anyone here wishes to know more, they can ask. I don’t mind sharing my experiences and expertise – but have no idea about what venue this could be done in. This is obviously not the right one…suggestions?

    I am hopeful about the coming changes, as I am very weary of excessive complexity and the abundant ignorance on display around all of us. I see the many in next generations minimizing, almost by instinct, in the face of uncertainty all around. That is miraculous in itself, and bodes well for us.

    Current Mood: Hopeful!

  75. Archdruid,

    The weekly dose of sun shine and. happiness is why I keep coming back to your blog.

    Ive done my best to collapse, and continue doing it in increments. I realized a few weeks ago that ill be the solely responsible for making my household resilient. My partner has only very specific interests in gardening, which is fine with me. I like building things.

    Along that line, I’ve largely given up trying to explain the long decline to people. Better to focus them on the immediate disasters, people respond to what they can see and 2020 was a god send for getting people organized. Nothing wakes people up quite as much as noticing how completely inaduquate our social safety nets are at dealing with a massive disaster. Fortune for all of us that the pandemic wasnt as leathal as feared.

    Finally, I have a meditation to share with all of you. From what I can discern there are multiple types of technics that man can develop, among them are pyrotechnic, geotechnic, hydrotechnic, and aerotechnic.

    Humanity has reached a transitionary stage of the pyrotechnic age, which began right around the time the metal age began. During this age we’ve learned a great deal about fire/electricity and its potentials. Every technology we’ve created in this age harnesses fire in some way, even what little we’ve learned about the other technics was expressly for the purpose of harnessing fire.

    What im starting to understand is the end of the industrial age is also the beginning of our mastery of pyrotechnic possibility. Much like a martial artist grown old, all the grand movements of youth get replaced with subtle movements and power.

    The three other elemental fields also still exist to be explored. Although Im unure which of the technics will dominate humanities attention in the near future, each of those fields have already shown us the outlines of their possibilities.

    You mentioned organic farming last week which is definitely a geotechnic development.

    Its weird that the end of the industrial age, which styles itself as the age of discovery is opening up a much more delightful age of discovery.



  76. Oh, mentally, I’m as prepared as one can be. The trouble is that in many respects my body (etheric and solid) is definitely not. Fortunately, for most of my life, my mind/body disconnect was, if not a comfortable phenomenon, a survivable one. I really doubt that this situation can continue unabated.

    I seriously doubt that in the coming fifteen years (as far out as I imagine my horizon to go), the inefficiency resulting my poor mind/body connection will be sustainable. Here’s hoping the personal collapse will not be a prolonged or especially painful one. Astrology, for those who care about such things, is quite clear about these topics. I recommend medical astrology to those flexible enough to learn it.

    I collect information the way dragons hoard gold. I also weigh it to determine its quality. I’ve been gathering JMG’s information-gold since the days of the ADR and peak oil (anyone remember “the Oil Drum?”) The auric content of Mr. Greer’s writings is high. Unlike dragons, I share what I can with those who are open fo the information I have gathered. I see this as my function during these times, to the extent that I have a function. One never knows how far the effects of one’s sharings may go. It can take a long cycle of years for even the smallest reflection of one of these waves to come back to one.

    So, what am I really saying? Don’t get greedy for results. Keep plugging away, doing the small stuff that seems useless. And don’t linger over the past, even just to regret those things you could have done and didn’t. Acknowledge them, and move on. Rinse, repeat as necessary.

  77. Johnny, flying a kite — what a great idea! It’s fun, it doesn’t contribute to the global economy, you can indeed make them yourself (I did when I was a kid), and it teaches the vitally important lesson that you need to cooperate with your environment, not just tell it what to do, in order to get where you want to be. Your lunch sounds tasty, btw, and yes, the theory of each virtue as the midpoint between two vices is very, very broadly applicable.

    Paul, I’ve had to say no to emailing people directly — there are only so many hours in a day and I can’t spare the time to carry on a whole series of personal discussions via email. I don’t have any particular suggestions about dealing with people, but then I have Aspergers syndrome and that means I’m not the person to ask about that topic!

    Christopher, remember that the people who are yelling at you are doing it because they know perfectly well you’re right. A lot of people have a very uneasy conscience when it comes to the absurd excess that counts for a “normal” life in today’s America!

    PeterEV, thanks for this. You can’t post images — only I can do that — but if you include the URL for a jpeg or png image I can edit your comment to display them, or post them myself:

    Justin, yep. The more insulation you add to a heat engine, the more work it does. The work done by the heat engine we call Earth’s atmosphere is weather; expect a lot more of it.

    Lainie, ha! I imagine shortwave radio broadcasters in long black capes and broadbrimmed hats, moving stealthily through the darkness…

    Stephen, thank you. That’s seriously funny — and yes, it’s a great metaphor for our times.

    Slithy, I’m seriously wondering if the Dutch government is about to be overthrown. It’s not just the latest farm laws — they’ve been astoundingly arrogant and high-handed for years now.

    Les, wow. I knew you were getting heavy rains down there but I hadn’t heard that they were that robust. Stay safe!

    Chris, I wonder how many people have begun to realize that the viable sustainable technologies are the ones people were using before the dawn of the fossil fuel era…

    Degringolade, oh, I think it would have been a narrow squeak if the 1970s sustainability movement had kept going, but it would have at least put a good solid brake on the descent.

    Les, no argument here! “Could” should be followed relentlessly by “sure, but it won’t.”

    Lathechuck, oh, it’ll have to be much more structured, with stations having set times to send and relay, but I think it could be done; you’ll no doubt know about the way message traffic was handled back between the wars, for example.

    Nelson, you’re most welcome and thank you. That’s got to be an odd feeling, having survived one decline only to end up facing another!

    Tryptie, there are many points at which one could time the beginning of the decline, and yes, 1970 is a good one. I used 2005 in this post because right now not many people are likely to argue that we’ve been in a decline since then…

    Twilight, muddling along is quite literally the most useful thing you can do right now. We don’t need shining examples; what we need are people muddling more or less successfully, and showing others how to do something similar.

    Volvo, they’re welcome to say that all they want. I know quite a few people, myself included, who will tell them where they can stick their syringes.

    Owen, good heavens, no. What’s happening now is perfectly normal, if you compare it to the terminal disintegration of other dying empires!

    BB, thanks for this! I think you were quite wise to focus on keeping a clear head, an open heart, and an awakened spirit — those will make up for a lot of other deficits.

    Cobo, agreed. Harsh as the transition is, there are better things waiting beyond it.

    Rose, that strikes me as a very sensible goal just now!

    Blueday Jo, thanks for this! Much appreciated.

    Tony C, shale wells have a very steep depletion curve and until recently we’ve been drilling them like there was no tomorrow. At this point there’s not much left to drill — and depletion never sleeps. It’s going to be a harsh downslope here in the US.

    Oilman2, I’ve heard from other people who are doing much the same thing, and others who are doing other, equally creative strategies, All that keeps me hopeful as well. As for a venue, have you looked into the Green Wizards forum?

    Varun, heh heh heh. Yeah, I try to shed a little ray of sunshine wherever I do. Unfortunately it’s usually the kind that causes sunburn and skin cancer. 😉 I like the four elemental technologies very much!

    Clarke, that strikes me as excellent advice — and yes, medical astrology is very solid stuff. One of the things I plan on working out in the years ahead is a detailed study of the interface between medical astrology and the cell salts.

  78. Hi JMG,

    I read something the other day that pointed out that 2021 saw the lowest amount of new oil discoveries for the last 75 years. I remember you writing somewhere that it should be clear to people that if something cannot be sustained then, at some point, it won’t be sustained. I suppose we can now welcome the world to “some point.” Thanks for this sobering essay.

  79. Curt #28

    Maybe my Campmaid charcoal setup will get use. No natural gas? — no oil? — no problem. I will just get out the Campmaid setup from the garage, set up the paraphernalia in the driveway, haul out one of my cast iron Dutch ovens or frying pans, sit on my haunches, light kindling, get the coals going, and get cookin’. I look forward to seeing how bread in a Dutch oven turns out, on a “campfire.” My husband thought I was nuts for buying outdoor-cooking items. At the advanced age of 70, I can only reasonably handle charcoal as an alternative fuel source.

    Oh, my beloved cast iron cookware, how I love thee. Now THOSE are heirlooms. I could be a salesperson for Lodge-brand cast iron cookware‼️

    Forgive me for shamelessly naming Lodge and Campmaid — it is a personality flaw I have regarding these two companies. Campmaid has a wonderful technology going, so I am loathe to not say their name. JMG: I fully understand if you don’t want to put this note through.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  80. Yeah fossil fuels doesn’t last forever but It could work as long as we have it. I believe we should use energy that always is there, like the wind, the ocean, things that doesn’t run out but that have a powerful use for society. And yes is over the industrial age, now is the technological age right?

  81. I remember when I felt we we had lost it and weren’t going to make an even remotely smooth transition. I was working in the environmental movement in London in the winter of 73/74 during the Arab oil embargo. we went into it feeling it would be hard, but we could do it. There was a lot of community spirit and a lot of people still remembered the rationing from WWII. and the blitz, etc. By the end of that winter the embargo had ended and life had gone back to business as usual, and it was obvious that we were going to follow that road to the bitter end. Any lingering doubts I might have had were dispelled when Thatcher and Reagan came to power in 1980.
    An interesting perspective on the overall world spiritual, environmental, etc situation was given in the Hopi prophecy. I did a workshop on it with one of the last authorized tellers in the mid 80s. He had trained with David Monongwe and Thomas Banyakya, probably the last two traditional Hopi spiritual elders. There was a lot to the prophecy, but the main thing that sticks with me was their description of lets call them the Hopi road and the western road starting from a point and going in a V at a given angle. Early enough in the process it was still possible to step from one road to the other, but the further they went the further apart they became. The Hopi felt that then in the mid 80s was the last point when it would even be possible to step from one to the other. They didn’t want us giving out some garbled version of what they had studied for years but I don’t think I am breaking any promises by relating this now

  82. I love your work 🙂

    Wouldn’t it be nice though, while there’s a 5mm wide gap still open, to consider whether we could create some sort of currency to make the ease into normal a better ride so that less people have to starve or suffer indignity there as well as here? One that could ease the chaos, impede the looters? A no-growth-whatsoever currency that is not there to provide wealth-building but instead to allow the easiest way to shared common-wealth-building? One that doesn’t rely on traditional capitalist financial ideas to operate, like Bitcoin, but which is given to you for free when you become part of it, so that you are “rich” in your community automatically, which translates into being able to survive and eat, while learning what role you could possibly play in this new life of the hands?

    How sexy we’re all going to be in it, attuned to the world around us, surrounded by our own wares and the wares of those we know, our muscles bulging from our manual labour 🙂

  83. PS: Just been thinking about the amazing power and strengthening that comes from reading people talking about the whole, the source and centre of the system. Just before I read yours I read this beautiful piece:

    After both, I’m feeling nourished and calmed. Even though both are talking about this scary subject, it’s far better to read and be nourished than to go into the world and its million shards of meaningless bytes, that pretend everything’s fine cos it doesn’t seem able, to admit, or see, where it springs from.

    This is how our brains work, isn’t it, if Iain Macgilchrist is right about the function of our brains being that the right hemisphere is MEANT to be the ultimate determiner, with its focus on integrating all the bits into the whole. Meanwhile the left hemisphere, with its amazing ability to zoom in and focus with laserlike accuracy and then GIVE UP WHAT IT’S FOUND to the right hemisphere, instead has got enamoured of its own hubris and believes itself to see all (this is from a desert island book The Master and His Emissary, highly recommended).

    I would rather soberly face it and be miserable than become the detritus of the Stepford Society. I can’t bear the smell of it.

    Anyway, just want to say again how grateful I am for those thinkers and writers of guts out there who are keeping me (not quite) sane. Thanks, John

  84. Something that jump out out at me from this part:
    “fewer middle-class comforts and a lot more plain hard muscular labor than most Americans these days are willing to consider.”

    For people that have largely sedentary jobs, but also want to be active and stay in shape, you sort of have two jobs. Your “primary” job “working”, and you second (optional)job of “working out”. Both phrases even contain the word “working”

    Granted, the second job is optional and self-imposed. And involves much shorter hours. But in this case, one has decided it is necessary.

    “Burning calories” essentially means deliberately “wasting” energy. And if your exercise involves a machine like a treadmill, then you are using even more energy from fossil fuels on top of that.

    As software engineer, I cant help but ask the question: Wouldn’t it be nice if you didn’t have to separate “working” and “working out”? And then you skip the second activity which boils down to “I’m going to deliberately spend energy”

    (For sure, manual labor is no picnic – one might end up getting far more exercise than they wanted, each day by necessity. I’m just exploring the idea. Maybe I should look into farming)

  85. Joe Biden isn’t even in charge. Yet he gets saddled with the humiliation of being made a puppet for the real powers that be. In order to deflect the blame from themselves.

    Who better than a senile old man to guffaw at. Who doesn’t even know what is happening?

  86. Regarding the Titanic, I have heard that the ship’s captain was aware of the radio reports of icebergs in the area the ship was steaming through, but that these were ignored because the Titanic was attempting to break the Southampton-New York speed record.

    Antoinetta III

  87. “solar thermal is a whole different business than solar photovoltaic. Solar dehydrating, solar water heating, solar space heating, solar greenhouses — all these are proven technologies that can be maintained on a very simple technological basis and provide serious benefits to human beings, as you’re in the process of proving. It’s the fetishistic notion that everything has to be electrified or motorized that takes modern society past what sunlight can do.”

    There is so much potential for hot areas around the world to harness the heat available. In the future. Tropical and Sub-Tropical peoples may end up benefiting.

  88. @pygmycory

    I was legally blind too before I had an operation, in 2014. I think it was caused by my youth/adolescent lifestyle..-anyways, I feel for you and yes, do buy some reserve spectacles!

    Maybe as I used to do, buy some cheap spectacles too that do not fit 100% to your eyesight, but will do if necessary.

    A Qi Gong Master aged ~60 told me he halved his short sightedness by 50% when he was over 30, doing “eye-Qi Gong”.

    I have mentioned it before, Mirsakarim Norbekov is a doctor who wrote books claiming to provide exercises to improve one’s eyesight. At least in his German Amazon reviews (he lives in Germany), someone posted his “before/after” eyesight control sheets from the doctor, saying these exercises did indeed help.

    I am past the point of trying these things and unfortunately cannot confirm anything…but maybe such exercise could be of use to you all the same!

    I wish you the very best!


  89. Good stuff as usual.

    I’ve long ago begun the “collapse now” process. Been teaching Natural Building, what other societies simply call “Building” for about 20 years. I live in a tiny cob cottage with few modern amenities. Been a Rocket Stove researcher and builder for that time as well, making Rocket Mass Heaters practical and consistant and disseminating the info for free to anyone willing to recieve. Permaculture and restorative agriculture have been my intense study along the way, plus other past times. Blacksmithing, making my own lime putty (and charcoal for the forge) from oyster shells and many more skills that I’ve acquired along the way.
    After some badly needed down time, I’m seeing that my skillsets will become increasingly useful to others. While I’ve never been happy traveling around, this might become necessary in the next handful of years (if possible) as I’m being pulled on from many directions to go out and teach my thing(s).

    On this, I’m conflicted. Go to the greatest need or stay local and organize there? Dunno.

    I have always appreciated your work, John. Thanks for everything you do.

  90. Hi, again, John.

    Re: ‘Ireland’s reputation as the world’s great fount of colorful nonsense is at risk’. Actually, it was (I write somewhat shamefully) an Irish minister in the EU who came up with the plan and shoved it through the EU.

    To tell you the truth, I’m really not sure how to describe Ireland’s reputation. However an excellent term was used by some economist a few years ago, ‘leprachaun economics.’ That about sums up the situation today.

    I suspect the Long Descent, which I really loved and learnt a lot from when I read it, is becoming, slowly, more and more obvious to a tiny minority. So what is really new?


  91. Hi JMG, I hope you are still able to get in touch with Nate Hagens. He is currently doing a wonderful podcast, ‘The Great Simplification’ –

    He is starting to refine the core message of decline in such a way that it may actually be palatable to those who are not familiar with it. It only took him almost 20 years to do so but it was time well spent.

  92. Dear John,

    My main concern is how much decades we have so far until we cannot use cars? Also computers.
    I’m asking because currently I live in the city, our family’s farm is way up north.

    Other than that, I’m actually looking forward into a more natural lifestyle! I’ll probably be one of the first few self-proclaimed Arab neo-hippies lol, I just hope the majority here don’t go straight back into medieval and bronze age “mentality” because that is already happening though cloaked in hip traditionalist and survivalist clothes, the intellectual aspect is way more important, especially in already extremely conservative cultures like those in Western Asia, so it’s something I’m concerned about as well.

    So far I’ve been gradually working the retrofit lifestyle you suggested, and it’s always a good exercise to use less energy, it’s actually liberating!

  93. Hi JMG,

    Interesting, relevant, twist in the slow disintegration of the UK government being reported by the Grauniad this morning as Boris Johnson enacts a Trumpesque last stand:

    ‘Anti-green MP Steve Baker considering running for PM if Boris Johnson goes…

    Other politicians are aghast at the idea that a climate change culture war could become part of any leadership election.’

    This could be a proper fracture from top to bottom. Watch out Mr Biden.

  94. Someone suggested that the sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 marked the end of an era, because that was the last time the victims were listed on memorials in social class order rather than alphabetically. I can’t locate the plaque he quoted, but a plaque dedicated to the men of Belfast who died is so listed:

    “On the sides of the plinth are inscribed the names of 22 men from Belfast who died in the disaster. They are listed in order of shipboard rank rather than alphabetical order, as was the practice at the time; thus Thomas Andrews, as a managing director of Harland and Wolff, is listed first, while the lowest-ranking crew members occupy the tail end of the list”,_Belfast

  95. @ Toomas – If I may suggest you consider donating your radio book collection to a dedicated radio club? That kind of in-depth, specialised collection would be best in the hands of a club that properly understands the treasure that they’ve got, rather than scattered. Also, the club would hopefully outlive any one individual and keep the collection together longer.

    Our textile arts club was the grateful recipient of such a collection which we now operate as a lending library for members. It is irreplaceable.

  96. “As for who’s going to do well over the next decade, anybody who can provide a necessary service to ordinary people at a reasonable price will be fine”

    Just to report that the idea I floated here late in 2020 of “reverse engineering”* a lodge practice for supplying extremely reasonably priced acupuncture to “lodge” members is working very well. My member prices are low and there is apparently no one who finds them unaffordable, keeping me busy, and paying my modest expenses, which recently became smaller, as I have been lucky enough to make my last mortgage payment.

    I am happy with how it is going.

    * by “reverse engineering” I mean that I am the practice, and I am endeavouring to slowly create a “lodge” to whose members I am contracted, and to slowly grow the “lodge” into a member-run alternative healthcare coop.

  97. I second the recommendation of Timothy Egan’s The Worst Hard Time. A great book, providing a clear-eyed view not only of collapse, but of the human condition. Start it today! The dishes can wait (and they will).

  98. Some has asked about work recommendations for declines. There’s a book ‘Durable Trades’ by Rory Groves which addresses essentially that question.

    He was inspired to do this after it occurred to him that his software job was one he could not pass on to his children – even if he could bring them into the office, whatever he taught them would be obsolete by the time they were old enough to work – and which physically took him away from them each day. So he and his wife moved to the country and started farming – and writing, of course.

    His book opens with some Christian stuff (rather apocalyptic, and non-gay/etc-friendly) which may attract some readers and annoy others, but which is essentially irrelevant to the rest of the text and can be skipped over and ignored.

    There’s a good review of it here:

  99. @Migrant Worker:

    “elegantly described as ‘heating vs eating’”

    Oh my, I’m sorry that I chortled at this, it is a funny phrase in a very dark sort of way.

    I’m interested in upcoming posts about the short-to-medium term. In particular I’m interested in thoughts about the electrical grid. As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m pretty sold on getting a wood stove that doesn’t rely on electricity, but at the same, I think that it’s jumping the gun a bit to believe that the grid will vanish by the this time next year or whatever. But I’m interested to hear other opinions.

  100. @Murmuration:

    “The Worst Hard Time”

    Second this recommendation, this is the very book I was referencing in a previous reply, to the young fellow who was asking “isn’t it kinda weird to go half white collar professional, half blue collar trade”, and I said I had read this book about a guy who was a part time dentist, part time… shoemaker? (I don’t remember.)

    Anyway it’s a great book, literally inspired part of my honeymoon, back in the day, we traveled through the Oklahoma panhandle because I wanted to see if you could spot any remnants of what the Dust Bowl must have been like.

  101. The most direct of your essays on the topic of collapse I can recall. Interestingly the phrasing “collapse now and avoid the rush” takes on a much darker meaning given the wave of sudden, unexpected deaths occurring the last few months. I know the wording was coined over a dozen years ago, and it seems like premonition now.

    Another reflection I had was on the use of the word “normal” throughout covid. I can’t recall another disease where when was was healed of it, the word normal was used by doctors and other official types. Cancer uses the term fight, war, or battle. Diabetes uses the term manage. Joint or back surgeries uses the term function, or pain relief. But with covid, it was always: do all these thing we tell you to do and you can return to normal. I always thought it an interesting choice of wording given the bigger picture. People will do a lot to not lose what they have or to get it back. So perhaps the cheap magicians of the deep state and media knew that.

  102. @Longsword #42:

    Thanks for that comment, I appreciated that. Agree on all counts.


    “We’re talking about a bunch of clueless old rich men who were faux-radicals back in their teens and are trying to get the world they thought they were promised.”

    Yeah. Here’s another example of that, which will probably not be obvious to most readers. Many will not even agree with me about viewing this as optimistic in any fashion. But this is how I see it. I’ll tell you when I knew our government (in Canada) was beaten, the jig was up on the “Great Reset”. It has nothing to do with the Freedom Convoy or other international stories.

    To make a long story short, a couple of years ago the government banned a lot of guns, with a deadline of April 2022 for turning them in or destroying them. Well, April of this year rolled around, and lo, they extended the deadline by 18 months.

    It’s not that they’ve given up, exactly. Oh yes, they still want all the guns, as per the Great Reset / UN fantasy. And gun enthusiasts are still rightfully irked, which is why I say some people wont agree with me that there’s anything particularly encouraging here.

    But the point is, it’s not going to work. They passed an unrealistic motion, set an arbitrary deadline – and then developed no plan on how to enforce it, how to make it happen, and then when the deadline rolled around, they kicked it down the road nearly two more years, hoping that somehow this time people will get with the program. Well, they aren’t going to.

    This story isn’t about guns, which I know is a trigger topic in the culture wars, so leave that aside. It’s about the fact that nothing they’re doing is going to work, and I could see this the minute they extended the deadline, spluttering, “Uhhhhh yeahhh, uhhhh, we uhhh, didn’t really come up with a workable plan for this, so uhhh, we’re just going to delay it a bit and hope it works this time.”

  103. @Rose:

    I don’t know if you know this, but Tolkien said in his letters that “I am a hobbit, in all but size.” There are mighty worse ambitions!

  104. Hi John Michael,

    Good question, and one to which I have no easy answer. Much of the built environment is heavily regulated. I have an odd hunch that as depopulation bites ever so slowly, opportunities will arise. I can already sense a few of them growing in possibility.

    Speaking of solar thermal technologies, I recently completed a large and solid greenhouse. Poly tunnels and hoop houses are fine creations and work well, but the plastic rips and tears. Planted it out last weekend too, or maybe it was the weekend before that. Solar thermal works well, and the greenhouse provides an advantage of a few climate zones. I recommend them. Some of the old hill station gardens around these parts used to heat them and I’ve seen furnaces in those old constructions. Probably beyond my budget!

    Incidentally, you touched upon a subject I too have to navigate. People send me emails directly, rather than posting comments on the blog. I tend to prioritise my time in responding to comments on the blog as people are having a public conversation with me, and I respect that. The ratio of lurkers to commenters is astounding. Dunno, just something I’ve been thinking about for a long time.



  105. Dear JMG:

    This may be slightly off-topic, but i saw Boris Johnson is resigning as Prime Minister. If i was a cynic, i would say the scandals that got him are the revenge of the elites for Brexit.

    Whoever becomes the new Prime Minister had better be ready for a wild ride down for some time!

    Order popcorn now!


  106. Last week, during one of my rare trips to my local grocery store, I saw the dairy section was nearly bare. This is a rather large section at this grocery store, and most of the items were completely gone. Many of the other sections were clearly being restocked in a manner that makes the empty space less noticeable. I could sense the mood of the other shoppers was mostly somber, with a lot of faces looking quite discontent and depressed.

    But I don’t feel that way, anymore. I am concerned about a number of things, but since unplugging from television a few years ago, and now restricting my use of the Internet to independent news and some education material (your blogs seem to be both!), I’ve noticed that my ability to think clearly and make use of my imagination has undergone a great recovery. That’s no coincidence, of course. I wonder what will happen when television becomes an unaffordable luxury for the average American? I can’t imagine that’s more than a few decades down the road.

    I can remember the stories my grandparents would tell me about the Great Depression. They especially emphasized gardening and having a good pair of walking shoes. On a related note, my paternal grandfather (deceased for some years now) was not a man that I was particularly close to. Yet, lately, I’ve felt his presence as I’ve more or less started doing many of the things he did during his life. Practical things, probably that he picked up during the Great Depression and war years, and then did for the rest of his life. I’m not sure what to make of that one.

  107. If the bad times are coming, let ’em come
    Let the death drum break the slump
    Before the once young braves succumb
    The fickle flicker of desire expires
    If the bad times are coming let ’em come, let ’em come
    – Let Em Come, Scroobius pip, also my mood.

    Harder music than I tend to go for, but the current phase of decline has my feathers ruffled.

    Let me say, everybody gets knocked out by the punch they didn’t block. I mean what parts of decline are spilt mild and what parts are a real danger, its not always obvious. Everybody, and I mean about everybody, got minds filltup with cliches of disaster and poverty, and you got to fall and taste pavement to know whats just you treating some cliche fiction as a script your living by. Even with a mouthful of mud from getting caught in a collapse will fool more people than it will inform, the lies we tell ourselves, blinding.

    I took to collapse now before the phrase entered the Greerosphere dialect. But it only teaches so much about what coming because being collapsed now ain’t the same as it was a few years ago, the rules of the hustle are always in flux.

    I’ll spout examples what I am thinking of.

    People be worried about regulations. Here’s the thing, most regulators can get fracked, be slick, read the law, READ THE ACTUAL LAWS and policies, and many regulations have loop holes. An ally of mine had the health inspector in a huff, but after reading up, my friend is in the right. If that weren’t the case, the department is poorly funded and busy, just don’t deal with pidgins.

    People, this one real grinding my gears, want to save every precious thing that might go to the dump, because wastefulness. What part of catabolism don’t you understand?! Divine patience help me, for how much sensible stuff is hobbled by hoarders who ‘don’t want to waste.’ Those aren’t fine plaster figures, those are a source of gypsum; those aren’t valuable books, they are carbon for compost, and they smell of rat markins already, historians in a billion years crying about the lack of 20th century romance novels can bite shale; Those special tools, are carbon steel suitable for forging maybe, Unless it got too much moly in the metal then its junk for my lifetime; Those boards, we ain’t building with then, but hard wood mulch for that garden will be nice. Save some stuff sure, but frankly most the little treasures are, among those who were collapsed when society fracked them, just pissy pile of garbage stinking up the rafters of the lower class all around. Digest it or be rid of it. Save the hard wood, the glass, the brass, sheet metal, the carbon steel, and the urbanite chunks. Save the good fabric and the old fashion tools, if they work on things that are still retentive; through out the cheap plastic cloths they stink and are brittle after those years, you were born better dressed.

    People themselves, I make a point to work with people younger than me as much as I can, the younger the better, because 401k doesn’t exist any more. Treat people like you will become old and in need of a place to park your rocking chair! Issue though, I love my young friends, but they don’t have the communication skills of a rabid goose. Most folks that want to help are, without considerable reeducation of wildly negative value in a work setting. If only they were useless, what and improvement! It’s ok, some do improve, and can become great, but what toil it is to weed andd cultivate the souls of humans; many times over the barren wastes of the young and up coming. That’s the stuff that SCARES me, the productes of upbringing reaching adulthood today are often dang near invalid. I ain’t nothing compared to silent generations elders of my youth, but I wonder what precentage of zoomers, are fatally hobbled; I gotta go to work, but the stories I know of feeble youngones. It is weepful

  108. Here is a good example of the state of the empire at the beginning of the long decline. I have an excellent book titled something like ” energy use in Tokugawa Era Japan.” I have it packed away in a box somewhere so I thought I would try and find it’s exact title before mentioning in here in the comments section.
    To set the stage, it is a historical account of the ways in which the Japanese managed to achieve a high level of culture and sophistication without any imports of energy, colonies or slaves during the historical period just before Japan was opened to the west. I like it because it not only gives the reader a good account of ways a well organized society can minimize resource and energy use but also the level of societal control, discipline and top down ( from the shogun) control that is needed to achieve this efficiency.
    But when I typed various permutations of this title in to Amazons book section I kept getting back results for power convertors to use when traveling to Japan or various other electronic gadgets, but no books. I keep trying various version of the title while furiously clicking on the ” books” category but only got back results for gadgets and electronic junk. So I guess we should not expect our ” Tech” masters to help us on the road to lowering energy use, as if we did not know that already.

  109. @Oilman:

    “I hope others are doing the same. If anyone here wishes to know more, they can ask. I don’t mind sharing my experiences and expertise – but have no idea about what venue this could be done in. This is obviously not the right one…suggestions?”

    Well, I’m trying to do something not-dissimilar, and yes, you touch on a ton of things that I’d love to discuss. Maybe you could consider opening a Telegram or Signal chat group?

