Monthly Post

The Flight from Nature

A couple of weeks ago one of my readers pointed me to an op-ed piece on climate change by Canadian journalist David Moscrop, titled “It’s time for climate change defeatists to get out of the way.” If you’ve watched the slow-motion train wreck of climate change activism for more than a year or two, you already know Moscrop’s song well enough to sing it in the shower, but I think the attitudes enshrined (or, better, embalmed) in this piece and its many equivalents are worth another look.  There’s something moving down below the surface of the rhetoric; follow where it leads, and you come close to one of the deep roots of our present predicament.

Moscrop’s essay contains all the usual ingredients, and all the usual omissions, of a good standard tub-thumping climate change diatribe. He starts out sounding like a Puritan preacher—sinners in the hands of an angry Gaia!—but shifts almost at once to talking about feelings: his feelings, of course, and those of the people who agree with him. They’re anxious, he tells us. They’re grieving. They’re depressed. They’re despondent. And of course it’s all the fault of those horrible people over there, those “cowards or selfish monsters or wretched social liabilities willfully closed off to the reality of imminent doom,” who are deliberately keeping climate change activists from saving the world.

Then, of course, comes the call to arms—to “ignore, marginalize, and defeat” those horrible people over there. “That means protests,” he tells us. “That means lawsuits. That means trying to convince deniers or holdouts with our reasons. That means shouting them down at town halls if giving reasons fails.” It means, to be precise, exactly those things that climate change activists have been doing over and over again for the last twenty years, with a noticeable lack of success. There’s a helpful saying about that—“if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten”—but apparently Moscrop thinks otherwise; the only alternative he can see to yet another round of the same failed tactics is rolling over and waiting for death.

The things that got left out of Moscrop’s diatribe are even more indicative than the things that got put into it. The first one, as I’ve already hinted, is any sense that climate change activists might learn a lesson or two from their movement’s many defeats. Successful movements for social change constantly learn from experience, abandoning tactics and strategies that don’t work and building on those that do. Attempting to ignore, marginalize, and defeat “deniers and holdouts” hasn’t worked—quite the contrary, there are more people today who dismiss the reality of anthropogenic climate change than ever before.

I should probably mention here, to avoid unnecessary confusion, that I’m not one of those latter people. I learned enough about energy flow and the laws of thermodynamics many years ago to realize that if you dump billions of tons of infrared-trapping gases into Earth’s atmosphere, you’re going to play hob with the delicate energy balance that maintains Earth’s climate in its present condition. The fact that Earth’s climate has changed drastically in the past, without benefit of human interference, simply shows how stupid it is to tamper with a system so obviously vulnerable to destabilization. (Readers who want to know more about my take on climate change are welcome to consult my books The Long Descent, The Ecotechnic Future, and Dark Age America, which all discuss the subject at some length.)

That is to say, I agree heartily with Moscrop’s claims that anthropogenic climate change has become an everyday reality, and that it can be expected to get much, much worse so long as modern industrial civilization keeps bumbling on its merry way, ripping through half a billion years of fossil sunlight to prop up a few short centuries of absurd extravagance. Yet it remains the case that twenty years of strident yelling by climate change activists have not succeeded in convincing either their opponents or the undecided of the rightness of their cause and the urgency of change. Quite the contrary, the more vociferously climate change activists have pursued the program that Moscrop has summarized, the more numerous and more vocal their opponents have become. That deserves much more attention than it’s gotten so far.

To some extent, the failure of climate change activists to convince others to agree with them follows from the sort of thinking Moscrop himself puts so vividly on display. As far as he’s concerned, again, the people who disagree with him are “cowards or selfish monsters or wretched social liabilities willfully closed off to the reality of imminent doom.”  Last I checked, shrieking insults at people is not an effective way to get them to reconsider their beliefs.  Nor is it going to help if your response, when they don’t accept whatever talking points you happen to offer, is to shout them down at town hall meetings or the like.

If you want to change people’s minds, you have to address their needs and wants, their hopes and fears and dreams.  This means you actually have to listen to them, and not just decide on some arbitrary ideological basis what their needs, wants, hopes, fears, and dreams ought to be.  You have to treat them as people, not ciphers, whose point of view also has to be taken into account—and of course doing this brings with it the risk that you’ll not merely have to change your tactics or your strategies, but may possibly be forced to reconsider your own beliefs as well. You can refuse that risk and treat them as objects to be manipulated, sure, but if you do so, your chances of changing anyone’s mind drop like a rock.

So that’s one very obvious thing that’s missing from Moscrop’s take on things. The other will be familiar to readers of this blog: nowhere in his essay does he breathe even a hint of the idea that people who want industrial society to stop flooding the atmosphere with greenhouse gases need to start leading by example, and make the same changes in their own lives first.

The astonishing thing, to me, is that he comes so close to talking about that crucial point, and then veers away from it so sharply. He talks about ways people distract themselves from the reality of climate change, and mentions that trips to Las Vegas are one of the ways he does this—and then acts as though the only problem with those trips to Las Vegas is that they distract him from pursuing climate change activism and make him feel sad about the future. That each flight Moscrop takes to and from Las Vegas dumps a big plume of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—the very thing he thinks we should all stop doing—finds no place in his essay, or apparently in his understanding of the cosmos.

More generally, that’s the vast and gaping hole in the entire strategy Moscrop sketches out—the strategy, please note, that has fallen flat on its face so reliably over the last twenty years. One of the main reasons so many people refuse to take climate change activists seriously is that the activists so consistently don’t walk their talk. Al Gore’s extravagant energy-wasting mansion and bumper crop of frequent-flyer miles did immense damage to the cause he thought he was supporting, and that damage has been multiplied, squared, and cubed by countless other climate change activists whose attitude, in practice, has been that everyone else should stop using fossil fuels so they can keep on doing so. As one of the iconic underground comic strips of the Sixties put it, “hear the sound of my feet walking drown the sound of my voice talking…”

It’s bad enough that this failure to take their own arguments seriously has handed a wickedly sharp weapon to their opponents, who have been quick to say, “See?  They just don’t want the rest of us to get any fossil fuels.” Worse still is that this whole debate comes in the midst of a crisis of legitimacy driven by the hard fact that these days, far too often, believing the experts has turned out to be a very bad idea. Think of Barack Obama insisting that if the Affordable Care Act was passed, health insurance premiums would go down and people would be able to keep their existing plans; think of all the medicines approved as safe and effective that turned out to be neither, or all the economic policies that were supposed to bring jobs and prosperity and did neither—and examples like this could be multiplied almost endlessly these days.

During such a crisis of legitimacy, people who want to work toward social change have to prove their good faith to those whom they’re trying to convince. The most effective way to do this is to follow Gandhi’s excellent advice: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” This is exactly what climate change activists have refused to do. The great majority of them embrace lifestyles that directly and indirectly dump tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. It’s not surprising, given this, that their cause hasn’t gotten much traction.  How can climate change activists expect to convince anyone else to stop dumping greenhouse gases when they so obviously can’t even convince themselves?

Watch the excuses that fly whenever this gets pointed out, and you’ll have an entertaining time of it. For example, climate-change activists these days often insist that it’s unfair to ask them to use less carbon, because industries, not consumers, are responsible for most greenhouse gas emissions. And what are industries doing to emit all that carbon dioxide?  Why, the vast majority of industrial production these days goes to manufacture goods and services for consumers—and a disproportionate share of those goods and services, of course, get consumed by exactly those middle and upper middle class demographics so heavily represented in climate change activism.

All human beings are not equally wasteful of carbon, after all.  Counting the fossil fuels burnt to provide consumer goods and services and other amenities as well as direct energy use, a single upper middle-class adult in the US or Canada has a carbon footprint considerably larger than an ordinary working class family in the same countries, or three or four working class families in Europe, or the residents of a block in an ordinary neighborhood in Ecuador or Malaysia, or an entire village or two in the poorer parts of the Third World. Thus a middle- or upper middle-class Canadian or American who cuts their carbon footprint drastically, and encourages others to do the same by example, has a much greater effect on the problem of anthropogenic climate change than a working-class person in the same country or a resident of some less extravagant nation.

Thus I want to ask again why climate change activists haven’t done the obvious thing, followed Gandhi’s advice, and enthusiastially taken up in their own lives the changes they say they want everyone else to make. Part of it, no doubt, can be credited to common or garden variety hypocrisy of the “do what I say, not what I do” variety. The Left in particular has become very well known in recent years for its passionate willingness to pursue its goals by spending every penny of other people’s money and, if need be, spilling the last drop of someone else’s blood.  Thus it’s not too surprising to see climate change activists behaving like those fundamentalist preachers who take breaks from writing sermons about the evils of homosexuality to schedule hot dates with their boyfriends.

Part of it, too, comes from middle-class snobbery. Like social primates everywhere, members of the middle and upper middle classes in the industrial world like to parade their status, and that puts them in a really awkward bind once environmental issues enter the picture. On the one hand, they know that burning fossil fuels is pushing the world further the world into climatological crisis, and the more they burn, the worse it’s going to get. On the other hand, in modern industrial society, the conspicuous consumption used for status display involves either burning a lot of fossil fuels, or buying goods and services that depend on burning a lot of fossil fuels.

Thus if you want to signal that you belong to the middle or upper middle class, and distance yourself as far as you can from those unbearably declassé working class people who vote for Donald Trump south of the Great Lakes and Doug Ford north of them, either you burn a lot of fossil fuels or you get industry to burn them for you. Since snobbery is by and large a more potent motivator of behavior than ecological idealism, a very large number of climate change activists keep on using fossil fuels and the products of fossil fuel consumption to show off their status and compete with their peers, and then try to convince themselves that demanding that someone else stop using fossil fuels will somehow cancel out the resulting carbon footprints.

That said, I think there’s more going on here than ordinary hypocrisy and the snob value of conspicuous (fossil fuel) consumption. At the heart of the bizarre disconnect between what climate change activists call on everyone to do, and what they’re willing to do themselves, lies the simple fact that most people in the modern industrial world have never really grasped that they themselves are part of nature.

That’s not accidental, either. Nearly everything that frames a middle- or upper middle-class lifestyle in the industrial world today can be described, without too much difficulty, as a way to avoid dealing with nature. You’ve got the houses, condominiums, and upper-end apartments hermetically sealed against the natural world, with furnaces to keep them from getting cool in winter and air conditioners to keep them from getting warm in summer. You’ve got the cars, glass and plastic bubbles isolating the passengers from the world, rushing down concrete freeways from one climate-controlled venue to another, and you’ve got the airplanes that are designed to maintain the same isolation over longer distances.

You’ve got the televisions and the other media technologies to keep your mind full of scenes that never happened, concocted by scriptwriters and acted out by people who make a living pretending to be things they’re not, where they’re not simply computer-generated images of things that never were and never will be.  You’ve got strawberries in January and ice in July, reflective windows to keep the daylight out and electric lamps to do the same thing to night’s darkness, streetlights to drown out the stars and keep us from noticing how insignificant we are by comparison—well, the list goes on. If that’s your lifestyle, the thought that what you do in your own daily affairs might have any affect on that mysterious, distant thing called “nature” must seem distinctly unreal.

Nature seen from within such a lifestyle isn’t the umwelt, to borrow a useful German word—the world-around, the totality in which we live and move and have our being—much less the whole of which each of us is a tiny, temporary part. Nature seen from within such a lifestyle is an amenity, something that belongs in whatever place we assign it—a park here, a garden there, a carefully manicured bed of flowers edged in concrete to walk past on the way to and from the front door. The people who live the way modern well-to-do people in the industrial world are supposed to live interact with nature when they want to, on their terms, and then hurry away.

And when nature doesn’t do what it’s told, and intrudes into this artificial existence?  If a living thing shows up in the house, it’s time to rush to the phone in a panic and call the exterminator. If a garden bed sprouts a plant we didn’t put there or attracts insects who want to make a home there, out come the chemical poisons.  If a human body does something that the personality inhabiting it doesn’t like, quick, call the doctor, so that drugs and surgery can force the body to behave. Our middle- and upper middle-class families, for that matter, have created environments so sterile that they’re helping to drive soaring rates of autoimmune diseases—the immune systems of children raised in such environments have so few microbes to react to that they start reacting to the body’s own tissues instead.

I’ve come to think that this, more than anything else, is what drives the shrill anger in Moscrop’s diatribe and its many equivalents. It’s not that something awful is happening to other species—if that was the issue, I’d expect to see more of a willingness to abandon the current fad for absurdly extravagant lifestyles powered by fossil fuels. No, I think what’s going on is akin to what you’d hear if a suburban householder spots a cockroach on his kitchen floor, calls around to each of the local exterminators, and discovers that all of them have full schedules for the rest of the month. As call follows call and the cockroach sits there gnawing on a stray crumb of artisan bread or something, the householder gets angrier and angrier, and ends up shrieking insults into the phone because nobody will come and get rid of this intolerable intrusion on the part of nature.

Nobody is going to come and get rid of anthropogenic climate change, either—not without putting a full stop at the end of the entire galaxy of extravagant energy-wasting habits that are treated as normal by modern industrial society. That this obvious conclusion is far from obvious to the people who do most of the talking about climate change—that it is in fact unthinkable to them—is, I think, a direct result of the way that modern lifestyles distance people from nature, and especially members of the well-to-do classes that play so central a role in climate change activism. The fact remains that a conclusion can be unthinkable and still be quite true.

Thus one of the things that I want to explore in posts to come is how we got into ways of thought that treat modern industrial lifestyles as normal and desirable—how people in the industrial world, that is, got caught up in a self-defeating attempt to escape from nature, when human beings are at once inescapably dependent on nature and inescapably part of nature—and how that frankly bizarre habit might be swapped out for something saner. In the coming year, starting from that discussion, I want to start moving the conversation on this blog to the project I had in mind when I founded it: the first steps in the development of ecosophy, a way of philosophical thought and spiritual practice that takes our place as small temporary portions of living nature as its starting point.


In other news, I’m delighted to announce that stories are now being accepted for the second volume of Vintage Worlds, our ongoing anthology of tales from the Old Solar System—the vivid if utterly imaginary backdrop for so much classic science fiction, full of habitable worlds, intelligent species, and two- (or more-)fisted adventure. (The first volume, as I think most of my readers know, is now available for purchase.)

This is a joint project, shared with Zendexor of the Solar System Heritage website. We’re looking for  another round of stories set in the Old Solar System — the imaginary one that was conjured into being by science fiction authors back in the glory days of the genre, when Mars had canals, Venus was a jungle planet, and human explorers could tangle with colorful adventures all the way from the Twilight Belt of Mercury to the improbably habitable far reaches of the system.

Those writers who don’t happen to be familiar with the Old Solar System should read Zendexor’s website and then follow it up with a good healthy helping of classic SF. Those who already know the territory — well, what are you waiting for?

We’re looking for short stories (2500-7500 words), novelettes (7500-12,500 words) and a novella (12500+ words) set in the Old Solar System. We will also accept poems of any length, though only a few of these will be chosen.  Type of story is as wide open as space —adventure tales, interplanetary romance, cosmic horror, you name it, as long as the tale takes place on one or more of the worlds of the Old Solar System or the voids between them.

Please note that we have a preference for good lively escapist fun. Relevantitis – a common ailment of science fiction these days, which you can find discussed in Zendexor’s essay here – isn’t a death sentence, but it’s going to make us less interested in your story or poem. Stories should be submitted to Zendexor at heritageofdreams (at) aol (dot) com.

Deadline for story submissions is July 30, 2019, so grab your laser pistols, climb aboard that spaceship, and head out for other worlds!


  1. Not to be boring, but I think your points here are utterly correct. The only avenue that I might explore more would be the ease and seemingly laziness aspect of so much of this escape from or denial of nature and it’s forces. It’s such hard work to have a holistic and realistic viewpoint when one can simply turn up the thermostat, fly off somewhere else, or watch fantasy that you don’t even have to generate for yourself. Computer games also seem to me to be a prime source of this removal from nature; not quite as passive as old-fashioned films perhaps but still a fantasy world and possibly more pernicious because of their immersive and interactive qualities. Of course, one can be immersed and interactive with nature but that involves going outside . . . and there are bugs and dirt and things I can’t control out there!

  2. Is this mental/ emotional disconnect the reason why there is almost no coherent detailed narrative of what an ecologically responsible life would look like? Activists make isolated pronouncements about how “people” should stop driving cars (without explaining how suburbanites for whom moving to a trendy walkable community is not an option should live their lives), or people should stop eating meat (without addressing the economic impact of that, or the considerable ecological destruction wrought by factory farming) but there is never a fully realized narrative of an average person’s post carbon life. My conclusion is that it is a way of life so unpalatable to contemporary sensibilities that few want to contemplate it and promoting it would do far more harm than good.

  3. Jonathan, I think that last comment of yours, especially, hits the nail on the head. Inside the bubble you can pretend to control everything — of course that just means that you’re being controlled by the technologies that hand you predigested choices to make, but the fantasy of omnipotence is very real. Outside the bubble you have to deal with things you can’t even pretend to control, and I think that terrifies a lot of people.

    BTidwell, I think that’s an important part of it. Of course if someone presented a clear depiction of what an ecologically responsible life might look like, then the next question would be, “Okay, why don’t you start living that way?” — and of course, as already noted, that’s unthinkable…

  4. John–

    Oh my. I can only think that Fido’s going to get extra helpings of snacks this week…

    I’ve mentioned previously, I believe, how one of the key aspects of my changing perspectives has been my contemplation of the Other, and in particular the Other as a living being with (at some level) a will, desires, and goals of its own. (And reaching one’s hand into the ripe brine of a fermentation vessel certainly brings one into direct contact with, ahem, life.)

    I have noticed how, too, my views have shifted since the TV disappeared from our living room. How my quality of life and my well-being generally have improved by removing that one layer of artificiality from my routine. How much more could be gained by removing others? By continuing to require fewer possessions? I mean, we hardly live in a cave. I do walk when going about town whenever possible. (I still need a car for work, unfortunately, as the local bus system schedule proved to resemble the Pirate Code — more a set of guidelines than a rule.)

    I’m looking forward to the development of ecosophy in future posts (and subsequent discussions) and an exploration of the inner and outer changes we might make to achieve a more harmonious existence within this living system of which we are one small part.

  5. One of the ways I see this attitude reflected is in the US fashion industry, at least for women. It used to be possible to get attractive business-casual-to-semiformal clothing that would keep you relatively warm–thick wool and outfits designed for many layers, for example–or good-looking shoes that you could actually stand in for a while, and even walk in for some distance.

    Now the assumption seems to be that if you want to get at all dressed up, and I mean anything beyond jeans and sneakers, it’s because you’re going to take a car somewhere climate-controlled and, once you’re there, mostly sit around. Even “winter” fabrics like velvet and flannel are made really thin for the most part, and shoes either fall apart after six months of use, take forever to break in (I spend the first week of any shift in weather with bits of my feet bleeding, basically, and have learned to ignore it to an extent that alarms my friends) and kill your arches.

    Not that every era doesn’t have its ridiculousness re: fashion, but I definitely see the attitude that nature is very separate from humanity, and either something you get away from everything else to experience (hiking boots, ski parkas, etc) or only experience in the course of grimy, “trashy” life (sweats and sneakers). And I’m not a big nature girl myself–I hate being cold or wet, I’m not fond of most bugs, and if I go more than a month or two without showing a fair amount of leg, I have a minor identity crisis–but a little more movement toward a place where people who are physically able to do so, say, walk a mile or two rather than taking cars to work or school, eat seasonal food* or put on a sweater before they turn the heat up would be a fine thing

    * And stop demanding that all their food be individually packaged. I doubt that anyone’s ever died from eating a sandwich wrapped in, say, brown paper rather than plastic with a sealed-for-your-protection sticker, and yet…

  6. I’ll also add that I think there’s an element of Stockholm syndrome that makes it difficult to walk the walk even while talking the talk; subconsciously there’s an element of identification with one’s captors, or the society we were mostly born into and raised by.

    And talking of subconsciously, it seems to me possible that most of us are walking around knowing without “knowing” that it can’t all go on forever, that one day nature will show us all too persuasively that we can’t have an ever-growing industrial consumerist economy along with both “sustainability” (whatever that is) and a huge, rapidly increasing human population. So, we just go into denial. Not quite coherent with your post, I know, and certainly debatable but perhaps a detour worth considering as we attempt to understand our predicament.

  7. Have you read Fred Pohl’s “The Midas Plague?” In it the role of consumption is reversed: the poor have piles of consumer goods dumped on them which they’re required to use up while minimalism is a privilege of the rich. I wonder what it would take to effect that sort of status inversion?

  8. @Jonathan & JMG

    Re computer games, etc.

    It seems to me that ads for and discussions of VR (virtual reality) technology are becoming more prominent. From gaming to movies to work environments, straight VR or layered AR (augmented reality) seem to be everywhere. Certainly, I see many an article in trade presses lauding the benefits of AR in terms of manufacturing and other industrial spaces (along with the IoT and IIoT — internet of things and industrial internet of things, respectively). To me, this has all kinds of bad written all over it, whether we are talking about a growing inability to interact with the actual world or the opportunities for malicious manipulation.

  9. Excellent and timely post. Two weeks ago I learned a new term called “mileage run” from a friend who was about to do one. A “mileage run” is when you take a trip for no other reason than to secure the frequent flyer miles necessary to move up in status and perks for frequent flying. They are apparently common at the end of the year. In my friend’s case, he left his home in Charleston, SC, at 3:45 am, flew to Seattle, and was home at 12:45 am the next morning. The passenger next to him on the Atlanta to Seattle leg was doing the same thing. The flight attendants talked about the high volume of “mileage runs” that week as it was the cheapest week for fares between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I told him I was dumbfounded at the pure waste of it all. Not only the wasted energy and pollution, but also everyone’s time.

    I always thought your analogy that future generations will compare us to Nazi’s because of our sheer wastefulness was a little over the top, but now I think you’re probably right. It is unbelievable we’ve created a system that actually rewards waste on this scale with additional “perks.”

  10. I’m delighted to read that you are contemplating a return to crafting an ecosophy, a worthy project for us all. I’m attempting my own ecosophy project at The Way of Nature,

    As to humans as separate from Nature: The problem begins with the word. When we attach a word to a concept, it serves to separate that concept from everything as a separate “thing.” Thus, Nature is a thing separate from humans that we must strive to rejoin.

    “The named is the Mother of all things.” Tao te Ching

    This is our legacy from the Enlightenment, if that’s what it was, that every thing is separate and disconnected one from another and can be considered individually. It is only recently that science has begun to understand the nature of the all that is as a totality, and that an atom-ic approach to understanding results in distortions, misunderstandings and inaccurate and misleading assumptions.

    It’s clear that the Enlightenment story no longer serves us well as co-evolving beings as part of this non-linear complex and chaotic multiverse.

    Using labels to describe the various players in the “Climate Change” debate distorts the arguments and masks the nature of the people involved. “Denier,” “alarmist,” “left,” “right,” etc. puts us in boxes within which we squirm in discomfort. For example, I am described as a Leftist Climate Denier, which puts me in the bullseye of many dart boards, despite the fact that I don’t self-identify with “the Left,” and I do not deny climate or climate change (more accurately, climate variability). This doesn’t serve me or anyone else well by placing me in a box and attacking the box.

    My ecosophy, if you will indulge me for a moment, recognizes that we have never been separate from the natural (non-human) world such that we need to return to it. As integrated components of the web of all that is, biological, physical, mental and spiritual, we can understand the complex interrelationships among us and everything else and wend our way amongst them to a point where we act and function in and with the flow of the multiverse. Once we understand this basic reality, we can act accordingly as we craft a life in keeping with this basic principle.

    Unfortunately, the present dominant paradigm, optimistically named “civilization,” bombards us with constant distractions. It takes a dedicated effort to avoid being sucked in and to focus on the broader reality. Even esoteric Eastern religions have their own brand of distraction keeping us from awareness.

    What to do, what to do.

    In my experience, now some 69 years in duration, the best thing to happen to those born into societies based on affluence and consumption, as early in life as possible, is complete and abject bankruptcy and loss. It’s a grand learning experience to be bereft of all accustomed societal props, to be forced to figure out how to live based on one’s own creativity, inventiveness and principles. Living close to the bone is a sacred opportunity.

    Enough of this blathering. Time for a walk.

  11. When I really get going I’ll lambast every technology of control going back to the first fire-hardened point sticks and fantasize about being a hunter-gatherer. But, that situation lead apparently inevitably to today (‘cos it did) – and the truth is that animals have tools and technology (of a sort) – what else is a nest? – and recently I read that even pre-sapiens humans had fire and chipped rocks. So, when does one choose to make a turn and go in a different direction?

  12. Just a friendly publisher reminder: JMG’s first two books in the Weird of Hali series are now available in print and eBook editions. You can get Innsmouth here: and Kingsport here: The books are making their way towards wider distribution. Right now the eBooks are available for Kindle as well as both epub and mobi editions through our Payhip store:

  13. I feel very conflicted on this one. I find it incredibly hypocritical and infuriating that so many people concerned with climate change make no attempt to change their lifestyles. At the same time, these individual actions are small and can’t really change the systems we find ourselves imbedded in, so I see why many people don’t change their consumption habits. What would be the goal of doing this in regards to making significant change? Is it just that lecturing others on this subject while you burn through resources is hypocritical and bad optics? Or do you actually think that if enough people started walking the walk we could actually make the necessary changes? I do my best to use less, but there are serious limits to how much this can do without changing larger systems.