  110. Not the WSJ but still pretty mainstream. I think I hope more “normal” people are waking up and some starting to think about and work on alternatives. We don’t want gov and corps going with us anyway so fine if they continue on the road they’re on. Radio signals in the dark…..

    “So politically, at the level of corporations, at the official level, things are going pretty much in the wrong direction. Culturally, below the line, my bet is that a lot of things are happening in the good direction. The human revolution is already happening—it’s just that we don’t see it. And maybe it’s good that we don’t see it yet, until the very moment where it makes a lot of things shift.”

  111. The New York Times, of all outlets, actually published the following today:

    Some excerpts for those on the other side of the paywall:

    “… people are enervated not just by the Sisyphean pointlessness of their individual labors but also by the fact that they’re working in and for a society in which, increasingly, they have zero faith or investment.”

    “… An increasingly popular retirement plan is figuring civilization will collapse before you have to worry about it. I’m not sure anyone’s composed a more eloquent epitaph for the planet than the stand-up comedian Kath Barbadoro, who tweeted: “It’s pretty funny that the world is ending and we all just have to keep going to our little jobs lol.”

    Collapse now, yes, but the rush is well and truly on. Thanks to you JMG for giving some of a heads up years ago – my own preparations have been less than I had hoped, but more than almost anyone else I know seems to have done.

  112. Apteryx #37 – “I would have the skills to be a junior-level herbalist, surely useful in any resource-limited society not being run by witch-burners. But in today’s society, if I tried to practice as an herbalist I would expect to get sued and fined out of existence.”

    I just want to let you know that while you are absolutely correct about an over-abundance of regulations, it is also the case that there are a lot of ordinary people who are more interested in results, than in permissions.

    Staying low profile, being flexible, while getting a good (local, grapevine-style) reputation can go a long way, even in current conditions.

    I myself am fully licenced to practice acupuncture, but my patients often mention this person and that person who fixed them up something herbal which worked a treat. None of the people mentioned are on any list anywhere, or advertise. Yet their custom is solid. And even more so now, when “official” medical care basically entails spending long times in waiting rooms or long periods on waiting lists with little to show for it.

  113. @twilight “As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to understand that just because you can see the train coming doesn’t mean you can get out of the way. ”

    thx for this — I feel the same!

    Handling the unpredictability of the long descent has been my greatest challenge. I sometimes feel like I am in a lucid dream 🙂

    @jmg — as always, thanks for the excellent essay — which attracts an excellent commentariat (win/win!)


  114. Great post JMG.

    I’m less concerned about the coming material hardship than I am about Americans’ “revolutionary softness” creating a refusal to look reality in the face.

    The “woke” trying to upend all institutions, rules, and decorum that served society in the past seems much more likely to crash American civilization than anything else.

    There was a recent news article where “Woke” coffee shop owners (who inherited the building and starting capital from their parents) tried to out-woke the rest of the cafe’s in Philadelphia, only to have their workers demand even more and shutter the whole business with their demands that it be “fully redistributed” into the hands of the workers.

    This seems symbolic of what’s happening to the whole of the country. Rather than focusing on “doing a better job” so many people in society just want to tear down anything “above them” out of spite, even if it brings ruin crashing down onto their heads. Any material shortages just exacerbate the dynamic, as they (perhaps rightly) blame the greed of the rich and (wrongly) think that blowing up society is the answer.

    I’m planning on taking my family and jumping ship to other countries that are more culturally conservative and reality-adjusted than the US. Even if they do make up the “corporate-bureaucratic technostructure,” I think using the tools at hand (technology and corporate structures) in a proud, communitarian, nationalistic culture to ride out the material downturn makes more sense than one in which its citizens are trying to dynamite the very history and foundations that helped it survive. This is my version of the Benedict Option: go to a society that is on the up-and-up, rather than one trying to push itself further into destruction. Bring up my kids in a society that values being hard-nosed, reverent, and intrepid, not dissolute and decadent.

    The techno-corporate realm still seems like one of the best places to build up savings and capital in the short term. Then divert that capital to the kind of investments you talk about for “collapsing early.” Create my own version of a “wealth pump” that moves capital from the techno-corporate world to the ecotechnic world.

  115. Hi JMG,

    Thoughts on the Russian turn inward with respect to post-industrial collapse? Seems to me that they will be in a unique position due to their oil and natural gas resources. Obviously the rate and severity of collapse will vary across the globe. Some of us will collapse sooner and harder than others.

  116. Thanks for the kite support, JMG!

    A couple other bonuses are that the best spot near us is down by the lake, which just gives us another reason to go to the park, the kids having fun riding their scooters ahead of us on the way down there. I haven’t really engaged with people too much about the kite, but you can see people watching it and entertained when it catches the wind, or loses it and crashes to the earth. So there is a slight extra positive there. Most of the people at the park here are immigrant families and it’s not always easy to connect with them, so I’ll take what I can get. Oh, one other bonus – now I perk up a bit on a windy day. It’s similar to the way rain, or even just dark clouds makes me happy because of gardening.

    I’ve only seen one other kite flyer out with his son, but was surprised to learn later from my girlfriend that he was apparently yelling at his boy constantly, totally stressed out by how things we going for him. I wouldn’t have guessed it since he seemed to be flying just fine. Personally I just think the whole thing is hilarious. It’s funny when you can’t get it to work, it’s funny when it crashes, and it’s even funny to me when it gets caught in a tree (as both our kites did that day). The rest of the time, which is most of the time, it’s either interesting or very satisfying.

    My dad told me he built them as a kid too so we have a plan to try one together. I’m going to see also if I can duplicate the kite I have (more or less) using my own materials. We’ll see!

    Great to hear that that virtue insight is widely applicable! One I’m sure I’ll be mulling over for the rest of my days.


  117. @ Rod (#49)

    A friend of a friend of mine used to work for Kmart and one of his main jobs was destroying products. Somebody would return a watch, say, and they would be stuck with this watch with no instruction manual (or some such thing). It cost too much to get a new manual sent out so they would have it smashed as it was unsellable. He eventually lost the job because he was caught taking something from the to-be-destroyed pile. Really amazing all around.

    As an aside the Kmart nearest to us was the first department store I ever went to after coming to Canada (moving from Trinidad), so it was a personal symbol of sorts for the enormous comparative wealth of this society. As a teenager, I went and sat nearby and watched as it was demolished. I wasn’t really sure why it fascinated me so, but I think back on that day as symbolic too of the way all this wastefulness will go ultimately.


  118. Martin van Creveld’s Blog Article “Will Russia Win?” of June 30ths is interesting, it is the view of a capable military historian, retired uni professor of Israel, a pro Western anti Woke believer in Progress.

    In his Article “And How about Progress?” from July 7th however, he expresses doubt of the concept of progress, for the first time in his blog as I can say.

    Though one salient exception I think in his belief in progress has been since years was always his doubt that
    a computer is capable of any form of consciousness, and that this mystery might never be solved even with the best science.

    Conservative commentator Christian Ortner in Austria, formerly “neo-liberal” through the 2000s, has expressed that this coming crisis will not be our “ordinary” crisis we were used to since the last great War.

    I think some concepts are starting to trickle through, to all those commentators who may believe in progress but are nevertheless to this day motivated by curiosity about this world, not mere career pursuit.

  119. Another signpost showing how especially clueless the higher education industrial complex is popped up this week in the college sports world. Apparently in search of bigger TV revenues, big time college football ( at the behest of the their cable tv masters) have been consolidating the multiple division one college sports leagues in to just two “important” ones to improve TV revenues to those “chosen programs.” This week it was announced that UCLA and USC ( in the large LA tv market) will depart the Pac 12 for the Big 10 ( now made up of 16 schools). This will require all of their sports teams including the non-revenue sports like tennis or wrestling to travel by plane to distant locations as far as New Jersey for any league sports meet. At one time college leagues were clustered in a way that teams could travel by train or bus for a few hours for matches. Apparently the clueless folk running these institutions do not comprehend how quickly both TV revenues and air travel cost will go in opposite directions just adding another millstone dragging down the higher education racket.

  120. Clay Dennis @ 112, everything I have so far read, which is mostly some historical novels, including Japanese novels in translation, suggests to me that Tokugawa Ieyasu may have been, arguably, the greatest statesman who ever lived.

  121. Half of humanity is good. The other half are arseholes. I don’t expect much from people so am never disappointed. Everyone is a mix of both good and arsehole — the difference between individuals is in the proportions. Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, I felt I was 1% arsehole and 99% good. Now I am 49% arsehole and 51% good. I have to watch that extra 2% lest I become primarily arsehole.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  122. Just Me @ 114, way back in the forgotten 60s, an advertising exec wrote a book titled Up the Organization. It was organized in short chapters, such as Christmas Party, How not to do the Annual. One chapter was about social change. Say you find a way to eliminate pollution–a major concern at the time. What most folks do is hold a big, splashy press conference to announce the world changing discovery, and that puts everyone who has a stake in not eliminating pollution on notice that they better get cracking. Successful activists, the author suggests, simply begin eliminating pollution state by state without courting publicity.

  123. @Bofur

    Regarding getting a wood stove. I am a Michigan resident in my early 50’s and I definitely do not expect the electrical grid to 100% disappear in my lifetime (barring some black swan even like an asteroid strike of course). I figure that electricity will absolutely get more expensive and as the infrastructure weakens we will see longer blackouts, more frequent brownouts, etc but as far as the electrical grid disappearing? Very unlikely in my lifetime.

    So here is what my heating looks like. I have a 500 gallon propane tank that I use in combination with electricity from the utility company with my furnace to heat my house. I refill that tank maybe once every 18 months.

    Our power goes out for maybe 2 or 3 weeks a year where I live. When that happens I have a non-electric indoor space heater that plugs into the propane that I use to heat my house. As long as that 500 gallon tank starts off full and I severely rationed its use (just keep it warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing) I could probably get through a couple winters using just the little space heater. Thats with NOT using the propane for cooking, heating water or anything else.

    I have one of those DIY 55 gallon drum wood stoves in a work room outside that I use in the winter. In a longer term emergency I could move that into my house to use for heating. I have a wood lot on my property that would provide enough wood for heating for years.

    That is my plan at least. Continue to use propane and electricity, if that becomes a problem then switch to just limited use rationed propane and then if worse comes I will fall back to the wood stove and wood lot.

  124. clay dennis #112 Could the book be “Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan” by Azby Brown? If so, it’s readily available from numerous places 🙂

  125. @ Ray Wharton – “but I wonder what precentage of zoomers, are fatally hobbled; I gotta go to work, but the stories I know of feeble youngones. It is weepful”

    I am sad to say that I know of too many examples of this kind, young adult mostly sons, and some daughters, who will not emerge from their bedrooms, have no friends, have no skills, and have nothing but fear of the world outside. Their mothers despair, their fathers rage.

    With this background, hearing from a friend that her 17-year-old son had given up on the idea of finishing his secondary school education, and had trained himself, over the course of a winter, to make lobster pots, for which he began to find buyers, and then repeat buyers, over the following year, then quickly got himself employed at the local net factory (the last remaining local manufacturing industry), following which he managed to acquire a steady girlfriend, and purchase a car – all before his 18th birthday, struck me as the story of a minor miracle.

    This lad already belongs to the future we face, while too many of his contemporaries are stuck in a past that no longer exists, with no knowledge of how to transition.

  126. @Cugel #109 I would say what got BoJo, was tying himself unconditionally to a failing Empire in the United States. His people got hurt and he got his just desserts. Expect more of this as this all continues to unwind in the years ahead.

  127. Well, I see the heads have started to roll from the folly of the western policy vis a vis Russia/Ukraine, starting with a very ugly one with a clown haircut. There will be more, quite a few I should think.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if, after a trouncing in Nov, Biden steps down for “health reasons”, giving the Democrats two years to try to come up with something. Then again it wouldn’t surprise me if this doesn’t happen. I suspect they are done as a national power, and the swing states have already swung. they might do better to focus on states and localities where they actually have a good chance of staying in power.
    I think that is now the pretty much accepted version that the Titanic’s captain didn’t slow down or change course because he was trying to break the speed record. Our local highway to the next town is lined with crosses for people who were obviously following the same policy.

  128. Dear JMG,
    Have been reading about peak oil since a few years. Am living in the small capital (1 million inhabitants) of an EU-country in the north-west of Europe. My dwelling is an apartment located in a complex of 40 apartments in the inner city. Most of the inhabitants know each other, some even share a car or do other things together, like bringing in weekly packages of fresh farmers products. My small apartment is relatively cheap to heat. I am excellently served by public transport (buses, tram, and subway hub) no need to have a car. However, in the residential outskirts of the same city my ageing parents live in a freestanding house with a nice and reasonably sized garden. Their place is easy to reach by public transport as well. Would it be a good idea to keep the house after they have passed away? Rent it out for some years and may be live there myself in future and grow vegetables in the garden? Or better to stay living in an inner city apartment?
    My parents also own a small holiday home in southern Europe with a garden, located in the countryside among farmers, around 9 hours drive by car. It can be reached by train and then may be a motorbike/bike/electric bike as well though it would take a day to get there. Would it be a good idea to keep this place also as an option to live permanently or not? Advice is appreciated.

  129. @ JMG – Perhaps the best tool I’ve found for keeping myself a little bit level-headed about the enormity of the crises battering industrial civilization right now, is the notion that I don’t have to do everything, everywhere, all at once. For example; sure, maybe my garden isn’t going to provide the hundreds of thousands of calories my family would need to survive a full year, eating from just it alone. But it doesn’t necessarily need to. I met multiple people in Russia, who told me, that even during the darkest, hungriest days of the collapse of the Soviet Union, a garden plot at the family dacha, or a friend’s family’s dacha, meant the difference between having enough to eat, and starving.
    In an even more extreme case, I met a woman who survived the Leningrad siege, who told her father managed to sneak a barrel of cooking oil into their apartment before the Germans bombed the food warehouses on the outskirts of the city. She said everyone in the family got a spoonful of oil every day, and they all lived. Granted, I didn’t get a chance to ask what over factors may have led to their survival, as the rest of the city literally canalized itself, but that story stuck with me, so I thought I’d share it with you and the commentariat. Is there a moral to the story? I don’t know. Maybe, that even the most minor preparations can make an unexpected, or even expected, difference?

  130. @Kfish #98:

    You make good points.

    A nation typically has a single national organization for amateur radio, supplying guidance and support to clubs at the level of the individual city or individual rural municipality. Home pages for the respective organizations in the USA, UK, and my own country (Estonia) are at,, and I will have to try to see if I can persuade Estonia’s organization to take the radio-engineering part of the collection after my death, with a view to later building on it. In our particular case, it might be feasible to keep the collection in storage at the national broadcasting museum in Türi (, duly catalogued in the Estonian all-campuses union catalogue ESTER, and duly available for consultation by the public through our postal-system-based interlibrary loan system. It might be interesting some day to see whether efforts along these same lines have been made, or are being made, at the corresponding USA and UK organizations, or again at national amateur radio organizations in such small, Estonia-scale, countries as Finland and Latvia.


    Toomas = Tom

    PS: It is additionally worth remarking on the utility of collecting old, solid, authoritative books on a discipline not too far removed from radio, namely electrical power engineering. I have the second edition (1956) of Myril Reed’s _Alternating-Current Circuit Theory_, and what I think is the penultimate (1908) edition of the Steinmetz “Bible”, _Alternating Current Phenomena_. Others will be able to do better. The idea is not to collect low-grade modern textbooks, but either high-quality M.I.T.-level modern stuff or else old masters. Steinmetz, in particular, ranks as an old master, being the person who worked out the complex-numbers formalism now standard in electrical power engineering. We need the kind of collections that will help people in the remote future, who have to design small-scale (megawatt or ten-megawatt) local power distribution systems, working from first principles, in conditions of government breakdown.

  131. Johnny, oddly enough, ‘go fly a kite’ is sometimes used as a synonym for ‘go take a long walk off a short plank’ or ‘go undruidly word yourself’. Seems to me you are embodying the spirit of that with respect to the powers that be right now. Very nicely done.

    I built a kite once, as a kid, in a class. It was very lightweight and not very strong, but would go airbourne in even the slightest breeze. I loved that kite, kept it for years and flew it a fair bit. So I don’t see why you shouldn’t try building kites. The simple ones are very simple, and can still be good enough to love.

  132. @Clay Dennis #112, et al… for those inspired by the Japanese…

    I did a search in my library catalog to see if I could locate the book you are speaking of… I didn’t see anything resembling it. Further targeted searches in WorldCat would be warranted, but off the cuff, I I found a few others that looked interesting.

    Everyday things in premodern Japan :the hidden legacy of material culture by Susan B. Hanley

    Tokugawa religion :the values of pre-industrial Japan by Robert Neely Bellah

    Traditional Japanese arts and culture :an illustrated sourcebook edited by Stephen Addiss, Gerald Groemer, J. Thomas Rimer.

    That’s just a few when limiting the searches to the Tokugawa era

  133. “…as they (perhaps rightly) blame the greed of the rich and (wrongly) think that blowing up society is the answer.”

    They are repeating Marx’s great mistake. The workers did not want to blow up the system, they wanted in on it. The blowups only happened when the greedheads absolutely refused to budge an inch. The brighter greedheads realized they would be better off if (as in avoiding a date with a rope and a lamp pole) if they opened up a bit.

    About the same time jobs started to get more complex and you couldn’t just grab a body fresh of the street and fully train them in a day. Skilled labor had bargaining power. Skilled labor decreased in bargaining power when so much manufacturing went over seas, and the WEF has high hopes that automation and robotics can replace the rest, leading to Klaus’s dream of neofeudalism with the Davos crowd on top and everyone else being bug eating serfs.

    So, was the blowing up of the Georgia Guidestones a political statement or just a summer prank by rowdy teenagers?

  134. @JMG @here

    “Collapse and avoid the rush” is wise advice. We’ve taken many steps in this direction but one we’ve struggled with is leaving the San Francisco Bay Area. My house is paid for so COL is a non issue. The climate is mild (no heat or AC required!) and will continue to be so well into the future. My suburb is walkable-ish. I have talented DIY enginerd friends, who can do everything from setting up a proxy server to fixing a toilet. Furthermore, I have (monthly, sometimes weekly) in person obligations to elder family members.

    On the other hand, I worry about things like desertification, water supply, general cultural degeneracy (i.e. “woke”), and tying myself to a region so vested in techno-utopia. It seems San Francisco is the symbolic colony of late industrial America. It saps my energy to be around people who believe all this stuff 110% and mock others who might have a different opinion. Finally, the transient and anti-family nature of the region breeds alienation.

    Given my family obligations, I’ve set my sights on the Sacramento region, particularly the older small cities hugging the American River. The moderate and family friendly politics suits me. Being adjacent to farmland and freshwater is a plus. On the other hand, walkability is very scarce. The summer heat is no joke and set to worsen. I don’t know. Am I jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

  135. @clay (112) is the book you are thinking of “ Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green From Traditional Japan” by Azby Brown? If so I can second the recommendation. Humanure practices are one of the items covered.

  136. Bofur says:
    July 7, 2022 at 7:14 am

    “As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m pretty sold on getting a wood stove that doesn’t rely on electricity, but at the same, I think that it’s jumping the gun a bit to believe that the grid will vanish by the this time next year or whatever.”

    ‘Jumping the gun a bit’ is, in fact, the entire point! Wait until the grid is sputtering out and good luck finding a wood stove that doesn’t rely on electricity. There’s a jaunty little jingle that pops up around here a lot. I’ll think of it in just a second… ah, yes – ‘Collapse now and avoid the rush’. 😉

  137. @sgage – heh, you’re right, of course, in fact it has occurred to me that no joke, it might already be too late for this year, if I don’t get on it, I know the local stove shop gets pretty backed up.

    I guess my point was – welp, does anyone have any serious guesses on when the grid becomes unreliable? Subject to regional variation, I realize.

  138. Clay Dennis #111: The title you want is “Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan.”

  139. @CR Patiño – Thanks to everyone who commented with advice on my dilemma about potential old-age occupations! I have minimal Tarot skill but could work on it. But frankly, I think our likely future government is a pretty theocratic right-wing regime, probably nationwide for a while, certainly in my present state of residence if the Union broke up. Is public occultism not one of those things that is likely to be persecuted? I am not sure it would be too safe to be a tarot reader under a fundamentalist government. (Ask the Georgia Guidestones.)

    While people are talking about books and libraries, might anyone know of a possible home for classic late-19th-century works on folk music of the British Isles, especially Scotland (and a little from Europe about the Goliards)? My late husband made great efforts to find those, and I can’t pitch them, but the local used book store just sneers at them.

  140. The incident with the Georgia Guidestones seems quite timely to this essay. Particularly that the response of the authorities towards it having been blown up was to level the rest of it with a backhoe.

  141. JMG,
    It is just as you have said. The time for the best of changes has past us.

    One idea that may better late than never is for people to look at fossil fuels the same way they would look at a palette of canned food on a desert island. Yes, it may look like a mountain. But it would never be too late to start modulating intake. The idea that fossil fuels are a finite supply has a lot of economic potential. The stopper here is the conceit that the universe or science will surely save the day and provide us a new source of never-ending energy supply. The day that idea dies cannot come soon enough and may never stop paying dividends. The difference to my mind is that in the current mindset, one would feast and gorge through the palette of canned goods as fast as possible with the serene belief that another palette will wash up to replace it. A different mentality would be to look for food on the island, relying on the stock of canned good as a backup. Is it your view that we have proven unable to change in this way, and is your view of history that this is a proven folly of civilization? Is the inability to change part of a civilization’s hard-wiring – a sort of programming to dance with who brung it?

  142. @Northwind Grandma

    Well, thank you for the advice!

    I’ve bought a few simple things in the direction – not easy to deliberate under stress what to buy, and I was never much of a camper.

    I wonder if a lighter and matchsticks shortage is also possible in Europe in these upcoming interesting months!


  143. Johnny
    I made kites as a kid, also model airplanes. Hobby shops had ready to assemble kits with all the parts cut out, or you could just get the dowels, balsa wood, plans whatever The planes would fly from a wind up rubber band to the propeller. Kite flying was always very popular in Indonesia. They would even have fighting kites with ground glass or something on the string and try to cut the opponents string. It is a very fun, low energy hobby a whole family can enjoy. I have seen some very fancy kites, also ones with two strings that you could manouver.
    I remember flying them with my daughter too

  144. Chronojourner, the rate of discovery has been falling further and further behind the rate of production for decades now, and yes, 2021 was a new low. Welcome to Some Point.

    Rosana, nope. All our technology depends on fossil fuels, either directly, or indirectly via electricity generation, or as raw materials for plastics, solvents, etc. The industrial age is ending, and what follows is the deindustrial age and the loss of most of our current technology and knowledge base.

    Stephen, now there’s a blast from the past! Many years ago, my Odd Fellows lodge in Seattle sponsored a talk by Thomas Banyakya, so I heard the version of his teachings that he was willing to share with the public. Harrowing stuff, but as far as I recall, still perfectly accurate.

    SueS, you’re welcome and thank you. As for alternative currencies, they’ve been tried repeatedly. So far the results have ranged from temporary success in a very restricted geographical area to total failure. If you want to try it again, by all means, but do take some time to look into the problems and experiences of other attempts along the same lines.

    Char, that’s a good point. I’ve been amused for decades by the remarkably weird logic of those people who drive to a gym and then get on a treadmill to get the walking exercise they could have gotten by walking to the gym, and your point is something of an expansion of that.

    Info, I think it’s sad that a poor old guy who should be in a nursing home, where he could be treated for his senility, is being propped up in front of the cameras instead, and made to fumble his way through speeches on the teleprompter. There must be some younger and healthier idiot to take his place — why, Ms. Harris! I was just thinking about you.

    Donkey, you’re welcome and thank you. Do you have apprentices? If not, that might be an effective way to stay in one place and still get your ideas spread…

    Brian, okay, my faith in the eternal verities of Irish culture is restored. Thank you. 😉

    Michael, duly noted. I don’t typically reach out to podcasts — it hasn’t worked well — but he can certainly find me via any of my publishers if he wants me as a guest.

    Aziz, you’re in one of the places that’s likely to have cars much longer than the rest of the world, so long as you’ve got the income to afford them. Mind you, depending on what happens to the climate, you might be in astonishingly good shape — if I recall correctly, the Arabian peninsula used to get much more rain when the global climate was warmer, just as the Sahara did, and your family’s farm might just find itself well watered in the future.

    Jay, well, Bojo’s gone, so it’ll be interesting to see if Baker’s candidacy gets any traction. Thanks for the heads up!

    Scotlyn, delighted to hear that this is still going well!

    Denis, hmm! I missed that use of the word “normal,” but then I don’t see a lot of media. Yes, that’s really telling, isn’t it?

    Bofur, that’s fascinating. No question, they’ve failed; what remains now is purely a matter of details.

    Chris, good solid solar greenhouses are something I hope to see becoming much more popular again — not least because the plastic for hoop houses et al. is petrochemically based. As for the people who want personal emails, it’s something I had to draw the line on a while back, simply because I don’t have the spare time — between writing, managing my two blogs, and little things like eating and sleeping, my time is mostly spoken for!

    Cugel, yes, I heard of that — of course it was also all over the most recent ingress chart for Britain, so I had advance warning. 😉

    Brenainn, glad to hear this. It really can be an adventure.

    Ray, unfortunately one of the commonplaces of times of hard contraction is that a lot of people get tested to destruction. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out this time.

    Clay, interesting. In your place I’d look for it under the search string “Tokugawa Japan,” limit to paperbacks (if that’s the format you have), and plan on going through a number of pages to find it. Search functions are normally at least as much a hindrance as a help — another bit of evidence that the quest for artificial intelligence has mostly resulted in artificial stupidity — so I don’t think it’s anything so specific as an attempt to hide info; it’s just a cluttered and dysfunctional system.

    JustMe, watching the guy from the Club of Rome make a beeline for talk of equity and then try to avoid the interviewer’s comment that the US uses 25% of all energy resources was epic. Thanks for this.

    Isaac, hmm! Fascinating. If the Times is admitting that, the facade is cracking in a big way.

    Jerry, you’re welcome and thank you.

    Emhyr, remember that only about 8% of Americans support the full-on woke agenda. It’s the fetish of a pampered class, nothing more than that, and it’s already imploding — consider the fate of former SF district attorney Chesa Boudin as an example. If you think it’s best to move somewhere else, mind you, by all means, but remember that the people there may not be too happy about welcoming Americans…

    Brian, Russia’s not turning inward at all. It’s just slamming the door on the squalling brats of Europe and the US, while strengthening its relations with China, India, Africa, and Latin America. It’s a smart move, and since Europe and the US are busy committing seppuku via sanctions, making the ruble the world’s best performing currency just now, it’s not impossible that they could end up in another few decades with the world’s main reserve currency and a network of alliances and trade relations that will put them at the center of the global economy. As for your broader point, of course decline will proceed at different rates in different places; whoever replaces the US as global hegemon will be able to sustain their industrial tech much longer than we will, for example. That’s one of the reasons why I’m tracing out the decline over a timescale of centuries.

    Johnny, there’s an enormous amount of info out there on making kites from scratch. Here’s a good book on the subject from 1897 —
    — and here’s another one from 1909 —
    — to say nothing of what a well-stocked public library might have. You could end up teaching a couple of generations how to do it, so have fun!

    Curt, yes, I saw Van Creveld’s rethink of the Russo-Ukraine war — he had the grace to admit that he’d been dead wrong, and talked about why. I’m delighted to see the mythology of progress losing its grip; the sooner that happens more generally, the better our chances of having a decent future.

    Clay, yep. This is the kind of thing you can expect when a once-relevant institutional sector is sinking like a stone. My guess is that the real reason they’re consolidating the leagues is that revenues and public interest are both collapsing, and they’re trying to circle the wagons around something they hope might survive.

    Northwind, as I recall, Aleksandr Sokzhenitsyn said much the same thing — though in rather less colorful language!

    Stephen, yep. The question now is whether Bojo’s replacement doubles down and gets hounded out of office in a few months, or whether they back away from the precipice with as many face-saving gestures as they can manage.

    Nicolaas, you and you alone can decide that, since it all depends on the fine details of your interests, skills, resources, and luck.

    Ben, that’s an excellent point. You never know what will be enough; what you can be sure of is that if you do something, you’ve got better odds than if you do nothing.

    Brian, if you’re committed to staying in California, I’m far from sure it matters where in California you stay. The impacts of climate change and of the collapse of the state economy are going to hit you equally hard whether you’re in SF or eighty-seven whole miles away in Sacramento.

    Jastin, exactly. Every civilization is the working out of a specific idea about how to be human, and even when it slams into the limits of that idea, it can’t change, so down it goes.

  145. Thanks so much JMG! I’ll check those books out!

    @ pygmycory (#135)

    Ha, thanks! And thanks for the encouragement!

    And thanks also @ stephen pearson (#147!)!

    I will stop talking about it now and report back when I’ve flown one I’ve built!


  146. Greetings all

    A fine essay! Nothing to disagree with.

    I do some very basic book binding to increase my collection of interesting books for the future together with a spot of calligraphy. Very pleasant past times. I would look forward to a post on future dark ages librarians and printing technologies.

    As our civilisation tumbles towards the dark ages, do you think that we may hold onto basic electrical technologies like motors/dynamos, lighting, radio transmission and refrigeration for very long? It seems to me that any society that can hold onto at least those four electrical technologies may have a relatively easier time.

    As an optometrist, I am seriously thinking about means to conserve very basic optical knowledge and skills for a declining civilisation. As I type those words, it dawns upon me that this is a hugely complex enterprise…

  147. Certain details came to light when the wreck of the Titanic was discovered and examined some 70 years after the incident. One of these is that the ship did indeed slow down as it entered the ice field, as is evidenced by the bridge telegraph reading ‘full stop’; however, the engine telegraph read ‘ahead slow’ in contradiction to it. (If someone here knows these details better than I remember them, feel free to correct me.)