  14. Ah, but there’s a world of satisfaction to be had in tweaking the yuppies (old term, I know, but still useful). It’s FUN to be THAT family, with the decades-old cars and the compost heap and the dandelions in the lawn and the bedsheets on the (shudder) clothesline…and then to be able to casually mention that not only do you have no debt, but you can afford to send your children to university without them going into debt either! “Deer in the headlights” doesn’t begin to describe the sheer incomprehension…but maybe you’ve lit a little fire at the back of their minds…

  15. Fantastic post. I used to fret like David and point fingers at the evil old oil men and thanksgiving uncle variety deniers. That was back when the only info I read was of the Bill McKibbon variety. After reading your books I began to make serious changes and now I hardly have time to leave my yard. The one thing I expected you to tie in as I was reading is the yellow vests, the first large scale reaction of the rich imposing the burden of change on the poor. Anyway I couldn’t resist gently pointing David toward your essay via email but I got a return message saying he’s on vacation from December 11th to January 7th. I assume it’s not a month off at home building rabbit hutches and planting perennials. Maybe if he wins big in Vegas he can pay someone to do those things for him.

  16. “Okay, why don’t you start living that way?” — and of course, as already noted, that’s unthinkable…

    Hardly unthinkable. Difficult to achieve perhaps, immersed as we are in the dominant political/social/economic system.

    Nevertheless, one can, as my wife and I, do as much as possible:

    Walk and bicycle, do not drive a car. Use public transportation for trips outside 5 mile radius.
    Eat a vegetarian diet; buy local whenever possible. Grow as much food as possible at home
    Choose to live in a place that does not require fossil fuels for heating and cooling. Heat with passive solar; and locally gathered firewood when necessary.
    No TV/commercial radio. No cell phones. Simple desktop computers, turned off when not in use (as is anything plugged into the wall.)
    Only one light bulb on at a time.
    Live in a small (850 square feet) home (54 years old).
    Clothing from thrift stores, or our local free table

    Live cooperatively, in community, share widely and often

    Small steps, repeat as necessary.

  17. An acquaintance posted of his attendance at the Climate Reality Leadership Corps training in August. 2,000 went to LA from all over the world, to hear inspiring messages from Al Gore. When I took a clue from you, and asked about the carbon footprint, he got pretty defensive. They bought carbon offsets! The LA Convention Center is Gold LEED certified! Sigh….

    I do try to get along with our fellow denizens of the planet, but I draw the line at the rats getting to ALL the ripe tomatoes before I even get one. Sometime war is just.

    On a far happier note, as we approach midwinter, I would like to announce the Second Annual Midsummer Ecosophia Potluck on June 22, 2019! Once again, I will host. Last midsummer, we had about 2 dozen of your fellow commenters, and our gracious host and his consort Sarah. For information and to sign up, please go here.

  18. Speaking for myself, I enjoy the comforts and conveniences associated with the modern industrial lifestyle. I also very much appreciate the way in which it promotes basic physical health in a way that most pre-modern lifestyles do not.

    (In saying this, I am not denying that modern mainstream medicine is basically scientifically bankrupt. But the fact is that life expectancies and prevailing standards of health are much higher today, thanks to what the modern industrial lifestyle affords, than during any pre-modern epoch of Western civilization that you might care to mention.)

    There are plenty of annoyances and inconveniences associated with the modern industrial lifestyle too, to be sure, but a lot of these can be eliminated or at least reduced with a bit of willful assertiveness against their encroachment into daily life. It also helps a lot if you don’t care to impress others with the use of your possessions and activities as status symbols.

  19. Dear JMG,

    Another interesting and wide-ranging article. A point struck me especially:

    > “…snobbery is by and large a more potent motivator of behavior than ecological idealism”

    You hit that nail on the head, that’s just what I was thinking in regards to my own situation. I’m not sympathetic at all to the usual arguments for taking action on climate change (or the culture of its self-appointed prophets), but I’ve found that the counter-cultural allure from the combination of blogs like this and Trad-Catholic calls that end up in homesteading and intentional small communities to be much more attractive, because they play on my desire to be unusual and radical.

    Moscrop and company don’t offer me anything at all except that I can join in calling other people names instead of being called names myself (I’m used to the latter already). I won’t be materially better off, and to judge from the state of their psyches I won’t be any happier or wiser. It doesn’t appear that they are making, or plan to make any noticeable impact on the environment – so in short they’re offering me a pretty raw deal. At best, they offer the same benefits as a thick skin and a pair of earplugs. Since 80-90% of what I have is secondhand anyway, I bet my carbon footprint is smaller than Moscrop’s, anyway.

  20. Mr Greer, I think you’re being a tad unfair. People don’t have the control over their own lives that you imply. They have to live in the world that raised them, it’s all they know, and if they don’t get to work on time and spend most of their waking hours there, they’re on the street.

    There are plenty of ways that Governments could reduce CO2 emissions by providing huge subsidies for what’s green and taxation for what’s not. A think tank could advise of best practice and the government would automatically implement its best proposals. The huge subsidies could be partly paid for by reducing military expenditure, particularly on nukes and high tech stuff. But QE and printing money could continue too for the time being (after all, it’s not going to stop anytime soon).

    Of course, such a radical government would normally expected to be voted out after 4 years, so you’d also have to buy off those who control the media. To do this, we’d probably need to declare a declaration of emergency as in wartime so that such apparently antidemocratic measures are feasible.

    Legislation would be fierce too – banning and scrapping diesel cars, for instance, or retrofitting them with electric motors, at no cost to the owners of course. Plenty of jobs creating bike lanes, light railways, trams and allotments with municipal soil conditioners, free seeds…

    OK, I was dreaming.

  21. Jonathan, I also agree that you nailed it. I’m a programmer, and have thought often of how important “control” is in this world. You expect and demand that the computer does exactly what you say: there are no vagaries, no doubts, no leaning on intuition to wonder what’s going to happen next. And because we get accustomed to this control, we expect real beings – humans, dogs, slugs – to be controlled as easily, too. As others have said, we made machines, and then became machines.

    When I’m out gardening, and haven’t looked at any electronic media for days on end, it’s a much different experience. It is immersive, like you said. I can “sense” when things need watering, or if there’s trouble down in the other pasture among the animals. It’s a completely different connection with life.

    The video games are awful. Like JMG said, you get canned creativity – not the creativity a child has naturally, but something limited provided by the designers. I look at all the boys addicted to this (and to porn, another control mechanism) and how far removed they are from real life, that nothing I could say could ever snap them out of their trance. They are too far into it. And when that electronic umbilical cord is finally cut as this civilization winds down, the wailing will be deafening.

  22. @BTidwell, if you have never encountered the works of Sharon Astyk, particularly “Decline and Abundance”, I encourage you to pick up a copy. She writes extensively about what an ecologically responsible life can and does look like in today’s world. And she walks the talk, even while raising a house full of foster kids outside of Schenectady, New York. Her vision is a good one.

  23. @BTidwell, I think that’s it. And it’s baffling what people find so unpalatable that they’d rather take odds on human extinction instead. There was a man on my friends Facebook, old enough to be gloating he’d be dead by the time it got “bad”. His example of “bad” was people having to use horses and carriages again – if people can’t specifically drive cars, he’s willing to take the chance we move the climate past human niche tolerance, because what’s the point if our children “will only be going *backwards*?”

    That’s why they aren’t moved by the unnecessarily lopsided suffering of the poorer countries, either – as far as they’re concerned, their lives are literally already not worth living. Something I suppose comes from advertising – live for your vacation! Live for retirement! Your daily life is akin to death. I spoke to a woman this morning who spent three hours last night wrapping her family’s copious Christmas presents, but found it so tedious she first had to get blotto drunk by herself. She doesn’t believe in climate change, because if it was true, she’d have to live “in a cave”. All they know is that their current life is the best thing ever, and they’re still miserable, but since it’s progress, by definition anything else must be worse and therefore unthinkable. Why would they be spending all this time and money is it wasn’t the best?

  24. In the ’70s we saw bipartisan legislation that actually improved the environment. The legislation was aimed, largely, at industry and made a real difference. With the onus mostly on industry little was required of individuals and no real lifestyle changes were required, though Pres. Carter did suggest we might turn down our thermostats. Climate activists seem to believe that legislation, again airmed primarily at the industrial sector, will yeild results on par with the legislation of the ’70s. It won’t. The low hanging fruit has been picked. The possibility of ever increasing levels of consumption combined with real environmental imvpovement are gone now. Serious lifestyle change is now necessary if we woould improve the environment and slow global warming. It won’t happen voluntarily.

    The poor and working class will adapt first, out of necessity. The top 20% or so will be the ones that have the electric cars and solar panels. They will maintain some semblence of our current lifestyles while the rest of us willl live harsher, meaner lives. I think working class people understand this and I think that’s why there’s so much working class antipathy towards electric cars and green tech generally.

  25. Several years ago John, you had a writing contest in which you ask people to write stories in which neither the Star Teck future of endless progress nor the long decent and civilization collapse happens. There weren’t enough stories to put an anthology together, so the project was dropped. But the idea that there may be a real alternative to collapse is an something I have been trying to imagine ever sense.

    I have a story now and I will be working with an artist or two to make it into a graphic novel (hopefully by the end of 2019). I don’t want to spoil the story, but the following four lines sum up how climate change and collapse get dealt with. (the exact opposite of fleeing from nature)

    Embrace the Life Force

    Seed the self-weaving living tapestry

    Activate the Gaia Streams

    Enchant and enliven the carbon

  26. While I’m far too old to consider buying land or making any other extraordinary changes to our fairly simple lifestyle I’ve been following the progress of several permaculture activists who really do walk the walk. Geoff Lawton who was a student of Bill Mollison has had a number of successful projects in climates and environments all over the world. There are multiple videos including those about the projects he developed in making gardens in the deserts of Jordan. He has a 66 acre farm in Australia where he conducts permaculture classes several times a year.

    The other website that provides a lot of inspiration is Low-tech Magazine written by Kris DeDecker who lives in Europe (Spain). As he states on his home page: Low-tech Magazine questions the blind belief in technological progress, and talks about the potential of past and often forgotten knowledge and technologies when it comes to designing a sustainable society. Interesting possibilities arise when you combine old technology with new knowledge and new materials, or when you apply old concepts and traditional knowledge to modern technology.

    I agree you have to give people something to be enthusiastic about and both of these people (and others) do so. Geoff Lawton’s classes and lectures are very well attended by people of all ages. He also says (as does John Liu) there aren’t nearly enough people in the world to do what needs to be done.

  27. I think you’re underestimating the highest priority in life- to avoid suffering. Previous generations were at the mercy of things like the dust bowl, and lack of vaccinations or antibiotics. Life was “nasty, brutish, and short”. We are perhaps the second or third generation to move significantly away from some of nature’s acute suffering roadblocks. To do a voluntary about face may sound great, but pragmatically, it won’t work. Just like there is a vast chasm between ideology and reality in politics.

  28. Riffing off BTidwell’s comment about how there is no coherent imagining of what a lower-energy life looks like …. are we finally getting to the “could-have-beens” of the ’70s that disappeared so fast down the proverbial memory hole that I – only ten years your junior – cannot recall hearing or seeing that vision?

  29. This is largely a very cogent analysis – though I’d suggest omitting the politics, since the average Trump supporter has above-average household income and it’s the right wing supporting mountaintop removal and coercive subsidies for coal plants. Most people on both of the main teams consume as enthusiastically as they can.

    Status-display consumption would be relatively easy to redirect, if people with money were aware of the issues. There are lots of sustainable luxury goods and services that could become fashion statements. Too many of us, though, are in a rat trap that prevents cutting back on unsustainable “basic” consumption. There are legal and practical restrictions on what kind of housing stock is available and who/how many may occupy it, what utilities are required to keep it livable and legal, what kind of transportation you need to get to your job (or prevent your children from being outdoors alone), etc. I think many of us know that we cannot now stop using fossil fuels, and cannot reduce our consumption to a sustainable level, and that can lead to fatalism or giving up.

    Here’s my rat trap: my hubby insists on air-conditioning down to 78/80 in summer and heating to at least “68” (really 64 in most of the living space) in winter. He’s unfit and unhealthy, with chronic cardiorespiratory problems, and if I try to make him turn the temperature farther up/down he’ll claim that he might die. It could be true. People with heart problems tend to kick the bucket in extreme temperatures. For people living in the past (or deindustrial future) with no climate control, there would be no moral calculus involved, just “we had a hard winter, Pops died, so sad”. But while you do have that gas furnace, saying that you won’t turn it up to save a family member’s health is Letty Green-level problematic. So we turn it up. Then when I think we are using needless energy elsewhere, it becomes not worth hassling about, because it is so tiny compared to the furnace that’s running at the same time.

    Some people may call me a hypocrite. I do value conservation, but I also value the hubby and want him to feel that his needs are met. He’s not a selfish monster. He’s like tens of millions of older Americans who are used to certain ways of life and whose prior lifestyle and environmental exposures rendered them not just mentally but physically less able to live close to the bone. Just as science has been said to progress one funeral at a time, a peaceful transition to sustainability may only be possible when all the old, unhealthy, fear-ridden Baby Boomers are dead. That will happen soon – but maybe not soon enough on the climate change timescale – but you will understand why I am not rooting for it to happen faster.

  30. “Outside the bubble you have to deal with things you can’t even pretend to control, and I think that terrifies a lot of people.”

    Your response to Jonathan struck a cord with me. As a gardener and home canner, I run across a lot of that pure “fear”, especially when it come processing food. Mostly it is from people who are trying to educate you in safe procedures, but so much of what they impart is just fear of things you, as an amateur, might not be able to control. This is BS in my opinion and safe canning procedures have been known for decades. They are easy to follow and in the end you produce delicious food circumventing a whole section of the industrial food complex. Very satisfying. No need to terrify the untrained, but they do.

    People also seem to have lost faith in their personal ability to make, grow, or produce anything of worth for themselves and their families. I have formed the notion that by sequestering themselves in their bubbles people are surrendering real, human skills and capabilities. They are lessening their humanity. They have also lost any real sense of judgment or willingness to fail, thus learn, by turning over all that to “experts” and “authorities”. Naturally to become an expert or an authority, you must be trained, vetted and certified by the appropriate “authorities” at great cost. Deities forbid that you should teach yourself anything.

    Perhaps this is all to escape the human condition which can sometimes be very painful, but what ever the reason/s are, I think we are becoming less human by living in that bubble and it will cost us dear.

  31. This general idea has been on the forefront of my mind recently. I’ve begun to realize that a lot of people, when they say “We have to stop climate change,” they mean “We have to stop climate change from destroying our way of life.” Nature to them is just some pretty scenery, and a collection of mindless biological systems that we have to manage, because our big human brains are the only game in town.

    Nowhere do I see any recognition of the idea that we’ve hit the limits of our intelligence and rationality, and that we can no more manage the biosphere than we can build a house on the surface of the Sun. The harder we push to control nature, the bigger the hammer she’ll pull out to beat us with.

    More specifically, I ran across what you’re talking about in Amitav Ghosh’s “The Great Derangement.” He talks about his frequent flights between India and America, and he talks about how political activism has become empty pantomime divorced from the actual machinery of government… and then he talks about how personal efforts to reduce carbon output are useless, and the only choice is mass action.

    Well, that’s one hell of a disconnect for a man as smart as he is.

  32. I am going to link together a couple of thoughts I had. They might be contradictory but here they are.

    First, there is a big cultural/generational difference. I grew up in a small town in Europe and I can see how my thinking is completely opposite to the way americans think. I grew up playing in the mud and I never worried about scratches or eating anything. I am still shocked when preppers are worrying about scratches causing deadly infections or homesteaders trying to “clean” the forest floor on their land, to mention just two things that I read recently on reddit.

    The cultural difference is very stark in Europe – people growing up in big cities think like americans while everyone else can still remember nature. I think in US even farmers or small city dwellers are completely brainwashed by the machines they surround themselves with.

    So, given this cultural difference, why aren’t more people trying to walk the talk about the climate? I can’t be the only one, right?
    I can give you my very selfish reasons. While I am super “green” compared to all my yuppies neighbors, I don’t do that for any feeling of duty or to try to convince people. I only do it because the way I was raised, I am happier living simpler and I am preparing for the future (“collapse now and beat the rush”).

    But I never deny myself something for CC reasons.
    As you know, fairness is instinctual in dogs, monkeys and many other animals. So why should I sacrifice some pleasure now so somebody else gets to use or destroy the world in the process?
    Just wanted to mention that I tried for a long time to do as much as I can (no flying, no driving etc) but I realized I was always angry at everybody – they got to have their fun and we will all suffer in the future.

    That brings me to my point. Where I disagree with you is that I believe there is no way that climate activism could have ever worked. The way evolution created human nature we are bound to fight to get everything we can out of this earth right until we will go extinct (or become a new species if we survive long enough).

    As an aside, I am currently rereading your books and you mention (The Long Descent) the climate that we can expect in the future centuries will be like the miocene climate optimum. Based on this study ( it seems that was too conservative (they talk about pliocene climate in 2030).


  33. @Jonathan Evelegh: Your comment about video games hit home with me. Far too much of my twenties got swallowed up by video games. By some grace I was able to remember that once upon a time, nature was more than a scenic backdrop, and that I used to have an attention span long enough to watch the clouds roll across the sky.

    Also, your comment about nature being full of things that can’t be controlled fits my ex-girlfriend. She was nominally an environmentalist, but hated going outside and encountering any sort of gross bug or condition that would upset her makeup.

  34. I am reminded of an excerpt from this article: I happened across the other day that again dealt with how we have to deeply change the way we live if we want to do anything about climate change. The examples of clothes-lines instead of tumble dryers (no matter how energy-efficient the dryer), thermal underwear instead of central heating, etc. made a great deal of sense to me (we just invested in wool underlayers this winter and are cozier than ever in an even less-heated house) but most people balk at the “inconvenience” of such things until they are put under financial strain and have to resort to “old fashioned” methods of getting things done. As long as people have money to spend, it seems, they will spend it on consuming energy, as if consuming as much energy as possible — in one way or another — is all a part of modern progress and anything else is regressive.

    I very much appreciate the thoughts on letting nature in. Living in the northeast, winter always makes me feel more alive, especially when out shoveling our driveway in the cold and the silence. The neighbor across the street likes to yell at me wondering why we got rid of our snowblower, but it seemed like the most obnoxious machine that wanted to kill me, whereas shoveling might take an hour but always invigorates me.

  35. Fantastic essay. It strikes me that a big part of our problem is confusing civilization with insulation. Most of the things the people in my affluent area would call “civilized” as opposed to trashy are just layers they can afford to insert between themselves and nature that the poorer folks can’t. Which gives me a good idea for a meditattion: if civilization is distinct from insulation, then what is it?

    Also, the new OSS anthology coming so soon after the previous one makes me think sales are going well. I’m halfway through the first and enjoying the stories more than I expected to.

  36. One problem with an ecologically sustainable lifestyle is that it would be easily categorised as “going backwards”.

    For me the crux of the problem is that our thought leaders want to arrest climate change but also want “progress”. In this sense I think that a lot of climate change alarmism is not intended to get people to change their lifestyles, but to put pressure on national or international bodies to invest enormous sums of money on ambitious geo-engineering projects. Hence you get references to reducing climate change being akin to this generation’s Apollo Mission etc.

    In turn, pointing out the hopeless selfishness of the plebs feeds into this. As they are an implacable barrier to progress, and brow-beating them does no good, so enlightened experts need to take charge and funnel taxes into Great Projects. To an extent I think David Moscrop is succeeding, in that I’ve no doubt that what he really wants is an enormous heartwarming technological boondoggle, which he can meaningfully dedicate the rest of his life to, and bond with like-minded people who are also committed to the boondoggle. It will have the added bonus that Moscrop and his ilk will consider that they are saving humanity from itself, and so garner additional enjoyment from their innate saintliness.

  37. Thank you for solving a problem for me. We have a thing going on here called Extinction Rebellion and this Friday we are targeting the appalling state broadcaster (BBC) for totally failing to tell any kind of truth about the ecological pickle we are in and not even mentioning the possibility that there has to be found an alternative to growth at any price.

    Actions are taking place 60 miles away from me in Truro at an outpost (local radio only) of the organisation, 120 miles away in Bristol at their regional television station and of course in London some 5hrs drive and train ride away. I had already discounted travelling to London as hugely wasteful and had been pondering whether to go to the little polite symbolic action in Truro or the larger and arguably more effective one in Bristol at twice the cost in time money and carbon.

    The answer of course is obvious – I will spend Friday cultivating my own plot and trying to learn practically to live more like a peasant. In the evening I will go to our good local pub and chew things over with whoever is there.
    As well as being able to talk about what I have been doing that might be a step on a road to a more beneficial way of life, I will also not miss the opportunity to socialise the benefits of living without the goggle box for over 15 years and without listening to the middle class radio station (Radio 4 it is called) run by the establishment broadcaster for the past 10 years. If even one person thinks twice about something they hear as received wisdom from mainstream media as a result my time will have been far more effectively spend than waving a banner and blockading outside a BBC building.

    The neo-peasants might yet inherit the earth.

  38. A piece of this puzzle that fascinates me is the role of science, not just in enabling the industrialization of the world, but in creating the desire for it, the vision and attractiveness of the possibility. Maybe it started with the New Atlantic of Francis Bacon. Science fiction has been around as long as modern science has been, and seems to be an integral if unacknowledged cornerstone. The core project I see is to reform science, to make it more about cherishing nature than controlling it.

  39. This really addresses somethings that I have been dealing with and thinking about for a long time. Thank you. For about 5 years I worked very hard in my rural community, first to really understand and (as I learned more) to prevent gas drilling. I even ran for the town board and served on it for four years. One of the first things to really confuse me was that the people who were the most active in this struggle were travelling a lot to different conferences. Because I didn’t want to do that, I got out of touch with some of the issues people were talking about.

    I also had a few experiences where our local farmers were faced with people insulting them for being greedy. Because I knew and respected some of these farmers, who by the way, work every day of their lives, with no vacation or pension, etc. I felt that that was not a good way to think about them and their efforts (including signing leases with the gas companies) to keep their land. Discussions got bitter after a while. I decided to take a few non-violent communication workshops and they stressed just the things you mentioned above: listening to people, recognizing their needs and values, and looking beyond the obvious things that were said to the realities behind it–for example, how can a dairy farmer who gets less and less money for his milk and needs to spend more and more to produce, how can this person leave this land to his kids?

    I could go on and on. My husband and I left the rural area and moved in the city mostly because neither one of us wanted to have to drive everywhere. We live in a trailer park and walk to the grocery store. We have a container garden and some other things like that, but as we get older we will have to let some things go. A lot of people ask us about our decisions–they are very curious. But most of them think that making a change like that is too hard and too limiting.

    But I don’t see this climate change movement as all one type of person. There are a lot of younger people who see their world being destroyed. Not all of them are affluent or ideological. But there are a lot of people who fit your description.

    And I totally agree that the society is distracting people from realizing that they are a part of the natural world. When that goes down the drain, they will too. This one aspect of our society is responsible for so much that is negative right now. I just finished reading the Mystery Teachings of the Living Earth, and I have told so many people about it. Thanks for framing this discussion in these terms.

  40. I think you hit an important point on the notion of status. Conspicuous consumption is only a status symbol in this culture, it’s not a universal.

    I feel there’s no sane way out of this that doesn’t involve cultural change.

    How can one change culture in accordance with will? Oops, have I just answered my own question?

    Seriously though if it becomes fashionable to be frugal, that would help.

    Before you ask, yes, I’m walking my talk, in so many ways, along the earth path. And, no, I’m not perfect and it’s an ongoing journey.


  41. I am an expat living in a country where I can make a living. However, when I studied abroad in college, I guess I left my heart in that place. Whenever I am not working, I am studying the language and reading books about it. In my mind, I am always wishing I were there. I am thus an ocean-hopper. I know this is laughably hypocritical, but I sold my car and did other things like swearing off fast fashion and following the supply route of my diet to be kinder to the environment, but then I’ll get on a 777 for thirteen hours so I can spend some time in the place I always want to be but can’t seem to secure a living. If someone told me I could never return there, I would be so incredibly sad, but the more I learn about jet fuel, the more my soul aches for what my actions are doing. I would appreciate any ideas on what I might do. Just to be clear, by “make a living” I do not mean an extravagant lifestyle. I live in a small apartment and eat beans and rice usually, no car, I walk everywhere and read library books, etc.

  42. In a recent radio interview on German “Deutschlandfunk”, a leading head of the CDU (christian democratic party) was interviewed on Merkels and the governments performance in fighting climate change. They ended up with the CDU guy pretending that exporting energy efficient German technology (especially combustion engines) is a more valuable contribution to the reduction of climate change than continuing to cut down emissions, while the radio guy basically insisted that cutting emissions would be the better way which would mean electric cars, lots of windmills, photovoltaic, etc.

    Funny thing, in the intro to the interview two figures were given: 1) Germany contributes 2% to the global CO2 emissions. 2) Germany produces roughly 100 times more CO2 per citizen than Somalia or other 3rd world countries.

    From this two figures alone it is obvious that exporting motors and building lots of windmills (I live in an area plastered with those) is just nonsense. The constant mantra goes alternative energy exit coal power alternative energy exit coal power alternative …. but should be more like reduce consumption repeated ad infinitum. At the end of the 1990 the German Green party won the federal elections as junior partner of the then strong Social Democrats (SPD). In that time, the official Green party program explicitly stated that 80% of the “Energiewende” should be realized by reduction of consumption and increased efficiency. A shooting star of reason. While the Green party is stronger than ever, it abandoned its former goals a long time ago and nobody seems to remember. They’re all just AGAINST dirty coal, AGAINST that bad non-organically grown food from the farmer next door but FOR lots of windmills, FOR efficient SUVs and of course FOR organic avocados imported from Chile since that is an important part of a vegan diet which is – as we all know – the ever only diet officially approved by mother nature (TM).


  43. I think there’s a far, far simpler reason for the issues: we can’t address climate change without shifting our lifestyles away from high energy use. This wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that we have an established religion that has sold us the idea that the present is worse than the past, by definition, and the future must be better.

    Of course, if the present is this bad, the past must be unbearable. I think the issue is that people feel the need to address the problem, but if it means going back, at all, they’d rather die. The people who admit that are the minority, but underlying so many odd things in the modern psyche is that simple, painful fact: to too many people, the idea of going back is a fate worse than death.

  44. Ms. Krieger, Sharon Astyk is indeed worth reading. We are in the process of preparing to move somewhere smaller and I am keeping her books. I would also like to keep David Holmgren’s but it belongs to the library so that involves a moral challenge.
    An interesting intersection of ideas happened here recently. A large number of school students held a protest about climate change, demanding that the government do something about it. At about the same time the parliamentary opposition said it will air condition all classrooms in the state when it regains power. I have a fair idea of how that will play out. No wonder I spend so much time with my jaw on the floor. (Does that qualify as poetry).

  45. JMG
    I agree –and also agree with the ‘fantasy of omnipotence’ mentioned in comment. I’m looking forward to these essays going forward.
    Just a thought to be going on with: the Gilet Jaunes have been making a valid point. I see the same in British hinterlands among those with relatively low incomes who actually do the work needed to keep the place running. You see it obviously in rural areas where getting to work or to medical and educational facilities is mostly dependent on the car. This must be a great deal more the case in the USA. This is the modern world we have made. It barely serves us and many scarcely get the necessities of life – once you leave the old world, going back becomes hypothetical. It only takes a few things to go wrong and families at the lower end are at risk. The contrast with the fancy lives of the better-off is demonstrable both locally and nationally.
    If climate change activism has become identified with the comfortable classes it can go nowhere it seems. Political sorcerers will play magic games in such environments.
    Phil H

  46. I wonder if part of the retreat from nature has to do with will power, or lack thereof, in the general population. In our society we are constantly under siege from external actors trying to hijack our attention and focus (and therefore our will power). Corporations, governments and the like hire experts who know exactly what strings to pull to make us dependent on them.

    The result is that people do not have even the basic skills in will power i.e. figuring what they (really) want and then putting plans to get them into practice. Arguably, this problem is even greater amongst the elites. They followed the social script and “succeeded”. People who didn’t succeed are more likely to have had to re-evaluate their life using their own will power.

    The inability of climate change activists to straighten out their own lives is a testament to lack of willpower. They can’t decide for themselves whether damage to the planet is more important than social status.

  47. David, I’m coming to think that it’s exactly the frantic attempt to pretend that the Other doesn’t exist, that each of us is alone in a world where nothing happens that we don’t do, that’s close to the core of our predicament.

    Isabel, it’s somewhat better for guys, but not that much. Clothing these days is made of astonishingly shoddy fabric and cut to useless patterns. Yes, it’s a good example!

    Jonathan, no question, that’s an issue — but it’s precisely by making the knowledge explicit, getting past the denial, that we have the prospect of doing something about the future.

    RPC, I did indeed. It was a clever gimmick — in his imagined future, nuclear fusion power turned out to be wildly successful, giving the world fantastic amounts of almost free energy, and so the great economic problem was that of preventing overproduction from crashing the economy. I don’t see any way of doing that short of finding a source of practically limitless free energy, and, er, that doesn’t seem to exist in this universe!

    David, I think we probably need to start talking about vicial reality, which is to virtual reality precisely what vice is to virtue…

    Ryan, I hadn’t heard of that. You’re right, it’s appalling.

    Michael, good. One of the things I propose to challenge in upcoming posts is the entire historical myth of the Enlightenment — nice unbiased label, that! — including a concept I once took very seriously, the notion of the disenchantment of the world. Stay tuned!

    Jonathan, why, now, of course — and history is full of people turning and going in different directions, you know.

    Shaun, thanks for this! I planned on splashing around some details on that next week — this week was more or less set aside for the Vintage Worlds II contest launch. Still, I won’t object to more publicity. 😉

    Greg, you’re missing the central point, which is that making changes in your own life allows you to lead by example, and encourages other people to do the same. Refusing to make changes in your own life, equally, convinces other people that you don’t actually believe what you’re saying. The individual changes aren’t enough on their own, sure, but they’re the foundation on which the rest is built — not just a matter of bad optics, though that’s a major issue, but a matter of leading by mimesis, and showing people that it really is possible to lead a better and happier life with less stuff and less carbon.

    RPC, oh, I know. I enjoy messing with people who can’t believe that I don’t drive and don’t have a television…and then they find out that it’s because of sensible economies like those that I can afford to write full time, without having to have a day job, and that my wife could stop working for several years in order to deal with health problems. Now and again, it really sinks in…

    Peter, I think he’s going to need some ointment for the burn you just gave him! Not that I’m disagreeing, mind you. 😉

    Michael, of course it’s not unthinkable — not if you make the effort to think it. My wife and I have been living low on the food chain for a long time now. I’ve found that if you suggest such things to your common or garden variety climate change activist, though, you can count on being given a flurry of excuses for why it’s supposedly unthinkable.

    Luis, sure. That’s one of the reasons why leading by example is so important — you have to show people that there’s a viable alternative to the culture of consumption.

    Peter, of course! It’s only in the fantasies of industrial society that the only options are the ones on the two extremes — either you annihilate every living thing in your garden but the ones you put there, or you let them do whatever you want. Somewhere in the vast middle ground between those two, you’ll find a range of viable options — and yes, sometimes that does mean war. (I once slew three woodchucks with a sword to defend my garden — and no, I’m not making that up.)

    Nestorian, again, it’s only in the fantasies of industrial society that the only choice you’ve got is between the whole modern consumer schtick in a lump, on the one hand, and living in a cave on the other. Many of the most useful achievements of our civilization don’t require fossil fuels at all — you can have clean running water, plenty of soap, and sterile technique for dressing wounds without burning a drop of oil. It’s in that middle ground, where we pick and choose which technologies we want, that interesting things become possible.

    John, I know the feeling! Still, your point’s well taken. In order to have an impact on people, you have to address their emotional and personal needs, and those include things like an esthetic or cultural style that appeals to them.

    Ben, a fine barrage of excuses! People can live their lives and get to work on time without engaging in the kind of extravagance that’s become popular these days. I did it myself — in the days before I got into print, I worked 40-hour weeks at a variety of working class jobs, from nursing home aide through microfilm tech to copy shop clerk — and I still kept up a lifestyle that used a modest fraction of what most Americans think they have to have in terms of energy and the products of energy. It’s not even that hard. People can change — it’s just they have to be shown, by someone willing to make the changes themselves, that there’s a good life on the other side.

    JillN, I’ll keep that in mind.

    Twin Ruler, get writing!

    Christopher, this is one of the reasons why I’ve pushed so hard on the old-fashioned appropriate tech of the 1970s — it includes a great many adaptations that poor and working class people can do themselves, with little or no money.

    Jim, permit me to correct your memory. There were indeed enough stories — in fact, there were enough stories for four volumes of postpetroleum science fiction — After Oil, After Oil 2; The Years of Crisis, After Oil 3: The Years of Rebirth, and After Oil 4: The Future’s Distant Shores — all of which are still in print and still selling copies. There’s also a quarterly magazine of deindustrial SF, Into the Ruins, which contains plenty more of the same kind. That said, I’m delighted to hear that you’ve got a project of this sort under way; there’s plenty of room for new visions along these lines.

    Scotlyn, sure. Right now I’m talking about what each of us can do in our own lives, though.

    Susan, thanks for both of these!

    Dave, when you were born, did you have that “highest priority in life” tattooed on your rump? Of course not. “Highest priority” is a value judgment, and thus personal; many, many people — probably the vast majority — would disagree with you in that judgment of yours. As for the supposed horrors of the past, funny — were you aware, to cite only one detail, that the average medieval peasant worked fewer hours, got more time off, and kept a larger portion of the value of his labor than the average American does today?

    Dfr, I’ll certainly consider it.

    Dewey, if you’re going to urge omitting the politics, may I suggest that you lead by example, starting by ditching the sort of dubious generalizations you’ve just displayed? I referenced the left because that’s where climate change activism has its home just now, and because some of the core problems that have caused climate change activism to fail so miserably are also found across much of the left. The right has its own problems, to be sure, but they’re different ones.

    Justin, and a happy Alban Arthuan to you and yours!

    Kay, you’ve touched on a crucial point here, one we’ll be discussing at length in posts to come.

  48. I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale.
    Why go through all the trouble of coming up with an ecosophy when apparently Christian fundamentalism will do just fine.
    Perhaps I am thinking too practically. Unfortunately crises have a way of making people think practically.
    I see no reason why the events pictured in the story couldn’t come to be. It’s scary how possible it all is to me.

  49. “Outside the bubble you have to deal with things you can’t even pretend to control, and I think that terrifies a lot of people.”
    This brought vividly to mind an incident in undergrad, well before I’d been de-Progressed, when I was walking from one place on campus to another, noticed a squirrel, and suddenly thought (paraphrasing exact words, but the feeling is clear in the memory): That’s not, and never has been, part of the official, tracked, campus _system_. There’s no squirrel registry the way faculty, staff, and students are all recorded and filed and arranged; the squirrel does not take any sort of orders from the administration. It is not, in fact, part of or responsible to _any_ human body governing this land. It’s just _there_, happening to live in this place where there also happens to be a college. Wow.

    (Mind you, my bubble was still rather different than the standard, fortunately. I mostly grew up in an old and rather porous house surrounded by woods, no central heating or air conditioning, not great insulation, a roof that for years leaked when it rained, and relatively frequent intrusions of wildlife (particularly early on when we moved in, though one of the earliest was a cat who’d been living in the woods and then proceeded to reduce the intrusions of other life as cats do).
    But that particular squirrel sighting on campus was still a stark moment of “This ‘college campus’ is just a thing, an area, defined by humans, and Nature is quite happy to not care about our boundaries”.)

  50. Cliff, excellent! You get this evening’s gold star by pointing out that there are things we are not smart enough as a species to manage. Thanks for the reference to Ghosh’s book — I’ll have to get it, and use it in a future post.

    NomadicBeer, to my mind, that habit of blaming evolution is just an excuse. Human beings have embraced considerable self-sacrifice to accomplish any number of things in the past — read a good social history of Britain or the US in the Second World War for a recent example. We’re perfectly capable of doing it — it’s just that a lot of people, including those who claim they’re concerned, are still scrambling for excuses not to.

    BB, hmm! Can you give me a source for the Zizek quote, so I can read it in context?

    Diane, that’s an important point. It’s as much the ideology that says that we have to keep “progressing” as it is anything else that keeps people stuck in the current dysfunctional way of things.

    Kyle, nicely phrased!

    Phil K., yes, that’s doubtless part of it too. There’s an extent to which modern culture is all about living life as a representation of itself, striking heroic poses and observing one’s reflection out of the corner of one’s eye.

    Roger, excellent! It seems to me that you’re going to do something very productive with your Friday. Enjoy that beer!

    Jim, yes, that’s a crucial point. Some of the issues Theodore Roszak and Lynn White raised back in the day deserve reviewing.

    Katherine, thank you for this. It’s a challenge, no question, but I think there’s ample reason to hope that there are ways out of the current impasse.

    Graeme, imperfect is better than perfect, because it’s more adaptable — and it’s always a journey. Glad to hear you’re on it.

    Jane, we each make the compromises we have to make. I use the internet, even though it’s a huge source of pollution and waste, because that’s what enables me to have a career doing the work I love; I try to balance it by not owning a car and using less energy than most Europeans. (I don’t have it down to the Indonesian level yet, but I’m working on it.) If the thing that matters most to you requires long distance travel, the situation is what it is, and you can look at other ways to mitigate the cost. And there’s always the chance you might someday figure out how to earn a living there…

    Nachtgurke, got it in one. High on virtue signaling, low on anything that’s actually going to help build a bridge to the future — yeah, that’s a song I’ve heard many times before.

    Will, I think that’s part of it but I’m far from sure that’s all of it…

    Phil, I ain’t arguing. That’s one of the reasons those of us who are comfortable owe it to the rest of our species to do some of the heavy lifting for a change.

    Simon, will is a complex thing. You’re right that it’s centrally involved here, but there are subtle issues — I suspect a post, or maybe more than one, will be needed to sort things out.

  51. actually, there is one thing that will put a stop to anthropogenic climate change. that, of course, is rendering the earth unsuitable for human habitation. it will be lovely if i never again hear it said that “we are destroying the planet”. this planet has been through events far more drastic than anything we can do to it. it has been as much as 10 degrees colder and hotter than it is. when an asteroid struck off the coast of mexico 65 million years ago it released more energy than all the nuclear weapons ever built. continents have crashed into each other and volcanoes have emitted dust and gasses that blanketed the earth for decades.

    that cockroach mentioned in your essay may be the inheritor of the earth when we are gone; the progenitor of the next apex predator. if so, is that a tragedy? while we will very likely destroy our own habitat life will go on with new species developing to fill available ecological niches just as it always has. it is only the remarkable arrogance and narcissism of homo sap that insists that we alone will escape the extinction that has been the fate of every species that has preceded us.

  52. DT, I read Attwood’s book when it first came out. Are you aware that membership in fundamentalist denominations is dropping steadily, most of them are losing upwards of 90% of their own children, and the rising trends in Christianity are on the other end of the spectrum? The moral of this story is that television isn’t a good guide to what’s actually going down…

    Reese, thank you for this! That unregistered squirrel makes a good metaphor for nearly everything that matters in the world…

    Jaymo, there’s another thing that will put a full stop at the end of anthropogenic climate change — the exhaustion of the economically extractable resources of fossil fuels that make that possible. Human beings, as you point out, are nothing special — I doubt we’re noticeably more egocentric than other species, for example. It’s purely the accidental discoveries that enabled us to break into Nature’s cookie jar of stashed carbon that made all this possible, and once that’s gone, so will our capacity to mess things up.

  53. There must be others but the only studied foundation for an ecosophy, that I am aware of, is that of Michael Dowd. My knowledge and full acceptance of such an ecosopy is limited by my own weaknesses. Is hoping for a merging of prior religions with a nature/science understanding of our existence the prerequisite for a successful ecosophy?

  54. @Roger – Sounds like a great day! Every two or three years we need to get out for a ride, and this year we spent our holidays on the banks of Truro river. One of the greatest trips I had so far.

    I sincerely enjoyed the few pubs we were visiting during our stay. No such nice pubs here. Many closed or not too far away from being closed. Somebody should urgently shout out their hatred against somebody who is responsible for this mess. Immediately. I’m going to get a load horse dung for next years garden season in the meantime.

    Greetings from Germany,

  55. Thank you Mr. Greer. Very well said.

    Peter Pan mentioned the Yellow Vests in France, and he’s right on. The government has lost another tool for CO2 reduction with their arrogance. Bill McKibben’s latest climate change article appeared in the New Yorker last week. In between rantings about the lack of progress, he jets off to watch glaciers calve in Greenland and rocket launches in Florida. We all know about, and you mention just a few, of Al Gore’s hypocrisies. Amazon has decided to build their new multi billion dollar NYC complex on the waterfront that we keep hearing will be underwater shortly.

    I have to say, it appears we are all (well, almost all) climate change deniers. How else to explain such behavior?

  56. @isabelcooper: do you sew? Folkwear Patterns has been recommended for the sort of old-fashioned businesswear you describe. As for shoes, I haven’t been shopping for them in a while, but I’ve been usually able to get what I call dress loafers – attractive and formal-looking flats with good sturdy rubber soles – at places like Shoes on a Shoestring or the equivalents. They are not “business formal” i.e. the stiletto heels that seem to be demanded and tend to go with the short tight pencil skirts that scream “free to be a CEO/Eye Candy, the Goddess forbid you omit the Eye Candy part” but they look great with dress trousers.

    But I feel your frustration. However – a little story from 45 years ago – I was getting nowhere trying to dress as the ubiquitous business advice columns said, and one day stood up and decided to throw out the curlers (thin, fine, straight hair) and makeup and all the rest, then marched into a hairdresser’s and asked “Is there any such thing as a ‘natural’ for straight hair?” And came out with a pixie cut.

    From 65 years ago – an agonized question to my adolescent self – ” if it *were* possible to be ‘normal’ would you take it?” and the surprising answer was “No.”

    And every time I’ve been able to go with those two insights without feeling self-conscious and as if They are judging me, I’ve done better than when I try to do otherwise.”

    (And as a gay friend told me once, all closet doors are transparent except to those in the closet.) And people – even mundanes – accept him, and many others in my circle – for what they are, with respect, because they they are simply themselves. So ditch the nasty shoes, sew up a skirt and jacket worthy of your taste and figure, and have a blast!

    Forgive the rant. And BTW, I do know that Folkwear patterns are mega-expensive. However, traced out on brown wrapping paper, if you can find *that* in the stores these days, they’ll last forever.

    Pat, who is having a RenFaire skirt made up by a friend who sews and *will* wear it as a holiday skirt as well. (plaid. Scots heritage.)

  57. RPC: In one way, the Midas Plague is already with us. The items for sale at the dollar stores are loaded with every additive one can think of – check out the toothpaste aisle, for example – but to get plain natural ingredients in anything, you have to go to Whole Paycheck or the like.

  58. @Ben: Replacing internal combustion engines with electric motors might not be a bad idea, but we ought to do the gasoline ones first. Diesels produce less CO2 than gas engines.

  59. You all know that for quite some time, Home Economics, where it is still taught, has been renamed Consumer Science.

  60. Thrilled JMG, to follow you back to Ecosophia-land! I must admit, up until now I was starting to wonder “why did he choose that title for his blog, if these are the things he wants to discuss?”. I know, you lay a lot of groundwork and always take the long way around;-).

    I’m reminded of the trope circulating back in the days when anthropogenic global warming, climate weirding –whatever one wants to call it– was actually openly debated and discussed. The trope said that “weather is not climate”. Except, err….climate consists entirely of weather events. If climate isn’t a collection of weather data, then what is it? (Kind of like “anecdote is not data”).

    Anyway, saying that the actions of one persons can do NOTHING to protect nature, stabilize the climate, etc. is the same sort of statement. If H. sapiens actually decided to change their ways and live as JMG (and Gandhi) describe above –BY THE BILLIONS– those billions of people are nothing more than a collection of individuals, all of them being the change.

    One is one, one is not zero.

  61. The words that a farmer spoke to me when I asked him if I was planting the seeds right, to this day still ring in my ears; “Nature will be your judge.”

    A flight from nature and a flight from failure aren’t all that different, since they both imply judgement that comes from without. Nature judges, and what a horrific judgement she can rend! The felling of Demeter’s groves, the wrath of Poseidon, the fate of Hippolytus, Pentheus and countless others who through hubris thought that they could outsmart the forces of Nature.

    There are ways that I can sympathize with those who wish that it were different; what a world it would be if Nature were just dead matter subject to nothing more than the Laws of Physics and the Human Mind! How comforting it would be in its own way if Nature were just an object rather than a subject comprised of many apparent beings who, can, and indeed do, judge at times very, very harshly indeed. This sort of denial is especially comforting, I’d imagine, if one is locked into the sort of half-conscious enchanted behavior that in the old myth and fairy tales never ever once ends well.

    Rather it appears to me the horrific enchanted kingdoms of the sort found in The 1001 Arabian Nights offers a vastly superior roadmap to this frankly insane psychic territory than all of the rationalizations of those held in the enchantment’s sway combined. For the longest time I could hardly make the least bit of sense of the the incongruities of word and deed that are so prevalent and banal in our age. That is, until I sat down and read some old time fairy tales.

  62. The tiny corner of the world where I notice this: our “natural” foods grocery chain, which we frequent because it’s the only place you can buy certain bulk goods, locally. This is a store that carries all the big organic brands, where you can buy ground bison burger, refill your reusable glass kombucha jug, and which does not offer plastic shopping bags, and offers a 10-cent credit on your purchases for every re-usable shopping bag you bring and use yourself. They are big on the environmentally-friendly all-natural virtue-signalling. I like the place, but it has a customer-loyalty bonus program, much like a lot of stores that have discount cards, that allows you to accumulate bonus points or coupons or something (not totally sure) with accumulated purchases. The only way you can access that program is by downloading the store’s app on your smartphone and scanning it at the checkout. Still trying to figure out if it hasn’t occurred to them that not all of their customers have smartphones (or would choose to!), or if their corporate office has decided that their customers-without-smartphones contingent is simply not worth marketing to. But when did buying organic bulk goods become a thing only the smartphone set do?

  63. @JMG, As I’ve said before, to my mind the most telling reason to not worry too much about “climate change” is the transparent hypocrisy and self-serving in global leadership coming together, holding hands, and singing kumbaya over CARBON TAXES as a resolution to climate change.

    As this newspaper article and attached comment make clear: “If it was real, then they would do something about the oil tankers and international ships that create more pollution than all of the cars in the world. They even excluded these ships from the Paris accord, showing that its a tax on the people and that they protect the corporations.” I haven’t double checked the cred of Fred Pearce and his claim that “16 ships” ALONE contribute more pollution than all the cars in the world, but the point stands regardless.

    And then there is the gratuitous jet airplanes and, especially, gratuitous use of private jets. And, as I previously pointed out, if Our Masters seriously wanted to tackle pollution and climate change they would stop the gratuitous use of plastics. And THEN they would proceed to massively incentivize population reduction: get rid of 4/5 of the people walking the earth and pretty much all the human problems of catastrophic overpopulation — from war to hunger to pollution to … carbon “pollution” go away for sure.

    But Our Masters aren’t serious. So, whatever the situation actually is with regard to “climate change” it’s clear that following their leadership — doing what they say, not what they do — is an exercise for morons. What’s been happening in France is somewhat encouraging, but the global zombie problem remains.

    Zombies are the REAL problem!

  64. In a column for The Archdruid’s Report you listed the reasons that liberals continue to be so ineffectual at bringing about social change. One point you emphasized was that organizations created to advocate a particular position can’t say no when other liberals suggest adding their favorite cause to the agenda.
    I thought of this yesterday when I saw a follower of the recently-formed Extinction Rebellion contend that “ending poverty” would be a worthy addition to EB’s mission statement.
    So much for saving the Earth.

  65. I find that the people that shout the loudest about climate change are the worst offenders.

    While i don’t believe that dumping tons of anything into the environment is a good idea, there seems to be a lot of arm waving about carbon dioxide. Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, it is PLANT FOOD. Plants would grow better with more carbon dioxide. Also, the “greenhouse effect” of carbon dioxide is approaching saturation where more carbon dioxide does not produce more “greenhouse effect”.

    Water vapor is the main contributor to the “greenhouse effect”. Clouds, the normal water content of the air and Gore’s aircraft vapor trail from his many trips produce over 90% of the “greenhouse effect”.

    Look at the science before you go all “Chicken Little”. Then look at who benefits from the scare tactics. Hmm where does the money for carbon credits and carbon taxes go?

    I understand that the sun is approaching a period of minimum sunspots for about the next 20 -30 years. You might want to invest in warm clothes and greenhouses to survive the colder temperatures of the next little ice age.

  66. No. I get it. I’m just skeptical. You have been saying the same thing for well over a decade. If you are going to criticize climate change activists for doing the same thing and expecting different results then you should turn that criticism on yourself and seriously ask why so few people are following your lead.

    I agree you can’t escape from nature, but that includes the man made systems we all find ourselves in. Whatever you profess, your approach seems to indicate you think that you can.

  67. “A man came up to me and said, I’d like to change your mind….by hitting it with a rock, he said, though I am not unkind.” -They Might Be Giants

    And I think they truly believe that! They are doing the right thing, doing what unfortunately needs to be done for everyone’s benefit. Wow. It’s so sad to me. And I get to hang out with a bunch of them on Saturday for Christmas…


  68. OMG,
    Am I to blame for sending the blog in a whole ‘nother direction? This doesn’t seem like a continuation of any recent themes.

  69. I had an interesting conversation with an older gentleman this afternoon where at one point he proposed that humanity was on its way out.

    To that I offered that I suspected humanity would be fine, it was civilization that was on the rocks. Barbary, I told him, was probably the default condition for humanity. Civilization is just something we do when we can. And, for what it’s worth, I think we have a dark age coming. No idea when…

    He was surprisingly agreeable with the whole idea and even commended me for such a mature perspective. No idea where I get this stuff…

  70. JMG:
    “It’s purely the accidental discoveries that enabled us to break into Nature’s cookie jar of stashed carbon that made all this possible, and once that’s gone, so will our capacity to mess things up.”

    Thank you. That was basically what I was getting at in the subtitle of my old blog “Permaculture and the Silver Lining of Energy Descent.”

    That, in a nutshell, is the silver lining I was referring to. Though I’m not sure if I ever conveyed that very clearly…

  71. I have a little heuristic when it comes to consumer decisions. I call it the “Rule of Small”, and it goes something like this:

    1. Out of all the versions of whatever product or service that you need, find the “smallest” (i.e. most basic, no frills, least poewrful, etc.) version that you think you can get away with.
    2. Once you’ve found it, get the one that’s one notch *smaller*.

    You may notice that this is contrary to the prevailing mentality of getting the biggest, baddest, flashiest, most feature filled thing that you can possibly afford (the monthly payments on), “just in case you need it”. It’s very counter-intuitive, that when I introduced the idea to my wife she thought that I was crazy.