    The ship’s captain wasn’t trying to break any speed records – he didn’t need to. There was a coal workers’ strike underway in Britain at the time, and the White Star Line had hoarded all the surplus fuel in hopes of putting its competitors out of business by virtue of them being unable to sail under steam power.

    The Titanic was indeed steaming full-blast for most of the voyage, but not because the trip had been planned that way. A few hours out from Liverpool, fire broke out in the fuel hold and the engine master – thinking it better to cope with it himself rather than do his duty by reporting it to the bridge – had the engine crew contain the blaze by shoveling the already-burning fuel into the engines, which he then ran at full speed to maximize its rate of consumption. The strategy could have worked had they been able to continue it for the entire voyage: once they reached New York harbor, they would then be able to extinguish the fire in the usual fashion as there would then be plenty of time for enough of it to dry out again before it was once again needed to power the engines.

    But they couldn’t keep it up for the entire voyage. As they entered the ice field, the captain ordered the engines to stop; the engine master, however, countermanded the order and kept them running in order to keep control of the fuel fire. Stopping the engines would have meant it would then be necessary to put out the fire in the fuel hold – thus rendering the fuel unburnable (and therefore leaving the ship drifting helplessly hundreds of miles out to sea) for at least a week.

    It’s a shining example of how disasters typically come about as the natural result of negligence, conflicting self-interests, poor communication, and inadequate forethought.

  148. Hi JMG, many thanks for the post

    Talking about the energy situations in the UE, I think the UE elites were convinced (of course falsely) that with the nuclear power of France, the LNG from USA and the ME they will not have too much problems in ending the energy dependence from Russia and continue receiving, but not paying, the gas they receive by pipe from Russia thanks to the sanctions that frozen the $ an € accounts of the Russian companies (Gazprom) and the Russian state; these were the dreams of people like Von der Leyen and other sepoys of the Empire.

    But the plan, as anyone with a half working brain knew, is not working at all as expected, just one of the many examples of the failure:

    Right now there are 28 French nuclear power plants (NPP) out of service, 12 in repairs with a huge problem of stress corrosion cracking (SCC) and 16 for inspection and suspected to have the same problem. France has 56 NPP, so half of them are not producing a single KW, but consuming a lot, so France, that normally supply a lot of electricity to the North of Italy, UK, Germany and Spain, is now IMPORTING electricity for example from Spain (made with very expensive and scarce LNG) with one of the higher electricity prices in the UE and preparing the population for rolling black-outs soon:

    Yesterday the French government nationalized EDF (Electricité De France), because they are bankrupted and they could not solve the HUGE problem of SCC in the pipes of their NPP, but I am not sure the French government could solve this also.

    At the end there is no such thing as “mature nuclear power technology”, there are some “inventions” running and we are waiting to see what happens, because radioactivity, as the alchemist, transmutes matter and affect the properties of materials in an unpredictable way, also the longterm validation of the design is not easy at all for installations that we want to last way more than 50 years, because we do not have money to dismantle them and we need them to try to sustain our way of live in a time of fossil fuels scarcity.,with%20a%20European%20energy%20crisis.

    But black-outs are very dangerous, if they are nor made very carefully you could end destroying important parts of the electrical network and in some cases, as for example if they affect the transformers in the NPP, this could end in disater or take longtime to solve.

    I think we will see a sea of “regime changes” but not in Russia or China or Belarus, but in Germany, Netherland, UK, France, Italy etc…and probably also in the US. Probably they are going to send the army against their populations, but they all will fall at the end and will change their policies.

    Here is some humor about the “realism” of some UE governments, from Babylon Bee:

    Another example: in a poll “28% or americans open to taking up arms against government”

    “Of the 28% of voters who felt it might soon be necessary “to take up arms against the government”, 37% had guns in their homes, according to the data.
    One-third of Republicans – including 45% of “strong Republicans – hold this belief about taking up arms. 35% of independent voters, and 20% of Democrats, also agreed, the poll said.”

    As history shows, to have a revolution you do not need 80% of the population to agree to make it, and I think we are entering in a revolutionary time.


  149. Brian
    I spent a couple of years on & off in W.Sacramento with my daughter. I thought I would hate it, but ended up loving it for its multi cultural diversity. In that way it is the best America has to offer. Downtown and miidtown, Sac are very bike friendly, and the latter very pretty with tree lined streets. That being said, I wouldn’t move .there. The risk from fires & droughts is huge, especially with the climate changing. Folsom reservoir is drying up. Going anywhere by car is a nightmare, especially along the rt 50 & American River. Sacramento is also the most prone to a catastrophic flood of any American city except New Orleans. Predictions call for the possibility of occasional very wet years interspersed with the general drying trend. Also between drying climate, falling water tables and declining energy, the whole Central Valley will be a nightmare. Another year like 1860 would also now leave it a toxic wasteland for centuries.If I were going to stay in CA, I would stay nearer the coast. My first choice would be Humboldt or Mendocino, but that depends on your own situation, family, work, etc. It is all going to be a shale show. Good luck.

  150. Dear John,

    Well, that’s good to hear! I’m aware that we’ll probably be one of the few nations to ride the decline wave late, though since we are also part of the global economy, we are definitely going to be effected in one way or another. Regardless, I’m trying to bring these subjects to the attention of those around me, I see lots of “sustainable lifestyle” and alternative energy rhetoric pushed around recently, but I don’t think it’s taken as seriously and practically as we try here, I’m really concerned about the future of the young people and children in my country. They’ve been through enough, be it the monstrosities of industrial and modern living, or the heavy burden of our ancestors and leaders with their primitive and ruthless costumes, I don’t want that to plague our coming generations.

    On the other hand, I’m reminded of a saying by Prophet Mohammad, that around the end times, the Arabian Peninsula will turn green again. I’m always learning new stuff about Islam, such pity how this religion is misunderstood to this day, especially in its native land.

  151. @Jastin

    So long as governments don’t subsidize oil production right up to the Seneca Cliff, price will take care of enforcing smarter use well enough on its own. Gasoline at $10/gallon will price pleasure travel and Hawaiian pineapple outside of most folks’ reach, but coffee beans will still move. Once it gets to $25/gal the coffee beans might stop moving but life saving medicines still will, etc.


    I’m probably not interested in the whole collection, but my wife is a book collector and a lover of Scottish folklore and music. I would be interested in buying a few as a future gift. You can reach me at mark (at) luterra (dot) com.

  152. Greetings from Germany. Here, Volker Quaschning, professor for renewable energy systems at the Berlin University of Applied Sciences HTW Berlin, spokesman for the renewable energy programme, gives quite a convincing account on how our living standard can almost stay the same with renewable energies – cf.

    The green party, in power in Germany, sees a unique chance in the radical cut from Russian resources to wean the population overnight from fossil fuels.

  153. JMG, LatheChuck: Hams already have a structured, formal process for messaging. It’s a scalable model, but for now operates at a small scale. Basically it goes like this: Local hams collect messages either directly to or from other hams via VHF or UHF repeaters. These messages are passed to a nightly statewide net (typically on 80 meters). Today, it’s mostly used for check-ins and informal status talk, with the occasional formal message being passed.

    Those messages with in-state destinations are handed off to either the direct local ham if they’re on-air, or to a club station for relay. Out-of-state messages go to a regional net held later that evening. Frequencies are different because distances are different. Same process for in-region messages flowing back down through the next state-wide net. Cross-region messages go to a national net at a later time, and then everything flows back down the stack, usually in the next day or so. Delivery to non-hams is typically done by phone, or if necessary, walking the form over to the recipient. The system can also handle limited (typically picked from a pre-defined list) replies.

    The system can scale by having multiple stations run parallel traffic on adjacent frequencies, and where lists and files are required, there are stations that specialize in that tech. This takes the load off the voice-based messages. The messaging protocol has its own shorthand and abbreviations to condense common traffic like (I’m OK at home) to a single word or alpha code.

    This has been in practice for decades, there’s forms and training involved, etc.

  154. @ JMG,

    Excellent post, and yes, the collapse has been fully underway. It’s amazing how many still refuse to see it.

    @ Clay #11

    Although they weren’t slaves per se the peasantry were not exactly free either; regardless, the energy-related practices are still good ones.

    @ Nicolaas #132

    I’d definitely keep the country place. Urban areas are going to be the focal point of the civil strife that’s only beginning.and you don’t want to be anywhere near that. You want to be near where the food is actually grown. Look around — it’s already happening.

  155. “To help counter that forgetfulness, imagine yourself shifting an ordinary compact car into neutral and pushing it down the road for thirty-five miles: the amount of energy your muscles used in that feat is in a single gallon of gasoline. That’s energy concentration, and it’s what made the modern world possible.”

    Oh, it’s even (a lot) worse than that, considering that even modern internal combustion engines are only 25-45% thermally efficient; i.e. they throw away anywhere from half to three-quarters of that energy away in the form of unused heat. The fuel is just that convenient and cheap (or rather, was) that we decide it’s fine to just waste most of its stored energy as we burn it. And then we weigh down the car with “safety” features and creature-comforts, give it a 350 HP engine (in a country where the posted speed limits go only up to 80 MPH), and load down the electrical system with electronic doodads.

    Thing is, we could have 70+ MPG vehicles everywhere – if we wanted. There are both theoretical and practical limits to fuel economy, but the practical principles for saving fuel are well-known. More weight = more fuel. More aerodynamic drag = more fuel. More start-stop cycles = more fuel (since you throw away kinetic energy by converting them to heat during braking). We’ve had light, aerodynamic vehicles all the way from the dawn of the automobile. The original Honda Insight is a marvel of engineering that followed all these principles: it was light, aerodynamic, and used a hybrid system to harvest some of the kinetic energy lost under braking and to optimize the energy used in starting from a standstill. It was rated at 53 combined MPG and its owners consistently got 60+ actual MPG with little effort.

    And on the lower-tech side, most of the world travels around in small motorbikes (<150 cc) for individual personal transport and gets way further on a gallon than the industrialized West. It's not just "poor" countries either; most Taiwanese get around their island on scooters just fine.

    Alas, instead we put the tech to use in lounges-on-wheels (the Cadillac Escalade "Hybrid" is a full size luxury SUV that gets 20 MPG!) or as mobile political statements (*cough* Toyota Prius *cough*).

  156. I’m down for a more hobbit-like existence.
    Maybe scaled up to 6’2″ daddy size…

    But that’s exactly what we’re doing here. Expanding the garden, shifting from buying prepared organic fertilizer to full-time chicken tractor manuring. This winter I’ll be restructuring my garden and building a more accurately-sized chicken tractor for it. The current one was built for open pasture – it’s a bit big.. Manure, pest control, eggs, light tillage…it’s a solid program.

    Domestically, over the next couple years we’re adding lots of new insulation, a metal roof, underground rain tank, outdoor kitchen, cellar; enough solar power to at least run freezer, fans, and water pump; passive water heater, more outdoor living space. I’m thinking it’s about time to try some select citrus here in the north Georgia mountains, in front of a heavy masonry wall. Lots of mulch…

    Have to admit, I’m kinda glad we live downtown now and not 8 miles out in the sticks. This Happy Motoring thing could get sketchy.

    Thanks for the elbow to the collective rib cage.

  157. A bit tangential, but still (I think) congruent to this week’s topic:

    “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Chad Mulligan

    Back in the 1990’s, I felt the same way he did – that’s why I moved overseas. A few relevant quotes:

    America has become totally unrecognizable from the place I grew up in.

    But it’s more than just the culture. It’s the people.

    Americans seem to me to go around in an almost crazed or manic state. They can’t abide by the slightest hint of silence or being alone with their thoughts. It’s like if they even had a moment of silence or self-reflection they would absolutely lose their minds. They seem to be constantly blaring loud music, watching television, playing video games, or incessantly scrolling on their phones. Every issue is seen in black-and-white terms and people are incapable of understanding subtlety or nuance. And what’s with telegraphing your political views and lifestyle choices by putting decals and bumper stickers all over your car? Who cares?

    Americans don’t know how to act around other people. They are poorly socialized. It’s like they are living in a simulation where they are the only player. Americans act like boors and louts, and are proud of it. …

    It’s a cliche, but Americans really are the most shallow and superficial people on earth. They don’t care care about anything except their jobs and making more money than everyone else. When you talk an American, you’re really taking to their agent. Work is their entire life. Everyone is running the rat race trying to give their kids a leg up in the increasingly bitter competition for status where the penalty for losing is being deprived of the most basic things needed to survive. … You can’t base a society around pure competitive individualism — it simply doesn’t work. Competition is not a social glue; it’s a solvent, and we’re increasingly coming apart at the seams.

    One of the best descriptions of American society I ever read came from Reddit, .. This person said that being born in the United States was like being automatically entered into a competition that you never signed up for.

    And we’re socially policed by our fellow citizens to conform to this nightmarish social order — even to celebrate it. If you question it in the slightest you will suffer ostracism, derision and outright hostility like you’ve never known.

    I feel like there’s something missing in my fellow Americans. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s like they have no inner life. You can see it in their eyes. … When you look at even the poorest and most desperate people in other parts of the world, there’s a certain basic dignity and spark in their eyes that you just don’t see here even among nominally successful, upper middle-class people.

    New Zealand has its problems for sure (not the least of which is being ruled by a clueless, out-of-touch, privileged Perfumed Princess), but despite even the last two years, people around here still seem more human than they do back in the States.

  158. Hi John Michael,

    Mate, I get that. And like you, I also had to draw a line in the sand. There is work to be done… 🙂

    It’s surprising just how well the greenhouse works. I constructed a smaller test greenhouse a few years ago and was astounded at just how well it worked. Such a simple technology, but you can do similar things with walled gardens, placement of rocks etc. The old timers were just as clever as us lot, and from some perspectives, they were more ingenious in using what was available to them. When so much is available, people have a hard time doing anything – and there are good reasons as to why that is.

    Dunno whether you’ve heard of the droughts and flooding rains down here: Rain and flood records fall across New South Wales as temperatures in Queensland plummet.

    I’m further south than all that, and the past week has been cold but mostly pleasant – although the past three years have been astoundingly wet and the ground is saturated. Living on the side of a hill has some drainage benefits in these sorts of conditions.

    Hope your summer is as normal as anything can be considered to be these days?



  159. @Curt
    I had a go at some eye exercises a few months back. Unfortunately, my eyes are bad enough that I simply cannot some of the main exercises, which are supposed to be done without glasses. Can’t do print pushing without glasses if there is no distance at which I can read comfortably without my glasses. My eyes cross and my nose gets in the way if I put the book that close to my eyes. I did try messing with using older glasses print pushing with those and doing some of the other stuff suggested, but I didn’t see any change, so I gave up and moved on to other projects. From reading the information with the exercises, this is really aimed at people who have much less severe myopia than me, and no astigmatism.

    I will have two pairs of glasses in reserve that are very close to my newest prescription that I’m getting glasses for. They’re a little battered, but work fine and will make good backups if I have trouble obtaining glasses in the future.

  160. “I wouldn’t be surprised if, after a trouncing in Nov, Biden steps down for “health reasons”, giving the Democrats two years to try to come up with something. ”

    There is a wrinkle in presidential succession; If “they” can keep Biden upright until Feb then when he steps down Harris gets the rest of his term AND two full terms of her own, if she can win the elections.

    If Biden resigns before next Feb then she only gets the rest of his term and one of her own. If needed they will build an animatronic puppet to keep “Joe Biden” apparently alive until Feb. (I’m trying really hard to resist a snarky remark that the puppet could do no worse.)

    See the 22nd Amendment of details.

  161. Apteryx #143:

    “might anyone know of a possible home for classic late-19th-century works on folk music of the British Isles, especially Scotland (and a little from Europe about the Goliards)?”

    The Society for Ethnomusicology lists some Ethnomusicology programs here: You can search the holdings of the Folklife Center at the Library of Congress to see if they already own these works:

    Regarding the Goliards: perhaps a university that has a department of medieval studies would be interested: two that I know of are UC Berkeley and the University of Toronto. Many universities’ library catalogs are available online, so you could see if they already own those works. (I just saw a wonderful performance of “Carmina Burana,” so I’m intrigued by the Goliards and have added “The Wandering Scholars” to my reading list!)

  162. Brian,

    California is going to a tough place to make it during the long decline. Look for and talk to working place people from the third world. Guaranteed they would be interested in what you have to say and willing to work with you on the grounds you described. The management class and those they inspire are a lost cause.

  163. I really think how they burned so much of the fossil fuels for literally nothing is a worse crime then how they cut all the old growth
    I have a little tractor I can move hundreds of pounds of firewood for almost no cost ,
    They burned it all up for SUVs or stupid mcmansions ,
    I lost faith in the system sitting on the freeways of LA ,the waste the despair you feel sitting in a car for hours .

  164. I saw a meme on social media today that said “Who knew the Apocalypse was going to be so slow and expensive? ” Whoever wrote that meme is on the cusp of understanding the long decline.. It got me wondering if traditional quick apocalypse is favored by many because they think they can start rebuilding sooner ?

  165. @ teresa from hershey #40
    “The more home libraries there are, the more likely more knowledge will survive.”

    Does anybody else remember the ‘Library of Man’ thought experiment/project from the early/mid 70s?

    It actually arose from the nuclear war paranoia. The idea was as follows: you were supposed to sit down, and imagine that nuclear war happened, and that somehow the bookcase in *your house* was all that humanity had left, to start over again with. Then you were supposed to figure out what books you thought were the mostest-importantest, *and get them, and put them in your bookcase*. Rule: you are limited to a single, standard 3 foot wide, 6 foot tall bookcase.

    I was only ten or twelve years old, and I can’t remember exactly where I got this, whether a teacher used it as a lesson in school, or I read about it in a newspaper or something. I do remember that the reason for the ‘one standard bookcase’ rule is because people move so often, so the books are more likely to make it across multiple moves.

    Mine once had advanced mathematics and chemistry in it, but over time it has morphed to focus more on agricultural subjects, sewing and related knowledge, and similar practical-type stuff. And there have been times in my life when even the one standard bookcase was more than I could hold onto, so that’s not a bad rule to observe if you expect upheaval in your future.

  166. Karim, whether any given region holds onto any given technology depends utterly on whether individuals and small groups choose to make that happen. I expect radio technology to endure here in North America because we’ve got a large and thriving amateur radio scene, full of geeks who think nothing is more fun than taking a random box of electronic spare parts, slapping together a rig out of it, hanging a wire from some trees, and having a conversation with somebody in Mombasa. Lighting is more difficult — try making a light bulb sometime! Your idea of preserving basic optical knowledge and skills, on the other hand, is a very good one; lenses of fairly high quality were being ground by hand in Europe in the seventeenth century, so that should still be an option.

    DFC, I’ve been watching the situation in Europe very closely, especially since the Netherlands rebellion got going. No doubt you’re right that von der Lügen and the rest of the EU apparatchiks were serenely convinced that Europe would be fine and Russia would be forced to grovel at their feet; one thing I’ve noticed about the EU leadership is that it seems unable to grasp the possibility that the universe won’t do whatever they tell it to do. Do you recall the opening moves of the First World War, with Austria serenely going ahead with its plan to force Serbia to the wall, and setting in motion a cascade of events that erased the Austro-Hungarian Empire from the face of the earth? The current chain of events reminds me forcefully of that.

    Aziz, hmm! I didn’t know that Muhammad said that. That’s worth remembering.

    Martin, it’s always easy for some academic to come up with a set of claims about what will happen. Putting it into effect is quite another matter. So far Germany’s conversion to renewable energy hasn’t exactly done what it was supposed to do — witness the reopening of coal plants to keep the lights on, in the absence of Russian natural gas — and so I’m far from convinced that Herr Quaschning knows what he’s talking about.

    Tidlösa, I’ve been watching the Dutch insurgency closely for a while now. Here we go…

    MouseWizard, good — sounds like the old message-traffic system has been kept up and running.

    TJ, a hundred years from now there will still be people plaintively insisting that this is just a rough patch and we’ll be on our way to the stars any day now. That goes to show the power of mythology!

    Carlos, oh, I know. It’s just that most people can grasp that metaphor, and yelp.

    Michael, interesting. I grew up in the south Seattle suburbs in the 1960s, and the world I see around me now is pretty much the same as it was then, just much more economically difficult. I suppose we were early adopters of American decline.

    Chris at Fernglade Farms, yes, even here in clueless America we’ve heard about your floods; ouch. Here in Rhode Island, by contrast, it’s a fairly normal, pleasant summer so far; today’s high was around 80°F, tonight’s low will be around 60°F, partly cloudy and with a pleasant breeze.

    A different Chris, you know, just when I think technology has plumbed the depths of stupidity…

    Gusgus, I ain’t arguing.

    Christopher, if anybody ever says that to me, I’m going to look very superior and say, “I did…”

  167. Karim Jauferally,
    if you can help keep optometry going in your area, you will be a treasure beyond price to glasses-dependent people in your area.

  168. Hey hey JMG,

    This might belong on your other blog. But I think that it might belong here too.

    I’m wondering if the covid crisis, the failure of western weapons in Ukraine and of western sanctions on Russian, and maybe the two years of Russiagate frontpage news over a non event are features and not bugs.

    That is, now that peak oil is in the rearview mirror and the can cannot be kicked any further down the road, every new crisis is an opportunity to hide the problem. Trump is not a symptom of problems with our senile elite’s one (ostensibly two party) system it’s Russian meddling. All the shortages and labor problems are because of covid not a breakdown of industrial capitalism. High inflation and oil problems are not because of resource limits and money printing it’s the war in Ukraine.

    Further, the worse each of those things goes, the more sins it covers. From the perspective of those that would be holding the bag it is better to be responsible for the badly mismanaged crisis de jour (that hides the actual decline) than it is to be upfront about the actual decline we are in.

    The financial markets would break if it were to become common knowledge that the world is facing continuous economic contraction. The already intractable US debt would look much, much less payable if it were common knowledge that real GDP was going to go down every year.

    I’ve been struggling to understand the western world’s response to covid. I can’t make sense of it with just corruption, incompetence, regulatory capture, government and media collusion to censor misinformation, or power grabs by a senile elite. All of those together aren’t enough to explain the magnitude of the mismanagement.

    Pretty much every country in the industrialized western world (you know, the whole international community went all in on ineffective and poorly justified policies that caused a laundry list of self inflicted wounds. Ditto on Russian sanction.

    The only other theory that I can plausibly fit to this data is analogous to Jung’s Wotan “who the gods would destroy they first drive mad.” Of course, those two theories are not mutually exclusive.

  169. @ Old Steve 152
    Thank you very much for that that detailed and interesting explanation. I stand corrected. It will also teach me to only post something I actually know and not just parrot other peoples versions of events. It also makes me appreciate ecosophia so much that one can be corrected and not called a bunch of dirty names in the process.
    @ Silicone Guy 166
    I was being a bit facetious on my remark about Biden resigning. I don’t think Harris would have any more chance than he would of being elected again. I was thinking of it giving the Democratic powers that be two years to come up with a platform and an electable candidate. We shall see ,though I didn’t know that February rule

  170. When I was a child in the 1990s, I took Carl Sagan’s words to heart that every intelligent species has only one chance to make it to the stars as you are limited by the amount of fossil fuel accessible to you, and I strongly advocated against trading with India and China because the faster they developed, the shorter the world’s window would be to create sustainable technologies that could power industrial society for a much longer time to come. But nobody else saw it that way because of the belief that someone else, someone really smart would magically invent technologies to keep on powering our civilization, and here we are today.

    As an adult, I’m not sure if any amount of time would be sufficient for humans to create technology to power the level of consumption that we are at for any significant amount of time on the human scale, but I look forward to reincarnating in a future where we’ve gained back some of the things that we’ve lost. Starry skies, the ability to be truly wowed by things like fireworks, long voyages to truly strange lands, and an appreciation for the vastness, power, and unpredictability of the ocean. There’s a lot to be gained.

  171. @Yevanna #167 – the University of New Mexico has a thriving Medieval Studies program as well. It’s not strong enough to offer a major in it, just a minor, but they put on a very well-regarded week of lectures in April every year, and there are at least two consorts of ancient music there that I know of.

  172. “Humanity will reach Mars in your lifetime”

    Ah, but will they come back?

    Will they want to? Will they be able to? Will we want them?

  173. Hi JMG,

    I’m a newcomer to your blog (found it this week, it was linked to by another blog which was analyzing current market instability in the context of oil shortages). I went on a reading binge and I have to say your viewpoint and thoughts are very interesting.

    I’ve always been interested in the idea of our civilization collapsing, even as a youngster. (My favorite period of history to learn about as a kid was the fall of the Roman Empire). As I grew older and studied the ecological context of our civilization, I began to feel that it was just not sustainable, and that view has only been confirmed as time has gone on.

    That said, I have a few questions for you.
    1. Do you see any hope in measures being taken to try and limit global warming to less than 1.5 to 2 degrees Celsius?
    2. When we talk about the decline of the American Empire, the elephant in the room is China, which will become (has become?) a peer competitor to the US. Do you think China will be able to maintain an industrial civilization even as the Western one declines?
    3. How can we try to preserve “useless knowledge” in the case of a decline? By this I mean stuff like mass literacy, literature, science, etc. Maybe even stuff like films. There is a tremendous wealth of culture and art which will be lost in a decline, and while it’s not as important as other things I do think the loss of this cultural heritage would be an enormous tragedy. How can we preserve it?

  174. Dear JMG,

    since you are looking into the situation in Europe – did you know the constitutional court in Germany decided that Germany *must* *absolutely* go to net zero emissions no matter what, even if it were the only country to do so? That the main argument is that the government cannot stand idly letting climate change escalate “ad infinitum” (really!). In any case, all constitutional rights have been declared by this ruling to be secondary to this project.

    Here is an analysis (in German, unfortunately)

    and here the original ruling

    where you can corroborate that the grotesquely asinine “ad infinitum” quote is real.

    In any case, Germany is determined to committing a kind of suicide.

  175. My apologies, I dip in and out of your Subscribestar accounts as finances permit, and presently they do not. I was wondering whether any of your charts cast predicted the assassination of Shinzo Abe of Japan today? Tangential to the topic of this post, but these kinds of incidents will become more common as things unravel, no?

  176. @ Chris at Fernglade: Have you seen the heated wall at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens? It was a double wall with a furnace at one end, designed to pump hot air through the entire wall to warm apple trees in winter.

    Amazingly, the thermal mass of the wall was enough on its own to absorb the sun’s energy during the day, keep the apple trees warm and make them fruit. The furnace was very rarely used.

    @ Apteryx: have you looked around for Morris dancing groups in your area? A lot of the music accompanying their dances is traditional English folk, so they may be interested in your books. They may also have connections to other folk groups.

  177. @pygmycory

    Re: eye exercises

    I would not know that eye exercises involve reading – after all our eyes aren’t originately designed for reading.

    What those exercises involve – I think – is adjusting your vision into the far distance, then into the near distance (like I did in Qi Gong), rotating the eyes looking in every angle, meditation where you feel your eyes and imagine they revert to their proper form to give you back your vision….such are the exercises I have in mind.

    Nothing of that has to do with reading letters.

    Given that I haven’t done much of it myself, so I don’t want to preach without competence here.

    But I think there are more approaches to this, than those you have tried.

    At least you won’t lose just playing with the adjustment of your vision and meditating with inner visualization of the healthy state your eyes want to be in.

    But in any case, several pairs of reserve spectacles is certainly a very good idea.

    kind regards,

  178. We don’t talk about Bruno. I recall many years ago Lee Iacocca was on Johnny Carson. Carson asked Iacocca how he came up with the idea for the mini van. If memory serves, Iacocca was just silent. I learned later that federal regulations for fuel efficiency for vans were much lower. By re-dubbing mom’s station wagon as a van, Detroit would not have to invest in improving their technology to be more fuel efficient.

  179. I’ve grown distant to one of my cousins, and more distant to my uncle and his wife.
    My cousin had to give up his job as a cook due to an allergy and became a software dude. My family praise his efforts to establish a career and a stable life.

    I respect his honest effort too; however he has grown enormously fat, he has become enormously unhealthy and weak. He is a true believer in progress. He complained in January that I had already said in 2020 the economy is going to go down, and it didn’t happen yet!

    But despite noticing some of the current economic convulsions here in Europe (it’s impossible to not notice that), he still firmly believes in his future in software development. His reasoning is: people WANT computers, therefore they will exist in abundance. It’s the future!
    I understand that it must be hard, as much of his life energy as he put into becoming a software developer, to even consider changing direction again.

    He takes no care of his body and health, he makes no preparation. My physical training, preparation, spiritual pursuits – all incomprehensible to him, as according to him I should grow up and invest in my career and learn Microsoft Server frameworks and more software development!
    I talked to him on the phone yesterday, but it was not very cordial or enticing. The past weeks to months I have already noticed, I find less and less nerve to talk to him. His life goal is having a car, a single family house and flying to Thailand for a holiday often (his dad lives there in his retirement).

    My uncle some years down the road mocked my prediction of the Limits to Growth, and said that people complained abput the bad state of the environment in the 80s already, and look, nothing happened! I pointed out that our industry moved to China for a good part, and THERE the bad state of the environment continues as worse, but whenever I bring counter arguments, he simply has no answer anymore.
    my uncle is a true “green”. Such assessments as his used to be a neo-liberal opinion (look they cautioned about the environment and *I* am still comfortable, so I don’t care).

    His wife terrorizes people when they have an opinion deviating from her woke paradigms, a true believer of “justices” with no brains or arguments. To be fair to both, they do use their bike a lot and have no car. They do, a little bit, adapt their lifestyles.

    Another aunt, an old time communist and feminist, did not take care of her son when he was young because she did not want to have a child. She wanted to go to parties. He is in a closed mental asylum ward now.
    “Good that this is genetical, otherwise I would have been worried”, this is originally what she said to me.