    There’s an optional third step:

    3. If you find that it’s too small or basic for your needs, sell it or give it away and upgrade.

    In the vast majority of cases (>90%), I found that I never got around to getting to step 3. You’d be surprised at how little you can get away with in the end. Among the benefits include a simpler, less stressful life, more financial leeway, and smaller ecological footprint.

    Also, this is an inherently incrementalist approach which can be adopted whatever lifestyle you grew up being used to.

  72. Thank you so much for this essay!!! I wholeheartedly agree with your theory, that separation from nature is what creates this delusion.

    When I was a young child, my father got offered a very lucrative job in a very large city. He discussed it with my mother, and they chose a life of relative poverty and turmoil and uncertainty, because it meant my brother and I could be raised in a town so small you can see the milky way from inside “city” limits. It had 400 people at the time, now it has about 280. The next nearest town was 20 miles away and even smaller.

    I have no problem making sacrifices to minimize my impact. I have problems explaining to other people why it’s important for me to be able to raise rabbits for meat. I have problems keeping my garden alive, nearly every year. My problem is “the mother of all learning curves” as someone called it. But I have noticed, the harder I work to change my own life, the more I see the people around me change, even as they laugh with me at my abysmal failures.

    As a child, my town all came out together for the annual beach cleanup every year. The only manmade structures on that beach are the channel itself, dredged every few years, the jetties keeping the channel open, the buoys and signs marking the channel, and two concrete picnic tables (usually one is entirely buried in the sand). There are no buildings, no bathrooms, no shelters. If you want shade you have to put up your own tarp. Every year the whole town would come to the beach (by boat; there is no bridge or road) and pick up all the trash they could find, bragging about who got the most, the biggest, the heaviest. We would cook out on the beach, and leave it pristine. The very next day the whole beach would be covered in trash again, as if we had done nothing. And the desolation of the beach proved the trash was coming from the ocean itself. This was back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, by the way. I have no idea how bad it is now.

    Interestingly, nobody ever talked politics on the beach that day. I know the whole town was there, so it was people of every political stripe, but I couldn’t tell you who was what.

    I’ll tell you a secret. Democrats love to conserve nature so the animals can live. Republicans love to conserve nature so the animals can support hunters and fishermen. There are birdwatchers on both sides. There are gardeners, swimmers, and hikers on both sides. There is a lot of room to find common cause, particularly among rural wild people who know what nature is and can recognize the difference between a cornfield and a wild place.

    I promise once you start making changes, other people make changes, too. You meet other people who are also trying. You exchange ideas. The change moves outward from you like threads from a spiderweb, with the greatest changes occurring closest to you. You recognize how hard it is to change, so you forgive others for not changing, and that makes them more likely to change. You demonstrate simple things that make your life better, and those can spread very far. You forget the ideology and encourage the activity itself. You don’t care *why* your neighbor decided to garden, you go talk about how she grew those giant tomatoes, and you learn that slugs will willingly drown themselves in a dish of beer. And if a third neighbor hears the conversation, a new garden plot might appear two houses down.

    Chasing status does not make your life better, it creates unhappiness. Living a purpose-driven life creates happiness in a way nothing else can. Happiness, by the way, is a better sales tool than any rant or diatribe. We have a huge advantage here.

    Jessi Thompson

  73. @JMG,

    I am aware of the recent precipitous decline of US Christian fundamentalism. However, when Americans get desperate, a little further down the road of long descent, I think a significant minority will be ripe for a message that preaches the opposite of all the progressive agenda that will seem to have failed us.

  74. Amazing how people’s bubble bursts when they are confronted with financial consequences. Growing up in Oklahoma my parents told me that recycling cans was misguided because it was “honoring the creation, instead of the creator” and that we didn’t need to be concerned with the environment because the rapture would be transporting us out of here any moment (cue elevator music). Fast forward 30 years: the rapture hasn’t come, and they’ve had to repair the foundation of their home at great expense (thank you fracking). They have come around quite a bit.

  75. Hi Dewey,

    In the last ice storm here, our power was out for 36 hours. It got down to 54 in here. We were pretty uncomfortable and we were remembering how, before central heating, even the rich got cold in winter! There were compensations, though, like Jack Frost’s beautiful designs on the windows.

    Isabel Cooper, when American peasants finally rebel, I hope the first one they jail for life is that so-and-so who destroyed K-mart! At our local K-mart you could get durable clothes at a reasonable price. I have a summer blouse I bought there for $5 25 years ago that’s barely faded.

  76. JMG–did you eat the honorably slain woodchuck foes? I know I have read recipes for groundhog (the other name). IIRC removing the scent glands is necessary first step, after that probably cook like rabbit.

  77. Mea culpa—I know, computer games are naughty, but I would miss Cat Collection! And, having had a cat-collecting neighbor (she had 50 and counting), I must say cell-phone cat collectors are much better than the real thing!

  78. Hello Peter Van Erp. I tried clicking on the link to the potluck signup but it didn’t work . . . can you try it again?


    Ellen in Maine

  79. Hi Everyone,
    There is a downside to the sort of low-carbon, simpler, less stuff sort of lifestyle that Climate Change types would have to pursue if they were serious about doing less harm. They would end up spending a hell of a lot more time in their gardens, cooking meals of real food, reading books, chopping wood, biking here and there and looking at birds and plants. This experience of a more quiet, peaceful life would make them sensitive to the utter horror of the modern city environment.

    I know because I live a very low-carbon, simple lifestyle, not, I wish to assure you. because I wish to save the world but just because I like it. We just spent the weekend in Vancouver British Columbia, one of the most beautiful and desirable cities on Earth and I hated it. The traffic, the noise, the lights, the stench of the city, the ersatz food, the stress of Christmas shopping hanging like coal smoke in the air made me feel dizzy and gave me a world-class headache.

    Now that I am back on my snug little farm, I wish I never had to leave it again. Living the good life drives out one’s ability to put up with the horrors of modern life.
    Maxine Rogers

  80. Isabelcooper:

    Speaking of ridiculous women’s clothing, I have noticed that high-end winter ‘party’ attire for women often includes short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses. As much as I prefer the colder months of the year to the summer (80 degrees is about my upper limit), I cannot imagine wearing a sleeveless dress in winter. What kind of events are these women attending? How high is that thermostat set? When did this silliness start?

    Here at the Mr. and Mrs. Beekeeper farm, long underwear is standard from October through April and wearing anything trendy or sparkling will just attract the attention of curious livestock who will eat your trendy, sparkly things while you’re still wearing them. This includes earrings, which will eventually turn up in the garden after the manure has rotted. When I find them I’ll mail them back to you. We do heat mostly with wood, but that stove also cooks dinner and dries the laundry at the same time so we can wring the most out of each BTU. Fortunately, we live in a village with a lot of people who grew up like this so we appear rather ordinary.

    On the subject of dealing with cold, I have always liked this essay by Garrison Keillor (yes, even though he’s persona non grata these days), which begins, “Some friends from the Confederacy came to visit us in St. Paul last week when the temperature was around zero and so we had to haul out electric blankets and crank the thermostat up to 68, but they still felt “chilled” and so I made them go for a walk outdoors, and when they returned, they felt warmer. They only needed to get perspective. Cold is not so cold if you compare it to actual death.” The rest is here:


    I knew that Fundamentalist Christians were having trouble keeping their children in the faith; I didn’t know it was that bleak. On the other hand, the Amish are having astounding success on that front:

  81. I thought I’d go to the woods this afternoon for a walk and to think about some of the further issues of control of which there are many still not addressed in this discussion. I got there – sorry, I had to drive my truck, rural life, but I did the recycling on the way and the necessary grocery shopping coming back – and set off among the trees.

    But I quickly lost control.

    I could not think beyond “that tree came down in the wind last week” or “how nice someone has put some rounds (or branches or planks) over the muddy bits so it’s easier to get by.” Otherwise I was simply absorbing the beauty of the mosses and ferns, admiring the height and breadth of the trees, entranced by the streams. My mind was completely empty. It was wonderful.

    Control is vastly over rated, although that should hardly be news to one such as myself who rewrote Anne Herbert’s well known phrase, “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty” to simply “Just be random and senseless.” (She approved by the way. This was a long time ago; punkish sentiments had not yet become overwhelmingly negative.) In reality, however, whatever my lack of control, it was far from a senseless afternoon. But a walk in the woods is almost always a random and somewhat out of control experience because there is so much to look and wonder at even if one stays on the trail, which is, of course, a form of control.

    There’ll be time to think more about control later.

  82. I read Archdruid Report back when I was a poor undergrad without a car. Now I’m a financially-middle-class postdoc, still without a car.

    I think your message back then was deeply digested, because I never did get a license. Even now in my thirties when almost everyone else is driving around, I have zero interest in driving, and instead plan my lifestyle around public transport and walking. I make sure to live within walking distance of work and a good supermarket. I waste no time or money commuting. I know people who spend four hours a day in their car. No thanks!

    One of the benefits to living a relatively simple lifestyle is quickly paying off student debt and having surplus income to pay for whatever I need, without any need for credit cards or a line of credit. Another benefit to walking so much is maintaining good health. Many of my peers even in their thirties are suffering high blood pressure and other preventable conditions. I haven’t visited a physician in a decade.

    We just need to demonstrate the health and financial benefits of simple living. You’re sort of the early guru on this matter. I hope more in my generation can follow your example.

  83. JMG also also said:

    ” I try to balance it by not owning a car and using less energy than most Europeans. (I don’t have it down to the Indonesian level yet, but I’m working on it.) ”

    This seems like a good place to straighten out a misconception from a couple of posts ago. Though I appreciate the accolade, I am no enviro-Saint. I still drive a car almost every day, sometimes twice a day; it’s 15 miles round trip to town. I still produce some garbage every week, that I pay to throw “away.” I have a storage unit – hoping to have all the house I need for my stuff soon – but I still have it, and have had it for a long time. As a tiny bit of a saving grace, we do keep our market gear in there too, so we could count it as a business expense, like a cheap office space, but that’s just semantics really.

    True, at home we live a very modest lifestyle. Lighting oil lamps in the evening is common during dark periods. We don’t even have enough electricity (or sunshine, or both) to count on running a fridge ever, (we’ve tried twice), but we keep a chest freezer at a friend’s house in town. (I am thrilled to say that it mostly runs on solar there too – she’s net-metered, but that’s just a happy accident?).

    Carrying water is a daily part of life since we have no indoor plumbing, so using as little water as we do (under 500 gallons a month for a family of 4) is a no-brainer. You try wasting water when you have to carry every 8 lb gallon of it to where you need it, usually uphill. Nothing saintly about saving my own back…

    I bet there are plenty of people around here with smaller carbon footprints: Violet, possibly Aron, maybe Shane (except on travesti’ binges), JMG for sure, I know there are others, apologies for not knowing you better.

    So thanks for the props, but there is plenty of room for improvement!

  84. One unquestionable truth about a serious reduction in fuel use is that such would be the end of the American empire. Since it’s crumbling anyway, we might ask, why not go ahead? Could it be that our owners, however obtuse they may be, could be aware that bringing home millions of rootless, jobless young men might present a problem for them (the owners, not the young men)?

  85. This is an entertaining post for me for many reasons. I have been through, or close to, many of the phases of environmental activism and angst you mention. I have reflected much upon similar themes you bring to us in this post. Still, I can’t help but think you are missing something yourself with this post, JMG. You reach your concluding stride with the observation that human beings have lost their thread of knowing that we too are a part of nature, and this is what entitles us to shy away from walking our talk. And while you give a great list of external happenings which prove this conclusion, I am not convinced these externals prove it to be true in this manner. Or at least in the order which you are presenting. Perhaps further elucidation would help me, and perhaps that is what is coming in future posts of yours on this topic…

    But, in the meantime I will ask – what do you actually, practically imply by the use of this cliche of our times, which states; that human beings have lost their connection to nature? Do you imply that human beings are an essential part of nature (external of the human being), in the sense that this external nature depends on our active connectivity with it for its own further renewal? Or do you mean simply that human beings are made up of elemental compounds just like the rest of physical nature? Or do you imply that there is an unseen aspect, or quality that resides within the human being that connects us to the seen, or unseen, nature around us? This is all to say, I can’t quite follow the line of thought you are approaching your conclusions with.

    Furthermore, I think it must be equally important, to recognize that if the human being is part of nature, then nature is part of the human being. And so the quality of the human being is absolutely dependent to the quality of the nature outside the human being. And so the disregard and deprivation of nature through our violent lifestyles, is just as much a deprivation of the quality of self. How can someone be educated to care for a connection with nature that nourishes both sides of the relationship, when they have not the acumen to observe what it is to be a healthy, whole human being? What I mean more explicitly here is, the education you refer to doesn’t really matter because the influence of popular culture is what dictates social life of our time. An example of a truly connected individual, even closely witnessed, will often have little more than a temporary, superficial effect on the observing participant. Human beings are currently too weakly willed to acknowledge the person which lives in a manner somewhat according to the true nature of the human being, because they would not have the strength of will to do the same. Additionally, there are far too many easily adopted perspectives available to reinforce a life of separation from nature, inside and out.

    Therefore the problem seems to me to be rooted not in our disconnection from an external nature alone, which I think is what you are getting at here, but just as much in a disconnection from our true internal nature. Of course the conundrum here is, which comes first….it become only possible to know one by coming in contact with the other. Certainly contact with the conceptual life that lives behind actual nature, as opposed to the false concepts that reside within man made technological environments, is an essential movement though.

    I think this is a deeply relevant topic to the depravity of our times, but also far more complicated than most of us are willing to get, most of the time. Thanks for providing the space to think into it, JMG.

  86. Somebody loaned my husband this book called How Bad Are Bananas? The Carbon Footprint of Everything. I read it mostly because I’m fascinated by what is measurable and how to measure it. What I learned was that in nearly every aspect of our rural American family life, my family is doing something that cuts our carbon output to some fraction of the average for our county (typically half or more). And in every single case, “pollution” (carbon or other) isn’t reason #1. It tends to be reason #4 or #5.

    For instance, we grow an ever greater portion of our food each year because (in rough order of importance): 1. It’s a fascinating occupation and it’s very important for all our wellbeing that I not get bored, 2. It’s by and large healthier for us, 3. It’s waaaay cheaper, 4. It’s a fantastic learning opportunity for the children, 5. It better fits our personal morals concerning animal welfare, 6. It’s part of remediating the damage done to our land, and 7. It takes some pressure off other land and ecological sinks including the atmosphere.

    There’s a similarly long list in front of “carbon” for everything we do- how we drive, what we buy and don’t buy, how we celebrate, how we get our money, how we chose the materials and methods for the house we built, right on down to how we financed our land, why we homeschool and how many children we chose to have.

    When I talk now to friends and family (who sit on all points of the climate change belief spectrum) about the future of the world, I pretty much just mention how interesting and satisfying I personally find the life we have chosen, and I add how it mostly also happens to have a positive atmospheric impact as well. Because the very best permaculture principle (at least for my lazy butt) is: don’t do ANYTHING unless it accomplishes at least 3 different good effects. And then the conversation shifts to goat management or garden pest troubleshooting or games for early math skills. I’m not sure if this is ultimately an effective communication strategy, but it feels nicer than shrieking.

  87. I should mention that Ghosh has some very interesting insight on why our art, specifically literature, seems unable to cope with or perceive the realities of climate change. His book is not a complete wash, by any means.

    (He also mentions that Mumbai has a pair of nuclear reactors located right on the coast, even as the Indian Ocean is slated to start manifesting high intensity storms thanks to rising temperatures. That tidbit made me want to go breath into a brown paper bag for a bit.)

  88. There are better voices out there to be reading wrt reversing global warming. No reason to pick on someone who is an easy mark — what’s the fun in that? Instead, here’s a guy who actually has a viable plan. One that we can start implementing now without having to wait for someone else to “save us”. Here’s the link: Pass it around.

  89. What a great essay, I could not agree more with everything you have written. For years I have said the worst thing to ever happen to “Climate Change Action” is Al Gore. I imagine he’s inspired more people to “deny” than to change their ways.

    We must all lead by example, as much as we can. This was posted this week on our blog, I suppose it’s something..

    What really got me was this..I mean, what?! 100k miles a year?! We’re doomed.

    “We started on this journey at different times and have settled on different paths toward our shared goal. In each case, we struggled with an increasing awareness that the climate damage from our flight emissions far outweighed the tangible benefits of most scientific meetings. In response, two of us have gone from flying 100,000 miles per year to flying less than 30,000, and one of us has not flown in years.”

  90. Frederick, no, quite the contrary — it’s precisely the attempt to pour new wine into old bottles, by trying to fashion an ungainly hybrid out of environmental thought and existing religious traditions, that’s caused most attempts at an ecosophy to flop.

    Phil, exactly. The gap between talk and action is immense.

    Patricia, yep. A good sign of the rot.

    Copeland, exactly. The fact that one person can’t solve the problem all by himself or herself doesn’t change the fact that without that one person making those changes, the problem won’t be solved.

    Violet, good. The reason fairy tales have survived through the centuries is that they have valid things to teach.

    Methylethyl, it’s one of the odd mutations of contemporary culture that what started out as a sensible habit of hippies trying to stretch their money as far as it would go has now turned into an upper middle-class mode of virtue signaling.

    Gnat, I’ll have some things to say down the road about the way that saving the world always takes a back seat to securing the privileges of the comfortable…

    Howard, exactly. Perhaps the most effective way to stop a political movement from solving any problem at all is to insist that it has to solve all the world’s problems at once.

    Mike, I’m quite familiar with the current state of solar astronomy, and we have precisely no idea whether there’s going to be a sunspot minimum or not. Nor does your claim that the greenhouse effect of CO2 emissions has some kind of upper ceiling hold any kind of water — you might want to look up the composition of the atmosphere of Venus sometime. Not that we’re heading there, of course — what we’re looking at is an ordinary greenhouse period of the sort that has occurred many times in the last hundred million years or so, the kind of thing that turns the western half of North America into hyperarid desert (think the eastern Sahara) and gives the arctic coast of Canada a roughly Mediterranean climate. Not the end of the world, though it’s going to be a body blow to a civilization that’s already deep in trouble.

    Greg, yes, I thought you’d change the subject in a hurry. Au contraire, I’ve accomplished much more than I expected, given that I was starting out with no money, no reputation, no media skills, nothing but a weekly blog and a position leading what was then a very small and unfashionable Druid order (of all things!). Based on the feedback I’ve received directly — and I have no idea how that relates to the larger world of people who don’t happen to have written or emailed or put something else in a form that got to me — I’ve inspired several thousand people to decrease their ecological footprints, in ways that range from the modest to the jawdropping; I’ve introduced several ideas that are now commonplaces in the green end of things; and I’ve caused quite a bit of visible discomfort to a lot of activist types who talk a great line but live lifestyles just as polluting as those of their Republican neighbors. What else will I accomplish? We’ll just have to see, won’t we?

    I’m still trying to make sense of that last paragraph of yours. You seem to be saying that it’s impossible to do without any of the manmade systems that surround us — for example, that it’s impossible not to own and use a cell phone, or a television, or a car. Is that really what you’re trying to say? If not, perhaps you can restate your point in a lot more detail.

    Tripp, imagine that you’re an anthropologist visiting a tribal celebration held by an exotic group of people whose ways are strange to you. Watch everything as though you’ve never seen anything so weird before. It can help pass the time. 😉

    Shane, good heavens. You’ve been reading this blog all these years, and you still haven’t noticed that I write about what I want to write about, when I want to write it, and veer constantly in unexpected directions?

    Tripp, I have no idea either. Heh heh heh…

    Carlos, that sounds like a good plan. My not-quite-equivalent is the “why bother?” rule — when considering a technology, I loiter, and delay, and don’t get around to it, and unless something comes up that makes it really necessary — which rarely happens — I generally just never bother.

    Jessi, thank you for this! Yes, exactly — and if I could put what you’ve just written on the business end of a branding iron and burn it brutally into the tender backsides of the people who insist that there’s nothing they can do.

    DT, the progressive agenda has certainly failed, but so has the fundamentalist agenda. That’s why there are new ideas bubbling to the surface in the right and left alike — and those, not the outworn notions of fundamentalism (or of progressivism, for that matter), that will be picking up the pieces when the current orthodoxies finish imploding.

    Hew, thank you! That’s funny, in a wry sort of way.

    Rita, no, the only recipe we could find involved soaking the woodchuck in buttermilk, and my wife’s violently allergic to dairy. I left them out back for the wild things, who had a good meal.

    Pogonip, as I noted above, we all have to make our compromises…

    Maxine, true — but the things that make modern urban life ghastly are exactly those things that we need to stop doing anyway. Cities aren’t necessarily ecologically harmful — just cities the way we do them these days.

    Beekeeper, doesn’t surprise me at all. The Amish walk their talk, aren’t trying to shove their ideology down everyone else’s throat, and haven’t allowed their faith to be turned into an excuse for politics — unlike the fundamentalists.

    Jonathan, a fixation on control is clearly a bad idea — but the opposite of one bad idea is pretty reliably another bad idea. What’s in the broad middle ground between control and senselessness?

    Jeffrey, I’m delighted to hear it. The same thing’s true for me, of course — I walk all the time, have no debts and a comfortable lifestyle on a modest income, and enjoy my life, not all of which can be said by those who’ve followed the official advice our society offers!

    Tripp, perfection isn’t required — in fact, it’s generally not helpful. The important thing is to be moving in the right direction.

    Pogonip, well, we’re bringing home a bunch of them from Syria, so we’ll see!

    Yaj, no, you’ve misunderstood what I was saying. Human beings are as deeply embedded in nature as they ever have been; so long as you have a body, you’re (in the phrase I used in the post) a tiny, temporary bit of nature. The issue is that a lot of people, especially but not only in the comfortable classes of the world’s industrial nations, are busy trying to pretend that this simple fact isn’t the case. That’s why I titled the post “The Flight from Nature” — as we proceed, I’ll be talking about how this is rather like trying to run away from your own shadow…

    Kara, good! The mere fact that nobody’s shrieking shows that it’s a better communication strategy than many.

    Cliff, duly noted. I try to find the good parts of any book I read, should there be some. 😉

  91. Jmichaelsullivan, since I meant to talk about the dysfunctional aspects of climate change activism, Moscrop’s essay was a suitable starting place. I’ll have a look at your proposal as time permits.

    Tude, I’ve encountered several people in climate science now who’ve done that. It strikes me as profoundly hopeful.

  92. @Ben

    You have far more control over your life than you realize, it’s just a matter of deciding to change and then doing some research.

    It’s really easy if you start with the consumption side first and cut things you don’t need. You have to look at your life, though, and decide to do it. It might be TV, it might be your car (easy if you live in a city), it might be growing your own food (easier if you live in the country; city dwellers can find community gardens). A very important forst step is letting go of status. It’s hard I would imagine…. I was born without that urge, so I can’t say for sure. I will say this, though. The pursuit of status leads to ruin, not happiness. There is always someone richer than you. There is always someone who took a fancier vacation than you. There is always someone who is dressed better or who has a prettier wife or more exciting hobby. There is always someone whose house was featured in a magazine or who hired that famous chef. It’s a race that no one ever wins. And, often enough, you hear stories about some really rich guy who made it all the way to the top and saw nowhere higher to go, and looked around to find he still wasn’t happy and his life was empty and meaningless. This happens rather often, believe it or not.

    Once you reduce your consumption, you gain a lot more control over the production side of your life. If you are happy in a tiny cheap apartment and tiny cheap car, you don’t have to work so hard to make a lot of money. Or you can continue to make your old money but pay down debt faster and then save it to do something meaningful.

    Secondly, you are relying on a government to save you that can’t even save itself. Climate change is not the only problem. Exponential growth has led to the twin dragons of climate change (actually a subcategory within the broader category of environmental degradation) and resource depletion (the most famous example is peak oil, but we are running out of nonrenewable resources of all kinds, all over the globe). It appears to me that our government is currently trying to gobble up all the strategic space it can to prepare for some intense resource wars.

    The safest bet is to build resilient systems that do not harm the environment and do not rely on nonrenewable resources, and quietly step out of the path of those two colliding trains. The only people capable of doing that are those who are unencumbered by the status quo, who have the freedom to think for themselves. We need to build them now, while it’s still (relatively) easy to do.

    Finally, and this is a very small nit to pick, it makes a lot more sense to convert diesel to biodiesel made from wastes, like french fry oil and crop waste (which is what diesel engines were initially designed for— for farmers to power their tractors from their own crop garbage). Right now, electric vehicles still plug into an electric grid powered by fossil fuels. Anyone woth a diesel vehicle can convert to biodiesel for just a couple hundred dollars. You can also make your own biodiesel if you are careful about handling things like lye and methanol and have some basic knowledge of chemistry.

    Jessi Thompson

  93. @Nomadic Beer,

    You also display one of those reddit attitudes that I don’t understand at all. Many indigenous civilizations learned to live in balance with their environments, becoming custodians of their respective habitats. Evidence suggests this happens after a society causes an environmental cataclysm, suddenly they learn that nature must be balanced so they start learning to live within that balance. The indigenous peoples of North America had many systems developed, and their extinctions of megafauna were relatively recent. It did not take them long to learn. Even now, shamans are coming out of the Amazon rainforest to tell us we are killing the forest and if the forest is dead, we will die.

    Greed is not the natural default human state. We have a variety of motivations.

    Pain aversion is not the default human state. We have a variety of motivations. Many sects throughout history have used pain as a form of spiritual expression, and countless more have used self-denial to achieve spiritual goals (like, for example, all those monks taking vows of poverty, vows of celibacy, vows of silence). One of our society’s problems is the level of nihilism, most people don’t have anything meaningful that’s worth suffering for.

    This way of life is not inevitable. We choose to live this way and we can choose to live differently. Many societies have chosen to live in balance, and their societies were the most stable, lasting thousands of years. The societies that chose cities and endless growth always collapsed and they always will.

    Jessi Thompson

  94. I’ve actually seen the “Why bother?” rule come up a lot in the personal finance blogosphere, where it’s codified as the “One month rule”. That is, if you get the urge to purchase things, write it down in a list and refer back to those things in a month. If you still want it, you probably have a need for it, and go ahead. But more often than not, you’d be wondering why you ever thought of buying them in the first place.

    Personally I don’t strictly adhere to it myself, but I’ve experienced it in my own life. Most significantly, that’s how I got rid of my television. By the time I got married, I hadn’t been watching a lot of TV anymore due to study and work taking up most of my time. However, I still had a TV, and when my wife and I moved to a new apartment there was an old hand-me-down television; one of those early “HD” TVs that were hideously expensive and had bad picture quality.

    After a few months it started malfunctioning. It still kind of worked but progressively got worse over time. I never got around to fixing it. Eventually, when we realized that we’ve stopped even trying to turn it on, and could live without a TV, we simply disposed of it.

    Last year we bought a house which was a bit of a fixer-upper. During the renovation, my electrician asked me where I wanted to place the cable TV outlets; much to his (and my dad’s) bewilderment, I told him not to install any. “Even just in case?” they asked. “I don’t care about just in case, I’ve been living for a good while without it!!!” I replied.

    It’s much easier arranging the furniture, too, without one of those damned screens having to anchor the rest of the room around.

  95. A fine essay, and some fine comments. Couldn’t help but think of the scene from Monty Python’s “Holy Grail” with the rabbit, and “Greer, Slayer of Many Rodents”, wielding his weaponry like a medieval knight. Would have been more sporting to have used a nunchaku. “Get away from my squash, ya good for nuthin’ yellow-toothed b@st@rds!”

    I thought the disconnect with reality and high-carbon lifestyles has a lot to do with the tremendous increase in wealth that fossil fuels and the industrial age brought to many of us. This allowed people to live without support from a close-knit family or community, with government programs filling in some of the gaps. The result is you get a very self-centered society. But framing it as a “flight from nature” makes even more sense, because it will be a return to nature, like it or not, that we’ll have to make. A century ago, many of our grandparents farmed the land, and I’m regretting more and more how we allowed corporations and the media to corrupt us with consumptive propaganda.

    Re: solar minimum. The information age allows all interpretations and predictions to coexist in cyberspace, with nary a hint at which is the most likely. From what I can tell, the past few years have seen a reduction in solar activity (sunspots), and there’s some chatter from ham operators that seems to validate that (lack of long-distance transmission/reception). However, there are indications that an uptick in solar activity should return within a few years (2021, 2022), and then things may get really toasty. I’ve read some articles lamenting we should have been burning MORE fossil fuels to combat the oncoming ice age. As my uncle often says, “You can’t fix stupid.”

  96. Ha! I’ve spent 59 years watching the strange tribal rituals and still can’t make sense of most of them. A New Age friend says this is because I am really an old soul from another planet. Who knows?

  97. Thanks for the post. This blog and the now defunct Archdruid Report and Well of Galabes are always pleasant to read.

  98. @Gnat,

    If nuclear weapons could destroy humanity, our wise politicians surely wouldn’t build them!

    Surely our government debt and deficit levels are sustainable, our wonderful politicians are excellent at math, and they would never pass any laws that might cause catastrophic recessions.

    If there was an emergency at a nuclear power plant, our politicians would definitely give us all the correct information immediately. Always.

    Of course there’s no lead in the water at Flint, MI. Our government wouldn’t make a mistake of that magnitude. I’m sure all the drinking water is safe in the whole country.

    Our military couldn’t possibly misplace a trillion dollars over ten years. They are too savvy for that sort of nonsense.

    Our government created FEMA to save us from disasters. Now we are totally safe from disasters. I bet FEMA works perfectly all the time.

    The only thing they care about is profit. Don’t look to them for any information unless you want to know where their money’s coming from. Trying to always do the opposite of a politician is just as bad as always trying to mimic them. They are dancing to a different tune than you, and unless you have some lobbyists in your pocket, you will gain nothing by emulating them or doing a countermove. It’s like watching the weather channel to figure out which football team won. Do some real research. Actually, don’t trust the researchers either. Look up their data. Read the counter arguments. Look at the actual satellite photos of the disappearing Arctic sea ice. Watch the glaciers calve in Antarctica. Look at the changes in the migratory paths of birds and fish. There’s an avalanche of data out there. You can literally find evidence of climate change in your own backyard or your local park if you know where to look. You can go out there and see it with your own eyes. It’s easier to see, though, if you’ve been living in the same place for the last 20 years.

    Politicians live in terror of recession, and the changes required to stabilize the climate will cause something akin to the Great Depression. They won’t touch that with a ten foot pole. The irony is we are headed for worse than the Great Depression because we have chosen to do nothing.

    Jessi Thompson

  99. Jane,

    I don’t see it as a problem you flying 13 hours to a place you love. I have to disagree on this point with JMG about leading by example. Most people don’t want to be led. Certainly not out of their comfort zone. They have ZERO interest in this. They have lived for decades being brainwashed by TV. By ads. By the holy grail of consumerism. By school indoctrination. No matter what you do, they will look at you at as a kook. “Most people” means 97% of the US population.

    The hours is too late. The “new world” of minimalism is barreling straight at us at 150 miles per hour, and there isn’t enough time to convert even 3% of the population to conservancy and respect of nature. There’s time for you to prepare, but for the rest? Not likely.

    I live an excessively minimalist life, even with the good pay check I get coding from home. I lived in a car 2 years. The car is 20 years old. I garden heavily. I’m using the “no dig” method which uses far fewer resources than most others (see Dowding’s videos on Youtube). I study herbalism. And most people think I’m half-crazed. How did Derrick Jensen put it in Endgame? “The culture as a whole and most of its members are insane. The culture is driven by a death urge, an urge to destroy life.”

    I too, yearly, fly 13 hours to a country I love. I spend 2 months there enjoying it, and I’m actively looking for work there. Most of the time, the flights are a quarter empty. The plane is going to fly no matter, even with the empty seats, so I will take one of them and enjoy myself, and prepare for what’s coming next.

  100. @DT To a great degree, the Christian agenda IS the progressive agenda. In my opinion, this point is expressed poignantly in the modern church’s choice of music. Think of giant, brutalist, boxy mega-churches with concert-style theaters. There are thousands of American churches where the weekly experience is essentially a synth-heavy soft rock concert. This form of church music, which proliferates on YouTube, is often a blend of pop/country-ish music and Enya… because I like that style, to me it is very good! It is of course tailored to promote Jesus as the savior, but really it’s just lite rock with the lyrics changed. It’s amplified, electrified, and performed on a stage with colorful, glamorous flashing lights. The musicians are young and gorgeous as any mainstream pop star. Now think of the clergy — they are elite, out of touch, and well into the sealed off bubble lifestyle that’s got us into this mess in the first place. Of course they promote their own lifestyles, and if you give yourself over to Jesus, you can be as successful as they are. This is the message they spread between soothing Christian rock songs. It is vague and suggests an emptying of the mind in order to be filled with God’s love. The clergymen of quite average Christian churches are the ultimate suburbanites with 2.5 kids, a manicured, dandelion free golf-course lawn, a big screen TV or five, and at least 2 SUVs. As for the fundamentalists, such as the televangelist sort, well, they’ve got McMansions the size of baseball stadiums. Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, Joel Osteen. I don’t know that such folk will ever be able to let go of this new version of Jesus of Progress they’ve latched onto in order to embrace old-Jesus austerity and poverty, despite how necessary the latter may become.

  101. Hiya JMG!
    Well, you can add me to the hubby to the list of those you’ve influenced to downsize:) Which brings me to a question I’ve been wanting to ask for awhile.

    Motivated partly by a desire to collapse now and avoid the rush, partly by the wish to channel our anxiety about climate change and the future of our two kids into some kind of action, and partly by the spirit of adventure, we’ve been working for the last several years on the process of extricating ourselves from the lifestyles we grew up with. We went from two cars, to one, to (finally!) none. This is probably our biggest victory, one which took a lot of dreaming and planning. We’re finally at a point where we can all get to work and school without a car commute, and do basically everything we want walking, biking, and using public transport. We also moved to a small, easy to heat house, and live in community with other folks interested in local food production, so that a lot of the veggies and fruit we eat come from our community gardens and orchards. Raising animals together for protein production and soil improvement/carbon sequestration is in the works. As I say, this all took planning and effort to organize, but I couldn’t say it required sacrifice. Our life is so much richer now.

    Of course we have a long way to go. One of the biggest eco sins I struggle with is that we fly about twice a year to visit relatives. I want to get away from this–I love train travel–but we have yet to figure out how to coordinate cross country trips with work and school schedules. Anyway. The point of all this is “what now?” in terms of climate activism strategy. I get that no one wants to be lectured by a hypocrite, but no one particularly wants to hear someone brag about all the wonderful things they do either. If you are trying to walk the walk, how do you talk the talk without coming off as holier-than-thou? I appreciate what you are saying about listening and trying to understand other perspectives, but beyond that, do you have any suggestions? Is it best to keep quiet about your personal choices until someone asks, or is there a way to leverage those choices (and the contentment they’ve brought) to move conversations forward. This is both a specific question about the conversations in my life, and a broader one about the future of climate change activism. If it has been such a failure up until now, how could it be successful? What would a hypothetical, effective climate change movement–one more based in personal responsibility–look like in practice?

  102. Jessi is absolutely right: once you stop the shrieking, the mass emails, the petitions to Congress, the moral posturing on your favorite social media platform, and just dig in yourself, start making the changes you want to see made, everything changes. Especially your attitude. And only then do you start to have a positive influence on the situation.

    Like I tell my children when they whine about chores: I’m not asking you to do anything I wont do, or haven’t done a thousand times myself. You work on this thing that you can handle and that allows me to go work on something else that will make your life better.

    As long as it’s always someone else’s job it’ll never get done.

    Oh, and Jessi, if you aren’t gardening by the signs already, I highly recommend it! 😊

  103. Very true, and apologies for going off topic, I suppose I’ve been in shock all week at the idea that anyone would seriously consider dimming the sun, the source of all earthly life. It is such a bizarre technifix, but I guess once the old woman has swallowed a fly (I don’t know why) she’s just going to have to go for “fix” after “fix” til she finds herself swallowing a horse.

    This week I have had one friend declare that everyone knows we live in the best time that ever was (why would I doubt it?), and another declare that to a person prepared to work hard, anything is possible – underwritten by the famed human ingenuity and capacity to innovate (why would I doubt humana are anything special, or subject to other wills in action?).

    I’m going putting my head down, and drawing water, chopping wood, and getting on with it now. Thanks.

  104. @Roger
    Great to see you here, I remember meeting you briefly when you were leaving to go to Bonn on your bike.

    The BBC protest you mention is much closer for me, but I have some plants to look after as well. I only have a patio, which isn’t really my own, and I’ve had to move most of my plants away to my parents house because my landlord was going some external paintwork (they’ve got as far as washing the walls, but have been disrupted from the actual by weather). I have nevertheless got a couple of apple trees on dwarf rootstocks, which I’ll be planting up in large pots.

  105. Since Carlos is positing useful heuristic maxims I will add mine:

    “Perennialize the trade.”

    Is what I’m getting more valuable/durable/procreative than what I’m giving?

    Seed garlic and laying hens are slam dunks in my analysis…a Coke with lunch is not. That $2 can be better spent somewhere else. Almost anywhere else actually.

    Like on a beer with friends after work. 😉

  106. JMG,

    Regarding the comment from Greg – you definitely affected me. Yes I was reading about peak oil and climate change before but I was just going from depression to denial and back and taking no action. It took a couple of years of reading your blog, disagreeing with everything you said but still coming back because of your calm, systemic, cultivated approach. After that I actually started to change.

    To bring this together with my previous point – it’s much more important to me to do something for me and the future than to do it for the “planet” or “humanity”. That is why I am much happier living simpler (at least relative to the average american).

    I also have to say I appreciate your patience with all of us. When I see replies like the one from Dave (about nasty, brutish and short life in the past) I get so annoyed (not with him, just the cultural brainwashing).
    My favorite childhood vacation was with relatives living in basically 3rd world conditions (no cars, streets, running water, electricity or indoor plumbing). Yes, I visited there in all seasons, I even got really sick once. I still loved it.
    The main difference was time was flowing differently – waking up early, quiet long days working in the garden or the orchard, bringing water from the well (no pump) and long warm nights with the whole family in one room by the cooking stove talking, playing or reading. Sometimes we could hear a car (the closest road was about a mile away) and people were wondering who could it be. There were days of long hard work in the corn fields or dressing an animal but there were also days to just sit at the table in the shade and gab with the neighbors or go to village dances.

    Yes, I know I am romanticizing it because I had a great childhood but I am trying to bring as much of that life in my own environment (garden, orchard etc) and it really helps me. I wish I could live fully like that but even the people there don’t anymore – they all have to work long weeks in the city and only come home saturday night to leave again sunday night – but they have cell phones! Progress!
    Unlike JMG, I really need people (despite not liking most of them) so it’s very hard to build that kind of life by myself.

    To me, the attractions of the modernity are just like a drug – they improve your mood for a while but destroy your mental health and your relationships.

  107. Hello,

    Perhaps it’s sidelining this discussion, but I am wondering if we could not be living through the last years of the political arrangements based on a growth economy.

    First I find it crazy that economic headlines feature negative titles when growth is slowing. The fact that there is growth at all should be enough to rejoice, should it not? Or perhaps this growth is not that sound after all, if it needs to be accelerating all the time? I find it nothing short of suspicious.

    Second, here in Ecnarf, we were talking with someone who works in a middle-sized food product company. He said that the business had slowed down for this period. Part of it is due to the yellow-vest movement which has somewhat affected the supermarkets located in the periphery of urban areas. We call these areas “activity zones” because the real estate there is cheaper for retail and manufacturing businesses. The subsidies generously granted by the town Halls are playing a large part in the slow death of city center small businesses, about which they will later hire city center consultants to pretend to do something… but that would warrant another discussion. We are making the mistakes as the US made, but 50 years late. In any case, a lot of shops open on Sundays during Christmas season and the protests occurred mostly on Saturdays. The same person also said that online retail numbers were lower as well. The delivery of the products is somewhat affected by riots as well, but the deliveries could perfectly take place during weekdays as well. The riots would account for 0.1 percentage point, perhaps more… 0.1 point is not a significant quantity when having growth at only 1.7 points is considered a pessimistic fact.
    It may not be backed up by factual data or numbers, yet it is the first time in my life that I can hear of economic contraction in my fellows’ gossip. The facts of increasing unemployment has always been part of our collective conversation, but the economy was always assumed to be a somewhat unstoppable process.
    We are even talking with each other about how a lot of accounting jobs have been outsourced to other countries!

    And lastly the notion of ‘degrowth’ is getting quite a coverage from mainstream newspapers like Le Monde.

    Positive interest (lemonde)

    Total disagreement from Le Point, and yet it covers the idea:

    Actual growth slowdown being acknowledged here by our national stats office:

    Le Monde is also covering ‘collapsology’… News don’t seem to travel that fast among journalists 🙂

    I suspect that Le Monde is covering all these not so new concepts because this is what the wealthy qualified urban classes want to read about as yet another round of climate negotiations has been taking place in Poland.

    It kind of reminds me of the years before the Soviet Union’s collapse, when it was well-known that various factors were making the continuation of the present impossible. How much is the current economic system intertwined with politics ? The connection is much less obvious than in the Soviet Union, and yet it could be quite a colorful process to see all this unravel.

    We do not have the same cultural issues with nature here as in the US. We have distanced ourselves from it more than would be wise but the gap would be quickly bridged again. I guess nature is something we have been domesticating for millennia here in Europe. Whereas in the US nature is a reservation where you go to immerse in something a lot wilder and bigger than in Europe. And our nature is milder, since we are blessed to have the Gulf Stream. Which would explain the stronger American obsession to distance from it even if it eventually leads to many more nature-related problems like health issues or natural disasters.

    Still the end of growth is a notion that we are equally unprepared to deal with as in the US. I suspect it will not dramatically affect people’s daily lives, since the knowledge of harsher times is still quite vivid and we are not smart but practical enough to get by even in the face of economic upheaval. However it will dramatically restructure a society that has been slowly hollowing out from the inside. Or to put it more simply, it will be big news. It will impact every one of us, but we can still take a stand to choose how.

  108. Rita and JMG,
    Grounghog, woodchuck, whistle pig, whatever you want to call it, can be unbelievably delicious if cooked right. And it doesn’t require dairy at all. Quarter the thing, season as you would any roast, brown it in a hot cast iron Dutch oven, then pour a quart of your favorite stock over it (I used pork) and snuggle it into the coals of your dying campfire and leave it overnight. Warm it to a safe temp the next morning and dig in.

    It’s like a combination of beef, lamb, deer, and pork in one critter this way. I know what I’ll be after if food ever gets scarce around my neighborhood…

  109. The thing that fascinates me most about climate change is the attitude that I could not possibly live like that therefore I never will. As resources become more difficult to access we are going to change. Why not start slowly and early and get used to it?

  110. I’ve emailed the guy, and pointed him to a lifestyle he could adopt which would accord with his stated values – Interestingly, I wrote that in March 2008, and there said that if everyone wanted to do this rather than just a few individuals, we could manage it all together in ten years. Oh well.

    I received an auto-reply from his email, he’s on vacation. Must be in Vegas.

  111. What a fantastic post John. One of the reasons I took up the UK based OBOD course, and one of its many benefits, is that it helps me become more in tune with nature, and the turning wheel of the year. It is also had a profound improvement on my mental health. I have noticed the negative reactions of my children to insects and other ‘unwelcome’ visitors in recent years, which confirms the importance of setting a good example to them. I haven’t hidden my interest from them, nor do I metaphorically ram it down their throats, but if they witness the positive effects of my new interest on my psyche and the value it brings to my life, and that there is more than one way at looking at the world, then it can only be a force for good. Whilst I can’t pretend to currently have a lifestyle that ensures a low carbon footprint, finding a means to shift the mental construct that modern society helps generate and which keeps us chained to a way of life that is wholly unsustainable, is fundamental. It’s also key to shifting its main asset, fear, and its partner, fear of change. From a personal perspective, knowing that the universe is full of other existences willing to help me on my life’s journey, does help to reduce the fear. Your new project, will have a lot to offer in the years to come I reckon, as fear rears its ugly head, and some people look for answers more productive that those found in a bottle wrapped in a brown paper bag, or worse. I think it’s fair to say that in the western world, mental health problems are turning into an epidemic. Lack of a spiritual dimension to people’s lives, in my view, is a key factor. All the best. AJ

  112. My low-impact lifestyle is due more to an inadequate pension and water restrictions than to a desire to save the planet. But it does give me license to feel morally superior to the Al Gores of this world…

    Hand wash laundry and line dry.
    Store rainwater in bath; wash self in bucket and bowl.
    Mediterranean climate needs no aircon or heater. More blankets in winter; open windows in summer.
    No hot water cylinder; boil water in kettle. Warm water from sun-warmed pipes.
    All bulbs are CFCs. To be replaced with LEDs as they burn out.
    No TV, but radio, laptop, and smartphone.
    No car. Walk and public transport. Resoled shoes.
    No fast food or frozen food. Cook meals from scratch using fresh ingredients.
    Eat something living fresh from the garden every day.
    Skip breakfast. Lunch and supper only.
    No margarine or seed oil. Use olive oil and butter.
    Coffee and tea. No alcohol or cigarettes.
    Make own sourdough bread, sauerkraut, and pickled beets.
    No sprays or artificial fertilizers in garden. Mulch and home-made compost only.
    Let the bugs and snails eat what they will. There’s enough for me and them.
    Grow plants from seed or steal cuttings from other gardens.
    Try to fix things rather than replacing them.
    Forget housework. A bit of dirt never hurt anyone.

  113. We are as much part of industrial society as we are part of nature. We can pretend to not need it (sometimes by virtue signalling, as in I don’t drive a car, so I’m much better than those others who do), but that doesn’t make us independent of it. It doesn’t even make much diffrence to greenhouse gases emitted, and even if it did there is no stopping anthropogenic climate change at this point.

    We don’t drive a car, but we are dependent on a trucking network to bring food to our supermarket. We might have a garden, but our tools and materials are still industrially made. We might hunt with an industrially made gun, raise animals in barns with industrially made lumber and metal roofs who are fed industrially grown grains, mill our own lumber with an industrially made mill runing on petroleum from trees milled with an industrially made chainsaw (running on petroleum), heat our hand built cabin with an industrially made stove, store rain water in industrially made plastic tanks, make our own oil with an oil press from industrially mined metal, made by an indstrial drill and welder. Icould keep going, but you get my point…

    It is not helpful or possiblel to try to become cold turkey independent of the industrial system we are embedded in. Gandhi, like everything else, can be taken to an impractical and hypocritical extreme. I think the best strategy is to use the tools of our industrial prison to get out of it (is that a Black Panther quote?), to build a non-industrial, land and nature-based technological and economical infrastructure. I’d say if cars, airplanes, banks, computers and internet are useful towards that goal, use them.

  114. Forgot to mention using horse to plow, haul water, lumber and frewood Even there we are dependent on welder, with associated solar panels, batteries and electronics…

  115. you softened me up over the years with patient essays that held so much intuitive ‘getting-it-right’ness.
    and then you brought us to the well. and your patience was that of a cook attempting to make a cake with three toddlers helping. you revealed a bit of your hand. here, here is some of the how and why of what i do.
    and now this. not this individual essay, this is just the one FOR ME on which the scales start to slip from my eyes. i’ve found the concept of intentionality to be expansive but hard to wrap my head truly around. but i understood it 100% more this morning after reading this.
    thank you for the work.
    it’s a masterclass for any who care to watch.
    i am enjoying the show with a big smile on my face. thank you.

    Do you believe in fairies? If you believe clap your hands. -Barrie

  116. JMG – I don’t think it is quite accurate to say I misunderstood you, although I certainly did not understand you completely. I still don’t. I actually find myself struggling to bridge a gap I perceive between the sympathetic mood of the piece, and your intellectual thought streams. Nevertheless, thanks for restating yourself. Now I know that your perspective on the human beings part with nature goes at least as far as to say that it is in the physical body which we exist as part of nature.

  117. Relevant to the post:
    I saw a tweet yesterday, wish I had saved it – someone commenting about how when watching nature documentaries they found their heart overflowing with joy for seeing little mousies and contrasting that with the glee with which they enjoyed shooting all the rodents in a particular western themed video game.
    the range of her responses to mice was a wide gamut of reactions to a virtual mouse behind a screen. no actual mice were, well, anywhere to even be thought of.

  118. @Patricia Matthews: Good idea! I’ve been sort of teaching myself to sew for a bit now–currently I’m in the middle of altering a vast number of formal shirts I swiped from my dad after he retired, as in addition to fashion’s other sins, women’s button-downs (which I like) don’t seem to come in the fun colors men’s do–but I should really get on that as far as larger projects go, and maybe ask some of my LARP-costuming buddies for help in the cutting-and-pinning stage, or get a dummy, or both. (I do well on hand-stitching, but less so on the measuring bits, partly due to living on my own.) And while I enjoy the eye candy stuff myself, I can probably make something similar for summer when I learn more. Folkwear sounds lovely–I’ll look into it! I also tend to shop vintage/RenFaire stuff for games, and repurpose a lot of that for day-to-day wear, which helps!

    Shoe-wise, yeah, I’ve never much dealt with stilettos on a day-to-day basis. (Have a shiny red pair for a particular character at a game, but that’s it.) When I’m doing the daytime stuff, I wear boots or flattish sandals, and if I’m going out somewhere glitzy, I’m generally hoping to dance, so I do the chunky/Cuban heels. I’ve found that both fall apart after about six months if I get them from American places, though, so I hit up Ecco’s (and some wildly generous friends just bought me a pair of Son of Sandlar boots at a RenFaire, which are amazing and apparently last forever), but I should also totally look into dress loafers–they sound great.

    I also love the plaid skirt description! I’ve wanted one of those for ages, and for whatever reason they seem to have stopped making them in the holiday colors/long lengths. Another reason to shun modern fashion trends whenever possible: no sooner do I find a style I like but it stops existing.

    (Also a bit ranty about this, yep. :P)

    @Pogonip: Lord, yes! Also Sears, which was the classic “this is not designer fashion, but it looks pretty good, will last, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg” place when I was growing up.

    @Beekeeper: That’s my impression too! (Also, in fairness, alcohol does have a warming effect…) The latest trend, as of this fall, was literally named “cold shoulder”–tops/dresses with long or medium sleeves, but the shoulders deliberately cut out. It’s not practical from the perspective of either temperature or putting the darn thing on, and to my mind it’s not at all attractive. (I can understand a long-sleeved shirt with cleavage, sure, and YKIOK, but I didn’t know there were so many shoulder fetishists in the fashion industry!)