    All my life I suffered under woke people, starting from primary school.

    I am sad that now, where my life is enjoyable for the first time ever, I lose it all like everyone else. Will I be capable of adapting and living up to a purpose when new reality sets in?

    I really don’t know. But often times I think, and if not and I die, and don’t care that much either. But I delight a little, even if this isn’t spiritually sound, in the outlook of seeing these faces of the formerly comfortable classes, when all comfort is gone.

    I just wonder though, what the purpose of my next life is going to be. I’ve learned a lot, after a long time to be half content and a little happy as well.

    Well I guess a life with purpose, a monk, or healer, all the same just a farmer, woodchuck or fisherman, I guess it’d be all fine by me.

  180. RE my last comment –

    this week I saw genuine fear in the eyes of a very bright and sensitive colleague at work, when I said that no gas will make the European Industry break down entirely- he already knew that.

    Another also rather bright chap, he stared rather darkly. In entered the dining table at lunch break, myslef smiling and in an upbeat mood, and saw him looking dark and brooding.
    For a moment I wondered why he looked so distant and dark, then I remembered our conversation in the morning.

    I guess a spiritual outlook to life makes it much easier to be joyful even despite such prospect.
    I feel for the others, for some of these kindred and sensitive souls now realizing what the extent is of what’s coming towards us.

    I feel much less for those in my family, as per my last comment, who won’t loosen their grip on “progress” and show zero reflection.

    I must admit, my compassion for them is kind of ending – I am not perfect, not a saint after all who has compassion for everyone alike. I’m not Jesus.

  181. @Les (#61):

    “Whenever this word is used in the context of the latest breakthrough technology, the implication the author wants the reader to take away from ‘this technology “could” revolutionise (insert technology here)’ is “will”, when the real meaning is closer to “maybe, possibly, perhaps in the event of a miracle””

    – to which I would add that even if the miracle were to happen exactly as advertised, it may bring no relief anyway.

    @Bofur (#102):

    “I think that it’s jumping the gun a bit to believe that the grid will vanish by the this time next year or whatever.”

    For what it’s worth, I expect the grid (and other networks like water, sewers, gas, and indeed the telecommunications networks including the internet) to survive for many generations, at least in the cities. “Survive” may mean, at the lower end of the scale, a pipe-fed hand pump sticking out of the pavement at every other street corner, or a single gas pipe feeding a facility which recharges the neighborhood’s gas bottles. Or in case of an electrical grid, intermittency caused by unstable (or in good times, *predictably* unstable i.e. you are promised to only get power until say 10pm, and you know it will in fact still be on at 9:59pm) electricity production, theft and breakdowns, with the latter two inevitably concentrated into the poorer parts of cities and feeding off each other in a vicious cycle. I also expect all those networks to be still available to industry (including cottage industry/artisans) for some time after they are lost to the general population, due to the significant productivity increases that they enable.

    Migrant Worker

  182. Christopher (171):

    A quicker rebuild from a quicker collapse is part of it. There’s also the idea of “let’s just get it over with” that a sudden, quick collapse delivers that the forty-eight plus year long apocalypse we’ve survived through so far has steadfastly avoided

  183. JMG,

    I think the most disruptive short term change will be the shortening of logistics chains (making them much more regional) and the necessity for on hand inventory. Do you think American companies are ready for the change in how goods will move about?

  184. @Migrant Worker:

    “For what it’s worth, I expect the grid (and other networks like water, sewers, gas, and indeed the telecommunications networks including the internet)”

    Thanks for this. It’s so hard to know what to think. On the one hand you’ve got this comment, and on the other you’ve got people who are worried about preserving their book collections or being proficient in HAM radio because the internet is going to disappear soon or whatever.

    (I’m not disparaging any of these commenters. I’m just saying, it’s hard to know what to think.)

    I guess with respect to the grid, my thought would be that there’s a giant difference, a canyon, between having no electricity at all, ever, and having it even an hour a day. Even this, would be the difference between night and day. Be able to run one or two essentials (clean water) for an hour a day and you could pretty much make do with non-electric solutions for everything else.

    Come to think of it, I never thought of it this way before, but I guess that is probably how it was when the electrical grid first began going up. Does anyone know what people prioritized, historically, when they first received electrical service?

  185. A few minutes ago, a shop owner informed me he couldn’t accept debit cards, so I paid with my last cash. At the grocery store, where I usually withdraw cash while paying the products, no debit card either, and the clerk told me it was province-wide. I walked immediately to the bank branch, which I rarely use, and withdrew enough cash for several days.

    News says this is Canada-wide and due to problems with one internet provider, without providing any additional explanations. I have thought hard, but I can’t remember ever experiencing this kind of nation-wide problem with electronic payment. So much for dreams and nightmares about a cash-free future and the Great Reset!

  186. Aldarion,
    apparently Rogers isn’t working. Non-Rogers Internet is fine, though.

  187. I am 71 and all my retirement is government related. Social security, TSP, pension. I own a home that is paid in full. I live in Maryland not far from DC. Should I consider selling my home or keep and rent it? It’s already got gardens, fruit trees, and lots of berries, herbs and flowers in it. Any thoughts on what I should do?

  188. Team10tim, that’s an interesting hypothesis, and it’s also compatible with my thesis that what motivates the elites of the US and Europe these days is a free mix of arrogance, cluelessness, and kleptocratic greed. We’ve already seen that their usual response to crisis is to do a fine deer-in-the-headlights imitation and then start talking about something else; I could very well see their response to peak oil consisting of yelling at their science advisors to find some way to fix it, firing anyone who tells them that it can’t be fixed, and flailing around trying to distract people from what’s happening.

    Dennis, there is indeed a lot to be gained. We’ve seen what happens when our species has absurd amounts of cheap energy, and though it has its good sides, on the whole, we made a pretty fair mess of it. The aftermath won’t be pretty, but give it a thousand years and things should be more interesting.

    Sunriseking, good — these are questions that I’ve discussed in previous posts (and in my former blog, The Archdruid Report). My responses, briefly? (1) Nope. Since even the people who make the most noise about climate change aren’t willing to reduce their own carbon footprints in any way that matters, it’s a safe bet that nothing will be done. (2) China’s one possible contender for global hegemon in the wake of the US empire’s decline and fall; there are of course others. Doubtless whoever ends up on top for the next century or two will be able to coerce enough resource flows from abroad to maintain some form of industrial society for a while, but depletion never sleeps; the energy resources that make industrialism viable are nonrenewable, and so in due time nobody anywhere will have them any more. (3) “We” aren’t going to preserve that. If you want to see it preserved, you need to get to work deciding what you want to preserve and how you’re going to do that. It’s individuals and small groups using their own efforts and resources who preserve cultural heritage during ages of decline.

    Mario, no, I didn’t hear about that. Do you recall the Morgenthau Plan, the proposal made by Allied leaders late in the Second World War to turn Germany into a purely agricultural nation with no industry and no way to feed 60% or so of its population? Interesting that the Constitutional Court has decided to enact that three quarters of a century after the fact…

    Miow, nope — I had to stop doing charts for Japan several years ago, because of time limits. Yes, we can expect more events like that as things proceed.

    Bradley, yep. The industry could have done something smart, but instead…

    Curt, why not choose a purpose for your life now? You’re still breathing, after all, and that means you’ve still got choices.

    GlassHammer, depends on the company, of course. The recent (and continuing) round of supply chain disruptions are encouraging smart companies to get more flexible in their ordering and shipping, while the clueless stumble through familiar routines. If the process of disruption continues to accelerate at its present pace, a fair number of firms are likely to come through it intact, though a lot of big-box companies won’t.

    Aldarion, good heavens. Thanks for the heads up — I suspect this will be increasingly common all over the world as we proceed.

    Fredericka, nope. I’m not you, and I don’t know your situation, your needs, your hopes and dreams, your skills, or anything else I would need to know to make that decision. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this kind of ragged decline, and no crystal ball to provide certainties. (Yes, as an occultist I have a crystal ball, and no, it doesn’t give clear answers all the time!)

  189. It just hit me – that 80% reduction in “standard of living” we talk about here is only the first installment. That assumes we in the U.S. go from getting 25% of the world’s goods and services to our “fair share” of 5%, but it also assumes the coal, oil and gas keep coming. If we optimistically assume we’ll end up with sustainable energy sources at 20% of current levels, the citizens of the U.S. will end up at 4% of our current level!

  190. For kicks & giggles…..

    All together, now, sing three choruses of “The Country’s in the Very Best of Hands!” from Li’l Abner.

    IIRC, that short-lived musical also had a song about the worst general the hills had ever seen, “Jubilation T. Cornpone…..” – who, I believe, was reincarnated as the guy a ruinman in Star’s Reach tricked into assassinating himself…..

  191. @Lathechuck, MouseWizard, JMG:

    One of our local hams used to send chess moves through the local “traffic” net to one of his cousins somewhere else in Ohio.

    The National Traffic System seems quite robust! I’ve used it a few times to send messages to friends elsewhere in the country.

    It seems like it could get more use if hams were encouraged to use it also for fun stuff, like the chess moves or friendly messages to others, including non-hams.

  192. Hi JMG

    Continuing with the energy situation in Europe, the case of Germany is becoming schizophrenic.

    Now the German government is begging the Canadian government to soft the sanctions to the bad ruskies because there is a Siemens turbine held in Canada after repairs, but the Canadians don’t allow to be sent to Russia due to the sanctions, and then the Nord Stream Nº 1 pipeline do not supply much gas due to this problem:

    So the “Putin gas excuses” to not deliver the gas to Germany are in fact the crazy sanctions the western countries are imposing to Russia.

    Putin must be laughing at loud at the western clowns.

    On the other hand the “friends” in Ukraine are asking the Canadian government to not send the turbine to Russia, it seems that is the way Ukraine is saying “thank you” to Germany for the military, monetary and inmigration help they are providing to Ukraine:

    I start to think that the Morgenthau plan to Germany is now re-enacted, because to China, US and Russia the end of the magnificent German industry is good news in an age of resource scarcity, but very bad news for the Germans that so voluntarily are supporting the destruction of their way of life.

    About the renewable energies, everybody and his mother nows that 60% or the renewable energy in the EU came from the biomass, and a good chunk came from overseas, in particular from US an Brazil, where a lot of people are more than happy to clear cut their forest to send the wood pellets to Europe, so we, Europeans could dream in a wealthy green future.

    Only around 20% of primary energy in the UE came from renewables resources, mainly to produce electricity, but without natural gas power plants, with their high speed to adapt to the big & quick changes of the electricity production, unavoidable in the case of the renewables (solar + eolic mainly), the electrical network would collapse in a blink, and almost all the renewables would be useless.
    The gas plants are the ones that maintain the stability of the electrical network.

    To complicate more the energy situation in the EU countries, Norway will limit the exports of electricity due to the low level of water reserves:

    It is a perfect storm for Europe in the fall if they do not change the course quickly.
    These are some of the problems that come with being vassals of one Empire.


  193. Bofur (#191), keep in mind one of the guiding principles here is dissensus, the idea that there is NOT a “one size fits all” solution. So make your best guess and act accordingly!
    Regarding early electrification: the very first installations were for lighting rich folks’ houses, driven by generators in the basement. By the time the generators moved down the street and then out of town, most people either had no electricity at all or had a modest amount 24/7. (My parents’ house, built in 1946, had a 115V 30A service.)

  194. A few minutes ago, as I was going into a grocery store, I was stopped by a bright and personable young man asking me to sign a nominating position for one of the local candidates for state governor, a wealthy woman who was CEO of the major local chains (CVS). When I told him I wouldn’t sign a petition for her if you paid me a million dollars, he was deeply startled and asked why not. Because she’s a CEO, I answered, and wealthy. Then he got really confused and asked, “Why, what’s wrong with that”? I think I answered something like “Everything,” and went into the store. I’m pretty sure I shocked him to his very core; he avoided me when I came out.

    They’re still clueless out there, and some of them are very young.

  195. Sooner or later, we type 1 diabetics will no longer have insulin, or syringes, probably, with which to inject it. Certainly, no one will be making insulin pumps and sensors.

  196. @JMG

    Well I am following my purpose already: I am working to keep myself sane and healthy, to care for the people close to me, and of course right now I am working heatedly to prepare for this unknown but certainly not easy future.

    With many things I am satisfied, as I had never been before.

    The question for the upcoming months is for how long I will keep my corporate job; at the current time, it was the best possible option I could get and it is good as it is, I am really glad.

    As for the upcoming time – I try not to be too apocalyptic in my expectations for the upcoming time, but I think my assessment holds: now is the time to make preparations, to consider in earnest what might happen, how to react when things aren’t tangible anymore like they used to (easily affordable transport 350 km to some of my relatives for example)

    At some point, my purpose may be to find a totally different occupation in earnest, just as you recommend. Also for that I am in the process of planning and deliberation.

    Another purpose may be found, but at this point I have no idea about it.

    One thing at a time; at this point, I am very busy, often waking at 5am and going to bed at 10pm.
    How else could all these goals be achieved – play a less than full time but still demanding corporate job well, which in turn finances and kind of justifies all the other goals, pertinent to our coming predicament.

    Lastly I can say, I think my purpose until here was to come to terms with my anger, former social dysfunction, lack of orientation and lack of skills to help myself.
    To this purpose I am already more satisfied than I ever was, and the reactions I get from people are mostly positive.

    Also I have lived through a lot of the typical sickness modern life brings, and overcome a good part of it too; so I see it as my purpose to pass on what has helped myself a great deal, if I can.
    And to warn, and explain, and to point to solutions for such problems, just as I have managed to resolve things.

    One thing shocking me is when people I generally cherish talk about the future as if nothing could ever change; I can’t talk to them about any crisis; it’s not on their radar, neither do they want to hear it.


  197. <A href=";

    I’m not sure we needed a study to discover this, but at least it seems like a step in the right direction.

    “The study purposely put people, and the complex interactions and social norms that make up everyday life, to the fore. This contrasts with dominant techno-centric and individualistic approaches, which heavily rely on technological innovation and its uptake by individual consumers.”

  198. JMG and team10tim
    I have often wondered about this string of crises being used to distract the public from peak resources and postpone/ prevent economic collapse. I think you are right JMG that the elites are too clueless to be doing it actively. Amazing though: if it were a novel, one could critique it for using too many unrealistic made up events to prop up a weak plot.

  199. Electricangel re: Electric-assist bicycles

    I‘d like to explain why I think the exact opposite about this invention: standard bicycles are easy to use, and as long as people keep themselves in good shape, they can even be used by the elderly.

    What’s more, they’re easy to make and repair anywhere, requiring no exotic inputs.

    Electric-assist bikes take away from the fitness aspect, and, much worse, they are dependent on ten-thousand-mile supply chains for very rare and costly materials which, once used up as batteries, can’t be recycled. And we allow the proliferation of the things right when we‘re supposedly attempting to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, and could use every pound of batteries for truly essential technologies!

    I admit that it’s great fun to use those things, but the only way I can see them as part of some meaningful development, and not just some brainless waste of resources, is if they could be made to actually replace a car or so. Like: you want one? Show proof that you have a business that requires motorized transport, and – thank you very much – you can‘t have a car as long as you have that bike.

    The way it is now, I see perfectly healthy people sabotaging their fitness while they waste the batteries of the future on some toy, while they still drive their cars everywhere.

  200. Pygmycory, and at risk of offending Karim – I don’t know if you recall, but some weeks ago on Green Wizards, the topic of myopia (nearsightedness) reversal had come up. Since then I’ve had a chance to investigate endmyopia and am in the early stage of attempting the process detailed therein (because glasses-availability in a decline is not guaranteed!).

    According to the endmyopia founder (who essentially reviewed reams of scientific literature on myopia and started extrapolating from there, frequently saying what the studies said but what eye-wear professionals do not), myopia is in most cases a refractive issue rather than an out and out health issue and as such it is reversible via the means by which it worsened in the first case: through the progressive reduction in lens strength combined with (and this is critical) behavior modification.

    The fact that you cannot do print-pushing without glasses doesn’t mean print-pushing (or its analogs) will not work for you – according to this method of approaching vision, it means that you need a reduced-in-power prescription (a process taken in steps) so that you can retrain the eye to stop over-elongating. What that entails is somewhat complex, a rabbit-hole not for the faint of heart. To begin with, I signed up for a 7-day email series and there’s enough free info available that you should *not have to* pay for any of what is taught (you can choose to do so for a more streamlined and personalized approach, but nothing is withheld from the free information. Additionally, I gain nothing by mentioning it here.

    Since I’m new to it, I cannot yet speak to its efficacy personally, but there are a lot of people who are active on the forums and the dedicated fb group who have evidence of improved eye-exams and reductions in the need for glasses-wearing.

    If I can offend Karim one more time, I might suggest looking into this as a way to put yourself out of business by educating people how to avoid and reverse myopia (essentially by returning to our pre-industrial way of using our eyes. Hint: screens are contraindicated) and reserving ophthalmology and optometry for cases of physical deformity or disease/injury, etc.

  201. @ mother balance #172

    I’ve never heard of the one bookcase idea, but it makes perfect sense.
    It’s also a terrific starting point.

    And yes, I do focus on practical books that an individual household could use as opposed to physics or astronomy textbooks, valuable though those may be.

  202. @Bofur #191

    As far as I know early electrical service powered lights and motors mostly: things where a small amount of power goes a long way. The big energy hogs of heating, water heating, clothes drying, and air conditioning came later.

    From older folks’ stories power wasn’t intermittent when it came online. There was a dearth of appliances that could use electricity, as they were initially very expensive and in limited supply, and production was mostly coal-fired which is very consistent.

    As for exactly how the grid will decline, that will depend on:

    A) whether any big disasters like war, fire, tsunamis/floods, hurricane-force winds, or solar storms hit your area and take out parts of the core distribution structure that cannot be readily repaired, and

    B) where you are located in terms of population density, and

    C) the mix of energy sources powering the grid where you live.

    If A (e.g. Carrington Event) or if you’re at the end of a three mile wire that only serves your house, then the grid could go down suddenly and indefinitely.

    Otherwise I would expect rolling blackouts and load shedding, e.g. rates rising to the point that electric heating, clothes drying, water heating, air conditioning, and electric car charging breaks the bank, or some of these uses are rationed/restricted.

    Some places might have power for a few hours a day; other places might manage to supply 10% as much power continuously by enforced load shedding/tiered rate structures. The latter would certainly be preferable from my perspective.

  203. I remember very clearly your forecast when Biden was elected.

    IIRC, you said he’d be walking face-first into a buzz saw.

    That’s certainly what happened and more buzz saws keep showing up.

  204. For anyone who asks about where to share downsizing and rightsizing experiences?

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  205. Fredericka Lane @ 194, some young gardener/farmers are leasing land from seniors with the owner continuing to live on his or her property. There are a variety of arrangements, ranging from cash payment each month to discount if you garden or farm sustainably–no use of chemicals which might harm the senior–plus reasonable share of the produce, picked, washed, suitably processed and delivered to you. Word of mouth is best; if you don’t advertise, you don’t have to take whoever shows up. Also, it is probably a good idea to spell out whatever arrangement you decide on. If you are not willing to offer babysitting or crash pad, say so. If auntie is taking your apples to the farmer’s market, you should get your share of the profit. Ditto loud music at night, lawns converted to parking lots, and so on.

    Just a thought, and, as with any business transaction, you have every right to investigate potential business partners.

    I think, just my cynical mind, that those hoping for fast apocalypse are those who assume they will get to be in charge afterwards.

  206. @Aldarion #192 – The outage is for both the internet AND cell phones for about half of Canada, including several of the biggest cities. Some are already suggesting that letting one company manage both of those is a recipe for trouble…

  207. @JMG #195 and @GlassHammer #190,

    Not in America, but in the Philippines there is apparently a “chicken shortage”:

    Note that besides the infamous chicken nuggets, Philippines McDonald’s stores also sell fried chicken.

    The funny thing is the news outlets (international and local) report that the prices of chicken have gone up to 200-220 pesos. I pass by the neighborhood grocery store almost daily and they’re still selling chicken at 170 pesos. I’m not even talking about a wet market or a mom-and-pop shop, the grocery in question is part of a national chain. What chicken shortage? They say it out loud in the Bloomberg article:

    “While the government is right in saying there is no shortage of poultry supply, the restaurant operator has to uphold certain standards for its products, she said.”

    i.e. there’s not enough chicken of the price and quality that McDonald’s (and some other chains) needs for their standardized fast-food product. Otherwise, the chicken supply is just fine.

  208. @Oilman

    I would also be interested in your story. I used to participate in a Slack group for private discussions if the concern is with publishing too much information. I do think the Green Wizards is the right group but I know that I personally have had a hard time contributing. I have gone down the same path at a much smaller scale. My focus has been on bread baking (bought a stone mill that is currently electric with plans to run on solar at least in the short term) and small scale gardening. I want to get to the point that my kids can learn these skills and have a place to come back to if they need it. I spend so much time trying to find good tools for the decline that if you can share some of the work you have done in making those decisions I would be grateful.

  209. RPC, in the long run, yes. It’ll be a while before we get there, though.

    Patricia M, funny.

    Justin, delighted to hear this.

    DFC, oh, they’re hoist by their own petard in Berlin. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit, should it happen that the Canadians send the turbine back, if the Russians were to lose it, or insist that it wasn’t repaired correctly and send it back…

    Robert, funny, I was stopped by a similar person while shopping for groceries today, too. I smiled, inquired whether the signatures had to be from Democrats, and when the person said yes, I smiled again and said, “Well, that leaves me out.” That got a similarly baffled response…

    David, why not? There’s a market, and both insulin and syringes can be made quite readily with century-old technology.

    Curt, fair enough!

    MikeL, thanks for this.

    Stephen, funny. You’re quite right, though — if I’d put the last six years into, say, Retrotopia as backstory, it would have been hopelessly implausible.

    Teresa, it’s definitely turning into a good case study for mundane astrology!

    Carlos, fascinating. In other words, there’s a chicken shortage in the multinational economy, but not in the local and regional one.

  210. @Patricia Mathews (#197):

    Talk about a blast from the past! I loved the songs in that musical when it first came out. “Jubilation T. Cornpone / Long, lanky, forlorn ‘pone / Jubilation T. Cornpone/ He really saved the day.”

  211. Bofur #191
    ‘Does anyone know what people prioritized, historically, when they first received electrical service?’

    I know a little bit about it. Lights- that was the very first thing people went for. The ability to extend the active hours after sunset is a biggie, it’s huge.

    Now, you have to remember that the earliest power grids were in the cities, as far back as 1890; while the last ones to get it in the US were distant rural areas in the early 1950s.

    In the earlier eras, I know that one of the first things a household would go for was to electrify the home’s sewing machine if they had one. Another was an electric fan to keep cool in summer. After the 1920s or so, one of the first things was a big radio in the living room. So it depends somewhat on *when* the power grid arrived. Once electric refrigerators were available, that one was a high priority for most people.

    Fredericka #194

    As JMG said, only you know all the particulars of your situation. But I can give you a data point that might help guide your thinking. You make mention of all the food-production plants, and that probably represents years of work and no little expense.

    If you rent it out, you can kiss all those plants goodbye. No renter is going to care for that yard the way you did. And finding a renter who likes to garden and will at least *try* to keep the plants going, is about like winning the lottery. It’s illegal to base renting decisions on whether an applicant’s hobby is gardening. You can’t even ask. But, that only matters if you think you might want to move back into that house for that food growing.

    Otherwise, the paid-in-full status becomes the most important issue, and you might be better off selling and using the money to get yourself that precious paid-in-full status somewhere else more to your liking. When you’re on a fixed income, debt-free on your housing is the foundation to maximizing security. No rent to be raised on you until you end up homeless. No mortgage to be called in by the bank unexpectedly (they all have the power to do this any time they want- it’s buried on page 20 of the fine print). Being able to cover the property taxes and have enough left over to live on, that’s the golden ticket.

    I hope this helps a little.

  212. MouseWizard (and others) re: ham radio. I’m vaguely familiar with the National Traffic System. The point that I was trying to make was that having a ham radio will be nothing at all like having a telephone, in a world without the telephone network, even if we can now make the occasional “telephone-quality” radio link between Maryland and New Hampshire (for example). Submitting a text message to a radio operator who might get a reply back to you in a day or two is kind of what I had in mind when I said “the rest will wait for their turn”. It’s not that much different from snail mail, really, and you can send several pages in an envelope for under a dollar. (OK, the NTS doesn’t charge a fee… but it won’t send a page of text, either.)

  213. Hi John Michael,

    As an interesting observation: I’ve recently completed reading a book which touches upon a swath of Japanese history. The book was written by a US serviceman stationed there after WWII. It was ‘Japanese Inn’, by Oliver Statler.

    Anyway, I noticed ol’ Abe was brought to an end. Since the end of the Shogunate, Japanese history has been replete with such actions. It would make the sensitive person not want to apply for a job as a Japanese politician. The book suggested in a round about sort of way, that such endings were a method for the military faction within the government to gain and grow their power. It is not a new story. What surprised me is that their military caused a lot of havoc in various parts of the world, including many of their neighbours (and that it includes us down here as well), but were ultimately unsuccessful, virtually every time. Some things don’t change.



  214. Hi Robert,

    Being CEO of CVS ought to disqualify you from any position. Even by chain-store standards, CVS is a mess. The entire pharmacy staff walked out of our local CVS about a year ago. The local manager is great, but the company’s policies were intolerable.

  215. @Clay Dennis: I too wonder about the future of college sports when it comes to how far these teams must travel. It used to be that conferences were comprised of contiguous states, but obviously that has changed. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer — that’s the case in college sports these days, just like in other areas of life. The increase in TV money that will come with the consolidation of the biggest money-making athletic programs might offset travel expenses, but then again, will that TV money materialize in the way they expect ten or twenty years from now? That’s yet to be seen. All I know is the only two college sports that aren’t in the red financially are football and men’s basketball. Without football, which subsidizes the other sports, colleges wouldn’t even have volleyball or soccer or softball or any number of sports, because it wouldn’t be financially viable. Kind of reminds me of how oil props up so many industries and ways of living that would otherwise be impractical. Maybe in fifty years we’ll be back to what conferences looked like 100 years ago — schools within a few hundred miles of each other taking buses and trains…if we’re lucky.

  216. fredericka lane – We’re in a very similar situation, though both still on a payroll. (If I had faith in Business As Usual, I might have taken retirement by now.) On the one hand, we can worry about unrest and decay in the inner city, but on the other hand, Rome didn’t fall in a day, and people have ways to muddle through. Your pension will be eroded by inflation, but you may be able to get by for long enough. Housing being a major expense, I try to imagine how “nice people like us” could economize by combining households, without sacrificing too much safety, security, and convenience. Alas, nothing feasible comes to mind.

    Stick a pin in here, and we might discover that we’re neighbors.

  217. At the local Wal-Mart last week, it cost more to buy a 16-pack of paper towels than it did for a bulk pack of cloth kitchen towels. I got two packs of towels, pointed out the price discrepancy to other shoppers in line, and got blank looks back.
    “If I wash the towels, I can use them again. When you throw away the paper towels, you have to buy more!”
    Still, blank looks. Methinks it will take a lot of wall-hitting …

  218. Does not the Great Reset address the coming collapse? “We will own nothing and be happy”. If we own nothing, presumably the corporations/elitists/supremacists will own everything – a detail usually not mentioned.

    Is not the plan to greatly reduce the global population by deliberate if chaotic collapse? Were the sanctions against fertilizers from Russia and Belarus to help trigger massive famines as well as the sanctions against grain from Russia? Numerous other examples can be cited,

    I suspect that the collapse will be well-managed to ensure that the ruling elites increase their relative power over humanity – at least that is their expectation. Social engineering via the internet is making good progress to ensure a sheep-like population more interested in gaming, betting and porn than quality of life or stable families. Further legalization of drugs will help as well.

    The plans have gone haywire however as Russia is leading a revolt against the Supremacists and the global south is holding their collective breath hoping that the Empire will fall. Just an opinion but I hope that the new order will be much less materialistic, have a sustainable economy and provide humanity respite from the reign of the psychopaths.

    Whew! Just Friday evening musings…

  219. After reading your books, I was a believer in this narrative for about a year, but now (as you probably know by now) I disbelieve it.

    First of all, your concept of collapse is too vague. You say civilization will go through periods when things will get better, and things will get worse. This means that if things get worse, you can always say you were right. But if things get better……. well, you can always say that collapse is right around the corner.

    There’s no way to distinguish between a world where your thesis is right and the world where it is wrong! Any data point can be rationalized into the narrative you weave.

    What you need is some mathematical quantity to make your thesis more rigorous. If you, for example, framed it as “By 2100, our energy use in terrawatt hours will be with it was in 1810”, this would be a hypothesis that can be empirically tested. HOWEVER….. this is such a massive timespan that it is again, extremely difficult to prove or disprove your thesis.

    At the end of the day, your thesis rests on EXTRAPOLATING the lack of non-fossil fuel high EROI energy sources in the present, to possibly half a century into the future. However, this is only an extrapolation, not something that is definitive!

    Furthermore, this extrapolation has many holes. It fails to account for the vast design space of nuclear energy and the fact that nuclear already provides a vast amount of power to us, which makes a buildout of nuclear power a high possibility. Indeed, I am literally putting vast sums of money on this very idea in reaction to rejecting your thesis.

    It also fails to account for large improvements in wind and solar energy, or for systemic improvements that could reduce the amount of energy society needs to provide the same services (ex: computerized demand management of the electric grid, which is a real thing, or driverless taxies which reduce car ownership.).

    You dismiss all of these by saying they are backed by “energy subsidies” such as the factory building the solar plant being powered by fossil fuels. But as long as future Nuclear and Renewables have high EROI, eventually, society will restructure itself around these sources, allowing these “energy subsidies” from oil to be removed without difficulty. And indeed, many authors would dispute the idea that Nuclear and Renewables have low EROI.

    Which brings me to the final problem with your thesis, “collapse now and avoid the rush”. If you are wrong, and civilization successfully replaces its energy base, then many readers will have missed out on opportunities, both personally and for the social good, had they assumed our civilization would endure. I don’t plan to be one of those people.

    But I have to admit, you did write some awesome books.

  220. Chris, I have a copy of that book! It’s an old fave of mine. Yes, Japanese history has a lot of such events, though they’ve been scarce since the Pacific war. If things start moving in that direction again, I suspect quite a few of Japan’s neighbors will have something to say about it.

    Emmanuel, it’ll probably take a dose or two of serious poverty before that sinks in.

    Observer, the Not-so-great Reset pretends to address the collapse, in much the same way that Germany’s failed green energy program pretends to address global climate change. It’s entirely possible that the delusional old men in charge of the project think that they can have their planet and eat it too, but you’re right that it’s not going according to plan — and I don’t think it ever could have done so. Hubris is not a good starting point for effective action!

    Rus, I’ve addressed all those points repeatedly in previous posts and books. That said, if you don’t want to follow my suggestions, then don’t.

  221. I’ve been a long time collapsing, slowly and in fits and starts. I have an established blacksmithing business in Canada and have been able to operate from my home (mortgaged) thus far. I’m moving away from online sales and trying to drum up more local business by offering hand tool repair and sharpening, ironwork and good old fashioned gardening and homesteading tools. Demand is ok, not making a ton of money at this (who is?) and I feel I’m about a generation early to see real demand for my goods and services but I’m doing it anyways. At the very least I can keep some of these skills alive to pass on to the next gen.

    Part of that process involves making my own fuel from scrap wood or dead wood from the local forests for the forge, using as much scrap steel as possible, and keeping the business small and agile.

    The biggest weakness in all this is the mortgage. It’s the only debt I have but it feels like a sword of Damoclese hanging over my head. I wonder at this point if it’s worth it to sell and find an amenable place to rent to be completely free from debt or stay put and carry on with the struggle.

    This entire path I’m on is thanks to JMG’s writing and leading by example. Thanks again, JMG!

  222. Team10tim, JMG, Stephen,

    I‘ve been thinking for a while now that a Jungian approach, or at least one that recognizes the collective unconscious, egregores, or the like, explains the whole mess best:

    Individuals are always riding on the back of the soul of their tribe. That soul is immensely powerful, but in a way, it’s not very clever, and it’s a creature of habit.
    Under stable circumstances, this helps everyone make decisions that their peers understand, and that fit the situation.

    Roughly since peak oil, the circumstances aren’t stable anymore. The West‘s soul is facing constraints it has never felt (that is assuming industrialization and empire have imprinted it in such a way that it can’t remember the time before, or turn back).
    It feels like it’s trapped. Another image might be cold drug withdrawal: it can’t get what it needs anymore, and that drives it up the wall.

    Anyway, what’s losing its mind first and foremost is our egregore, and it is pulling its people along, whose individual decisions, from family planning and career choices to policies of war and medicine, thus no longer fit into the wider order of things.

    It’s mostly those who were never that connected to it (immigrants, loners, weirdos) or who emancipated themselves by working on their autonomy (through tough experience or on purpose) that are somewhat unaffected.

    On the other hand, those who are most connected to the tribe’s organization, and the perpetuation of its habits, have gone most visibly insane: politicians, teachers, doctors, and the like. Another obvious characteristic is that the more affected people also deal more in abstractions. I‘d say it’s because in absence of a grounding contact to the material plane, the „astral influence from below“ can work unhindered.

    This approach seemed most useful to me when making sense of covid, but the incredible amount of projection going on in the discourse over Ukraine shows it’s still very worthwhile.


    I got a good boost in this line of thinking from a discussion of the book „the origin of consciousness in the collapse of the bi-cameral brain“ (or so), whose main theory I don’t fully agree with, but which helped me understand to what colossal degree people don’t need to be conscious of their decisions, and that we might actually be much more like the horses who are all startled because one sees a snake, than the independent, rational decision-makers modernity would want us to believe in.

    It’s one of my favorite recent avenues of thought, very productive.

  223. @RusstheRook. I think if you look at the two basic narratives in question here it is fairly obvious to the logical observer, which one is in greater need of empirical evidence. In version one, humans lived on earth for 100’s of thousands of years within a fairly defined solar budget, which yielded a fairly predictable energy based lifestyle with some variation for climate. Then the humans stumbled upon millions of years of stored energy hidden under the earth and burned in up in a few generations in a bacchanal of waste and destruction. But many people began to believe this wonderful blowout of extravagant consumption was not due to this amazing energy discovery but due to their own cleverness, and of course this bonanza of consumption would go on forever, even when the fossil fuel bonanza was depleted because of course they had become so much cleverer than all those other dumb humans that lived within solar budget for millennia. Or the second one which theorizes that after the Humans have burned up all the cheap energy Mother Nature stored up for them they would go back to living within the historic solar budget just as thousands of generations before them had. When looked at in this way the second claim seems quite reasonable and the other fairly extraordinary. And to quote my old astronomy 101 professor, ” Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”

  224. #192, #213
    It’s Rogers that went down across Ontario, for both internet and cell phones. This has messed up the 911 emergency service, among other things.

    But wait! It turns out that Interac — the service that handles exchanges between banks and facilitates retail debit and credit cards — went down, too. According to the CP24 news channel, this is affecting business across Canada.

    At least in Ontario, bank cards will cash withdrawals at the issuing bank, but otherwise don’t work. What retail is open is cash only.

  225. Curt’s comments mentioning in what poor physical shape many people are got me thinking. I’m a trainer, and I focus not on looks or performance, but health. There’s a lot of work to be done there. If collapse is distant, improving people’s health improves their lives and saves us literally hundreds of billions of dollars in healthcare and other costs (roads are an obesity cost); if collapse is near, it saves their lives.

    There’s a diagnostic measure called the Clinical Frailty Score. It’s intended for 65+ people in nursing homes, but if you have a look –

    – you’ll see that many people under 65, and even some under 35, are in the 3-5 range. I would suggest that if you’re in that 3-5 range then any kind of reduction in availability of transport, utilities and so on is going to hit you a lot, lot harder than if you’re in the 1-2 range.

    Part of “collapse now and avoid the rush” should be taking care of and improving your health. And of course it’d be a good thing to do even if the Magic Fusion Fairy appeared tomorrow.

  226. @bofur-“Come to think of it, I never thought of it this way before, but I guess that is probably how it was when the electrical grid first began going up. Does anyone know what people prioritized, historically, when they first received electrical service?“

    My grandfather was an electrician in rural east Texas – born in 1910, he worked in the shipyards wiring up ships for the navy in WWII to give a bit of a timeline – he always told us grandkids that the first thing most people wanted when they first got electricity was a refrigerator.
    As an aside- he had so many call-backs of people complaining that their new refrigerators didn’t work that it became a standard part of his installation routine to explain why you can’t cool the kitchen by leaving the refrigerator door open!

  227. RusTheRook: “It fails to account for the vast design space of nuclear energy and the fact that nuclear already provides a vast amount of power to us, which makes a buildout of nuclear power a high possibility.”

    DFC “Right now there are 28 French nuclear power plants (NPP) out of service, 12 in repairs with a huge problem of stress corrosion cracking (SCC) and 16 for inspection and suspected to have the same problem. France has 56 NPP, so half of them are not producing a single KW, but consuming a lot, so France, that normally supply a lot of electricity to the North of Italy, UK, Germany and Spain, is now IMPORTING electricity for example from Spain (made with very expensive and scarce LNG) with one of the higher electricity prices in the UE and preparing the population for rolling black-outs soon…”

    In theory, theory and practice are the same thing. In practice, they are (sometimes amazingly fast) not.

  228. @JMG and commentariat

    I hope this isn’t off-topic, but here goes –

    Regarding hard times ahead, food scarcity and pollution, this YouTube channel has found a great way to kill two birds with one stone; it basically teaches people how to grow food in waste plastic bottle cut-outs: I know our host doesn’t do videos, but I just shared this link as reference.

    IMO, this looks like a good idea. If practiced on a large scale, it could mitigate to some extent, the problems created by huge numbers of waste plastic bottles and the like, and also help food security, which the Ukraine war has brought to the forefront.

    I have no doubt that plastic recycling plants are already over-burdened (and I’m not even talking about how polluting and energy-hungry the plastic recycling process is); and this is a step in the right direction.

    If I remember correctly, some weeks ago, some Ecosophians were discussing about growing food in an apartment setting. This could help, IMO.

  229. Hi John Michael,

    The book is now a fave of mine too. 🙂 Dunno about your perspective, but what I enjoyed about the book was that the author began a very scholarly work in the first chapter, and at some point you get the impression that the author decided that the arc of the history was better told via a retelling of the stories of the people involved during those eras in addition to the dominant culture at the time in which they existed. And the central link was the Inn and the family who managed it.

    Recently, I’d read another book along those lines. Norah Lofts, A Wayside Tavern, which candidly involved a lot more Barbarians, whom I’m rather fond of. 🙂 In this matter I amusingly blame you for getting me onto Robert E Howard’s epic Conan stories. The delightful leather bound complete addition of those stories would even give Conan himself a pleasing heft as he smashed it down upon his enemies – of which he seems to have had more than his fair share. 🙂

    Hi Kfish,

    I’ve visited the botanical gardens in Hobart, and recall enjoying them, but don’t recall the wall, sorry to say. My interest in plants was not that well developed two decades ago. I’ll tell ya a funny story though. We ventured further south and had a delightful afternoon with a bloke – if memory serves me correctly, his name was Bob Magnus – at a town which may have been called Woodbridge. You’ll have to forgive me, it was at least two decades ago. Anyway, they have (or had) the national quince collection there plus many heritage apple trees (a few of which are now on the farm), and oh boy, did my wife and I have a fun afternoon that day. Bob and us were happily chatting away for hours that afternoon on the subject of mead and cider. So much fun, and there was a bit of sampling. 😉 I have a very soft spot in my heart for that island state, and once considered moving there. Could have bought an old Georgian sandstone mansion too back then. Income there would have been problematic.



  230. @lathechuck, is there a way to tell who is at each pin? On my browser (Brave on an iPhone) I could not find a way to do that – a pity, as at least one pin is in my town(Northampton, MA).

  231. @Rus the Rook #226

    I respectfully suggest you read Limits to Growth: The 30 Year Update. In assuming that vast buildouts of all the non-fossil energy sources are still allowable, you effectively parallel their second model run in which they doubled the quantity of available resources. What that resulted in was a slightly postponed, but perhaps even worse collapse due to a pollution crisis. And while the most conspicuous form of pollution today is fossil fuel burning, there are many, many other ways we could damage our biosphere by, say, massive uranium and rare earth extraction, not to mention the uses to which we would put the energy thereby obtained.

  232. Dear John,

    While things going down doesn’t sound good at all, it merely reminds me of my childhood during communism: gas was scarce, mostly found on the gray market; hot water for 4 hours a day; cars were rare and expensive, travel by train was usual; lines in shops for groceries, meat once a week; daily hour long blackouts in order to improve our energy consumption. These are not all the things that come to mind, but an example. We certainly lived differently. Skills and access to supplies were highly prized. But we lived.

    Now I read they are planning ‘in’voluntary comfort cuts in Germany. Unthinkable for someone like me: Germany was the best that could ever be. And America(meaning US of) actual pure heaven. And like me were pretty much all the rest. I guess the fun begins


  233. Greetings all!
    @ temporaryreality #207

    You need not worry! I am not that easily offended. I’ll certainly have a look. However, many studies show conclusively that myopia is caused by an elongation of the eyeball and thus the refractive and axial components go out of step, hence a negative lens is needed to bring back images into focus onto the retina.

    The family optical business I run is also involved in manufacturing lenses. We have restricted ourselves to using only electro-mechanical machinery that can be repaired and maintained here in Mauritius which is far from major industrial centres. Currently most lenses worldwide are produced using very sophisticated and very expensive computer operated machinery which may be problematic to maintain in a declining age.

    Hence my primary aim is to ensure that our machines can still make it in a declining age. The problems reside (1) in obtaining the raw materials from which lens blanks are manufactured and then surfaced according to requirements, (2) getting access to industrial spare parts such as ball bearings and other consumables in a declining age.

    My secondary aim is to preserve basic optical knowledge and lens making skills for the future. Glass lenses can be made by hand (which I should learn to do some day) but plastic ones? I don’t know yet. Most plastics lenses are made out of Poly(allyl diglycol carbonate). I intend to research the manufacture of such plastics and how to source the basic chemicals.

    Exciting times…

  234. I’m suspect his position is very unpopular on here, but I do appreciate RustheRook’s opinion too. I’m not sure any of us will live to see who is right, but it is nice to hear both sides.

    Thanks Russ for having the courage to post and thanks JMG for being open minded enough to allow him. Well done gentlemen.

  235. @David Collins, JMG

    There is still the Ketogenic diet option for diabetics. Combined with intermittent fasting. Even without the Insulin.

  236. What a wonderfully insightful and thoughtful post and comment thread, in a long series of many such!

    Reading through the vast experiences and widely ranging, intelligent reflections from so many here on the topic of post-industrial decline is almost intellectually overwhelming to me. Yet I routinely feel a special kind of calm and peacefulness after reading Mr. Greer’s posts, and the subsequent comments by others. As a longtime lurker but only very occasional poster, please know, Mr. Greer and all of you, that you are probably touching more lives, in a very meaningful way, than you might realize.

    On an utterly unrelated and nit-picky sidenote, to the English-as-a-second-language, northern European readers here, please note that the the construction “since (x number of years)”, as a reference to the past, is grammatically wrong and simply comes across as gibberish to a native English speaker. I don’t know why so many who are otherwise quite proficient in English insist on making this mistake.

    If you are referring to the past, what you want to say is “since (x number of years) AGO”, or better yet, “FOR (x number of years)”. It seems that many of you are not learning, or understanding, the critical use of the word “ago”. I can only surmise that in this instance, you are translating literally from your own native language. I have noticed that German speakers, in particular, have a penchant for making this mistake.


    (incorrect): “I have worked at this job since 20 years”

    Correct (but awkward): “I have worked at this job since since 20 years ago.”
    Correct (and normal): “I have worked at this job for 20 years”.

  237. Thank you to radio operators. When Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston SC, the official stations (including emergency warning systems) went out several hours before the hurricane, when power was lost. At that time, predictions were that it was a grade 2 hurricane with the eye headed a hundred miles away. Several hours after the eye and Grade 5 hurricane passed, the first station operating (accessible to people with battery or crank powered radios) was a tiny local AM station. The official, publicly funded, emergency communications resumed much later. The locals noticed, and the station was supported and greatly appreciated.

    Following the pre-storm news cycle, flooding was the major concern. Many moved ground floor belongings to attics and put efforts into sandbags. Post-storm, eighty percent had roof damage and flooding was relatively minor. It was a good lesson on balancing of prep efforts. Now Charleston floods with typical thunderstorms.

  238. JMG, In his dissertation (cough) Rus uses a very telling term ” Design Space”. This is the land where the techno-utopians have gone to dwell as in this ” Space of the mind and computer screen” anything is possible. Davinci designed a helicopter but the lacked the entire suite of energy, ,materials, and industrial technologies to get it off the drawing board. As civilizations collapse the last thing they lose is the ability to design fantastical devices, wunderweapons and gleaming domed cities, but they do lose the ability to create any of them in a practical way. It is one thing to design a janky battery car that works most of the time and only falls apart bit by bit but it is another to have the money, energy ,societal discipline and industrial power to get a nuclear power plant built on time and on budget and that will operate without flaw or fail. The growing gap in our declining civilization is not with what we can dream up, but what we can actually accomplish ( or should accomplish) with the resources and degraded skills we have left.

  239. @RustheRook:

    I have only been a participant here for a year or so so that I’m not equipped to comment on the bulk of this, except to say I agree with you on this:

    “many readers will have missed out on opportunities”

    I tend to agree with this in a general sort of way but my answer is that as always the best plan for the future is diversification and hedging.

    So that, for example, lately I’ve been tailoring my personal strategy towards investments that will work out if society collapses OR if it doesn’t. I think there are ways to thread this needle.

  240. I never comment (except now), but your posts are keeping me alive. Found you thru Damien Echols, who I do a lot of work with. Thanks.

  241. I’m fully aware of catabolic collapse, long descent or whatever you call this elephant in the room, since several years ago (thanks to JMGs The Archdruid Report). You have talk about “collapse now and avoid the rush”, I agree with you and I would do the same in my personal life.
    However, I have a problem with my tendence to cyclical anxiety and depression. I can tell you that I have fought anxiety with meditation, so I’ve managed to leave ansiolitic drugs…into the garbage can. But I’m still dependent on antidepressants with medical prescription.
    Do you have some ideas about being less and less dependant on that pills in a scarcity future?(not very long time). I’m thinking about some type of meditation I don’t know yet, or herbal nature substances, or…?

  242. Hey people. Inflation in Spain was over 10% in June, so let’s keep on supporting Ukraine forever against Russia! NATO won’t save us from the increasing life costs. And EU leaders gone nuts a long time ago…
    A question for the Europeans here: What percentage was the inflation last month in your country?

  243. Another question for JMG and kommentariat:
    Do you think the Stirling engines are a technological option during this Catabolic Collapse as work machines or electricity generators?

  244. A cartoon about increasing cost of living in the U.K…Wry amusement with the fine English humour.

  245. Tim PW, you’re welcome and thank you! I wish I knew for certain what’s in store for the housing sector; I currently rent, for what it’s worth, and if I buy a house again it’ll be a cash transaction.

    Eike, thanks for this. That makes an enormous amount of sense.

    Hackenschmidt, thanks for this also. You’re right, of course; the old books I like to read are always saying that health is the most important form of wealth you can have.

    Viduraawakened, excellent! Thanks for passing this on. It’s a technique that was much used back in the 1970s and early 1980s, but I haven’t seen much attention paid to it in recent decades.

    Chris, exactly — the way that Statler transformed history into a series of biographies with an almost novelistic quality made the book for me. I’ll have to look at Lofts’ book, though I don’t plan on hitting anybody over the head with it. (I’ve got better volumes for that.)

    Dan, of course people can get by! What we can expect over the years ahead is very much like what happened in the former Eastern Bloc during the collapse of Communism, since it has a similar cause — the implosion of an economic system that doesn’t work.

    Phil, you’re welcome. I disagree with Rus, of course, but his post was civil and thoughtful.

    Alan, thank you — and also for the grammar note. You have the right to post one of those per year, btw.

    Clay, hmm! Thank you; that bit of rhetoric slid past me.

    Lucy, you’re welcome and thank you. Feel free to comment more often if you feel inspired.

    Chuaquin, I’m not qualified to prescribe for mental conditions. Maybe someone else can help you. Stirling engines are potentially useful, but you’ll want to assess their net energy. As for the cartoon, thank you! That’s funny — and very sharp-edged.

  246. Two more book offers as I clean out the “I’ll never use these” files –

    From the Florida Park Service, “Dudley Farm Historic State Park” p16 page (half size)pamphlet with drawings – could get it in the outgoing mail immediately. There is also a matching 95-page self-published book expanding the story of the farm.

    And – since I think my cooking days are over, but for the simplest, the delightful Weird of Hali Cookbook.

    Again, anyone who wants these, email me at or txt me at 505-239-9670.


  247. Start growing some of your own food – – and plan for power outages in mid-winter by having a non-electric heat source. there, you’re halfway to sustainability.

  248. Gerald Celente who founded the Trends Research has several good sayings. One of them is “when people lose everything and have nothing else to lose, they lose it”.

    That’s exactly what is taking place right now in Sri Lanka as the “pitchforks and torches” are crashing the castle gates. The plebs have turned against the government and have stormed the Presidents Palace and demanded his resignation. It’smnow being reported he is stepping down.

    Maybe CONgress should hold insurrection hearings on behalf of Sri Lanka because if you are taking about insurrection, that’s precisely how you do it. I don’t think the plebs were taking selfies. 🙂

  249. @Chuaquin: Stirling engines will likely be part of the future, either as a solution to keep us going at our current high energy level or as part of the ratcheting down.

    They are currently used in thermal solar electric generation, making large amounts of electricity.

    But one could also be used in your backyard, burning wood, coal or material scavenged from abandoned buildings to make enough electricity to keep your lights on, run a small fridge and a ham radio.

  250. JMG

    This may be an odd strategy, but one that suits me and my particular skills and interests. While I admire the people who are able to make things with their hands, I excell at making imaginary constructs that turn into social reality. So that is what I do. I gather people around me with some excuse or other (which is usually fun) while telling them that it is just an excuse for actually building social networks for everyone’s benefit. I am just starting, but the results so far seem promising.

    What is common with all these “excuses” that are fun is that they require very little energy and very much whatever it is that the participants bring with them. There is no money in it. It’s all about the whole that is more than the sum of its parts. It can be dancing, it can be a book club, it can be board games, role playing games, cooking together, or something more philosophical. I think it can even be a sort of a magical lodge at some point.

    Then whatever this structure needs to accomplish, it can use the social capital for that purpose. If it is something green wizardry-like, it can be that. Or whatever else is needed. But the structure has to be there. The relationships, the trust, the bonds, the curiosity and respect for the other strange individuals, the tolerance of dissensus.

    Who knows. Maybe I could use my time and resources better. But then I think that is is something I know I can do and with great effect. It is anyway better to do this than dream about doing something supposedly better and never actually getting around to do it.

  251. Dear Mr. Greer,

    I had wanted to mention in my previous comment, for what it is worth, that my compliments to you and to the commentariat were sincerely meant, and not just any sort of flattery to you and/or to the other posters here. I value my “Ecosophia” reading time very much, as both needed relaxation from my hectic life, as well needed mental stimulation in this increasingly atomized, and intellectually lazy and shallow, society. I often find myself musing over your and others’ postings here for days afterward.

    As for my (sole allotted annual) grammatical observation in my previous comment, thank you for indulging me! I did not mean to be the officious “grammar Nazi”, or to criticize others’ English, but to offer them some helpful advice regarding a frequently made mistake in their otherwise excellent use of the English language (a mistake which is strangely very common among northern Europeans who speak and/or write English as a second language). I was thinking of two regular posters here in particular, who often make very thoughtful, knowledgeable and insightful comments, but I did not want to single them out by name.

  252. Ian #222 et al in re televised college sports: As you may know the Ky Wildcats have a well regarded basketball program. My husband’s family used to have a subscription to four seats that he and his siblings would divvy up. Then they jacked up the price seemingly out of nowhere, and a few years later they stopped showing the games on the local tv stations. Now you can’t watch them if you don’t have cable and ordinary families are priced out of subscription tickets. So maybe you can go see them once or twice a year, not the “best” games, either. We quit going at all, and most people we know cut way back. Ky regularly packs their seats, but many other programs don’t. We joke here ths real state religion is basketball. But Ky’s economy has been a hot mess for decades and is in no danger of getting better as most of the young people move away. So even Ky’s sports enthusiasts will have to make choices soon, if not already. My husband says the SEC started out 8 or 10ish teams. Half of played games conference, half non-conference. There’s only so many weeks in the season, and all of March is tournament games. Plus all the “special” non-conference games during the holiday season, etc etc. It’s practically designed now to shut out locals and the non-wealthy. It’s all about TV money. They don’t care if ordinary people can participate.

  253. Elke 220
    Thank you for that very thoughtful post. It gives a lot to think about. I guess I have always been lucky in this aspect in always having been an outsider, if not complete loner, and not as affected as most by the tribal soul, even to the point of my first impulse always being to go against it. I probably came the closest in Australia, but even there not quite. Have you ever read Borges’ The Biography Of Tadeo Isodoro Cruz’ ?
    Are you familiar with Simon Sheridan’s blog for a very interesting Jungian perspective on a lot of the events in our world? He comments here from time to time.
    Your grandfather’s story about the fridges reminds me of an ex in law in Ireland. Her father used to install and service gas cookers in rural Ireland in the 50s and 60s. One of his service calls involved trying to find a polite way to tell the client that the reason that their stove didn’t work was because they let the chickens get into the kitchen, who then flew up on the stove and pooped on the burners.

  254. Alan 244
    I was just curious how many languages you speak and write fluently, and which ones they are?

  255. Eike, RE egregore,

    Thank you very much for this.

    That makes much more sense than the conscious choices I was assuming that leaders were making. It is very difficult to square the decisions being made with a rational thought process absent some confounding variable like an implausible large and organized conspiracy, and I haven’t seen anything in the last 20 years that let’s me believe the elites are anywhere near that organized or effective.

    It also explains why covid and Ukraine crazy are only afflicting the west.

    If you or JMG have any suggestions for reading material to understand this better I would love to hear them. I have Jung’s redbook but I haven’t read his other works.


  256. @ SueS says: (comment #85)
    July 7, 2022 at 1:10 am:

    Hello SueS, hello Mr. Greer,

    there is (or et least was) in the 2005 plus.. years a (non-official) currency KIND OF like the one you imagined. It existed in Germany, to be precise in the area of the former DDR (East Germany), in the region called “Uckermark” (wikipedia should have an entry about it al least the german wiki).

    Some dozens of west-german ex-hippy-folks (i dont mean to say hippy oder westy derogatively) had bought nearly a whole backwater village there, as land there was very cheap for some time after the re-union of west germany (BRD) and east germany (DDR).

    In the village the tried to be as much self-sufficient as possible, as long as food was concerned, did lots of more-or-less-organic gardening, an processed their harvest themselves (pickeling ect.).

    For trading their product between each other they created their own unique currency:

    the Uckermark (word game intended, as Deutsche Mark had been from the 1950 to 2002 the currency of the BRD).

    The system for money creation and pricing was:

    for each hour of your own labour or the labour of your household members you used for your product unit oder your complete service you should price it with 1 Uckermark.
    (I guess then you may negotiate with your customer if he wants to pay less or maybe would accept to pay more).

    Sorry i have not more info.I also do not know how long that village went on like this and how it developed.

    But i guess your (and dear Mr. Greer ! 😀 ) may appreciate the basic idea to base a currency on THE ONLY ressource that always will bei availlable als long humans live, is extremly flexible and fungible, and much more usefull in times of crisis than silver or gold:


    I in general suggest a mechanis that allows the creation of new money only if there has a corresponding creation of REAL value before.
    AND a mechanism that eleminates money form the system again once the real value has been used up.

    What about a currency based on bonds or vouchers that give you the right to ge a delivery of firewood or charcoal ? An ONLY such institutions or persons are allowed to issuio these bonds if the own a forrest and produce the wood or / and charcoal. And the may only emmit as much new bond volumina as equals ther wood production in the year !

    That would be an energy-bases currency, also good ! To be precise an hybrid of energy-bases and work-based wich seems even better to me.

    Greetings !

  257. Isaac– re: the map with pins of “jmgfolk”, I just hover over a pin to see who it belongs to. But then, I’m using a computer with a mouse, not a camera/computer/phone.

  258. Bofur #191
    ‘Does anyone know what people prioritized, historically, when they first received electrical service?’

    My mother grew up in rural Ireland, she was in her mid twenties when electricity arrived, in the late 1950s. She always said pumping water was the greatest thing electricity done for rural women, it relieved them of the endless drudgery of hauling buckets of water from the well.

    My wife was a wayward teenager, when her mother (who also grew up in rural Ireland without electricity) was particularly exasperated with her behaviour, she would say “if your not careful you will end up carrying buckets all your life”.

  259. Patricia Matthews #148

    Thanks‼️for this gem of an article: the 4Ps.

    One thing the article says:

    “Something that helps is what I call the 4 P’s: pause, process, plan, proceed”

    In my former posts of JMG’s over years, I have referred to my meditation practice (even in the state of tatters as it is), these 4Ps are EXACTLY what, literally, saved me in my early 20s. Meditation made me pause, process, plan, and proceed, big-time. At least in my time and location in the 1960s, the 4Ps were‼️NEVER‼️EVER‼️NEVER‼️EVER‼️(ten-thousand never-evers) taught in neighborhood or school. My parents certainly didn’t teach the 4Ps because, I believe, they preferred their lives ‘chaotic’ because, in their own unexamined lives and demented ways, keeping their kids perpetually on-edge benefited them. Even now, one has to learn the 4Ps on-the-sly. To learn the 4Ps is tantamount to stopping being a slave.

    For a bit more background, when I left home, I was a total mess and basket case. At 17 (1969), I was headed for a life of anguish and if not an early death. I was figuratively running towards a cliff (but, of course, didn’t know it). At 19, I had the amazingly good fortune to bump into two people (my age) who had started a meditation practice, and actually did it regularly. I took up meditation too. (Somewhere along the line, I had built up an itty-bitty sliver of good fortune to have crossed paths with these two and to have been able to ‘hear them.’) Aha‼️What meditation gave me was the ability to Pause, Process, Plan, and Proceed. Simply learning to pause kept me from committing suicide (I would not have reached age 20). I skidded just short of careening off the cliff. I am forever in those two people’s debts (talk about a savior). It is now fifty years later, and I have outlived half the people I graduated high school with.🤫

    Whatever helps people to Pause, Process, Plan, and Process is one of the most valuable skills one can learn during an entire lifetime. Moreover, it is one of the most valuable survival skills to teach those who come after us.

    First, close the eyes.

    Brad Stulberg, the author of the article, apparently wrote a book called “The Practice of Groundedness.” Sounds like a worthy book.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  260. Chuaquin (and others) re: Stirling Engines. In addition to the comments of others, I’ll just note that Stirling Engine development is one of those topics that seems to get revived every twenty years or so, always promising that “we’ll do it right this time”. After a few years and a few million dollars of venture funding, the story goes cold. They do have some uses, but they seem to be niches that (in my opinion) are unlike to expand under post-industrial conditions.