    Also, both of your points there are awesome. I like sparkly things myself, but I know where they’re appropriate and not–and I’ve learned through twenty-two years in New England that wearing earrings outside between January and April is a bad idea–and I’ve found that being physically active outdoors makes me feel warmer, not just immediately during and after but long-term, or at least for a few days. (A discovery, geekily enough, that happened when I switched from playing primarily healers/spellcasters at LARPs to my current sword-and-shield elven mercenary.*)

    @Jane, and general discussion of lifestyles: I’m in a similar position re: flights and other things, but the worldview I’ve ended up adopting over the last few years (with considerable input from people here) is a combination of doing what I can when I can, trying not to act impulsively on major carbon stuff, and trying to prepare to do more in the future. So I try to find reasonable alternatives to flying, fly economy and on airlines that are at least trying to be fuel-efficient when that’s possible, and put myself in a position in the future where I have the time and finances to take long railway or container-ship journeys. Likewise, I’m fond of computer games, in their time and place, but I don’t feel any need to play them as soon as they come out, on the highest resolution and the latest system; I have a smartphone, but it’s five generations behind the current models; etc. I try to buy local food in season, use pubtrans instead of a car, shut up most of my apartment from January-April and only heat my bedroom, and so forth. (Now that I don’t need to commute, I’m also hoping to move away from Boston next year, and ideally into a place where the landlords are more amenable to energy-saving improvements like weather-sealing, solar panels, etc.)

    I figure I should spend more time thinking about doing anything with a major carbon footprint than I do about going to bed with a guy, which is, granted, a fairly low bar for me. 🙂 And while I’m by no means perfect, I do find that asking myself what I’ll get from a particular purchase–“Will I really use all the features of this machine? Where will I wear this clothing if I buy it? Do I really need to get to this place so fast?”–has helped both for the environment and my budget, and had some unexpected side benefits. (I took the bus down to my parents’ for this break, and it was really nice to see more of the country, at a slower pace–not to mention skipping the security lines!) And looking toward improvements I could work toward in future is nice, because otherwise I pretty well have no goals. 🙂

    * Who also reads Tarot and practices ritual magic, because some things I don’t give up. 🙂 I’ve just embraced my inner elven fighter/mage.

  119. Whilst I very largely agree with everything you’re saying here, I think there is one small wrinkle that you may be overlooking somewhat: the problem of visibility. There are plenty of “climate change activists” (and other people who are concerned about climate change, but don’t necessarily fit that label) who are making the necessary changes in their own lives – but unless you happen to know them personally, you’ll never hear about them.

    The wider problem is that much of our impression of the world is shaped by what we see in the media, and to lesser extent, encounter online – and neither of these fora are unbiased, to say the least. The reason you only see smug upper-middle class environmentalists in the media is not that those are the only type of environmentalists that exist in meaningful numbers, it’s that they’re the only ones who have access to the media. The awkward paradox is that in order to have the level of media access necessary to promote your cause widely, you need to be the “right” sort of person – and that definitely doesn’t include anybody who lives in a way that shows they’re serious about climate change. People who live in ways which are not approved by the media-industrial complex only get to appear – very occasionally – as the objects of stories about how weird they are, written by the “right” people, and from the “right” perspective. They certainly don’t get to write op-eds of their own. (With the possible exception of George Monbiot…)

  120. Sorry if this is the wrong place to ask, but with regard to the Love in the Ruins anthology, what are some good works to read (of your’s or others), to get a better handle on what the post-industrial future of America might look like, in detail? I want my story to be as “accurate” as possible.

  121. I don’t doubt that you have reached a lot of people. I am one of them. Which is why I was rather annoyed with your response that suggested I don’t get it when I have been reading the same thing (and finding it a breath of fresh air) for a long time. But I asked an honest question about where this is going and you told me I didn’t get it because of this.

    In any case, I see a lot of projection in this blog post. You criticize people for thinking they can remove themselves from nature and then suggest that you can wash your hands of man made systems because you don’t own a cellphone or drive a car. I know you have a better understanding of man made systems than this, so I don’t know if you are arguing in bad faith or what. You live in a city and find yourself imbedded in many of the supply and infrastructure systems there. We are having this conversation on the internet even if you bought your computer second hand. Somewhat tangential to my point, you might boycott amazon, but your work gets sold there and most of the websites you use run on their web hosting. It is very hard to escape these things. You might not like these things anymore than biophobes like dirt and bugs, but that does not make them go away. I really don’t want to be that harsh, but this really jumped out at me. I myself try to section myself off from a lot of this stuff, so I get it.

    I do sincerely hope that the lessons you have taught on this topic spread farther and wider (and more importantly that people actually walk the walk). But I also question whether this is enough. Reading you for years I get the impression you are laying ground work for the long descent, but perhaps because the topic of this week’s blog was about averting climate change I thought you were presenting these ideas as something that can turn around the world quick enough to do more than that.

    I’m wearing a sweater right now and will probably throw on another layer at some point during the day, because I have my thermostat way lower than most people I know would ever tolerate. In the summer I sweat buckets because although the home we moved into had air conditioners, we have removed them or just don’t turn them on. This has caused my brother to suggest that I’m somehow a bad parent for subjecting my children to this (though they stay cool in the basement or at the nearby lake). So I have dealt with both the social and the practical barriers to doing some of these things. I could go more into some of the obstacles I run into doing these things and having kids, but I won’t.

    I have an article coming out soon in an increasingly popular left wing magazine whose editor is starting to grapple with some of these question and I would like to help spread these ideas there or elsewhere if I can them published. I had some questions about your approach I wanted to get an answer to and I was not happy with the nature of the response. So for my part I apologize if I was off base with mine.

    If you could take one thing away from this exchange it would be (as I have said before in these comments) to focus more on how much the consumptive lifestyle is rather hollow and kind of sucks. As much as I have my criticisms of the Ad Busters tact, I do wish we could retrieve some of that on the left. Because I think that distrust of advertising and industry is a good entry point to some of this for lefties (which is where I find myself).

  122. @JMG, you are of course correct. My first response was to be slightly hopeful, my second was to be disgusted thinking of people who claim to “believe in” climate change flying 100k+ miles a year.

    It just reminds me of this man I met a few years ago in SF. An ex MIT Astrophysicist turned Managing Director for a large Wall Street bank. He was so proud of himself for not owning a car, and would endlessly shame people that did. Of course he spent every week flying somewhere around the globe, 5 days a week living in luxury hotels, eating 3 meals a day in restaurants, and of course jumping in Uber cars multiple times a day. And he truly believed he was morally superior to all those car owners. It was surreal.

    It’s interesting the reactions you have gotten with this post, it seems to have rubbed a few the wrong way, proving we all know we are part of the problem..but strangely so many of us don’t want to admit we are part of the solution? I, like many on here, live a sorta simple life, especially for a middle class person in the SF Bay Area, but am still a gross polluter globally speaking, and I am trying hard to change what I can. And lately I have noticed how my changes in behavior and lifestyle does influence others. We started a permaculture garden in our backyard a few years ago, and see them popping up around the neighborhood. We share what we are doing and share our harvest and seeds with the neighbors, and it’s all become a bit of a contest between us now. And as people see this happening, they start to join in, and connections become more numerous. And as we all grow food and tend our gardens and connect more with nature, our conversations get deeper and more meaningful, and other changes start to take place. There certainly are things to be hopeful about, and I look forward to your future posts on this subject!

  123. @gnat

    Re carbon taxes

    To be fair, carbon taxes would be one piece of an effective policy approach, but that over-all policy suite would need to be comprehensive and the taxes appropriately managed.

    For example, I’d argue that one nationalistic approach (which, for various reasons, I’d favor) would be to apply carbon taxes on fossil fuels at the source (to the domestic producer when it comes out of the ground or to the importer as soon as it crosses the border) and then allow that cost to percolate through the markets. The revenues from those taxes, after covering program admin costs, should then be redistributed to the populace on a per-capita basis (nice and simple). To support this, as well as other policy goals, significant tariffs should be imposed on all imported goods.

    The goals here are several-fold. Increasing the cost of transportation induces the development of more localized and regionalized economies. Tariffs protect domestic production from predatory imports operating under a different set of rules (lax environmental regulations, for example, or sub-par labor conditions). The farm outside of town now has the ability to compete with mass-produced greens from CA because trucking costs are so much higher. Scale of production shifts, as the costs of mechanization rise. Automation becomes more expensive. Speed becomes more expensive. Large-scale international trade falls, to the extent these policies are adopted by many nations. All of this would have a profound effect on CO2 emissions.

    But what this requires, among other things, is a willingness of a nation to take charge of its own destiny to an extent and to walk away from the global economy when the values that economy supports are contrary to the well-being of the nation and its people.


    Re Syria

    I was quite pleased to hear the announcement. I hope that he is able to withstand the bipartisan push-back that is already afoot. Now, if he’d only do the same with Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan…

    One the other hand, a partial loaf is better than none!

  124. Dear Archdruid,
    Why is climate change the cause célèbre of environmental issues? Is it because the media (staffed by hypocritical left-leaning middle-class snobs) constantly harp on about it while ignoring the other myriad eco-crises; is it because oligarchs and the governments they control can use it as an excuse to extract more taxes from citizens (see recent events in France)?

    Surely it’s concerning to everyone that not only is the air polluted, but that every. single. aspect. of the natural environment seems to have been polluted and degraded by human activity (water pollution, plastic pollution, soil degradation, deforestation, pesticides, GMO, e-waste, microwave pollution, over-population, nuclear radiation and so on.)

    I am delighted to hear that your “ecosophy” is about to be debated and developed in 2019. When you first started your new blog, its name – Ecosophia – reminded me of the sub-field of philosophy called “environmental aesthetics” or “ecoaesthetics”. However, I’m sure your “ecosophy” will be much more useful and practical. “Environmental aesthetics” seems to be the province of the same kind of people that bewail global warming while booking a flight to their next academic conference.

  125. @Patricia Mathewes:

    Toothpaste, at least, has easy solutions: I brush with straight baking soda mostly, but once a week or two I use charcoal powder (a 1# bag will last you for all eternity). Baking soda is great for keeping teeth clean. The charcoal will nix any bad breath or fuzzy-tongue feeling. You have to give up the “tastes good” part of commercial toothpaste, and the gentle foaming texture you’re used to, but it’s super cheap, works, and with just one ingredient, you know what you’re getting.

  126. Sometimes it all feels so very hopeless. I have always, since before leaving the nest, had living an ecologically sound lifestyle as a dream and a goal, even before leaving the nest, a full twenty years ago. And i hahave, relatively speaking, accomplished a lot. I have spent the last two decades studying Permaculture and gardening, learning to reduce my consumption, bicycling and walking ehen possible, living communally much of the time, sometimes freezing in a dark apartment to avoid turning on the furnace, and so on. And yet i still ended up where i aam now, with a grossly excessive carbon footprint. I often worry that I’ve done it all wrong and instead of trying to build a way that works all on my own, i i ouod have instead simply walked away from everything and gone the route of the pilgrim and wanderer.

    I find myself, as a working class young-ish male, caught between the horns of wanting the ability to influence the direction of society, and yet finding that doing so seems to require participation in the system, and the infrastructure and its suite of unsustainable technologies.

    About a decade ago i purchased a small, unassuming house. I did so with the intention of sharing space with several friends who i thought were on the same path. None of that, of course, came to pass. So here i i am, in suburban oklahoma, perhaps one of the most hostile social environents to sustainable living, , and having harvested much of the low-hanging fruit, attempting to move forward on a working class income of $30,000-$40,000 per year.

    So, costs of improvements to this property – $3,000 for a wood stove. $3,000 for a set of cisterns, hand built on-site. $4,000 for an attic insulation job. And so on. For most of the past decade i was earning just enough to break even. $100 in the red some months, $200 in the black in others, and so on. Do the math, and you will see the costs are quite disproportionate to the available resources.

    Less than i year ago i finally finished my schooling and advanced from lpn to rn status. With that came an increase in wages of about $10/hr plus the option of abundant overtime, of which i have availed myself. At the cost of a healthy sleep pattern, i have increased my net monthly surplus from, basically nothing, to a few thousand. In addition to paying down debts, i have been able to slowly start in on some of the projects mentioned above. There is still a long way to go. $1,000 for guttering. $1,000 for plumbed greywater. $3,000 for a composting toilet (my preference would be simple humanure, but I’m unsure if i can slip that past my current partner). $10,000 for solar? I’m unsure. $4,000 for wall insulation. It’s doable, but daunting, and frankly, disheartening. I am doing substantially better than nearly all of my peers, and to get here, and support
    this income, I require a car, fuel, hot water, laundry facilities i can access late at night. Scientists say now that we have twelve years to make the changes we need. The changes I’m looking at are too big, too slow, for that. This is just one small house, out of millions.

    And yet, i have seen that just the difference between $35,000 and $45,000-$50,000 is night and day, one of magnitudes when it comes to the ability to leverage material change. So i am forced to assume the difference between $50,000 and $60,000, not to speak of $100,000 or $200,000, is of similar consequence.

    Why do i kill myself to install a few megawatts of solar power, when we have twelve years to overhaul everything? One millionaire, one mrgacorp, could actually move the dial at the stroke of a pen, and not break a sweat or threaten the comfort of a single executive. It’s maddening. And yet, i continue on, not knowing how else to move forward.

    No, the solutions must be political. Thry must include action taken from the top of the economic structure. We need the leverage only they can provide. Without it, I fear catastrophe is unavoidable.

    Who am i kidding, i realize catastrophe is inevitable either way. At least, perhaps, I will be better prepared to weather the storm and to help others to do the same.

    Nonetheless, to ignore the leverage those at the top hold under conditions this dire, and to hold the working class responsible for the heavy lifting, even though we of the working class will in fact ultimately take on that task, as we always do, serms a great injustice, and a squandering of opportunity.

    Continue with your astute criticism of the middle class lifestyle. It is extremely refreshing.

  127. I agree with man-made climate change – the scientific idea is sound. It is people like me that eco-scientist-warners need to convince and they have not. Perhaps it is because the dangers are so over-exaggerated in the short term. For example, we are in an inter-glacial period of a long glacial period. Recently 1/3rd of USA was covered in glaciers. This inter-glacial is scheduled to end geologically soon. Do the eco-doomers want to return to a full glacial period? Man-made climate warming may be the best thing man could have done for the environment.

    I currently live in the USA northeast and grew up in the tropical south. The climate change effects have created an increased rainfall of 5-10% and a couple inch sea rise. From what I can tell from the science – the northeast east of the appalachia’s will get more tropical and warmer. That sounds great for me. If the atlantic currents slow down, or change direction, it will get even more livable where I live. Where is the problem for me? I don’t even see problems for my kids or grandkids.

    The antartic and artic melting is going to create an ice cube effect – higher moisture in the atmosphere and cooling winds carrying that moisture south. Wouldn’t this increase cloud cover and therefore mitigating the temperature increase.

    Eco-alarmists go to the extreme with wet bulb effect, climate refugees, increased energetic weather, and sea rise destroying property. Humans are a very adaptable and inventive species. This slow pace of change will be great for us to adapt to. These things are not unsolvable. Florida has much more hurricanes then northeast, it’s adapted. Sea rise – my property is closer to the beach. Climate refugees – we should be evolving in a survival of the fittest. Our stop of evolutionary selection by making everything as safe as possible is more dangerous to our survival. This whole alarmists is probably a side effect of trying to knock down everything that could possibly be dangerous. If the climate gets really bad an Apollo like 20 year project could carbon trap all of the excess CO2 in the atmosphere in a generation, I have no doubt.

    If eco-scientists studied and debated the _benefits_ of global warming and weighed them appropriately, if they didn’t sound to alarmist and act like humans are such a bad thing, I would respect and listen to them more. As is, the more the alarmists yell and overrate the dangers, the more I ignore them. If they had practical solutions, I would listen. A better battery 10x energy density would solve a lot of issues.

  128. @Beekeeper

    I have a theory on the sleeveless-dresses-for-all-seasons phenomenon: setting sleeves is one of the trickier parts of clothing construction. You can teach any idiot to sew a straight seam in a couple of minutes. Setting sleeves is a real skill. When you’re trying to make clothes cheaper, faster, and with the lowest-skilled lowest-paid most-disposable labor possible, sleeves are the first thing to go (at least in women’s wear).

  129. Originally I was thinking of making a sarcastic joke about how humans could just create nature with a 3D printer and thus there was no need to worry about our lack of connection with nature, but I realized how often sarcasm is lost along with the very reality of that being the belief of a many humans. Nietzsche discussed a lot of this situation as he spoke of the Last Man. There’s no end of labels for the situation we have. Nature Deficit Disorder. Technosphere. Pointing out the research done showing how beneficial having more connection with nature is for humans, which are great statistics, has done nothing to motivate people to actually change their lives to incorporate more nature connection. I have to agree with Nietzsche that the lack of awe and respect given to the mysteries, and thus the lack of ritual and spiritual connection plays a big part of are not being motivated to commune with the natural world. Fahrenheit 451 and A Brave New World are both great dystopian novels which I feel give some inkling of how breaking away from the herd mentality of modern society will proceed: a future where the skills and ideas to help live in a long descent are kept on the fringes by a group of people who are driven together because their spirit and soul can’t justify modern society.

  130. Hi JMG, Hopefully this is not off topic, if it is I will ask in the next open forum. Just curious as to what your quick definition of “spirituality” would be. There are many out there.

    Thanks and Happy Alban Arthuran to you and Sara,


  131. I disagree “that twenty years of strident yelling by climate change activists have not succeeded in convincing either their opponents or the undecided of the rightness of their cause and the urgency of change.” A recent Yale study found that the majority of people do support a green new deal — meaning among other things 100% renewable energy within 10 years. 92% of Democrats, 64% of Republicans and 88% Independents. If we were honey bees this would be considered a consensus and time for action. I wonder at your characterization of activism as ‘strident yelling,’

  132. Thank you for the interesting post; I look forward to reading the follow ups in this series, especially as it’s a good change of perspective for me as someone who is quite okay with being disconnected from nature.

    Reading this post, a couple nitpicks defending climate change activists crossed my mind; hopefully this is a useful addition to the discussion of how to actually be *effective* in climate change activism:

    I feel like discussions about how react to climate change fall into two general camps that I’ll call “optimistic” and “pessimistic”. The optimistic people believe that technology will save the day; if we just invest enough into green energy tech, no lifestyle change will be needed, just a bit higher taxes/prices for a bit while we pay the R&D money, but not enough higher to have a real impact on anyone. The pessimistic people, like you, think that’s hogwash and lifestyle changes are necessary, the sooner the better. I believe you that the optimistic group is wrong, but claiming they’re being hypocritical because they disagree with you about climate change requiring lifestyle changes doesn’t make sense. It makes sense to say they’re in denial about what lifestyle changes will be necessary, but they’re not being hypocrites.

    Furthermore, in the observation (paraphrasing), “climate change activists that I see are using a lot of carbon”, I think it’s fair to ask how much heavy lifting the “that I see” is doing. By definition, the activists that show up to conferences are spending the energy to get them to the conference. You don’t see the ones that don’t go to conferences, and they have less ability to get media attention. Of course, already visible climate activists could signal by reducing their carbon footprint: Al Gore announcing he’s downsizing to minimize his carbon footprint would get news coverage. But I can’t name any other climate activists.

  133. Midsummer Potluck try #2: I must have mistranscribed the link to sign up for the Ecosophia Midsummer Potluck. It should be here. If that still doesn’t work, Email me at peter.g.vanerp (at) gmail (dot ) com.

  134. I gave a 3-hr Intro to Permaculture lecture at the Georgia Organics conference in 2012. Nearly an hour of that time slot I spent veering away from the usual talking points and principles, and instead discussed the 4th chapter of E.F. Schumacher’s little economics jewel “Small Is Beautiful.”

    The chapter in question is called “Buddhist Economics,” and I put together a lengthy slide show to accompany my reading of it. The thrust of my monologue was the embrace of a different economics that promoted “living a becoming life on as few resources as possible.”

    Not surprisingly, the older middle and upper-middle class attendees did not care for this intrusion into what they thought was going to be a mostly avant gardening and off-grid tech talk. You know, stuff they could afford to do that didn’t insist on any real change in their lifestyle.

    The encouraging bit was that several of the Millenials in attendance came up to me at lunch afterwards, I kid you not, all starry-eyed, thanking me for the most amazing talk they’d attended all weekend. (Blush)

    Mission accomplished.

  135. Jmichaelsullivan, I went to Drawdown. Their answer to everything seems to be: (quoting Soleri) “A better kind of wrong”. Which is to say that they do not question the Faustian civilization which has led us to our current plight, they only try to tweak everything so that it is slightly less damaging.

  136. You make very good points here, and I agree with you that our rift with “Nature” has reached grotesque proportions. How this came to be seems clear to me, having grown up in a rural area carefully observing the workings of nature in my surroundings. On a large scale, I saw much beauty, but up close, I perceived an indifferent, amoral cruelty at work, and I saw gruesome things, the images of which still haunt me.

    I learned that Nature doesn’t care at all about individuals, unlike the Judeo Christian god who, like Mr. Rogers, thinks we’re all special and supremely important. Rather, Nature is actuarial, and promotes the fat part of the bell curve, advancing those at the peripheries only when they embody some useful upgrade, but otherwise crushing outliers, often in very painful ways.

    Which leads to the question, can any society (or movement) that emphasizes the importance of the individual (and the individual’s right to “have stuff”) have a right relationship with Nature? I would say tentatively yes, but it depends on being able to hold the tension of opposites. That means, in this case, being able to honor the ultimate power, glory and intelligence of Nature, while at the same time accepting its often uncontrollablle, capricious, dark, and daemonic aspects (including early death). And it also means trying to get a lot of people to lower their material standards for how they define “the good life,” while at the same time accepting that humans will do just about anything to avoid real suffering, which Nature offers in spades.


  137. @ DT – as someone who grew up in a fundamentalist Christian household, and who presently works in higher education, I can tell you with certainty that the new fundamentalism will be rooted in progressivism, rather than opposed to it. I also suspect that Christians will be more humble than in the past millennia, given their increasingly counter-cultural position vis-a-vis the literati.

  138. I find most people are as disconnected from their manmade physical surroundings as they are from their natural surroundings. How many people know what’s inside the walls of their homes, or how to repair those things? Substitute “dripping pipe” and “plumber” for the cockroach and exterminator in your example and the behavior would be nearly identical. (Perhaps, less emotionally charged for some due to lacking the element of biophobia embodied by the cockroach. But the class snobbery, the helplessness to act for oneself, the frustrated expectation of complete control, etc. are all still there.) At the home improvement store my wife works at, the staff now expects the great majority of customers to be unable to, for instance, install a wall shelf without “professional” assistance. This was not the case when she started working there a decade and a half ago.

    That might be an irrelevant aside or it could be a clue to part of the issue of disconnection from nature.

    I’ve been thinking a lot (and experimenting a little) on the core topic of ecosophia. What seems clear is that “rescue narratives” on all levels, from the “caretakers of the Lord’s garden” role described by traditional Christian deism to the “save the planet” slogans of conventional environmental activism, are not only ineffective but counterproductive due to all being different expressions of control. Appeals to practicality have more long-term promise, but for broad effect await future changes that shift what is individually practical.

    There’s a middle path I’m perceiving as through a glass darkly, in which we take actions or make changes not because they benefit “the environment” nor because they benefit us (though they may in fact do either or both, especially indirectly), but because they acknowledge and strengthen an emotional connection between the two; that is, between the individual and the world. “Acts of devotion” is as good a term as any for that, though it’s a bit burdened by other connotations that don’t really fit. They’re not anything new either, but it would be new (in the context of our present day culture) for such acts to be understood as such, in a framework where the need for such an emotional connection is recognized.

  139. @Tripp – and that puts me in mind of:
    “A mind changed against its will, is of the same opinion still.”

  140. The more crap you acquire, the more miserable you become. To soften the misery, you buy more crap. Thus, our Economy.

  141. Living minimally/sustainably is A LOT of work all on its own. It also requires access to a certain amount of capital, and this is where I think sometimes you aren’t necessarily making things better. If you have to spend $X to get to sustainability, how much CO2 had to be generated for that money to be earned? GDP and CO2 emissions are correlated. So much so that it is the poor of the world who are living most responsibly, and the rich of the world that are living most irresponsibly.
    So you spent $X to achieve sustainability, I could argue that you’ve not cut your CO2 as much as you have just paid for it in lump sum!
    I think that the best route to sustainability (at least on the personal scale) is not investing large sums of money in green technology but living as cheaply as possible. Simple, plain, reduction of consumption. If you can pay your solar loan out of the savings on your electric bill, do it, otherwise don’t! Don’t buy an EV just because it is green. Work out the total cost of ownership first, and decide based on that. For most people the flow of money is a better measure than actual emissions. The flow of money is going to capture full cycle emissions in a way that nose counting your own carbon footprint will not.
    This is exactly why the well-to-do environmentalists can’t help but be hypocrites on this issue. You’ve got to live more poorly than you are.
    If I were single I would totally live the minimalist lifestyle, but, I’ve got family with significant, complex health issues so I’m inescapably hitched to the system. So I minimize as much as I can.

  142. Why, oh why, does anyone think electric cars are any kind of solution? Do we need an EROEI recap, folks? By the time you take all the energy to mine the rare earth minerals and make the batteries and burn the coal to produce the electricity (or make the wind turbine to make the electricity), you’ve already emitted way more C02 than if you’d just made and driven a fossil fuel powered car. It was so odd, I stumbled upon a Greenpeace article detailing just why tight oil was no solution to peak oil based on EROEI, and then it ended w/a statement about electric cars. SMH.

  143. What is your source for your comment above about medieval peasants having more free time and keeping more of the value of their labor than the average American? I’ve always thought that the assumption that all life before modern times was short, brutish, and unbearably dull with plenty of skepticism, and I’d love to learn more about the reality to support my suspicions. Any books on the subject to recommend?