    The efficiency of a Stirling Engine is limited by Carnot’s equation: efficiency = 1 – Tc/Th, where Tc is the cold temperature, and Th is the hot temperature. Note that these are “absolute” temperatures, not Fahrenheit or Celsius, but Kelvin (or Rankine). So, suppose our hot side is boiling water (100C = 373K), and the cold side is a comfortable 20 C (293K), so it’s only about 21% efficient! Making the hot side “red hot” (460C) gets you up to 60%, but then you have trouble with materials that can survive the heat.

    As it happens, I have a toy Stirling Engine. It’s fun to stack it on a cup of hot tea and watch in pump and spin for a few minutes, or put ice on top, while balancing it on a warm hand. (It just needs a temperature difference to run.) The motion of two pistons, 90-degrees offset in phase, is intriguing… for a while. But no one’s pretending that it can generate a useful amount of power.

    I’d hate to see soil deprived of good organic biomass because it was burned, instead of used for compost or mulch. There’s no substitute for fertile soil when it comes to food production.

  261. Chuaquin, if I may, Stirling engines are just another type of heat engine. Their major advantage, is that unlike internal combustion engines, they simply require heat as an input rather than a clean-burning liquid or gaseous fuel. This makes is possible to run them on any source of heat you can imagine, from fossil fuels including coal, to biomass, to the sun, to nuclear. Of course, the same is true of steam engines, and although steam engines require a constant supply of water, or a bulky condensation system, steam engines have a proven track record of doing useful things, including self-propelled applications, while Stirling engines simply don’t. Stirling engines are the right choice if you want mechanical power but have heat and nothing else, otherwise steam is simpler and just as efficient.

  262. JMG #149

    > as I recall, Aleksandr Sokzhenitsyn said much the same thing — though in rather less colorful language!

    Interesting‼️Nope, never read Solzhenitsyn. Such ideas are swirling around the ether.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  263. Io was just thinking of another factor that contributes to the collapse of empires, or at least contributes to the general cluelessness of the population during the early stages of decline. This popped in to my head as I was reading about the dutch farmer’s protests. As an empire reaches its peak ( especially a modern industrial one) the number of people who make a living as actual farmers ( not field hands) decreases as the empire becomes centered on rentier economics. That is because farmers ( even modern industrial ones) are much more attuned to the actual state of the world than the average amazon worker, insurance agent or coder. Most of them keep close track of energy costs, commodity prices, water availability and the availability of inputs, spare parts etc. Even the average trucker has a much better he grasp of the state of the actual world than a university administrator as they are in constant touch with fuel prices, that state of infrastructure and the workings of the supply chain. I think that is why they tend to be the canaries in the coal mine as countries begin their descent down the drain. But the majority of the middle classe and PMC are clueless and don’t realize the boat is coming near the falls until it is too late as they perceive the world through the lens of CNN, the NYT or the latest faculty newsletter.

  264. Stephen,

    I don’t know that book, will have to look into it. As for Simon Sheridan, he was much discussed in the covid threads if I‘m not mistaken. Will check his stuff as well, thanks!


    The key stone that made this whole idea complete for me was in this crypto Bro/philosophy blogger‘s discussion of the book I mentioned:
    As I said, I don’t agree with much of the author‘s thesis (he keeps referring to the brain, when I‘d say „mind“, and there’s no trace of Jung in there), but nevertheless, I found it profoundly inspiring.
    The guy who hosts that channel is also an interesting cat. I often disagree with him, but he delivers food for thought.

    As for further reading, that’s really hard to tell, as it feels like many different bits came together here.
    But here’s a short list of titles that certainly informed my thinking over the years (in no specific order):

    Daimonic Reality
    The Cosmic Doctrine
    The Mothman Prophecies
    Much of JMG‘s work
    What I‘ve read of Tolstoi and Dostoyevski

    I‘m very sure that meditation on the tree of life, experiments with astral projection and out-of-body experiences, as well as the occasional psychedelic experience have also played a role.

    JMG, happy to return the favor 😅

  265. One more point about the soul of the tribe: the idea that those most intensely connected to a culture‘s institutional upkeep are also most tightly bound to its egregore goes a long way in explaining why collapsing civilizations never seem to get their act together, even if numerous workable solutions are known to many of its citizens.

    The cushioning of the fall, and the seeds for a new world, must come from the fringes, as any good idea presented to the rulers would just get garbled. They see The Limits to Growth and come up with The Great Reset.

    And one more point for Team10tim: I think it was mostly the weird behavior of Covidians that set my mind to work on this topic. They just seemed like their individual judgment was overwritten by something, whenever I saw them confronted with a contradiction. It seemed much more like an outside force to me, than an internal dysfunction.

  266. @Mario #181, JMG #195:
    The political opinion piece you reference is entirely based on the press communiqué of the Supreme Court, possibly because the decision itself had not yet been published. Now I am a layman, but I tried my best at the decision itself (in German, but there is now an official English translation) and couldn’t find any indication that “all constitutional rights have been declared by this ruling to be secondary to this project.” To the contrary, the decision itself states quite clearly:

    “2a. Art. 20a of the Basic Law [the one about climate] does not take absolute precedence over other interests. In cases of conflict, it must be balanced against other constitutional interests and principles.”

    With regard to a self-inflicted Morgenthau plan, if Germany continues antagonizing Russia, then even a government that doesn’t believe in anthropogenic climate change wouldn’t be able to keep the lights on in the near term. On the other hand, a plan to force optimal thermic insulation of buildings, to favour rail transport over individual car transport and to reduce mass industrial meat production would be beneficial under peak oil aspects alone. Most of us agree that photovoltaics won’t save industrial civilization, but nuclear power or lignite (brown coal) won’t cut it either. So I think the issues of reducing CO2 emissions and of being dragged into a confrontation with Russia are quite separate.

  267. @Apteryx #143 – I know a harpist who would be fascinated by the books you describe. How can I contact you for further discussion of this?

  268. Clay Dennis,

    I’ve mused on this subject as well over the years, wondering why some people were predisposed to see trouble in advance while others could be getting whacked over the head with it and still not see it. Police officers and EMT personnel seem to belong to the first group, along with your farmers and truckers.

    Similarly, my 12 y.o. son wants to find fossils and arrowheads and such, and never does. I told him that the people who find arrowheads are the farmers who cultivate the bottomlands. Around here in former Cherokee country, rumor has it that they found hundreds every time they turned the soil, for a good long while, but they are getting played out nowadays. Fossils are found by miners and excavators more often than not. Not surprisingly, sasquatch is almost always spotted by folks who spend a lot of time deep in the woods – hunters, foresters, surveyors, etc.

    Of course, it was probably just a sandhill crane…;) Those stupid drunk hillbillies and their Big Foot scandals…

    So hip snarky urbanites get the advantage on basically nothing of any interest, or lasting value. I suppose they might know when commercial flights aren’t running on time before the others…or when a BLM protest turns violent. To the farmers and truckers these might as well be foreign affairs they only hear about on the news.


  269. Currently I need to decide whether I shall have my car repaired – that since I bought it last year I almost never need, a few times a year at most.
    My rationale for retaining it is: I am stocking my emergency depot in my apartment in the city. This however is not a place I’d want to be in the case of a blackout event.
    I would in such a case want to transfer my stockpiled goods and tools at least to the suburb, another apartment in a much quieter area. No heating would be a catastrophe in the citiy apartment, but halfway manangeable in the suburbs.
    Also, possibly the car would be used to move to the rural place I have altogether, where I know the farmers and the old hippie, a man with considerable crafting and trade skills, additionally a lot of knowledge about gardening and wild herbs.
    The rural place is ~20min away from the next small town, not remote in an American sense. A quiet place but not a Hinterland like those I see on Google Earth when I look at the US landscape.

    How likely is a blackout event? I really have no idea what’s coming – but the director of the Austrian national energy grid operator company litterally said that our aging grid is prone to fall apart very soon.

    Industries all over Germany are already closing due to resource shortage. The packaging industries for one, necessary for the distribution of food stuffs. Steel works are closing as well.

    There is a shortage of fertilizer, machine replacement parts…without gas, lifestock husbandry in an industrial sense becomes impossible.
    There are so many uses for gas that are little understood by the broad populace, only known to some industriall experts.
    The number of interventions in electric grid operation in Germany alone is rising exponentially at least since 2020;

    Chambers of commerce and industry along with economic news papers are already giving out truly dire warnings; even the German politicians, busy telling everyone that everything is great and there is no danger, they are already predicting “very hard times” as well as “the biggest crisis in Europe since 70 years”.

    All this is more than threatening; meanwhile the middle class society notices ZERO, with exceptions as per my last comments about my working colleagues.

    This is psychologically pressuring for me; humans are more than gregarious, they are group animals that cannot survive alone; seeing something nobody else sees is usually reason for concern. After all, under natural circumstance, a human group usually knows better than the individual.

    There are few but some people I can talk about all that. Otherwise, society is oblivious. I feel like I am crazy and everyone else is sane, but then again, these public statements of chief representatives of industry, commerce and military speak a VERY clear language – it’s just that most middle class people do not listen to that at all.

    Maybe I should give the car away to save costs, and bunker my depot in the suburbs, I can walk there on foot from my city apartment, that in itself is no problem at all.

    Difficult times! I have absolutely no idea what’s right or wrong at this point; I get under stress and pressure while my environment doesn’t even understand what I am doing.

    Below the youtube videos of a skilled survival guy who gives lots of interesting analyses of grid stability, gas use…and all these topics, there are so many people saying, they prepare now, or already a longer time, while their friends and relatives take them for crazy and react with derision to their warnings.

    Will Noah take me in on his ship too…? I’m feeling kind of lost and confused.

  270. Hi John and friends,

    Very good article and one that really does strike a cord with me. However I disagree somewhat about 2008 being the trigger for the decline of the West.

    I always place the flashpoint as being September 11th, 2001. I always remember my childhood in the 1990s in the UK being one filled with optimism and in general a mood of everything is getting better. People were excited about the millenium, they thought by 2022 we would have moon bases and space hotels by now. Everything was going to be great.

    Then those planes hit the towers and nothing was ever right since. My observations from then onwards was basically that of a slow decline. The mood of the West, particularly the UK, had collapsed. The optimism out of the window. Instead “history” had caught back up with everyone and it wasn’t going away.

    All of those fears of immigrants taking over Europe? It really started to hit home in the 2000s, with the then British National Party (BNP) doing extremely well at the ballot box. Climate change was being spoken about more actively and young people were realising they needed this and that experience just to land their first job.

    2008 was just another nail in the coffin and proved that the West really is in decline. That the good days were over. The truth is – the Western world never truly recovered from 2008 – the bailouts just prolonged the agony.

    Depression had turned into a declining stagnation. Yet food prices were still cheaper and the governments’ welfare cuts had not fully taken into effect like they are now. It was tougher to get benefits compared to the easy days of the Blair era but the long term dependants were left alone in general.

    But eventually those welfare cuts really started to bite the new claimants. Families got by but the working poor was growing. Then Brexit happebed, along with covid and finally Ukraine. A triple whammy. The entire country went down the sink.

    Its interesting that I was speaking to my mother back in the UK a few months ago and she confessed something to me: “Look, I always grew up with a recession around the corner. We had the three work week and black outs in the 70s. Then we had the three million unemployed Thatcher recession where we had to tighten our belts a bit, especially since factories and coal mines were being shut down. Then the early 80s recession. Yet it was always just one problem. Only one. Eventually it would get better and things came booming back to life. Yet this time its different. It seems we are being hit by a multitude of problems and we just dont know what to do to get out of it.”

    And this here John is the key. No one knows how to get out of this one. The Great Depression? World War II and mass industrial production. The 1980s closure of factories? Brand new retail industries being opened up for the masses to go into and achieve the middle class dream still along with the new IT sector that was up and coming.

    My father was one of the retail men. Left school with no qualifications, went to work in a shop and ended up promoted to manager. Made a good middle class life for himself, brought his first house at 23 years old. So despite no factories, there was something still to do.

    Nowadays there is no new industries replace the old that are shut down. The IT revolution killed off the retail shops. Jobs became harder and more stressful to do. Getting into the middle class became a damn sight more difficult.

    This is the Long Descent. It is here. I predict the same as you. Everything will stay the samr but stabilise to the new norm as it did after 2008. Yet the working poor and underclass will continue to grow, the middle class becoming ever more of an anamoly.

    Its interesting with my discussions with Russian IT tech engineers. Deep down they know the West is declining and offers no future but they know that if they immigrate, they can have a good salary and live in a gated community somewhere in Britain and the US. Yet there is a catch to this. Young Russians only know their chance to be middle class is by going into IT yet when everyone does it, eventually it becomes over saturated and just another working class job. So in the end, even the youth of Russia’s skills will be at the backend.

    As for the climate – I don’t foresee any major climatic changes in this century aside from warming weather. Snow will probably disappear from most of Europe with green winters becoming the norm. It already is the case in Western Europe and Russia is definitely catching up on that fact. As people tell me here, only 20 years ago the winter in St. Petersburg reached on an average basis -20c, sometimes -30c. Now? It averages between -10c on a really cold day and usually around -4c.

    Green winters are becoming way more common with every three years or so 5c being the average. Within 30 years, they say the green winter will be the norm. Only places in the far east of Siberia will still have a traditional winter.

    As for Western Europe? I hear their winters will average about 10c – 15c or so. I.e South African winter levels.

    So yeah, I dont expect to see Amsterdam falling into the ocean but I do expect the winters to get warmer.

    Btw John and I say this cheekily. You were “wrong”. We do have a StarTrek future coming up. That is the Long Descent. You see Humanity successfully destroyed itself in two major wars and resources ran out, leading them back to a dark age.

    Yet there was a miracle. That was the Vulcans. When Zephraim Cochrane decided to blast into space, the Vulcans magically came down like a sci-fi version of the Second Coming and gave mankind lots of new goodies and technology.

    In other words – it was Meissanic prophecy fulfilled on a sci-fi level. Mankind never developed the technology – the saviours did it for them.

    I don’t think our humanity will be quite so fortunate…

  271. What’s it like living as the grid declines? Here’s the latest load shedding tweets from City of Cape Town

    11 July
    Stage 2: 00:00 – 05:00
    Stage 4: 05:00 – 16:00
    Stage 3: 16:00 – 24:00
    12 July
    Stage 2: 00:00 – 05:00
    Stage 3: 05:00 – 22:00
    Stage 4: 22:00 – 24:00
    Updates will follow likely at short notice as communicated by Eskom.
    Reduce usage to help us maintain and boost reserves.

    Our day is divided into 2-hour time slots and we can plan around which of the 2-hour slots will be load-shed. (I have three load shedding apps on my phone.) In theory I can make sure my batteries are charged and my appliances not burned out by any power surge when the load comes back on, but I do get caught by surprise sometimes. Today I will get my bread baked in time, but I might miss the second half of the Austrian Grand Prix. [frowny face].

    Background: South Africa’s grid power comes from Eskom, a semi-government utility which runs a fleet of coal-fired power stations which are falling apart because they are old, badly maintained, and run by politically-appointed incompetents in many cases. Cape Town has a pumped storage scheme as well so we are usually one stage less than the rest of the country. On the 11th you’ll see Stage 4 during the day, probably because they are replenishing the pumped storage. Peak power usage is in the evening so solar power is no help.

    We also have one nuclear power station, Koeberg, which up to now has been very reliable, but recently there have been disturbing reports of skilled staff leaving and politicians interfering in the selection of contractors for upgrades. Now I read on this website about stress corrosion in French nuclear power stations.

    “The Koeberg plant was built by Framatome (now Areva) and commissioned in 1984-85. It is owned and operated by Eskom and has twin 900 MWe class (970 & 940 MWe gross) pressurised water reactors (PWRs), the same as those providing most of France’s electricity.”

    Oh dear. It’s only 30 km from where I sit.

  272. Looking forward to those future posts! When I am stressed at work always found it calming in some ways to know that the things we will care about will be very different in the generations to come.

  273. JMG: I understand your point of view on mental diseases, thank you despite everything. But I have checked a very interesting thing: there is a directly proportional proportion between my exposition to mainstream media and my anxiety/depression diseases. So I have left to pay attention to newspapers, TV and online mainstream media, since a month ago. And I am relatively better in my mind.
    JMG and kommentariat on Stirling engines: OK, I know there are no miracles in science and technology, but I think that machines are interesting for the rough times ahead…I’m not keen in enginerring nor mechanics, however it’s a gut feeling. Thank you for your opinions.

  274. @ Petit Bourgois (#269) and SueS ( #85)
    re: alternative currencies

    Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts has had an alternate currency they call “BerkShares” for quite a few years now. I can’t say how successful it is, but it is still around, so that is something. It is tied to the dollar, but the plan is, or was, to somehow base it on the value of an assortment of local goods. They have real paper currency, and also now a digital currency. Local banks actually exchange BerkShares for dollars, and vice versa. Interesting, if nothing else.

    If you are not familiar with the area, it is also quite interesting. Western Mass is more conservative than the state overall. Home to many farmers and libertarians, they also have more than their share of hippies, pot farms, socialists and wokesters. Yet somehow they all seem to get along (relatively). The region is physically quite beautiful, with mountains, rivers and lakes, lots of farmland and even some old growth forest. Mostly rural with many small towns and a few larger ones.

    Of recent notoriety, it produced the Great Barrington Declaration. This statement questioned some of the assumptions and practices of mainstream responses to Covid 19. Though written by some (previously) well respected scientists, it was attacked by the WHO and many others, which in itself is probably good reason to at least consider it.

    Looking for a nice vacation? Maybe a place to collapse early? Have a look, and pick up a few BerkShares for souvenirs. A better investment, I think, than Bitcoin.

  275. In the past few days I’ve seen 2 shows on PBS that I put into the “this will get us over these bumps in the march of progress, just you wait and see” trash bin. One was on self driving cars, the other on electric aircraft. Both had many people saying “oh we have lot of problems now, but…” The “but” was more of if we can, then this WILL happen, and we will have done another step on the road to the stars. Several even said “there is no reason this is not technically feasible. I’m thinking, maybe, if, if if. Nor was any mention of materials shortages, supply chain and climate problems mentioned. The both envision a massive build out of the electrical grid, more satellites, millions of sensors, and support features. I could almost see their eyes spinning in their heads as they proclaimed “this is the future, this is the next big jump in Progress, this will solve so many problems” Always followed by the “ifs” That future was only a dream, anyway.

  276. Stephen Pearson #154

    I shall share some of my experience about California. This is ONE person’s opinion of California. There are decent Californians here and there.

    Originally from New York State, my husband and I lived in Sunnyvale and southern Santa Clara County for thirty years from 1992 to 2022. Even though we were never directly affected by disasters, because of the threats coming from all directions, we cashed-out in summer 2020. California had become the opposite of a haven. The four directions in Druidry are a good reference: air, fire, water, earth.

    air: Toxic air from wildfires lasting months.

    fire1: Wildfires cropping up on a weekly basis from February to December anyplace.

    fire2: Heat waves. In our town, we had only one month of “winter”: December 15 to January 15. The other eleven months were “summer,” where even late January could be brutally hot. There was no spring and autumn. Heat was relentless. Air conditioning gave us cabin-fever.

    water: Long-lasting drought/water wars. Wildfires all around.

    earth: Earthquakes, anytime, anywhere, a constant possibility.

    people1: Homelessness: California already has a huge homeless population. The numbers increase daily. Poverty is increasing. Like it or not, they are a tax burden on non-homeless and poverty-stricken Californians. If taxes don’t go up immediately, they will later. Tax burden on all residents will go up and up.

    people2: People don’t want to work. When they do do work, they want 3-4 times the pay-rate than they are skilled for. In other words, greed permeates. Californians have a ‘taking’ mentality.

    people3: A commenter above mentioned book ”Stranger in a Strange Land.” That is California. Characteristically, Californians don’t give a rat’s arse about neighbors. A next-door neighbor could be screaming out a window, “I am dying. Help! Help!” and no-one would give a cr_p — let the person drop dead — not my problem — who cares? — let them starve — upside is that house becomes vacant and fifty people put bids on it for $1.5 million. Californians are way past rude — they are dead inside — they have absolutely no depth being they, and their people, have had no spiritual practice for a hundred years.

    Sacramento: I lived in Sacto for one summer in the 1970s. The temperature was over 100º F. for straight three months. The environment of Sacramento was unlivable forty-five years ago. I don’t see the attraction. I hate the place.

    California sucked out everything we had, and it wanted more. My husband and I left California because it was killing us.

    All told, California is toxic and getting worse, on so many levels. Individual families can’t change it. Californians are hell-beings.

    That is only California. The rest of the states west of the Mississippi River (“West”) are getting hit by water-wars, drought, wildfires, killer heat waves, floods.

    To a Californian, chilly is good. We bought a plot of real estate in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is cold, cheap, and has thousands of family farms around. We won’t starve. We have in Wisconsin for two years, and can say the people are friendly and community-minded. Their peasant ancestors🤙 (as mine are) taught them that it takes a village. It is a ‘making’ culture.

    We escaped California by the skin of our teeth. California did not give us up easily. As we drove uphill through the Sierra Mountains (on our final trek towards Wisconsin), there was a great sucking feeling, seriously, a huge invisible poltergeist rubber-band trying to hook us back towards San Francisco, saying “You are mine forever — you will never abandon me.” Well, we did escape. Snaggums.

    You can guess my conclusion: Get out of California. Move east of the Mississippi River.

    One vote ❌ for No (don’t stay in California) — one vote ✔️ for leaving the entire West.

    So there you have it.

    Listen to your gut. Have fun deciding.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  277. I don’t know how to be a peasant. If I’m reading your works accurately this seems to be your overarching thesis, learn how to be a peasant and all that entails. Learn a trade or barterable skill that people need, learn how to largely produce or at least supplement my own food, and in general learn how to get by on far less material goods and resources that modern 21st century energy provides. Am I wrong?

  278. Ksim @ 283 your Russian friends would be well advised to remain where they are. When the kind of riots we are now seeing in far off places like Sri Lanka and Albania happen in the USA, the rioters will be armed, and gated communities likely will be among their first targets. Neither overstressed police nor underpaid security guards will save them.

  279. Bofur #191 and RPC #200

    Usually here, commenters write about what they have firsthand experience or knowledge of, in story form. In other words, they “know.” They are an authority of that particular event or thing. Having seen or done something firsthand, they are THE expert of that experience of that time and place. That experience of that time and place is unique. I love reading the comments here because each person brings expertise on what they are talking about.

    If not firsthand experience, commenters speak of someone who has had firsthand experience, and say so — that (fill in the blank) is secondhand experience.

    One’s personal experience is indisputable. For example, no-one can dispute the fact that, “at age 9, I climbed a tree and the fire department had to come get me down” (this being an example of a firsthand one-sentence story) (being an utterly riveting one-liner at that 🥸).

    Things don’t get garbled like in “the game of telephone” because no-one else has had that experience, so there can be no legitimate argument. If someone argues, “You never got stuck in a tree,” that person will get laughed at because that party wasn’t there, and has no knowledge of that event.

    And when someone does submit a comment that argues AND makes a spectacle of it, JMG provides the valuable service of smacking that fly out of existence (it is summer, and I just pulverized a fly🪰).

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  280. @sgage

    That is a good redpill, thanks a lot for this.


    Thank you for your reply. I didn’t know that this has its origins in the appropriate tech movement, but I’m not surprised.

  281. Hello JMG
    Per the discussion context of taking personal action to preserve things during the end of the industrial age – I think democratic government is important to preserve. Ergo, I should get involved in democratic governance. Of relevance I read the Free Staters recent actions in New Hampshire in today’s Sunday New York Times. Your usual response to statements like this is to ask the poster what they are personally taking action on to preserve those things – be it libraries, technologies, or democracy. So skipping that, I am interested to hear your thoughts on how to get more involved in democracy. I have my own ideas and have pursued, but could use more insight and context since I am just kind of fumbling around trying things – challenging local laws, researching effective forms of political speech, engaging activist dialogue – without a clear path in mind. At some point I need to land in a legislative realm of electoral politics. There should still be democracy in America during the de-industrial fall.

  282. Rod, maybe the Republicans should be over there taking notes, so they can figure out how to do a proper insurrection next time. 😉

    Oskari, excellent. The secret to thriving in today’s economy is to do something that nobody else does — better still, something nobody else can do — and create a niche market you alone can fill. What can I say, it seems to be working for me…

    Alan, good heavens, don’t worry about it. I took you quite seriously — and I’m willing to allow one grammar comment per year from anybody. More than that and it starts cluttering up the discussion.

    Northwind, well, Solzhenitsyn won the Nobel Prize in literature, so you have something to look forward to. 😉

    Clay, good. That’s an important point.

    Eike, excellent! Curiously enough, I’m just now rereading Klaus Schwab’s Covid 19: The Great Reset with an eye toward an upcoming post, and yes, the line connecting it to The Limits to Growth couldn’t be more clear.

    Aldarion, do you happen to know if they’re actually going to launch a campaign of insulation retrofits and the rest of it? That would be helpful.

    Ksim, everybody has a point at which they realized that the future they had been promised wasn’t going to be delivered. For you, it was 9/11; many other people missed that memo — and some haven’t gotten it yet. As for the Star Trek business, hmm — I wasn’t aware of that. The last Star Trek shows I ever watched were late night reruns of the original series in the early 1970s.

    Martin, thanks for this. A helpful look at a reality most people in the overdeveloped world haven’t yet encountered, but will encounter soon enough…

    Trustycanteen, the long view really is a source of comfort, isn’t it?

    Chuaquin, well, there are plenty of other good reasons to ignore the corporate media, so that’s a helpful choice no matter what! I hope things improve for you.

    Marlena13, ha! Yes, those tend to show up en masse as decline picks up speed. It’s all pablum for the masses, a desperate attempt to insist that the Great God Progress is still in his heaven and all’s right with the world.

    Northwind (if I may) my wife and I lived 14 miles north of the California border for five years. Those were my favorite 14 miles in the world.

    Joshua, that’s only one option, though it’s certainly an option. Even in dark ages there are people other than peasants, you know!

    Viduraawakened, an enormous number of good ideas got their start there; it’s just that most people won’t talk about it now.

    Jastin, I think that’s an excellent idea. As it happens, I have next to no experience with political involvement, so I don’t have any practical advice to offer; your fumbling around is likely to be more helpful than anything I can say. But there are other readers with more experience; maybe some of them will comment.

  283. Curt #28 and JustMe #255

    Probably satire.

    Oops, the United Nations article at:
    The Benefits of World Hunger

    gets a 404 error. The article is gone. The powers that be at the United Nations removed the article from circulation. However, a follow-up:

    The article was by “retired Hawaiian professor George Kent,” explaining how hunger is necessary to persuade people to do low-level manual labor.

    It seems the article was written back around 2008, and apparently is satire.

    Infowars gave their opinion:

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  284. @ Jastin, JMG

    Re political involvement

    FWIW, I’ve told people repeatedly that the three years I spent on city council constituted the most instructive civics class ever. I’d encourage you and anyone else so motivated to make a run at the local level. I got in on my second attempt, was able to make some small contributions, and then realized that my energy was better invested elsewhere. But I do not regret the experience in the least. You learn a lot about how things work (and don’t work), the limits and processes of democratic government, and the basic issues of dealing with disparate perspectives. Definitely something worth considering.

    In addition to elective office, there are all kinds of boards and commissions at the local level that have citizen members (usually appointed by the local governing body): things like planning/zoning commissions, library boards, park & rec boards, and the like. I spent seven years as a citizen member of my local plan commission (and then my three years on council as the council rep to that commission). There are lots of opportunities out there, if you’re willing to put in time and energy for little to no pay but a lot of pride in participating in the process of self-governance.

  285. “Rod, maybe the Republicans should be over there taking notes, so they can figure out how to do a proper insurrection next time. 😉”

    Unfortunately as someone who has no Party affiliation and has never voted and probably never will. I see both political parties as two sides of the same coin or good cop vs bad cop. But your idea would be quite funny indeed.

  286. My contribution to the shared observation that, despite all the past and current developments, it’s very difficult to convince other people that de-industrialization is on the horizon.

    There’s this saying that goes something like people can’t understand something if their livelihood depends on them not understanding it.

    I work a so called BS job (one of the kind that will disappear once energy scarcity really starts to hurt) in what is considered one of Austria’s hottest scale-ups in the software sector. Contrary to my previous experiences in corporate life, this company is really good and treats employees well. Very capable and clever people, genuinely nice and caring superiors and CEO.

    But they cannot see what is coming. It’s all about growth and more growth. Gaining more users, going into new markets, living the wonderful life of a young professional in what is called the world’s most livable city (Vienna). In discussions with colleagues and the CEO, I tried to bring up the topic of a world of less growth – I did not dare to say that we will end up in a post-growth world – a few times. Hinting, that maybe it would be good to have a plan B or plan C somewhere. You know, just in case. But these very intelligent, friendly people would have none of it.

    That’s because the C-suite have analysed everything – ‘Yes, the overall situation becomes more challenging. But we just have to keep on pushing harder to meet the goals we agreed on with our investors. We can do it!’ The colleagues don’t care – ‘Life is good and aren’t you just overreacting? Btw, did you see the game last night?’

    Maybe I got this kind of feedback because I am on a very low rung of the corporate ladder and quite the introvert.

    Also, in discussions with relatives and friends, there are only a handful of people who – reluctantly – are willing to accept that things are changing and that maybe the future won’t be as great as everyone thought it would. And even those who do have no deeper understanding of what this all actually means for them and the country. 1st, 2nd and 3rd order consequences and stuff. They don’t know.

    So I try to prepare – mostly by myself. Learning to live with less, no loans, learning to grow food on my small balcony, stocking up on canned food, water and other things. And then I wait.