  144. Wowsa! Well, there are certainly discussions and essay in which I agree-to-disagree with you, (abstract art, abstract art, abstract art and a few things about Trump/social politics) BUT, not many and this is certainly not one of them. Thank You so much again for articulating this perspective and poking/provoking the old cobwebby grey matter with new thoughts and paths into this. I became hooked on the old Arch Druid Report when I first read your essay, “The Butlerian Carnival”, a joyous embrace of “Less” and downsizing. I look forward to more discussion on this path. And I’m nodding my head in agreement with so many of the comments, I can recognise my own observations and experiences in them. Only a few things I can add that I think have as yet to be pointed out:

    1) I’ve taken a job at a local grocery store, the other night our computer system went down. ALL of it. Every cash register, the security system, the time clock. Thank goodness the lights and refrigeration/freezer systems are independent and have back up generators. It was only down maybe 5-10 minutes, in which time, we ‘Associates’ and our manager were running around like headless chickens trying to figure out how to get it back up, and several customers huffed and puffed and left, swearing never to return (until tomorrow), but it did remind me, Observation 1) “How very very delicate this thin veneer of sophisticated technological civilisation is”. How frightening that we are so utterly and completely dependent upon it, such a flimsy system. This is catastrophe in the making!” At the very least, our store should have some back up plan – I need to point this out to my superiors, although, I highly doubt they’ll listen.

    2) This week’s essay and comments have been giving me happy nostalgia. I remember how wonderful and exciting it was to get those first strawberries or corn on the cob of the season, how we’d be sick of summer fruits, just in time to get the first squash. I MISS seasonal fruit and food, (I actually don’t as I don’t buy them out of season, but it’s not the same, as I know it’s just me being obstinately old fashioned – strawberries and corn are available in Dec. much to my chagrin, I just miss the excitement of the change of seasons). Which segues to the joy of brisk air whilst shovelling snow, the thrill of spotting a spectacular butterfly or flower after a long strenuous walk in the woods, (it’s more beautiful when the walk was the hardest). Observation 2) One of the saddest things about this flight from nature, (our inner nature as well as outer nature) is that we cannot experience ‘good’, without enduring ‘bad’ because there is not one without the other. They are only relative concepts and it is so well worth it to endure the bad, to experience the good. The good, (e.g. strawberries & corn on the cob or e.g. the brisk winter air) is ho hum at best and pointless, unappreciated without the bad, (e.g. waiting till summer for them or e.g. the strenuous physical task of shovelling). As an artist the example would be the euphoric feeling of freedom to draw or paint and create. It really feels like those dreams we have of flying; but it cannot happen without hours, weeks, years of slogging through practice and training one’s eye and hand to obey. It’s like an athlete going to the gym. It’s boring & tedious & hard. I’s a struggle, but you have to do it to get fit enough to ‘fly’ at your game.

    Circling back, this has also come to my attention of late, working at the grocery store because we, the public have become sooooo spoilt in convenience and ease by we, the stores. Most customers huff and puff and throw a good 3-year-old-worthy temper tantrum if anything delays them by up to 10 seconds. (sadly, not exaggerating 10 seconds, I’ve counted)) and it is the same spoiling that insulates us from the seasonal temperature or the trials and tribulations of walking in nature, or ANY exertion or inconvenience. *this observation/criticism is not directed at those with ailments or conditions, (like Dewey’s husband above) for whom the temp changes can create a genuine threat to survival. IMHO, they get extra carbon credits or a pass.

    JMG: It’s really too bad sometimes that you have a bad experience with pixels on the screen, the cartoon, (animated) movie ‘Wall-E’ encapsulates it so well.

    regarding 2), Is this clear? Have I made this point comprehensible? Rereading it, I’m not sure. Some philosopher or thinker out there must have explored and articulated this. I first found it in my early 20’s reading various pop-Eastern philosophy books. It has been a guiding light ever since. Can anyone recommend any other book or source that clarifies it? Pop or otherwise?

    Cheers from rainy Florida. The gators, cranes and other critters don’t like the rain, but all of our weird Dr. Seuss-looking-plants love it. Hey Ho.

  145. A few random related thoughts today:

    1. I find it hypocritical that here in the Northwest, environmentalists are spearheading an attempt to remove four major hydroelectric dams which supply the equivalent of 800,000 homes with carbon-free electricity. This ostensibly to restore salmon runs for 74 endangered orcas in Puget Sound that are particularly beloved to urban Seattle-ites and their vision of nature. Never mind that we still allow recreational fishing for those same salmon and that salmon runs continue to decline drastically even in undammed rivers due to multiple factors, chiefly climate change.

    2. Here in Corvallis, Oregon, the leader of our Sustainability Coalition (and de facto chief climate activist) is someone who walks her talk (doesn’t own a car, local animal-free diet, minimal home heating, etc.) and she has been quite successful in terms of keeping the organization afloat and securing funding for initiatives when needed. Just one data point.

    3. The solar panels we installed last fall have outperformed expectations (coupled with conservation measures) and we find ourselves with a roughly 1500 kilowatt-hour surplus for the year. The way our utility billing works we are not compensated for the surplus so there is a perverse incentive to use up that “free” electricity before the cycle resets in March. Not that we are going to.

    4. I think that in addition to a disconnect from Nature, people equally have no idea of the energy requirement/carbon footprint of everyday activities. I installed a whole-house electricity monitor last year which can tell us exactly how much energy we use to take a shower or run the clothes dryer (which we only use in winter). I wonder if privacy-invading Big Data has enough information on most of us (power bills, fuel receipts, internet usage, consumer goods purchases, food purchases, etc.) to calculate a “carbon score” with reasonable accuracy, and I wonder if that score (coupled with the right incentives, as with a credit score) might be an incentive for energy conservation on a broader scale.

  146. Greg, are you seriously claiming that people in general can’t escape enough from “man made systems” to make any difference that matters in the long-range survival of humanity (not our civilization, but simply our species)? I may have misunderstood you, but that’s what it sounded like to my ears. If so, I want to register disagreement.

    So nothing significant happened in the decade-plus since our host started his blogs, nor indeed since the Club of Rome’s first report in 1972? A decade is as the blink of an eye in the time needed to deal with climate change; the not-quite half-century since 1972 is only a few blinks of the same eye.

    Our fight for our species-survival will be a very long, slow fight, much, much longer than your own lifetime, to say nothing of the decade or two left in mine. It is far too soon to say whether the human species actually can weather this crisis.

    However, it is already cut in monumental stone that our Western civilization cannot survive the crisis; that same cut stone will serve as Western civilization’s gravestone.

    Over the course of the several centuries needed to halt the momentum of climate change, no possible program of large-scale political action can continue to be effective, to find any significant number of supporters. It will inevitably crash and burn, not having done much to fix the problem.

    The only possible course of action that promises any long-term success is leading by example and impressing enough children by your solitary example that in time they, too, will lead by example once they are grown up–and so on for many coming generations over the next three or more centuries. And that is just working toward the bare survival of our own species, not our own Western civilization.

    Our civilization’s collapse is baked in a cake that was mixed more than a century ago, and has already been taken out of the oven and left to cool down. Now it is on the table for us to eat. If you were hoping to save our civilization, too, you are cherishing an impossible dream.

  147. @JMG – Thought provoking, as always. A fair number of points you made I broadly agree with. Shouting at people rarely persuades them, and the article you cite is a classic example of what NOT to do when trying to win friends and influence people. Also, leading by example can be a wonderful way to persuade people to try something new or make lifestyle changes. Especially is they see you enjoying a different way of doing things.

    I disagree with two of the central points you raise though. First, the idea that bio-phobia is somehow limited to the upper classes is, in my experience, wrong. True, the middle and upper classes do not like nature intruding into their homes and lives, but having worked in wage-earning jobs my whole adult life, and across three states (Oklahoma, Delaware and Pennsylvania), I have seen equal levels of bio-phobia amongst the working classes as well. True, my sample size may not be representative in a statistical sense, but my anecdotal evidence suggests to me that all Americans are pretty bio-phobic.

    Second, as I stated earlier, individual action, in a broader sense leading by example, is a quite powerful tool of persuasion. I have a slight problem with the argument you seem to be making, which is that it is the only useful course of action. You point out, rightly, that industry, while the biggest polluter, is producing goods for middle class customers. While true, I think you miss the value and importance of collective action. Sure, I can turn down my thermostat in the winter (my house is about 63 right now) and turn is up in the summer (we usually set it about 85), but I can’t control how the electricity used gets generated. I use this example because Oklahoma has ample wind and sun for renewable electricity generation, but a state government (and federal one) that is actively hostile to the use of non-fossil fuel sources of energy. Not only does the US regulatory environment discourage the use of renewable energy, our federal government actively subsidizes the fossil fuel industry through the tax code, and steadfastly refuses to put a price on carbon emissions. While reversing such policies would not fix the long-term predicaments posed by fossil fuels, it would make the crash so much less bad. Your thoughts?

  148. @dfr1973
    I’m assuming I’m 2 years your junior, and I most definitely remember the conservation and appropriate tech/back to the land movement, and I remember it still being something of a going concern in the early 80s before it petered out.

  149. Hi JMG and everyone,

    first of all I’d like to praise and recommend The Weird of Hali: Kingsport, I finished it the day I got it in the mail and enjoyed two nights of appropriately strange dreams since then. Really looking forward to the next installments! I especially liked how different the experiences of the protagonists in the the two books are, that leaves a lot of room for surprise developments in the future. The world truly is bigger than one thinks 🙂

    And then, since the topic of this week’s post warrants it, and nobody has mentioned it here before, I’d like to point everyone’s attention to the double episode 6&7 of the current season of South Park, which deals with climate change and our collective non-reaction to it in a way that, to me at least, borders on religious allegory. To all who enjoy watching the occasional cartoon and can stomach the show’s twisted humor, I highly recommend it, and those who prefer the written word can read a plot synopsis here and here respectively.

  150. Kuanyin – you asked “If you are trying to walk the walk, how do you talk the talk without coming off as holier-than-thou?” Epictetus commented (put into modern words) “If I’m at a banquet and people are pigging out and getting drunk, I don’t stand up and read them a lecture on sensible eating. I merely eat sensibly and explain why if anybody asks.”

    Hope this helps.

    Also, you can explain that what you’re doing frees up a lot of money for what you enjoy.

  151. Isabelcooper – I found the fabric at a yard sale for $0.25. No, I am NOT making that up! Shoe-top length, full enough to look better with a petticoat – white cotton summer skirt – under it – partial elastic, and side pockets as deep as those in my (older) jeans. I insist on side pockets, period or not. Saffron full-sleeved blouse I’ve had for decades, with a laced-up vest and a belt pouch and beret = RenFaire. Dark red cotton knit sweater over a short-sleeved shirt = Holiday. That skirt (now with my friend to redo the hem, since it came out floor length) will be my Festival Wear forever.

  152. Isabelcooper: re “cut-out sleeves” – a pima cotton long-sleeved T-shirt (L.L. Bean, pricey but festive) in a contrasting color that looks good with the dress. Idea courtesy of 500-year-old fashion pics.

    Kwo – there are plenty of books on medieval technology and lifestyles written by serious medieval studies experts. I just gave “A Time Traveler’s Guide to the 14th Century” to a friend, along with one on English life in the 10th century.

  153. John–

    Pertinent to nature as reality versus abstraction

    I find myself at an interesting, possibly conflicted, crossroads. On the one hand, I am pursuing, however gradually, a form of the strategies of simplification and disintermediation that this blog and its predecessors have long championed. (And the results to date have been undeniably positive.) On the other hand, I am a technical professional and a mathematician/analyst by training. My job involves symbolic manipulation, abstraction of data, and quantitative analysis. In any event, there is certainly a tension between these two aspects of my life.

    And that tension will continue to build as the two paths continue to diverge. Obviously, greater simplification, divestment of possessions, and lower-tech operations in the home-life take me in one direction. My professional life, on the other hand, continues to, shall we say, progress. As one case in point, we (the utility I work at, that is) are in the process of converting our meters over to AMI (automatic meter infrastructure), which will provide all kinds of operational benefits for the electric system–more granular information on power flows, customer usage, voltage levels, etc. Among other things, it will allow us to operate the local grid much more efficiently and to develop the kind of demand-response programs needed to reduce over-all electric consumption. This project is going to result in an enormous amount of data. And I will be one of the primary people responsible for sorting through and analyzing that data, which is going to require me to learn a lot more about the “big data analytics” and similar techniques that were mentioned up-thread.

    What makes the challenge all the more interesting, of course, is the fact that the analytics and complexity involved are being used in support of a cause that I’d say is “good” over-all: namely the efficient, reliable, and cost-effective provision of retail electric supply on a cost-of-service basis. (Not to mention that we are municipally-owned, and thus work directly for the benefit of the residents/customers rather than shareholders.)

    So, how to keep a foot in each world…?

  154. It is a divisive tactic to inveigh against bourgeois hypocrisy as it manifests among climate change activists. As with any other broad-based movement, climate change activism is stratified in terms of commitment and authenticity. Why single out the least committed or least authentic individuals (like Al Gore), if not to exacerbate already existing divisions? The same tactics were used against the 60’s counterculture, where the mainstream media took to ridiculing “weekend hippies” instead of reporting on those who were undertaking genuine lifestyle transformations. A more useful approach would be to highlight the massive corporate and political support for climate denialism, which, trading upon the hoary tradition of Know-Nothingism, has succeeded in discrediting experts (like Michael Mann) and thus misleading the public.

  155. Hi JMG,

    “Nobody is going to come and get rid of anthropogenic climate change, either—not without putting a full stop at the end of the entire galaxy of extravagant energy-wasting habits that are treated as normal by modern industrial society.”

    Wait…aren’t “they” supposed to come up with something soon? I’m sure you chose full stop for its punch but it’s really more like modest reduction isn’t it? What about Hydrogen?

    I realized long ago that only Gandhi-like leadership from privileged first-worlders would suffice in this quest to “save the planet” as a suitable habitat for billions of civilized humans. As you have eloquently observed, this project has been an abject failure so far. Even now in the face of nearly constant climate disruption and calamity, I can’t say I feel too optimistic about our privileged elite’s capacity for course correction or having a ‘change of heart’ transformation en masse. As Gil Scott-Heron foresaw nearly 50 years ago ‘the revolution will not be televised”.

    Very pleased about the future direction you’re planning and hope you’ll consider posting twice monthly on the new theme. Thanks for the outstanding work…now on to the community commentary. Solstice blessings to all!


  156. @Jessi Thomson,

    I can see how I failed to communicate my thinking. It’s especially hard on the internet where it’s much easier to put people in preassigned boxes.

    I know some groups of people managed to live in balance with nature for a while and that proves my point – their life was not a stable strategy in the face of other groups that “cheated” by destroying nature for short term gain. Just like the existence of this website does not stop climate change.

    As for your other arguments, I can see we are talking on different levels. Since I don’t understand human nature, I prefer to talk at the physical level – energy, resources, strategies. I don’t know or care what people’s motivations are (I think they are a post facto rationalization anyway). Same with us “choosing” how to behave.

    All I know is what I see from history – some people change when the environment changes and drags them along (other people just die). It’s great that we can adjust to lower energy use, how does that prove we “chose” anything?


  157. @DT,
    the problem with the Handmaid’s Tale is the implosion of Christianity in the west. It’s only in the delusions of the most rabid TDS sufferer that Christian fundamentalism is taking over. Out here in the real world, church attendance is plummeting and a lot of the working class are embracing Norse heathenry and other non-Christian religions.

  158. Iuval Clejan, the issue is not industry as such. People will always need tools and bricks and clothing and so on. It’s the WASTEFUL industrial society we have which is the issue. That is, energy and resources are so cheap we waste them. If petrol were $20 a litre nobody would drive 1km to the shops, and there’d be no mangoes here in Victoria in winter. If oil were $1,000 a barrel there’d be no plastic wrapping on anything but surgical instruments to keep them sterile. If natural gas were expensive then more farmers would engage in crop and livestock rotation.

    And so on. When energy and resources are cheap, they are used wastefully, which means more pollution than is necessary to achieve the actual purpose. We can argue about what is and isn’t wasteful, but it’s obvious that when things are cheap they are used more thoughtlessly than when they’re expensive.

  159. “You’ve got the cars, glass and plastic bubbles isolating the passengers from the world, rushing down concrete freeways from one climate-controlled venue to another, and you’ve got the airplanes that are designed to maintain the same isolation over longer distances.”

    This and the three paragraphs describing our disconnect from nature are lovely.

  160. Speaking perhaps more generally, but reiterating points JMG has made in the past, the Yellow Vest protests now spreading are a good example of elites and middle class trying to offload the costs of their lifestyle onto others. In France and Canada carbon taxes have been imposed, hurting workers whose use of fossil fuels is not discretionary (because they’re employed as truck drivers, oilfield workers, etc) – but without giving them an alternative.

    Tobacco and alcohol taxes work to reduce consumption because you don’t have to smoke or drink. But a flat carbon tax doesn’t reduce fossil fuel consumption by itself, since in the end you do need to get to work, get food and other goods which may be grown or made far away, etc. If you make one option more expensive then you have to offer other options. In urban areas if it’s too expensive to drive people can use public transport, if the food from this shop is too pricey you can simply buy from another shop, in rural and outer urban areas this is not so.

    This disconnect between the elites and middle class, and the working class, is an old one. As this article [] puts it,

    “Some at the rally wore yellow vests: standard safety clothing for workers in the province’s tar sands fields – but also the symbol of the French protests which began as a revolt over an environmental fuel tax and morphed into an anti-establishment movement against low incomes and tax inequality.”

    Carbon taxes to deal with carbon pollution lead to protests over poor wages and taxation. New solutions to new problems lead to the old problems popping up once again. It might as well be 1776 with the British government raising revenue in North America to pay for the wars which made North America English-speaking, not French-speaking.

    This disconnect gives rise to the conflicts and tumults JGM talks about a lot, and makes it unlikely we’ll have a smooth transition to some sort of solar-PV autonomous car cyberpunk urban utopia.

  161. @Brian R
    I have to be careful in my wording here, since our gracious host probably would not allow my reply if I used the australian vernacular that i would consider an appropriate response.

    Are you for real mate?
    your post displays a callous and parochial view of the world that simply boggles my mind.

    How do you think your statement about climate refugees and survival of the fittest would go down in a Pacific Island nation that stands to lose a significant fraction of their land?
    So the tongans are unfit because they happen to live on an island?
    Take a trip to say Nukuʻalofa and repeat your theories in public there.
    Don’t expect to leave the island with the same amount of teeth.

    Another thing you forget is that the world does not only consist of the USA where people can move relatively freely.
    There are political borders that are hard to cross.
    And climate change will benefit some on one side of a border and hurt some on the other side.

    What if the Russians all of a sudden can grow rice in Siberia whereas the chinese cant anymore on their side of the border?
    I am sure the Russians will be happy to let a few 100 million chinese into their country just out of the goodness of their hearts.

    There will be winners and losers, and on a planet that is packed to the rafters, this is not a good thing.

    Furthermore, as our gracious host pointed out several times that it is not a good idea, to mess with a system that we depend upon with our lives, but we dont understand very well.

    There is a line in the “Operating Manual for Humans” that says “before expressing opinions make sure that the brain is fully operational and informed”.
    Well if there isnt, there should be.

    But as you said, climate change is not a problem for you.
    And that is really all that matters, isn’t it?
    Shame about the other 7billion+.

    So just because you dont like the alarmist extremists you deny the whole message?
    Falling for propganda much?

  162. methylethyl:

    I learned to sew under the watchful eyes of two grandmas who were both exceptional needlewomen and I’ve been sewing since kindergarden. Here’s how I was taught to set sleeves: first of all, do not try to set a sleeve into anything that has the side seams already sewn. Pain in the butt. Working flat is much easier. Sew the shoulder seams, press neatly, then work on the sleeve. Run two (not one) rows of long machine basting stitches on the cap edge of the sleeve, one inside the 5/8″ seam allowance and one outside it so your final seam will be in between. Two rows draw up much nicer and more evenly than one. Make sure you mark the exact top of the sleeve on the sleeve fabric (the pattern will have some kind of marking to show you where). Then gently pull up the basting stitches so the sleeve cap is even, pin the center of the sleeve to the shoulder seam (if it’s a dropped shoulder, check your pattern for the exact top of the natural shoulder) and then work outward to the underarm. Sew carefully, remove the basting, trim and zig zag to finish the seam, press; only then should you pin and sew the side seam from the cuff of the sleeve through the underarm to the hem of the shirt. After a little practice you should be able to do all this in a couple of minutes. Obviously it takes a little longer if you have to match a plaid or stripes, but you need to lay out the pattern carefully to do that right. Voila! Your sleeves are done!


    That must be my problem: I’m not a drinker. In fact, sometimes when my husband complains about one or other new project I’ve started, I remind him that I could always take up drinking instead. Always works.

    I’ll also second the recommendation for Folkwear patterns. I really like using them. Some of the historical ones can be a little complicated and require a bit more sewing skill, but they’re worth the trouble. Another good place to get accurate historical patterns from many eras is Amazon Drygoods (no, it’s not at all related to that other Amazon),

  163. @David btl re: simplification vs. complexity

    I think simplification and self-reliance is overemphasized as a means to decrease fossil fuel use – and I say this as someone who believes strongly in self-reliance anyway.

    It is very easy to burn more fossil energy growing corn in one’s own garden than buying frozen/canned corn that was industrially grown in Iowa and shipped a thousand miles by truck and rail. All it takes is a few passes with a gas rototiller and a few 20-mile trips to a garden store for seeds and fertilizer and the balance is tipped.

    Most large-scale industrial processes are more efficient, in terms of energy in vs. energy out, than equivalent home- and community-scale processes. I believe in localization as a principle of resilience, but it’s equally true that regional-scale wind, solar, and hydroelectric facilities can beat home energy on an EROEI basis and so ought to be pursued.

  164. Carlos, I’m delighted to hear about the “one month rule.” That seems like a sensible codification of my strategy of applied laziness!

    Drhoove, I think you’re quite right about the disconnect. As for the recent sunspot minimum, yep — I’ve heard the groans of anguish in the pages of QST, the ham radio journal here in the US, at low sunspot numbers and the resulting decline in conditions for good long-range radio contacts. The thing is, of course, that nobody knows what drives the vagaries in sunspots, and nobody knows which way it will go next.

    Pogonip, the inhabitants of this planet really are strange, aren’t they? 😉

    Ramaraj, thank you.

    Kuanyin, there’s no one answer to that, as so much of it depends on personal talents and local conditions. Certainly swaggering around boasting about one’s low-carbon lifestyle is a bad idea! I’d encourage you to try different things and see which of them seem to get good reactions, and go from there — knowing that you’re basically exploring unknown territory at this point.

    Scotlyn, understood. I’ve come to think that there’s quite literally no idea too absurd for some worshiper of progress to propose…

    NomadicBeer, it sounds like a lovely way to spend a childhood. I’ve also lived in such conditions, and enjoyed them immensely, so I don’t think you’re romanticizing things at all. Why do people go camping in primitive conditions, for heaven’s sake, if not to take a break from the excesses of modern life?

    Jean-Vivien, many thanks for the update on conditions in Ecnarf! I’m delighted to hear that “degrowth” is continuing to get traction on your side of the pond; that’s very cheering — though I’m sure you’re right that when it becomes impossible to ignore, that reality is going to be traumatic for a lot of people to deal with.

    Tripp, many thanks. If I ever put another one to the sword, I’ll keep that in mind!

    JillN, thank you. You’ve just earned tonight’s gold star for raw common sense.

  165. I think one other factor ought to be allowed for in this analysis. The way the broad public finds out about climate change activism is through the mass media, and the mass media, particularly here in the USA, are funded by commercial advertising. In other words, their entire business model is based on convincing their audience to buy more stuff. Real climate change activism is, to a considerable extent, about convincing people to buy less stuff. It is exactly the message that the mass media least want their audience to get. So, given that they can’t just make the issue disappear, it is in their interest to publicize only ineffectual climate change arguments and activists, and to generally do all they can to defang the movement. Thus, everyone’s heard of that joke, Al Gore, and pretty much no one outside the Green Party demographic has heard of Heather Jo Flores, the best known figure in the Food Not Lawns movement. There are plenty of activists like Flores out there, walking the talk at the grassroots level, but you’ll never find out about them from the mass media or any other branch of Corporate America.

  166. Thank you for deciding to take your blog in this direction. I’m thrilled. I frequently read, think about, and wonder how we as a species, a civilization got so separated from Nature. In fact just a few days ago I wrote during one of my musings that we really don’t see the life all around us in the world and have surrounded ourselves with lifelessness that masquerades as life.

    I worked for six years recently in an acute care hospital. While working I would marvel that the only living beings in evidence aside from the humans were the microbes, and we were in constant battle against those with hand sanitizer and the gloves and gowns. There would be occasional flowers or small plants in patients’ rooms brought in by family and occasionally a volunteer with a dog in tow making the rounds for some “pet therapy.” Every room had a TV which was always on in 99% of the occupied rooms, even in the rooms where the patient was comatose or unable to grasp what was being displayed. We would often have to mute the volume in order to accomplish a treatment with the person, get them to pay attention to us, and sometimes patients would adamantly refuse treatment because there was a game on or some favorite show. Despite the healthcare that was happening there, it didn’t seem like a healthy place.