    @Curt, if you feel like talking to a fellow Austrian about this whole mess, drop me a few lines
    jhtcm1 [at] gmail [dot] com.

  287. It’s wonderful to see so many great comments.

    It’s terrible to see so many great comments, because I don’t have time to give them the in-depth attention they deserve. JMG, you’re just too darn popular as the collapse accelerates!

  288. Northwind Grandma
    Thank you for your reply.
    I wrote you a long answer but the electronic dog ate it. Shall try again:a lesson in patience.
    The only thing I loved in W. Sac was the harmonious multi cultural neighborhood where I lived. A few blocks away actually was different. The blikeability and tree lined streets were a treat, but I wouldn’t move or stay there for them. Most of my reply to Brian was why not to move there. The only part of the state I see with any future is the NW corner: Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte, and as part of the PNW, not CA., and after a long bumpy road.
    I totally agree with your move. If i were younger and thinking where to locate in the US., I would choose the upper mid West.If i can re invent my age, I can re invent anything though, so my first choices would be back to Australia, or NZ or to southern S.America. i guess part of it is also finding the hill you are willing to die on.
    A spoiler alert; I am 82, and live in Mexico, and spend some of my time with my daughter on the Central CA coast, also some in a cabin I have at a community in the high desert there that is trying very hard to live and teach sustainability. I am afraid they are going to be defeated long term by water, climate change, fossil fuel dependency, dependency on charitable contributions. and the overall CA shale show. A for effort though. My own long term plans involve dying.
    thanks again, stephen

  289. Elke
    The story I mentioned is a typical Borges, two page haiku like story. To get the impact involves knowing about Martin Fierro, who is an Argentine Robin Hood or Ned Kelly figure. Interesting: the US has no such cultural figure. The closest might be Pretty Boy Floyd.
    Computer did its weirdness again

  290. @Svea280 – Sorry, the ballad books are claimed already. If your harpist friend would have any interest in a couple of books about the medieval Goliards, please post an email!

    I actually have a small stash of books that I set aside, or sometimes bought, specifically for the purpose of trying to get them through an apocalypse. Those that I have gotten around to packaging are double-wrapped in aluminum foil, with the edges duct-taped, put in gallon ziplock bags, and stored in large metal rectangular military surplus ammo cans in the horror-movie-ish cinderblock shower stall in my basement. I think there’s a good chance they would survive there either flooding or a nuclear bomb a few miles away. The only downside is that I cannot possibly lift an ammo can full of books, so could not transport them. I am limiting the selection to classic and modern works on subjects I consider most critical and to a few valuable practical works. Many worthy or useful books do not qualify (including one I wrote!): no space, no time.

  291. @Chuaquin #250:

    Let me be clear that I’m not trying to use JMG’s website to practice medicine! I am just observing the fact that a respected, conservative allopathic medical review institution, the Cochrane Collaboration, has put out a review of St. John’s wort for depression concluding, based on many clinical trials, that a high-quality SJW preparation is better than placebo and equal in benefit to antidepressant drugs, while being much safer. Like any drug, it will not work for everyone but any number of German physicians will say that it is worth a try. One might also observe in PubMed that there is published evidence that omega-3 fatty acid supplements, vitamin D, and exercise benefit some people. Many people also find Cognitive Behavioral Therapy useful, and there are cheap paperbacks that present some of its principles (which were influenced by Stoic philosophy / psychology).

    Antidepressants can cause severe side effects in many users if kicked quickly, including not just the obvious ones like brain zaps but backlash mood alterations that look like depression coming back, so some people who might have only had one bout of depression are made to believe their condition is lifelong. (This doesn’t seem to be your case, however.) Tapering off slowly could spare one that.

  292. Lathechuck #273

    🌱Starting with very few pre-conceived notions about gardening, and wanting to learn, I am currently reading two books by this author:

    Joseph A. Cocanouer
    b 1882 Illinois
    d 1969 Oklahoma

    The earlier book is “Trampling Out the Village” by Joseph A. Cocanouer, 1945, where he goes into detail on how, while growing up as a kid on a farm, he came to observe that weeds help gardens/farms grow, and then becoming a college teacher. Both are fascinating books.

    The later book is “Weeds: Guardians of the Soil,” 1950, then 2015. I liked this book so much, I wanted to know more about his early life, specifically how — on earth^ — had he intuited that weeds contribute to a garden/farm, and how revolutionary his ideas were, and are.

    If Rachel Carson was the mother of conservation, Joseph Cocanouer is an ever-so-humble father of conservation. I had never heard of him. I think it is just he hasn’t caught on.

    I will never again say, “Those darn weeds!” Instead, I will ask, “Okay weeds, where are you?”

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

    ^ accidental pun

  293. Northwind, allow me respectfully to suggest that Solzhenitsyn’s best novel–I think I might have read all or most of them, is August 1914, about the opening months of WWI.

    I lived in CA Central Valley for about a decade. Summer nights were like velvet and I grew fabulous roses, but, my CV town began to resemble a war zone–the combination of high housing prices and low wages will do that, and then daughter and grands moved to NY, so I moved also to a place where I can actually more or less afford to live. I still miss the roses.

  294. Northwind Grandma
    Just re read your post to me. I think i made it clear in my reply, but my post 154 was a reply to someone else’s question, not a question of mine. I may have questions in my life, but geography is not one of them. You might be amused: I just read that gasoline in Gorda, CA had just gone up to $10.00 per gallon.

  295. Viduraawakened, Sgage re: plastic recycling

    It‘s become my pet theory that plastics will become biodegradable within the foreseeable future, and that the problem will not be how to get rid ofthem, but how to keep them around.

    Several organisms have already been observed digesting different plastics, such as molds, bacteria, and even mealworms (which will eat styrofoam if nothing else is available).

    With millions of tons of microplastics finely dispersed through the biosphere, it can’t take the microfauna long to find the right enzymes and get to work on all that fine carbon!

    It will certainly take a while for all the additives, colorants, and the like, to be broken down or dispersed into insignificance, but my guess is, plastics as this indestructible, permanent pollution will vanish, and with them, most practical use cases we know today will also disappear.

  296. Hi JMG,

    I’ve noticed you’ve pointed out how the question of decline generally results in one of two reactions: outright denial or apocalypticism. I was thinking about this the other night, and in particular why doomsday scenarios are so much more popular than the idea of a slow decline amongst those who accept industrial society is unsustainable.

    I concluded that it’s a question of empowerment, that a quick collapse is far more empowering a fantasy than a slow decline. Most people who envision a spectacular collapse, in my experience, also see themselves surviving it and making it “to the other side”, where they work as farmers or in some sort of “rustic” occupation in a rural setting. Conveniently, this sort of occupation and lifestyle is what a lot of them want for their lives anyway (as opposed to an industrial lifestyle they feel trapped in), and so a collapse becomes to look forward to. (Again, not many people see themselves or loved ones dying in the sudden collapse, it’s all about what comes after).

    Contrast this with the vision of a slow decline, where even as industrial civilization declines, you still need to take part in it. There is no (forced) escape to a rural lifestyle, and so people will continue to work their modern jobs, live their modern lifestyles, etc., at least within the span of the majority of our lifetimes. (Your advice, I imagine, would be to “collapse now”, but I think a good chunk of doomsday predictors lack the will to do just that, which is why they imagine a collapse forcing them to do so).

    There’s a political aspect to this too. Many advocates of a sudden (or any, really) collapse of industrial civilization see the pre-industrial world as being a better place than the industrial one, with better social norms and whatnot. If there was a sudden collapse, a return to the pre-industrial world system may indeed happen. But with a slow decline, it is entirely likely that over the course of centuries America and the world will develop in entirely new ways (a “solarpunk” future where some level of advanced technology exists is not outside the realm of possibility). While I find this exciting, those who want a “return to tradition” will likely be appalled.

    In short, I think the embrace of a sudden, violent collapse being industrial society’s fate stems from such a fantasy feeding into both the personal and political desires of the people who do so. Granted, my interpretation of these attitudes come from my personal interactions with young Americans (20s-30s, mostly middle-class coastal men of White/Latino/Asian ethnic backgrounds) who believe in the doomsday scenario. I’m curious what you think, and if your larger audience/experience has given you a different view of the pro-doomsday group.

  297. Northwind,

    (Imagine Edward the Longshanks from Braveheart): “The problem with California…is that it’s full of Californians!”

    And then they instituted ‘prima nocta’…which just sounds rude to me…;)

    I lived in San Diego for all of a month. Couldn’t afford an apartment, and didn’t like the people. Like at all.

    Still, I came close to marrying a girl from Apple Valley, CA (which is why I was in SD to begin with) before lucking out and marrying a gal from Spokane, WA, instead. 20 years ago.

    I went to university in Florida. Floridians are #2 on my “dislike the most” list…

    Odd how much better the people are, on balance, a few hundred miles to the north.
    In either case!

    The sucking you back in part of your story is pretty creepy, btw.

  298. Joshua,

    If you haven’t read our host’s post-American collapse novel “Retrotopia” I highly recommend doing so.

    There are tons of jobs featured in the story with regular 9-5 hours, including some that don’t even require sweating all day every day!


  299. Jastin #295: You can usually find volunteer opportunities for local government. City, County, and State offices often need volunteers to help with elections or man information desks at courthouses, or booths at State Fairs. Local park systems and environmental groups need volunteers to maintain trails or replant local prairies or what have you. If you volunteer with an environmental group to do actual work, they will often provide free classes in their legislative goals and the reasons behind them, and proposed bills and timelines. Starting with actual physical work is often the best way to meet people and learn how a document or a vote or a law actually comes into being or gets changed.

  300. Mr. Greer & Co. …

    Everyday, I read and try to gleen .. parse .. grok .. all that’s moving at lightspeed, where ‘current and recent events’ are concerned – which has me feeling quite like Alex, of A Clockwork Orange fame (disclosure: I am Not an errant, shifless DROOG!). So here I am – Angry, Pensive, uncomfortable, as if straped in a theater loge velvet-covered iron seat .. certainly of not MY choosing .. whilst Big Civ becomes ever less so so. And I, as everyone else who’s at least somewhat rational, are forced to watch all the mayhem .. immobile, lids taped …

    So I step off my back deck and enter the world – the REAL world .. where this year’s flock of young chickadee fledgling congregate – looking at me as they decide how to drink/bath from the fountain, noting my presence .. or checking out the progress on that small baldfaced hornet nest hanging from the back eave of the shop. For many amounst us, the former aren’t noted, except when they’re cursed for ruining that freshly washed car .. as for the latter, they’re “EEEKed” at .. with the requisite call to those spewers of pesticides .. the terminexators and such to rid one of any notion ..of the stinging confrontation that may never occur!

    I’ll choose the realworld McCoy over the Meta version ANY day!

    polecat – over and out –

  301. Jastin #295

    Run for a local office. County council, school board, whatever interests you.

    Advice – come up with a few things that you are actually for. This is critical. The local government might be doing something things that you are against, but “stopping x” isn’t a good platform. You need to be “for y” to address “problem z.” This is important for two reasons. 1) if you want to build something you need a positive goal. 2) it makes it much easier to talk to people about what you are doing and why without crossing weird political redlines in people that you don’t know very well.

    I recommend Robert Putnam’s “Bowling Alone” and “Better Together” for a Chronicle of the decline of social capital in the US and some organizations that managed to build some against the trend. Also a book “winning a neighborhood election” if memory serves, about running a small campaign.

    If your goal is to preserve democracy you will need to mediate on how to get people involved in meaningful ways after you have won, hence the Putnam books. You will be going against the trend here so outside the box ideas are going to be helpful. Don’t organize meetings for the sake of meetings, people hate meetings and are generally only willing to go if it gets something that they care about done. But, people love gatherings. If you can set up block parties or group events that happen to have an aspect of building capital, generating ideas, or disseminating information or collecting public opinion then those are inherently worthwhile.

    Good luck and report back.

  302. Patricia M, thanks for both of these.

    Bergente, trust me, I’m well aware of that. I’ve been trying to get people to notice what’s happening — not even what will happen, what’s actually happening around them right now! — since 2006, and though some have definitely noticed, the success rate as a percentage of total readers is not what I’d like it to be.

    Your Kittenship, well, I’m running a little less than half of the comment rate of my most popular period, which was in 2016, after I predicted a Trump win and started talking about why that was going to happen; I had some months with well over 300,000 unique page views, and some individual posts with 600 comments. I don’t expect to hit that level again any time soon, though!

    Sunriseking, yes, I think that’s a lot of it. Another factor, though, is that you can believe in a sudden collapse and still buy into faith in progress, the established civil religion of our society. If we get an apocalypse, hey! We managed a bigger, badder boom than any past society — yay us! To admit that progress was a temporary condition, and we were just kidding ourselves when we said we were going to the stars, is something that a great many people can’t handle at all. I’ve had people melt down on me over that tolerably often.

    Polecat, no argument here. Right now we’ve got starlings bathing in the gutters of the house next door, chatting to one another and splashing water around, and a very alert yearling rabbit wreaking havoc on the tasty weeds in the neighbor’s back yard. That’s the real world.

  303. In your parting picture, I notice the apparently-ironic fact that the smokestack is still painted in nice shiny bright stripes. But that is for the merely practical purpose of keeping the pilots of Cessnas and Piper Cubs from whacking into it. It’s probably cheaper to put a guy up there every couple of years with some paint, than to knock it down outright.

    The part I still have trouble with in your essays is the timing of it all. By the time I retire 4-ish years from now, will I still be able to hire movers to take me back East? I am assuming Southern California will be not a good place to be as collapse unfolds, but getting a job and coworkers as good as my current one is iffy, what with ageism and all. I think I will have more freedom of movement when retired (assuming that sources of retirement income survive too).

    And where back East should I move, anyway? These are the questions I am pondering.

  304. Aperyx
    I use St. John’s Wurt if I am in a stressful situation like air travel or dealing with bureaucracy. I find it works great.

  305. @ Eike – yep David Holmgren agrees with you. It’s the classic permaculture mantra ‘the problem is the solution’ and what not, but those worrying about plastic are underestimating Gaia’s ability to break down everything, and the evolutionary pressure for something to evolve to deal with the plastic is enormous. Like antibiotic resistance and herbicide resistance, we are playing with fire.

    When all our beloved plastic starts breaking down the folly will be realised. My worry was if something evolved to feed on nuclear waste, and we have a new food chain that is highly radioactive and only suited to a very specific set of lifeforms that doesn’t include much of what is around today.

  306. Hi John Michael,

    It ain’t just you with trying to get people to take a hard long look at the world around them. I have troubles when I suggest to people that sometimes: The sun doesn’t shine at night, the wind doesn’t blow, and you can be in the middle of a drought. Hissy fits can result from mentioning such truths: But electricity is just so useful. Whaddya mean nature won’t provide as much of it as we want!

    On that note, I thought I’d try a bit of satire. And despite what others may think, I at least was amused: Heck of a stink



  307. This is a great but sobering post.

    I try to remind myself when I travel to see far-flung family that each time I have the luxury of visiting them may be the last. My daughter and her family live 800+ miles away, so it’s quite possible that the physical connection will be severed forever within my lifetime, even though I am now retired.

  308. All – A Comment on the Feasibility of Alternatives. When we look around us, we see a world that has evolved to be whatever it is, and we seem to agree that it is unsustainable. Since that status quo cannot continue, we look for alternatives. For example, we can generate electricity with coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear, solar, wind, hydro, or biomass. We know that each of these can be done, because it is being done (on some scale). So, it is tempting to think that the choice of an alternative is one of fashion or preference, the way that business suits or blue jeans and flannel shirts are alternatives for work-wear, or the way beef, pork, and chicken are alternative meats, or the myriad options for having someone else cook your meals (from Taco Bell to the French Laundry). When these are the kinds of choices that you’ve been making all your life, you run the risk of assuming that all alternatives are matters of preference, albeit with more-or-less modest differences in cost. (Choosing the high-cost alternative seems to be a status-signalling device, in these areas.)

    However, as Europe is in the process of proving, sources of energy are not simply matters of preference. Evolving from coal-fired boilers to natural-gas fired turbines hasn’t been too difficult, but we can’t reason by induction that every transition will be that easy. The key psychological issue is recognizing that sometimes a dominant practice is only marginally cheaper than the next best (coal vs. gas), but other times, the dominant practice is overwhelmingly cheaper (natural gas vs. human muscle (see:

    We cannot simply decide that coal is “out”, and that solar panels are “in”, and go on with business as usual. We cannot decide that diesel-fueled vehicles are “out”, and electric vehicles are “in”. As the Colorado River and the Ogallala Aquifer run dry, we cannot choose to pipe fresh water from Lake Michigan, the Mississippi River, or desalinated water from the Pacific Ocean. The costs (of all kinds) would be absurd.

    One of my neighbors, new to the area, complained that his monthly electric bill was over $300. “Is that normal around here?” he asked. A little discussion revealed that he keeps his A/C thermostat set to 68F (vs 80-90F outdoor temperature). Many of the neighbors suggested setting it somewhat higher! When reports of clueless behavior on this blog start to sound implausible, I remind myself of that example. He’s got some low-hanging fruit to pick, much easier than trying to keep warm in the winter with neither electricity nor gas.

  309. Cicada Grove, timing’s always the hard part. You and I both know, for example, that we will both die, and all things considered, it won’t be more than a modest number of decades into the future at most — but when? Impossible to say. In exactly the same way, and for many of the same reasons, the decline and fall of industrial society is already under way and will unfold as usual — but how fast, and what will give way first? Nobody knows yet.

    Chris, oh dear gods, yes. I’ve had those conversations too.

    Willem, that’s one of those hard realities. I don’t know if circumstances permit you to move closer to them, but if so, that might be worth considering.

    Lathechuck, thanks for this. A good helpful reminder of reality.

  310. for Pumpkinscone: plastic eating bacteria are already here.

    That one eats PET.

    This waxworm can degrade polyethylene. Not too susrpsing since its normal diet is beeswax. And also,

    “Another closely related species of waxworm, Plodia interpunctella, has been the subject of research which isolated two strains of bacteria from its gut, Enterobacter asburiae and Bacillus species which have been demonstrated as capable of growing on and decomposing polyethylene plastic in a laboratory setting.[17]”

    Before you cheer too much, remember every electrical wire in your walls is insulated with plastic. An industrious plastic eating bacterla could end modern civilization really fast.

  311. Northwind Grandma and everyone
    I am not singling you out, but you got me thinking about CA. I put everyone on this list myself included. When I was first there in the 60s it was so beautiful, so incredibly beautiful; it still is in bits and pieces. Sometimes blaming CA feels like taking part in or watching the gang rape of a beautiful woman and blaming her for it. It feels somehow that we have all taken part in it. It is where the whole western dream that flowed from Europe to eastern N. AM, then on west finally hit the reality barrier of the Pacific Ocean and ultimately imploded. I am reminded of The Eagles ‘Paradise”: call a place paradise, you can kiss it goodbye, or Oscar Wilde’s “Ballad of Redding Gaol: “you always kill the thing you love.
    Perhaps sadness is a more appropriate feeling than hatred. Perhaps as you were crossing the Sierra, she was not saying ” I have you forever and won’t let go” Perhaps she was saying ” Take this last opportunity to look deeply in this dark mirror I am showing you” I am not saying one shouldn’t go to Wisconsin, or the Austrian Alps, or rural Australia, or here in Mexico, and love the lives we have been granted. I just feel that being alive now is giving us an incredible opportunity to look in this dark mirror. Especially if this is not just a one act show, we are being granted a unique opportunity for spiritual reflection and growth.These last couple of posts have been amazing for me. I feel if I died today, I would die farther on my path than I would have a couple of weeks ago. Thank you all for this.

  312. Two contributions here. One, books available. Found in shed of property purchased.
    Elementary Plane Surveying by Raymond E. Davis, 1955, McGraw Hill
    Surveying by Raymond E. Davis and Francis S Foote, 1940, McGraw Hill
    Forest Soils by Harold J. Lurz and Robert F. Chandler, 1946, John Wiley & Sons
    The Practice of Silviculture by Ralph C. Hawley and David M. Simth, 1954, John Wiley and Sons
    Tree Crops by Joseph Russell Smith, 1929, Harcourt, Brace and Co.

    These are hardbound books in decent shape. If you are interested, I would ship them media rate and request reimbursement, honor system. The former owner of the property had been a surveyor and a professional forester.

    On a different topic, and up for comment–I just returned from the annual Mensa gathering in Sparks, Nevada. One of the panels was a discussion of thorium energy. The two enthusiasts in the group seemed to feel that thorium had been unfairly neglected at the beginning of the atomic age because, unlike uranium, it has little potential for creating weapons. Another reason given for neglect is that they believe investors who have been enjoying government subsidies for wind and solar research projects do not want the competition and are spreading bad publicity. I can see both these as possibilities but am a bit leery of the “conspiracy theory” flavor of such excuses. Another problem in the execution is that a possible source of the molten salt is lithium fluoride, and obviously that would be in competition with batteries for the limited lithium supply. Sodium fluoride is another possibility, and I wasn’t clear what the pros and cons were for it. They claimed that there are rumors that China has created a protype reactor and also stated that India is another nation doing research on the process. Questions about cost were met with complaint that govt. regulations, stick in the mud bureaucrats and potential lawsuits push up the price. I tried to pin the moderator down on actual physical costs, leaving out the lawyers–just concrete, thorium, rebar, labor, etc. and got an estimate of “about the same as a coal burning power plant’ but no real source for those numbers. So, I don’t know much more that I did, except that you can’t make a bomb out of the type of uranium isotope created in a thorium reaction; the reaction uses rather than producing plutonium, and the reaction will run down and stop without human intervention rather than speeding up and exploding. Most of the people in the room knew little on the subject which made it difficult to generate intelligent questions, although a girl who looked about 9, was quite persistent on the “they really can’t make a bomb out of this?” topic.


  313. Yes, the three points I mentioned (retrofitting buildings for insulation, favoring rail transport and reducing meat production) are in last year’s coalition agreement, and indeed a few days ago several laws on energy conservation and energy production were passed. Insulation has received tax benefits for years now, so that the average energy consumption of housing has already decreased 20%, and the targets for insulation have now been further increased. A federal bank gives credit up to 120 000 EUR for thermal insulation of an existing house, while there is an even bigger push to insulate houses to be constructed.

    Of course, this is all to little, too late, but it is at least the right direction, and it is why I voted for the Greens last year. I didn’t expect them to turn around and go all militaristic.

  314. Seems to me the great appeal of the doomsday apocalypse is that it’s easy. No, I mean it. Doomsday is quick, obvious, in the doubters’ faces. Undeniable. Toldjaso.

    Slow collapse is “Well, I don’t see why we shouldn’t go to Disney, my brother did.” “I don’t see why we should have a garden, it’s so much work.” “Everyone has a credit card and student loans and a car loan or three: debt is the key to a good life.” “I don’t see why you don’t want us to vacation overseas: it would be broadening for the children.” “What is your problem with watching a movie every night?” On and on and on. It’s exhausting.

    Humans like easy. Slow collapse is hard. Standing against cultural norms always is. The hope is that if we see it now it’ll be easier later, but that only holds true if we can persuade our households to act now. Seeing now and fighting the culture against resistance at home is harder now with no or little reward for being prepared later. Fast collapse means the satisfaction of toldjaso with no worse results if your family is resistant, and you aren’t the meanie who is why we can’t have popular things (and why we aren’t bankrupt).

  315. Since Chuaquin asked about inflation in EU countries, the inflation in Germany in June 2022 was at 7,6%.

    The current situation reminds me more and more of the way the First World War turned out to herald the end of the old European order at that time: the same miscalculations, the same grinding down of resources, the same shattering of entrenched belief systems with all the consequences. Even in Germany it now dawns to politicians and pundits that what is coming isn’t an ordinary recession, but something more serious.
    A while ago, I swa adveice about how to save gas, like the advice that John Michael Grrer gave for sixteen years, of all places, at!

    At this point I don’t have much to add, except that the contrast between the dire straits the European economy finds itself in due to the sanctions against Russia on the one hand and the wokeness that I observe currently in the art scene on the other hand is downright hilarious and bizarre. There are, for example, the strident claims about antisemitism in the documenta 15,, which ruffles quite a few feathers; the artists there who have installed a queer/transgender disco as part of the documenta 15 and left Kassel and disbanded their disco after a scuffle with anti-queer attackers, and after being arrested by police for a short time, before the situation could be cleared and the policemen apologized; the Documenta bookstore in the Ruruhaus, where you find maybe 70% books about transgender/feminist/anticolonial/antiracist philosophy and 30% about art.

  316. @Bergente

    Yes, gladly! I already wrote you an email, and thanks for your contact!


  317. @Northwind Grandma

    Yes, that article on the UN website was removed, I kind of expected that to happen.

    However, all the same it was featured there, on the official domain of the UN!
    Weird! Probably satire, still it makes one wonder.

    Do they look at articles before they post them on the official UN website? Who knows what kind of joke that was.


  318. Picked up a copy of ‘Possum Living’ new from the river (used – $27 – new $20 the river did have some cheaper used).
    What a hoot.
    Dolly did not revise it. A couple of new comment chapters and one or two footnotes. Really enjoyable seeing the 1978 prices.

    Want to know how to ‘Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush’? This could be your manual.

    Going to have to look into that still…..


  319. For those thinking that modern solar photovoltaics will save industrial civilization or even be helpful in a catabolic collapse, Jim Kunstler has a great post on his blog today. It is about his 9 year history with his own home solar system. It is an excellent lesson in the real costs of solar electric systems , their short lifespans, and dependence on the supply chain.

  320. Hello JMG. News about social unrest in the Netherlands have been spreading in the Net, I’ve read about it in some spanish webs ideollogically not very close to your ideas. Meanwhile, Eu is still in its fantasy paralel word where they can punish Russia yet…

  321. Rabbits Oh My! Mr. Greer..

    Some residence a couple blocks down from us evidently had their rabbit enclosure knocked over by one of man’s best friend, with the ultimate result being bunnies EVERYWHERE! …. including OUR little piece of it – the fallout showing up as small blurs of hightailing big-eyed cuties squeezing though the garden fence mesh, having consumed the onions, the carrots, and the lettuces – right down to the crowns.. Arg! Hoping that they grow fast enough to where they can no longer shinny though those openings – but of course Everyone knows that bunnies beget even moarrrr … bunnies. This seems to be bringing out my inner Farmer McGregor/hunter-gatherer.

    Snares and rabbit stew come to mind.

  322. Justin.

    I think that you have overrated the democracy, wich is linked to a market full of diferent products and services, and of diferent kinds of consumers.

    In a society impoverished the basis of democracy, wich is freedom for to achieve products and services, will be only a mirage, and the same will happen with polítical options.

  323. For a contribution on the home solar debate James H. Kunstler has a very interesting post today about the deterioration and repair costs on his home solar system, including new battery regulations. Caveat emptor! Chris, you would be interested.

  324. I was about to point out Jim Kunstler’s posting today as well, but couldn’t figure out how to link to it since the link contains undruidly language.

    We had that discussion about PV systems here a few weeks ago, and Mr Kunstler had indeed hit both weak spots at once, the inverter and the batteries.

    That said I think there is still value in a small system that can keep the lights on and even run a refrigerator and or a freezer for a limited time. My wood stove works better if the fans are running and they take very little power, like 35 watts.

    The refrigerator takes 250 W and the freezer 120, that is not a lot if you are trying to get through a power outage. The oven is 5000 W, so that is right out.

    I keep toying with getting a generator, even more so since they now make a smaller propane powered unit. Propane solves the fuel storage problem. But I would need it so seldom it’s really hard to justify.

  325. Hi JMG,

    As others have mentioned, one of the cell phone/internet providers went down across Canada on Friday. It didn’t affect us, but lots of people went dark, and apparently in Toronto it was impossible to dial 911 to call the police (at least that is what I heard). Since this seemed an ominous harbinger of the coming vibes, we managed a money free weekend to celebrate, complete with a meal cooked in our solar oven. We walked the kids over to a free crafts thing which was fun for them, and ran into some friends we hadn’t seen for a while, which was a nice surprise for us. We went kite flying, which was interesting as the wind was not playing along, kept changing direction, and made the day mostly a bust. It was a success from an exercise point of view, though, with the wind being added to my list of free personal trainers (my kids being my two primary ones), deciding I needed to do some sprinting instead of the relaxing time I was expecting. My 3 year old son managed to get it going right before we left, impressively, and he figured out how to get the string to release from having watched me before, and did manage to unravel it completely, getting the kite quite high up before the wind gave out and it came crashing down.

    On Sunday we went for a much bigger walk, maybe a bit over an hour and a half each way, with the kids again using their scooters to keep up/enjoy the process, to take some tomatoes over to, and welcome back, some friends who just returned from a brief time away. Long walks are satisfying, and I think the kids will remember these as fun times even if it means they get to do less stuff (for us it’s hard to do more than two “things” on a given day). There is some fun to be had in the actual journey though, and I would have to think they are getting more out of it than they would looking out the car window.

    In garden news, the big one is that the trumpet vine has flowered and our yard is full of bees again. Next up, I may almost be through my tomato seedlings now, thanks to a surprise increase in takeaways, and me deciding to stick some in the earth in less orthodox spots around our yard. I still see a couple small ones coming up, but I might actually have managed to move through the big glut and the rest will just be a few year and there, which is satisfying. In bigger garden news (at least to me), we have bamboo that grows a decent size over the course of a year, but it ends up being too weak to do anything with. I just use it to pile on top of the leaves we rake onto our vegetable beds in the fall, just to hold them down. But this year I laid them out alongside our rotting pile at the back in spring after taking them off the beds, basically in keeping with the spirit of laying offerings back their to the garden. Well I happened to take a look at it yesterday, after learning about how people cure bamboo, and was amazed to discover that much of it had actually in fact dried out and was really quite sturdy now. We lost some of it to rot (etc), but quite a bit that looked ready to put to use. Certainly strong enough to use to stake plants/build scaffolding for them to grow on, BUT I think also strong enough (and light enough) to build kites with. Hopefully this coming weekend I can pick up some fabric and perhaps even give flying a kite I built myself a try.


  326. PumpkinScone and Siliconguy re: plastic eating life forms

    I didn’t know that David Holmgren has mentioned this, how very cool! The permaculture guys (talking about the teachers here, Holmgren, Lawton, etc.) seem to have a much more reasonable idea of the interplay of people and planet than the “experts”. No wonder, since they’re actually getting their hands dirty, doing the work, and sticking to the principle of “interact and observe”.

    There’s the 1970 British sci-fi novel “Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters” which I read some 15 years ago. I think that’s where I first got the idea from. Iirc, its plot has a disgruntled bio-engineer make those bacteria in his home laboratory, where they escape and unleash a proper desaster movie scenario on London. Planes crash, thousands die, etc.
    Absurdly, it ends with the bacteria being somehow contained and the day being saved.
    That struck me as an early example of the infantile hopium-type sci-fi that is so overabundant today (Interstellar is a prime example, or The Long Earth).

    As for radioactive waste-eating critters: That borders on exobiology, or speculative biology, and I guess no “serious” biologist would entertain such thoughts (out loud, at least). But thinking purely from first principles, namely, that if there’s an energy source, life will make use of it, it’s actually not so unreasonable.
    There have never been such quantities of materials like spent fuel rods before, right?
    I’d guess that if a radioactive strain of life came into competition with classic biological life, that latter would win out, because its food base is so much bigger in absolute terms. The nuke bugs would eat up their resources before they’d take over the whole place. On the other hand, their energy source is incredibly dense!

    Anyway, that’s a nice and spooky door you just opened in my mind there. I guess you are familiar with the SCP foundation? The interface of sci-fi and horror, especially on asolid base of real world fundamentals, is a green pasture for my mind to munch on 😀

    As fun as these speculations are, though, I think the plastic eaters are a real thing (well, they obviously are, but I mean their eventual global impact), and I’m happy to see that more people are paying attention to them.

  327. stephen pearson (#327 on CA) – thank you for that. I’m not particularly defensive about my home-state’s reputation, but I do shake my head when all the fingers point at it and sneer because nearly everyone I know who lives here is from somewhere else, implying that we got everywhere else’s … well, I would actually like to say “detritus,” since we’re discussing the horridness of the state relative to everywhere else’s fantasticness. Everyone came here with some notion of striking it out for paradise in their minds, but they didn’t realize that they needed to live up to it. Granted this has been going on a long time, so by the time some folks got here (Grandma, Grover, et al, heck maybe even myself, ca. 1970)… shrug.

    Dark mirror, indeed.

    There is a great deal of … grace… in the land and water and flora/fauna here. It’s been difficult to watch it be swallowed by “California-ness”.

    As I am not the sole decision-maker in my family, I still live here. I like to think I might qualify as one of Northwind Grandma’s “decent Californians found here and there” but I guess they’re really quite scarce.

  328. India has plentiful supplies of thorium and the possibility of thorium reactors was mooted as long ago as the 1950s. Nonetheless it has gone with uranium-fueled reactors up to now, but is still talking about thorium reactors. Maybe one day…

    There is plenty of information on thorium reactors out there, but “Despite the documented history of thorium nuclear power, many of today’s nuclear experts were nonetheless unaware of it. According to Chemical & Engineering News, “most people—including scientists—have hardly heard of the heavy-metal element and know little about it”, noting a comment by a conference attendee that “it’s possible to have a Ph.D. in nuclear reactor technology and not know about thorium energy.”

  329. Chuaquin,
    I’m another person who has recurrent problems with anxiety and depression. I used to be on antidepressants, but I had a lot of problems with sideeffects on the only medication I found effective. So I try to stay off the antidepressants whenever remotely reasonable, and I have stayed off the antidepressants successfully for the past few years – though this spring was really hard. The isolation from the covid restrictions, combined with fears about creeping tyranny really did a number on me. I have learned that I need in-person interaction with other humans on a regular basis to stay on a remotely even keel.

    One thing that helps me is to pick whichever of my obsessive interests is strong and possible to do at the moment, and do that thing a lot. So play lots of music, or write fiction, or grow food or whatever as much as possible. Another thing that helps is taking intentional time to spend time with God, studying the bible or singing hymns or so on. Being part of a church community is really really helpful for my mental health. Going for a walk often helps in the short term. And making sure pain isn’t keeping me awake most of the night, especially multiple nights in a row. Chronic pain is a great way to get depressed fast.

    Of course, there are limitations to all of these, and when I’m most depressed it is very hard to find an interest that will hold me, or I can’t stand to be around people right then. So I do what I can with what I have.

    I do still use anxiolytics when something extremely anxiety-inducing happens and I need to be functional, or I’ve not slept properly for days or whatever. But that isn’t all that often at the moment.

    A couple of confounding factors I have to keep an eye on because they mess up my mental health over the short term:
    blood sugar level: low blood sugar leads to hangriness, tears, and complete dysfunction. If this may be an issue, eat something. Also hormones: PMS has a big impact on some women, and one medication I was on for something else caused dramatically worse emotional PMS symptoms. I have switched medications, and so far I am no longer getting extreme depression/anxiety symptoms appearing out of the blue for a few days at a specific time of the month.

  330. @Anselmo, #341

    > In a society impoverished the basis of democracy, wich is freedom for to achieve products and services, will be only a mirage…

    No, I do not think the Ancient Greeks would agree with that. And I am not under the illusion they were egalitarian in any sense that matters. In the Spartan model (which is the only one I am familiar with) only 5% or so of the population had citizenship status, and half of them could not vote anyways because of, I hate so say this, Patriarchy. Even then, with a direct democracy, most of the male citizens could not propose any bills or laws; they would only vote yes or no on the bills passed by the current set of politicians. Furthermore, there was no count of ballots or raised hands, they voted by acclamation (the loudest team, not necessarily the largest, won).

    What they were really good was checks and balances. They had two separate lineages of kings, simultaneously occupying what we would now considered the executive power. Living under two kings, I imagine, would be like living in a big, prosperous city where the major and the (state) governor are from rival parties. They undermined each other under the table as opportunity permitted to gain an edge in negotiations, but they really had to sit down and talk to each other in order to get anything done. Then they had elected officials (who came from rich, influential families) who kind of set the boundaries under which the kings could or could not act (legislative power?). And some of these officials, the ephors, did not have the power to make any positive change; their job was to watch out the behavior of all other politicians and call fault when anyone tried to step out of the law (judicial power?). Not the crazy priesthood some movies would have you believe.

    The point is that this was not a bribe distribution system, but a power-sharing and consensus-making one. The great virtue of democracy is that if you are a new, up-and-rising power within the community, you do not have to go into killer-mode to usurp the place of the incumbent but aging power. You can wait a couple of years, build up your strength, and challenge them in a (for the most part) bloodless game that is already scheduled at regular intervals whether you throw your hat in the ring or not.

  331. I’ve read comments regarding why some are wishing for the apocalypse and human suffering. Perhaps it might have something to do with “revenge”, you know a little “payback”. Those that are wishing for the end might be those that struggled to make a living while a small group at the top profited and became rich off their hard labor. Wasn’t that what the Great Resignation was primarily about? People fed up with earning low wages while those above them made a killing? Such as Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook and the rest of the Elite.

    Could it be that those wishing for Mad Max are saying to those at the top, go ahead and let’s see you drive around town with no fuel to buy, or electricity to run your home? Let’s see you try and grow food on a farm. Let’s see you try and find something to eat when all the stores have been wiped clean and there’s no one in those stores.

  332. Dear JMG,
    I looked through most of the comments and I don’t think anyone has asked you what you think about the goings-on in Sri Lanka? Are they the first of many nations heading towards a pre-industrial future? Did you notice that their citizens that stormed the Presidential Palace are called “protestors”, while ours are called “White domestiic-terrorist-insurgents” and many are still rotting in a DC jail cell?

    Also, good news in the Netherlands where the firefighters are joining the farmers in protest against the left-leaning government. Populism on the rise against the EU.

  333. John—

    You may have seen the recent spate of articles talking about the western states’ (CA in particular) need for water and those states’ argument of “hey, we can just pipe from the Mississippi!”. I’ve been noticing a number of articles and letters such as this one in response:

    I recall the community’s discussions here years ago about how one of the precursors of US dissolution (or at least a potential crisis of dissolution) would be a rise in regional tensions. Well, here we are…

  334. RusTheRook,
    Just two comments.

    First about how to measure collapse. I am sorry but there are so many obvious numbers here that is hard to believe you don’t know of one. What about JMG’s example that a working class man in 1960 could support a family? Or what about the amount of time it takes for a recent college graduate to pay off his/her debt? I could go on. Most young people will readily see that they have worse lives and prospects than their parents – maybe you are just incredibly lucky.

    Second about missed opportunities. This is another area that people have talked about for a long time. You can read books and articles about how “the american dream” in practice means a life of meaningless consumption, broken families and bad health, all in the name of dying with the most toys. The propaganda is breaking up around us – just look at the number of people quitting their (official) jobs.

    And it’s incredibly naive to think that you can make social change by becoming richer (I assume that’s what you mean by “missed opportunity”?).

    I have to admit that I am still partially plugged in the system. By many measures I am successful – even though I did miss some “opportunities” because I invested money in land instead of Bitcoin or the stock casino. But when I consider the value of the days I spent walking in the forest, working in the garden or simply enjoying the sun in my backyard – I would not exchange that for money.

    Of course, I perfectly understand your point of view. It is the same point of view blaring at us from the MSM and all the rich and famous. I just don’t think it is for me.

  335. Thank you, JMG, for doing what you do. You are a blessing on the world.


    > Humans like easy. Slow collapse is hard. Standing against cultural norms always is. The hope is that if we see it now it’ll be easier later, but that only holds true if we can persuade our households to act now.

    My mother (b 1926), having lived through the 1930s Great Depression, in the 1960s (my age 8-18) used to say “Save for a rainy day.” As a kid, I said to myself, “That was then” and thought she was nuts. She was a nurse and a single mom, which put our family in the category of “just getting by.” But I just couldn’t “see” “her scarcity point of view.” I was blind to “lack” and “neediness.” I witnessed my peers living in the lap-of-luxury, and what my peers believed was what I believed: abundance — plentitude was SO evident. Legitimate neediness was in the Great Depression — illegitimate neediness is now. Is neediness ever discussed out loud, or only in whispers? — I know as a defense mechanism, I push away the idea of neediness. It conjures up beggars on streets. Wow, I just glimpsed how much I am a product of the 1960s — oy‼️

    The 1973 OPEC oil embargo (gasoline shortage) got my attention, but not all that much attention because I had a Volkswagen bug and felt smug that I only had to gas-up once a month. But, by then, I had learned not to splurge.

    I am a slow-learner. Now at 70, I see what my mother spoke of. I have more respect for her (she is long dead), and I do need to get better at pinching pennies (pinching quarters). The first three sayings below, she drummed into me. The latter four builds on the same theme:

    (1) Save for a rainy day.

    (2) A stitch in time saves nine [referring to darning socks].

    (3) A penny saved is a penny earned.

    (4) He who does not economize will have to agonize.

    (5) A simple fact that is hard to learn, is that the time to save money is when you have some.

    (6) I have learnt to seek my happiness in limiting my desires, rather than attempting to satisfy them.

    (7) Save a part of your income and begin now, for the man with a surplus controls circumstances and the man without a surplus is controlled by circumstances.

    In the 1960s, economizing simply did not make sense. I would go so far as to say that thrift was ludicrous and laughable.

    By 1970, Home Economics (HomeEc; Home Ec) courses had been abolished in high school and junior high school (middle school). I would like to see the return of HomeEc classes for young girls.

    The mid-1970s was when girls’ sports came in. That meant that girls were taught how to run, but not how to run a household — it is sad because, unless I am ill-informed, that is the situation today: no HomeEc.

    I am looking for a serious (“thick”) 1950s or 1960s college-level HomeEc textbook. Does anyone here know of a good title?

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  336. @Clay Dennis #111
    Perhaps this is the book you have in mind: “Everyday Things: Material Culture in Predmodern Japan” (Susan B. Hanley, University of California Press, 1997), which Morris Berman cites this book as a reference in his fascinating, “Neurotic Beauty: An Outsider Looks at Japan.” It’s not specifically about energy, but it’s definitely relevant to Mr. Greer’s post-industrialism theme. I recommend it, as I do Asby Brown’s, “Just Enough,” which others in the commentariat have mentioned.

  337. For Rita;

    U-233 makes a fine weapon, but it is more difficult than a U-235 or Plutonium design.

    As for lithium, that wouldn’t be my choice;

    “Lithium-6 is valuable as the source material for the production of tritium (hydrogen-3) and as an absorber of neutrons in nuclear fusion reactions.”

    Li-6 plus a neutron gives tritium and helium, further investigation shows that they need to purify the lithium so that it only contains Lithium-7.

    “Lithium-7 is used as a part of the molten lithium fluoride in molten salt reactors: liquid-fluoride nuclear reactors. The large neutron absorption cross section of lithium-6 (about 940 barns[13]) as compared with the very small neutron cross section of lithium-7 (about 45 millibarns) makes high separation of lithium-7 from natural lithium a strong requirement for the possible use in lithium fluoride reactors.”

  338. info,
    From what I’ve read, Sri Lanka seems to have been mismanaged for years. The extremely hamfisted move to ‘everyone go organic, right now with no prep or planning’ was badly thought out, they moved way too fast, and the results were predictably bad.

    From what I’ve heard, farms transitioning to organic agriculture usually have a significant drop in production the first few years. As the soil recovers, yields go back up providing enough labor and green/animal manures are used correctly and crops are rotated properly, etc, etc. There’s quite a learning curve for the farmers. I doubt the Sri Lankan government made sufficient information on exactly how to do it right was available to farmers being suddenly deprived of fertilizers and pesticides, either, though I don’t know that for certain.

    Trying to force everyone to go organic cold-turkey simultaneously across the entire country was dumb, and really dangerous in a lower income country where a substantial percentage of the population is employed in agriculture.

    Sri Lanka is a great example of how NOT to go organic as a country.

  339. Only the wealthy can downshift as you recommend, as nearly all the land and water are controlled by police-state-backed billionaires, aided by the overpopulation of the planet. How (ie: where) are the rest of the modern American slave class supposed to do this?

  340. I would like to hear from someone in Sri Lanka and/or India about Sri Lankan farming. I don’t think anyone has ever claimed that organic ag can earn foreign exchange, except for the occasional luxury product, like truffles or certain wines. Persuading third world countries to convert their ag production to commodity products, such as bananas, coffee, or tea in the case of Sri Lanka, always involved profit for the international chemical industry. I would like to read a clear account of what did actually happen. Did, e.g., the Sri Lankan president hope to avoid a rash of farmer suicides such as has been documented (please spare me the chemical and GMO industry talking points) in neighboring India? Did he simply get fed up with being bullied by the unholy international consortium of agribusiness, IMF and the likes of the Gates Foundation?

    Is most of Sri Lankan agricultural land actually owned by Sri Lankan citizens? Just how indebted are the citizen farmers? Was the president trying to get out from under a debt burden without triggering an invasion, which actions such as expropriating foreign owned land or cancelling debt would surely have brought on?

  341. Sounds like the Sri Lankan ‘go organic NOW’ initiative was just a repeat of Chairman Mao’s ‘Great Leap Forward’ of a few decades ago. Sad, that.

  342. Pygmicory #348:

    Thank you for sharing your experience with depression and anxiety in this blog. I will take it on account. My situation it’s not exactly like yours, but I think I can learn from you. Thanks!

  343. @ Tim Olsen

    Re downshifting by the rest of us

    1) Toss your TV in the dumpster
    2) Cook your own meals and eat out less often
    3) Plant a harder or container garden
    4) Buy less stuff
    5) Read more
    5) Spend time in nature
    6) Cultivate a spiritual practice
    7) Line-dry your clothes where/when possible
    8) Walk or ride a bike instead of driving, when you can
    9) Engage with your community
    10) Learn a hands-on skill (I’ve taught myself crocheting)

  344. Rita, thorium reactors have been being proclaimed as the next big thing since the 1950s, and they’ve been being built just as long. Molten salt reactors are another wave of the future that never gets around to happening; yes, they’ve been built, and the massive challenges of managing a working fluid that corrosive and that dangerous always turn out to make them hopelessly unaffordable. Still, hope springs infernal…

    Aldarion, that’s very good to hear. I hope some of that survives the collapse of the Greens, now that they’ve become just another business-as-usual war party.

    BoysMom, that’s another very good point!

    Info, a lot of factors came together to make Sri Lanka the basket case that it is today, but going whole-hog ESG was a major contributor. Any time ideology comes ahead of “yes, but will it pay for itself?” you’re begging for trouble.

    Booklover, thanks for the data points!

    Coop Janitor, glad to hear it’s still out there.

    Flagg, yep.

    Clay, Stephen, and Siliconguy, I read that! I hope it gets plenty of readers, though I’m sorry to say I expect it to be memory-holed by all those who most need to think about those issues.

    Chuaquin, it’s very much to Russia’s advantage to leave the EU in that fantasy world as long as possible…

    Polecat, our local rabbits are wild and very evasive, and they’ve been here all along — the gardeners in the neighborhood have perfected their antirabbit defenses. Get to work on those — rabbits can breed faster than you can catch them.

    Johnny, huzzah! Kites can also be made with paper, btw — in my misspent youth I made and flew kites with newspaper for the surface.

    Rod, and that’s also an important factor!

    Karl, I’ll be discussing the Sri Lankan situation in due time; it’s fascinating to watch, not least because the Sri Lankan government was doing everything our corporate overlords insist are the right things to do — and it bankrupted the country and brought down the government. I get the impression the Netherlands may be next.

    David BTL, yep. Californian water authorities made repeated attempts to try to get water from the Columbia River, but that’s running very low now. So the Mississippi’s obviously the next target for their fantasies. Regional tensions? Yes, in spades.

    Northwinds, I haven’t been able to find a textbook, but has a fantastic number of home economics publications from that period, covering an astounding range of topics; you can access them and download them for free here.

    Patricia M, now let’s see how much they charge for it.

    Tim, were you under the impression that I’m talking about the old failed fantasy of running off to the country? Not at all. What I’m suggesting is reducing your expenditures and your use of energy and nonrenewable resources sharply, so that you can be prepared to deal with the soaring prices and economic dysfunctions to come. Anyone in the US who’s not desperately poor can do that; my wife and I did, back when we were living well below the poverty line, and that’s part of what enabled us to extract ourselves from that situation.

    Luke, wow. Nature, as always, bats last…

  345. @Mary Bennett

    I’d recommend you to look up the Sri Lankan crisis on WION’s website. In my opinion, their reporting and analysis is good by MSM standards – informative and crisp. If you do videos, they have a YouTube channel too:

  346. While we are on the subject, I would advise anyone who does plan to leave CA, NV, AZ, wherever to do so five years ago, failing that to do so right now, also to read the article David BTL linked. If the current trickle of people leaving becomes a flood ( can a drought cause a flood?), places like the mid west, where you may still be welcome if you behave yourself, will close their doors to you. You will be lucky if you end up with a tent in a refugee camp. CA tried to keep the Okies out during the dust bowl. Though they weren’t able to do so legally, they made their lives hell once they got there.
    Over the years i have lived or spent some time in what were to me wonderful cities; lets go with San Francisco, Sydney, Hong Kong, London. They were multi cultural, great art, music, dining, location. Maybe what made them so desirable also carried the seed of their decline. Everyone wanted to go to them, and they ultimately became expensive, over crowded and foul for all but the rich. In SF pre covid, people were paying $2,000 per month for a room, $25 or $30 to go to a museum, and as much or more for a decent meal, and having to avoid the feces on the sidewalk. Perhaps this cycle is inevitable, and one just has to be lucky and get there at the right time. I guess it was somewhat prophetic when Armistead Maupin left San francisco.

  347. Stephen Pearson and Luke Dodson,

    I’d like to point out that my name is not Elke, but Eike, with an “i”. I’m also a dude, which makes being adressed with a female name extra weird.

    But thanks for the great discussion! I had never heard aboutthe radiotrophic life forms. Of course it had to be fungi. Creepy critters 😀

  348. @ Tim

    Re point #3 above

    That was suppose to read “plant a *garden* or container garden.”. Technology is ever helpful.

  349. Two other water” solutions” for California I have seen over the years were get it from Canada, not very popular in the latter, and tow down icebergs from the arctic and anchor them off shore So Cal.


    Regarding home economics

    I understand that younguns hate it when boomers make fun OF them😆. I am about to make fun of younguns. I can’t help it. I can’t tell a white lie on this one🙊.

    I came across a title of a book called “Adulting Made Easy: Things Someone Should Have Told You About Getting Your Grown-Up Act Together,” published 2021.

    I am having a hoot on the “adulting” part. Adulting? Younguns have outdone themselves. They, and their publishers, couldn’t come up with a better name for “home economics”?

    I hereby make it perfectly clear that I am laughing-out-loud AT younguns, not WITH them. I am a meanie-for-a-minute.

    If someone here knows more about “to adult” (as a verb), please clue me in. I adult, you/they adult, (s)he adults. When people turn 21, do they adult? What authority decides what is included in adulting? Are there laws against underage adulting? Is there early-onset adulting? Do animals adult? So many questions.

    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  351. Joshua,
    I know it’s late in the week but if you are reading this – please read about life in Eastern Europe under communism.
    Almost everybody (even people crammed in tiny apartments in huge cities) did some gardening and farming.
    We had chickens (sometimes ducks and turkeys too) plus pigs behind our apartment building in a small town. We also had a small garden. We processed our food and preserve it all by ourselves. No one was a “farmer” – both parents had day jobs too. Of course people that had a house would also have a tiny vineyard, some fruit trees and sometimes even a cow (fed with the grass on the side of the roads).

    So I actually disagree with JMG and his optimistic view in Retrotopia (I know it’s utopian on purpose). I think in the future basically everyone will be involved in raising, processing and cooking their own food.

    Of course not everyone will learn (or want to learn) – that’s why JMG predicts a 95% population decline, you know.

    If this sounds harsh, I can tell you from my experience that at least us kids enjoyed it – you are living with the seasons, enjoying fruits and vegetables straight from the plant and eating crisp fried bacon after finishing the butchering job.

    One way to make this understandable to someone that grew up in a rich country – imagine how people feel about their smartphones or about their cars. Imagine their shock if you would tell them “I am not a driver and don’t want to learn” or “The internets is not for me”. Probably if you say that they will look at you like you have 2 heads.

    I expect in the future this is how people will look at you if you say “I don’t know how to be a peasant”.

  352. Re: Plastic and radiation eaters.

    All life requires water. Wood is biodegradable but lasts for hundreds of years in the walls of our homes. The same would likely be true for plastic-insulated wires even if more microbes evolve the ability to metabolize plastics. Insects with the ability to crawl in and eat plastic before returning to their moist homes (think carpenter ants or termites) would be a real problem though.

    I see radiation eaters as likely to do more good (e.g. as radiation shields) than harm.

    It’s amazing though that nature always finds a way. I would have guessed that making biological use of ionizing radiation would be impossible until I saw Luke’s link.

  353. Hi John Michael,

    The continued La Nina weather appears to be pounding the east coast of the continent: Severe erosion leaves Sydney’s beaches ‘sitting ducks’ to future wild weather.

    I’ve noticed similar scenes along parts of the south coast.

    Mate, you can’t beat the ocean.

    As an interesting side note, I’m getting the impression that many people are disconnecting and turning inwards – A.K.A. hiding in their homes. Of late I’ve been wondering if the employee shortage issue is part of that story? A sort of Great Disengagement. Has the dream died, and people are not buying in? Dunno. But there sure is something going on along those lines. Are you noticing a similar effect in your part of the world?



  354. > There are very, very many people living along the Mississippi River and around the Great Lakes that really, really don’t like California or Californians.

    Thank you for this. And having spent thirty years (oops, thirty-five) in California, I REALLY (I won’t say how many ‘reallys,’ but at least a million) don’t like California or Californians‼️I am quite sure that, as soon as Californians, with the idea of stealing OUR Mississippi River or Great Lakes water, reached the eastern shore of the Mississippi River, if not further west, they would have hundreds of shotguns (or worse) trained on them. I don’t often say I like Americans’ having guns, but in this regard, I am glad many families do.

    Californians, are you achin’ for a mess? (I can git right ornery.)

    Californians think they are the only people who matter. They do not care who they mow over. Californians don’t negotiate — they steal.

    Usually peaceable,
    💨Northwind Grandma
    Wisconsin, USA

  355. Eike, duly noted — like most Americans, I had no idea Eike was a man’s name.

    Chris, the Great Resignation is very much a thing here. Part of it is that people in the laboring classes had to find other ways to make a living during the Covid shutdowns, discovered they could get by without putting up with the miserably low pay and abusive work environments of modern corporate life, and said “Frack this” when the economy reopened and they were told to flock obediently back to work — but I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that there’s more going on than that.

  356. Eike
    Sorry. I had no idea it was a name at all, and I sometimes have trouble distinguishing the two letters: old eyes
    Northwind Grandma
    I am really sorry you had to spend 35 years in a place you hate. That sounds like a prison sentence. I hope you enjoy your new life enough to make up for it. Sounds like you do.

  357. @Mark L re #373 – “It’s amazing though that nature always finds a way. I would have guessed that making biological use of ionizing radiation would be impossible until I saw Luke’s link.”

    Malcolm’s Law (from Jurassic Park) – “Life finds a way.” (Just not necessarily human life.)

  358. I had an interesting event a couple days ago. I used my GPS to get directions to a new location, As I was leaving my house, it was obvious G Maps thought I was somewhere else, and it kept giving me directions to make turns on a track about a mile and a half away from where I was. Luckily, I had looked at the map before leaving, so was able to get my destination without it.
    A Rashomon question:
    Was it a software glitch?
    Was it a hardware glitch?
    Was it a demonstration that all those lovely GPS guided HIMARS rockets being sent to Ukraine may not arrive at the intended target?

  359. CR Patiño.

    I think that is not possible to compare the Greek democracy ,in a slavist society ,with our capitalist democracy

  360. Eike
    Think my apology must have sounded wrong. I mean I never heard that name before.

  361. Hi Jmg.

    I have a couple of questions regarding deindustrial dark age.

    -What is literacy rate going to be? I hope it can survive at good level.

    -Dark age dental care and surgery?

    -Will paper be made? Its very useful as a printing and writing medium and can last for centuries.

    -Could slavery make a comeback (its an ancient thing as we know)

    -Could some books and other information containing medium be deliberately destroyed for some reason?
    Fictional example: In Umberto Ecos novel Name of the Rose, there is an old blind monk ,who knows about Aristotles Comedy hidden in the monasterys library. He rather have people murdered than let anyone to read the book. It is supposed to be the last existing copy, and the story ends the book detroyed with rest of the grand library.
    Is it possible that such things have actually happened during previous dark ages? Well, the novels is setting is 14th century, but anyway.

    -Whats the fate of ruins and other things modern people think as ancient, lets say Egyptian Pyramids or Colosseum, going to be? Are they going to be still standing say, year 3500? Of course there are smaller artefacts too, Medieval manuscripts, old paintings etc. Do you think people in the far future will have some knowledge about about civilizations we think ancient , when they view our present as distant past?

  362. Temporary Reality, Dark Mirror, et al,

    Before we end this I’d like to add that California is a beautiful place indeed. Maybe the most beautiful state in the Union. I was blown away by the landscape.

    The average Californian, though…

    Cheers, y’all.

  363. Sliding in to the end of the comment section to ask JMG, how do you feel about democracy now and our election process? I recall you defending it years ago and insisting we could elect better leaders. As the covid crisis drags on and there appears to be no solutions coming from the elected nor the administrative state, what would you say now about “our democracy”? The laptop top uses the term to mean “our dominance” or “our control” and I personally don’t think I’ll ever vote again for anything other than local county positions. All I see the elected and administrative do is hurt people at this point. I have zero faith in the system we have doing anything but make things worse.

  364. This is spot in and consistent with the world I am observing. All the bitching about immediate issues and annoyances touted by the media and most plainfolk are NOT the problems – they are the SYMPTOMS of decline and an accelerating Age of Limits tightening it’s grip on industrial society. This is of course all made worse by Climate Change – which we will do nothing meaningful about, till the wheels fall off the fossil fuel wagon, probably when EROI inverts beyond even desperate measures. There is a reason they are tearing the tops of mountains with a few hundred heavy equipment operators in West Virgina, and no longer put tens of thousands of men underground.

    These are the things we have been talking about at Four Quarters Interfaith for over a decade, in fact since Peak Oil in the early 2000s and we introduced our Age of Limits supplements. It’s been a little while since we included one of your essays in the annual Wheel of The Year – I think this would be a good one, with your permission and full attribution. The language is… *temptation for snark* … quite accessible to plainfolk, without talking down to them. Good stuff.


    SamuraiArtGuy / Kurt Griffith, Four Quarters Interfaith

  365. Several years ago, we decided to go on an adventure in the high desert of New Mexico.

    For two years we lived without electricity. Candle power, campfires, and a wood stove. We built a home out of earthbags, slathered it with a mixture of clay and straw, and gave it a tin roof. We built this home without electricity. Just my grandpa’s hand saw, hammers, screw drivers, etc. Sure we relied on the system to get the supplies, but it was minimal.

    Our food, well we relied on the current system, local growers, our flock of chickens, and a small garden.

    A small suggestion: build or buy a rocket stove. I wish we’d had one back then. It is one of the best inventions for cooking I’ve ever seen.

    We relish the notion of going back. We were truly alive during those two years. Even when the temperature in our home was 18 degrees. (40 by the stove.)

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