    The summer this year here on the Colorado Front Range was hot and very dry. I live in the country on three acres of rocky hillside and have an off-grid water system that is sourced from a spring on the mesa above me. This summer was so dry that the spring slowed down to a trickle in June. I had to conserve and decide where to prioritize the water. I chose to use most of it to keep the plants and trees alive and stopped taking a daily shower, took “navy showers” when I did, reduced the frequency of dishwashing, clothes laundering, mopping, and obsessively monitored the water level in the cistern and on the hill. I did this successfully until the water finally ran out in mid-September. It was a challenge, and I was determined to see how long I could last on the trickle while keeping the trees and gardens alive. It was an interesting summer living within the means of what Nature was providing.

    Because of the hot, dry summer and the warm fall, the trees around here just seemed to give up this year. Instead of turning color, they turned brown, and the dried up, brown leaves remained attached to the branches for the longest time. What struck me about this was that no one seemed to notice. People I spoke with, from the beekeeper who keeps bees on my property to my mother’s neighbors in town, thought we were experiencing an early fall. They noticed nothing amiss. I don’t think most people see the natural world. I’m not sure they can really have a sense of climate change because they aren’t seeing it. They only experience it as an article in the newspaper or the Internet or a program on the TV, something that may or may not be happening somewhere else. It’s something remote because most people still have a house with water and electricity, a car, a bank account, are able to buy food, go to work, engage in all the normal daily activities that they have been engaging in whether it’s hot or cold, rainy or dry.

    Something I have been mulling recently about this phenomenon, human separation from and ignorance of the natural world, is that perhaps it is partly because, like dogs (another very social animal), the most important thing in the world for a human is other humans. Family, books, TV shows, politics, work, play, sports, parties, and all kinds of get-togethers, we are mesmerized by other humans to the exclusion of other life and the very world that we depend upon for our survival. Everything that is not human is secondary and subordinate to us or is simply discounted or ignored, a sort of narcissism of the species, if you will.

    Anyway, may you and Sara and all the members of this online community have a pleasant and satisfying Alban Arthuan.

  167. @Tripp,
    RE: conversation w/older gentleman. We must be running in different circles. Whenever I explain the “JMG approach” of fractal collapse, end of civilization, it’s roundly ignored.

  168. Kiashu, I wasn’t blaming industrialiation in my comment for anything, but trying to discuss strategies of how to live in tune with nature. The issue I was bringing up is whether it is better to cut off all ties to industrialization and live within nature, to pretend to be contributing to an ecological lifestyle by reducing one’s consumption (while really not making much impact), or to be fully aware of one’s dependence on industry, while working on transcending it, by focusing not only on consumption, but on a different mode of production than industrilization, and a more local economy.
    I think we have different definitions of industry. Artisanal craft and peasant production is not my definition. A system which substitutes large and expensive (despite the cheapness of petroleum) capital machines for labor and cheaper tools in order to make mass production economical is my definition. That system also has the side effect of cutting off the feedacks between natural processes and people. And yes, it would not be able to function without cheap petroleum, or some other cheap and concentrated energy source.

  169. @Pogonip,
    your wish may be (partially) granted: Trump announced he will pull out of Syria–that still leaves Afghanistan, Iraq, and all the other bases scattered all over the world…

  170. A tale of two narratives:

    The anti-nature narrative: Screw Mother Nature. She’s an abusive parent. Do we really need to rehearse all the plagues, natural disasters, bodily frailties, etc. etc. to which humankind has been subjected? “Living in harmony with Nature?” Yeah, if you think being an abused child too frightened to fight back is evidence of a harmonious family life. For millennia, we tried to propitiate nature with varieties of witch doctor con jobs, and for the great majority of us, life continued to suck. Finally we discovered Science (oh yes, and soon after, oil.) Fast forward to the mid-twentieth century and you have significant numbers of people (mostly Westerners) that were finally able to live as proper human beings. (And to drive an iron horse down Route 66 was very heaven!) And now, it may well be the case that humanity’s (ok, a favored portion of humanity) glorious holiday is coming to an end. Fine. Let’s be like Thelma and Louise and drive the car over a cliff rather than allow our descendants to return to a Dark Ages never again to be dispelled by “ancient sunlight,” once again in the thrall of some BS clergy, this time holding forth the banner of Gaia. (I’m reminded of Anthony Zerbe’s character in “The Omega Man,” the Charlton Heston version.) Let’s instead raise a giant finger to nature and say, “For millions of years you whipped us from pillar to post, but for a few precious centuries, some of us lived as humans and not frightened animals. And we’re not going back to our previous servitude. And good luck trying to evolve a new species of slaves, we’ve trashed the place pretty thoroughly.”

    So why should we don the hairshirt and repent of our lifestyle? For what? To make the world safe for the 5th century again?

    If the climate activists want us to dial back the lifestyle, they need to off a better vision than prolonging misery.

    The pro nature narrative: Needless to say, such a narrative imagines us as separate from Nature. Here’s another narrative: So-called primitive peoples were in fact much more superbly adapted to their natural environment. We seem to need a variety of prosthetics, from shoes to spectacles. It’s almost as if were visitors to this planet. What if we took greater control of our minds and bodies? Regulating our body temperature rather then keeping the thermostat at 72 degrees? Energizing our immune system rather than swallowing pills? Signaling our “status” with the degree of our self-mastery, and the depth of our friendships? (There was a brilliant Outer Limits episode of a future Earth where the people lived very simply but had mental powers great enough to repel an attacking spaceship.) What if we have been disempowering each other? And nature, rather than being the culprit, is the source of our empowerment? What if certain abilities (the whole range of psi) have been discounted, creating a huge blindspot in our understanding of nature? What if nature is a parent misunderstood?

    This current, new “Old World” is on the way out. Are we going to be like the survivors of a devastating war, with a nihilistic impulse to end it all completely? Or are we going to be more like immigrants to a better country, missing the old life, but looking around at the kids, laughing and playing and enjoying their fresh lives, and saying to ourselves, “It’s going to be fine.”

  171. Beyond walking the walk, man made climate change people might have better results if they were also supportive of working people’s wages and standard of living . These same lot have arbitraged wages down by a huge amounts for decades in end and new taxes just seem to a lot of people like another grift designed to impoverish the rest of us and make them rich.

    When your fertility rate is at an all time low despite the youngest generation being the largest in American history you clearly have a problem. And while there are people who understandably chose small families this is not the norm. It starts to smell like class warfare as passive genocide to some of us

    That said I’m not sanguine about making real change, it would require banning large scale trade over time, rationing automobile use and shutting down most data centers and the Internet to actually reduced energy use enough to matter.

    Worse, if the West doesn’t use the energy, someone else surely will if they have to take it.

    The same applies to pollution issues, the US and Europe aren’t the source of most of poorly handled the plastic. That stuff is from China, India and elsewhere. We actually recycle a lot of our waste or bury it.

    This means somehow getting them on board when the very trade we have with them is energy intensive and will have to but cut off.

    Good luck with that.

  172. Kiashu, I’ll be interested to hear if he responds…

    Averagejoe, delighted to hear it. You might be interested to know that one of the writings of Ross Nichols, the founder of OBOD, has come to play a large role in shaping the ideas we’ll be discussing in future posts.

    Martin, I’d encourage you not to worry about moral superiority. Just keep on living your life and setting a good example.

    Iuval, you can choose how deeply you involve yourself in industrial society and how much use you make of it. You seem to be treating participation in industrial society as an all-or-nothing thing, and to my mind that’s profoundly unhelpful — if you look at it instead as a matter of degree, and look for ways to decrease your dependence and to end your participation in particularly destructive or egregious aspects of it, change becomes an option.

    Stinkhornpress, delighted to hear it. Thank you.

    Yaj, fair enough — we’ll be discussing all this in much more detail as the conversation proceeds. The short form is that we’re not actually separate from nature — we’ve just deluded ourselves into believing that we are. Stay tuned for more!

    Stinkhornpress, good. That’s a keeper.

    Dunc, remember that I run with a lot of people in the nature spirituality scene and in a lot of fringe political environments as well. What I see, with only minor exceptions, is that there are people who are changing their lives to cut their ecological footprint and deal with the future we’re making for ourselves, and then there are people who are engaged in climate change activism…and very few people do both. Maybe there are huge numbers of climate change activists who walk their talk, but I’m not seeing them, and not just because I pay attention to the mainstream media (hint: I don’t).

    Shemp, I’d encourage you to read The Ecotechnic Future and Dark Age America as a good starting place. Thanks for asking!

    Greg, I’m scratching my head trying to make sense of this. It’s as though you’ve suddenly up and forgotten everything I’ve written about during all the years you’ve been reading my blogs, and are reinterpreting this week’s post as reflected in a funhouse mirror. No, I’m not saying the things you think I’m saying; perhaps in future posts you’ll grasp that.

    Tude, delighted to hear about your backyard garden! The weird way that everyone’s ready to admit that they’re part of the problem, but so few people are willing to consider the possibility that they could become part of the solution, is something that needs discussion and close study.

    David, and now word comes that half the US troops in Afghanistan are coming home, and Secretary of Defense Mattis has resigned. Things seem to be in for a major shakeup on that front!

  173. Archdruid,

    Fear of nature is an accurate description of the problem, but that fear isn’t unfounded. To quote Tennyson, “Nature, red in tooth and claw.” The development of our social traits, the founding of our cities, and agriculture were all adaptations to an incredibly harsh and often unforgiving world. We created two distinctions the near wilds, that is the part close to us which relatively more liveable, and the far wilds, that awesome space that fills us with dread and wonder.

    The near wilds are livable because enough of us gather together to put our energy at holding back some of the dangers of the far wilds. The chance discovery of oil gave us quite the advantage which, no matter how short lived, has had a profound impact on our ability to deal with the wilds.

    Modern society has stripped us of most of our survival skills, destroyed the environment to the point that we could not survive in it, and weakened our bodies to the point that they attack themselves.

    For a communal species to survive or respond to a crisis means to maintain our links to our community, and to maintain our links to our community means to signal the virtues of the community in word and act. If the words and actions of our community are preventing a response to the crisis, then our only option is to remove ourselves from that community. Of course once we leave the community, we’re once again facing nature largely with the tool kit our community gave us, and in many cases that tool kit is an empty bag.

    It takes a specific kind of personality to be able to step out into the edge of the near wilds, that personality develops through a process of socialization, reflection, karma, and dumb luck. It takes a specific kind of personality to inspire others to act as a community and step to the edge of the near wilds, and the same factors go into developing that charismatic personality.

    The over whelming majority of people will act as a group, and not before, because not everyone is a capable or comfortable living as close to the wilds as people on this board seem to be.

    In that context it isn’t remotely surprising that so many among us seek to form a communal response to the current crisis, and keep failing on their faces.

    Okay, we make changes in our own lives…then what? I feel like this is the biggest piece missing from your critique.

    But of course you were writing a critique, not an instructional booklet. 😉



  174. @Carlos M,
    that “one month” rule is also useful in quitting smoking, drinking, or any other addiction. “I’ll smoke (drink, toke) later,” and when later comes, you simply repeat. (This from someone who quit 12 years ago, and just recently had the urge to pick up an entire cigarette he found on the ground.)

  175. JMG, didn’t you predict, earlier this year, a big military shake-up?

    Also, the most important religious rite of the year is coming up for the natives: the “Super Bowl”! 😄

    Isabel, Anthony Richards sells long, bias-cut holiday-plaid skirts.

  176. For everyone asking ‘how do I live with nature?’

    It’s not that difficult. Why would anyone think you have to have a yard the size of the Pisgah National Forest* to be worthwhile and everything else is a waste of time?

    If you have a window box or a balcony, you can support a tiny ecosystem. I’ve fed birds on the 32nd floor balcony of an apartment tower. A patio-sized yard in a condo can support a large array of plants and their accompanying critters.

    If you have any green space at all, quit trying to poison everything alive and grow some native plants. Your plants feed your soil and support a miniature zoo. It grows, it thrives, it’s alive. Give that life a chance. Local gardeners in your area will be overjoyed to talk to you about what they’re growing.

    Turn your green space into an ecosystem lifeboat. I have done this in two states. Yes, when I move on, someone else might cut down my forest. But in the meantime, I’ve ensured a habitat for birds, a wide variety of critters, and a multi-legged zoo.

    Who knows where the next species will evolve from after our human-induced catastrophe? Something might come out of my backyard because I provided a haven for as many plants and animals as I could.

    Teresa From Hershey

    * George Vanderbilt built his castle, the Biltmore Estate, in Asheville, NC. His backyard was and is the Pisgah National Forest.

  177. I recall a discussion on one of the old blogs about how the world is in fact the were-old or human-old, that which we are able to perceive and interpret, and is inevitably circumcised by the inputs and our tools to grapple with those inputs. I wonder then at the smoothing out of experiences and therefore the paucity of inputs living in as artificial an environment as possible. How much poorer the tools of interpretation when they lack both raw grist to process into fine meal for consideration and lack use so they are doubly poor at adjusting to even the most modest increase in use, say from unexpected inputs. I then wonder if this is part of the insanity of peak-Faustian culture, for it would seem that this way of being uniquely human, uniquely Faustian, would drive one to smooth away as many inputs as possible to aid the ultimate conquest by Man. So you have a culture and therefore a uniquely constructed and uniquely circumcised world view that creates a positive feedback loop of enfeebling its members – to conquer all that is not me I must simplify the conditions I face as much as possible, but doing so makes me ever less able to respond effectively or at all to any future perturbations, thus I must simplify my inputs further.
    JMG and others have commented in the past on the biophobia inherent in much of modern society, at least in America. Is that Faustian culture rearing its head, specifically in the U.S. trying desperately to act out the pinnacle of the Faustian world-view? The Magian religions typically state the Creation is (or was) good even if the One is the center of focus; might trends otherwise be marks of Faustian pseudomorphosis? So then, if biophilia or at least bio-realism is a desired goal of a future culture is one of the explicit goals of this blog then to seed nurse plants for that culture in the form of religion(s) and relations with gods amenable to fostering such a culture to emergence? Given the depth of Magian structure in much of fly-over country how does that play into the new wine in old bottles issues mentioned above?

  178. Hi Teresa from Hershey,

    My cousin lives not far from you. Does Hershey still smell good, or is all the candy made in China now?

  179. Monkeywrench, I’m not at all sure why climate change is the cause du jour when so many other environmental issues of equal importance are being sedulously ignored. You can be sure that the ecosophy I have in mind goes far beyond esthetics!

    Taraxacum, I think you’re missing the point. For political solutions to be an option at all, those who advocate for them have to demonstrate their willingness to walk their talk. If you try to use politics to make changes you yourself aren’t willing to make in your own life, you’ll get exactly as far as climate change activists have gotten over the last 20 years.

    Brian, I’m glad to hear that you’ve grasped the reality of anthropogenic climate change, and you’re quite right that some climate change activists have plunged into unjustifiable apocalyptic fantasies. That said, it seems to me that you’ve swung to the opposite extreme. The evidence from paleoclimatology and especially from glaciology argues that we’re facing drastic disruptions — sea level surges far more severe than what’s happened so far, shifts in climate belts that render agriculture problematic over vast areas, and more. Of course our species will get through it — we got through the equivalent temperature spike at the end of the last ice age — but there’s likely to be a lot of dieoff and a vast amount lost over the five centuries or so ahead of us.

    Prizm, excellent. Nietzsche’s comment points straight toward why ecosophy, not just ecology and ecotechnics, is essential just now.

    Mac, I’ll certainly offer a definition when it becomes useful!

    Anima, nothing is easier than to get people to approve of a vague slogan such as “green new deal.” Check out recent events in France if you want a measure of how well that goes over in practice when the actual costs are included.

    Daniel, of course hypocrisy is only a part of the picture, and I said as much in my post. The divide between what you’ve termed optimist and pessimist approaches to climate change is real, but irrelevant to the core theme I was exploring, which is that people who decry climate change while continuing to lead lifestyles that foster climate change are shooting themselves in the foot, because — whether or not they’re hypocrites — they look like hypocrites. In an age marked by a crisis of legitimacy, advocates for change have to model the changes they want others to adopt. Could that be done from an optimist standpoint/ Sure — if Al Gore had built an earth-sheltered, solar-heated, partly windpowered mansion, he’d be riding high today, and so would the movement. The fact that George W. Bush lives in a more ecologically sustainable mansion than Al Gore does is a fine measure of the problem.

    Tripp, good for you. I had similar experiences while doing peak oil speaking gigs back in the day.

    Ruth, excellent! Yes, and I’ll be discussing that in quite some detail as we proceed.

    Shane, I’ve been watching that with some fascination. Clearly at this point Trump feels he can get away with yanking the Pentagon’s reins good and hard. That suggests there’s been a significant shift elsewhere in the DC power structure. Interesting times!

    Walt, that’s a fascinating point. It sounds as though they’ve gotten disconnected from material reality as a whole.

    Dennis, true enough.

    DT, and it’s crucial to realize that the point I’m trying to make is not that everyone should move into an unheated tent in the woods somewhere and survive by subsistence gardening, or what have you. The point I’m making is that nearly everyone in the industrial world can use less energy, and less of the products of energy, than they do now — and that moving in that direction has a cascade of advantages, among them the fact that it convinces other people that you really do take your beliefs seriously.

    Kwo, get a couple of good social histories of medieval nations and find the chapters that talk about the workload of the peasantry. It’s been a while since I did the reading in question and I don’t have titles handy, but the data was remarkably consistent.

    Caryn, thanks for this! I wonder how long it’s going to take before mechanical cash registers start coming back into use — first as backup, you have one or two of them over at the customer service counter, so that you can still make sales when the power goes out; then bit by bit, as it becomes clear that they’re more reliable and less costly than the fancy computer terminals, some stores start using them again, and away we go. That’s happening with certain other technologies already…

    Mark, many thanks for the data points! You’re right about energy footprints, too — it’s been my repeated experience that most people have no clue how much energy they’re using.

    Ben, no, I’m not at all saying that individual action is the only strategy that matters. I’m saying that it’s the foundation, the strategy that makes other strategies possible. Of course you build other strategies on that foundation — but if you don’t have the foundation, if you don’t walk your talk, the rest of your strategies are going to go nowhere because people will reject you as a hypocrite. The climate change movement has tried everything but personal example, and we’ve seen how well that works. How about trying something that has been proven to work instead?

    Eike, thank you! I’m delighted that you enjoyed it — and my plan, from the beginning of the project, was to make each of the novels different, with a unique perspective and varying viewpoint characters. I hope you enjoy The Weird of Hali: Chorazin when that comes out.

    David, that’s one of the basic challenges of our age. We all live with one foot in the past and another in the future, and just now past and future are diverging more sharply than usual.

    Douglas, I love the phrase “divisive tactic.” It denounces something on no other basis than that someone has gotten upset about the thing denounced, and it allows you to ignore the key point of the post, which is that climate change activism has been spinning its wheels for twenty years now because its spokespersons haven’t been willing — for whatever reason — to walk their talk. If that’s divisive, so be it — it’s also true, and until climate change activists grapple with that, they’re going to keep on failing.

    Jim, no, it’s not a matter of modest reductions. The best estimates I’ve seen suggest that renewable resources can provide, at most, maybe 15% of current global energy supplies. An 85% decline in energy availability is close enough to a full stop as makes no difference.

    Terry, thank you.

    Kiashu, nicely put. Here again, if the carbon taxes were handled in ways that spread the burden more fairly, it would have been less of an issue, but when Macron handed the well-to-do a huge tax break and then piled on carbon taxes that would hurt the poor and working classes disproportionately, he guaranteed an explosion.

  180. Joan, fair enough — and it’s also true that the author of the diatribe I discussed in my post is a journalist, of course.

    Yanocoches, many thanks for this. I think you’re on to something very important — and I wonder how long it will take your neighbors to wake up to the fact that they now live in a high desert environment….

    Shane, don’t give yourself airs. 😉 Neither you nor any of my other readers is responsible for the vagaries of my writing!

    Greg, good. Of course you know that given a choice between two narratives, I’m going to offer a third…

    Simon, good. You’re getting warm.

    Varun, trust me, I’ll be getting to the “and then what?” as we proceed.

    Pogonip, yep. I note also that a big prison reform bill got passed, as I predicted, and industrial hemp has just been legalized, as I also predicted; let’s see if Trump makes it three for three and gets legislation through to turn marijuana regulation back over to the states.

    Teresa, thank you for this burst of sustained common sense.

    Buzzy, I think you meant to use the word “circumscribed,” but I have to admit your comment about our “uniquely circumcized world” has a certain epic vigor! Thank you. More seriously, yes, exactly. We’ll be getting much further into this once the conversation proceeds in the new year.

  181. Hi John,

    My post was in no way an attempt to state the things I think you’re saying. “A tale of two narratives” refers to my own musings, triggered by your post, but mine all the same. With that in mind, let me try to be a bit clearer and take a different tack:

    The modern world is an artificial ecosystem (Orlov’s “technosphere”) that survives at the expense of the biosphere. It’s been around long enough that most of us are now maladapted to the biosphere, including many climate change activists. And the biosphere was challenging enough to begin with. Indeed, some of us could not survive at all without our glasses, hearing aids, medicines and so forth. It’s as if we have slowly turned into aliens having an increasingly uncertain foothold on a planet were attempting to colonize.

    Nihilism is one temptation: believing we’re all “on the beach” and ecological destruction will eventually drive all of us from our precarious settlements. Nothing to do but drink the last champagne and exit before it gets too bad. Or in some ways worse, we manage to survive but as serfs in a neo-feudal world. When climate activists–particularly the high-profile ones–don’t walk the talk, they risk reinforcing a sense of futility…or a sneaking position that they’re positioning themselves to be lords of the castle.

    Trying to walk the talk, in any arena of life, is humbling. And it also leads to the discovery of solutions that actually work. What if climate change activists saw themselves as fellow addicts who, in their own struggles to get clean, have found a few helpful things that may–may–help others as well.

    In searching for new ways of life that are sustainable over the long haul, it’ll also be helpful to develop our full range of abilities, including psi.

    Hopefully less head scratching this time around.

  182. To expand on Mark L’s comment of Dec. 20 at 1:28 p.m., the situation for the Columbia River (and its tributary rivers) salmon has become dire in my mind. Salmon, trout and related species require water temperatures below 69F in order to survive, per studies cited this summer and fall in the Yakima Herald. Studies this year found that water temperatures of the Yakima River were 82F for about 6 weeks due to climate change. (Yakima is a notable place: average air temperatures in Washington have increased about 3F in the past 50? years. Or was it 100 years? Anyhow, one of the 2 measuring stations used is in Seattle, the other in Yakima, WA, where the increase in average air temperature was 5F!)

    As many of the Snake River tributaries are in climates similar to that of the Yakima River and have similar water flows and depths, I would guess that water temperatures in the Snake River tributaries also exceeded 80F for substantial periods this year.

    Columbia River salmon runs were very low this year, and are projected to be even lower next year. Sport and commercial salmon seasons on the Columbia River were reduced this year. Even seasons for Native American tribes were shortened, which cut into the livelihood of several of my in laws.

    Additionally, several sea lions have made the fish ladders at the dam on the Columbia near The Dalles, OR their home. Why? They sit around the fish ladders and wait for salmon to come out, then enjoy a feast. These sea lions are captured, tagged and then released between San Diego and Monterey on the California coast. Within a month, the same sea lions have returned to The Dalles, where they renew their enjoyment of the salmon smorgasboard.

    A solution to this “problem” has been proposed by the state of Washington: start shooting the sea lions.

    Some nasty rhetoric from the Seattle area has also been in evidence regarding removal of the 4 Snake River dams: just install a few wind towers and solar panels and you’ll be fine. And when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing, just suck it up and get tougher. A recent letter to the Spokesman Review in Spokane suggested that the dams on the rivers that provide Seattle with more than half its electricity should be removed, so that the salmon can return to those spawning grounds, and that Seattle can add a few wind towers and a couple solar panels and suck it up when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing!

  183. LIghtening your footprint is also cheaper. Our TV has a picture tube and we’re perfectly happy with that; in fact, we are not looking forward to when it dies and we end up with one that spies on us. All our appliances are even dumber than I am. The cell phones have the locators turned off, not that they’d be much good anyway; you may remember the poor soul in Boston who died of asthma 20 feet from a locked emergency room door. The various systems involved couldn’t pinpoint her location and led emergency personnel astray.

    There’s upsetting surveillance footage of a nurse stepping into the ER doorway and peering into the surrounding darkness, trying to spot the lady. What do you want to bet that nurse’s Performance Metrics only allowed her to go X feet from her station for X minutes and that she was subject to some sort of monitor? Dumber is not only cheaper, it’s also safer.

  184. @Greg Simay Wow, brilliant analysis! Do you have a blog?

    Remember when JMG said in one of his short stories on ADR “they went into the forest expecting Nature to open her arms; instead she opened her jaws”. I love that line so very hard.

    RE toothpaste: I take a couple tablespoons of baking soda, moisten with some kind of oil (olive, coconut, vegetable oil, whatever) and add 1/8 teaspoon stevia and a drop of mint or cinnamon essential oil. Stir it up and then spread a little on your toothbrush to brush. Lasts a long time and you don’t ever have to throw out those awful plastic tubes.

    Also, to stop teeth from decaying at night, squeeze out the contents of approximately half a calcium pill, the soft kind with a gelcap for an exterior. Stuff the paste into any area where your teeth are prone to rot and between your cheeks and gums. Don’t rinse until morning.

  185. The idea of separation from the bare-dirt reality of the physical world sounds like an earthbound remnant of Gnosticism.

  186. Hi John,

    Just realized you were referring to a different Greg regarding the “funhouse mirror” comment. But my misuderstanding did lead me to the idea of activist as recovering addict (from the technosphere). If I ever do become an activist, that’s the approach I’ll take. It has the great advantage of being true.

  187. G’day John Michael,

    Yeah, I’m no fan of David Moscrop’s thinking, if only because it is a bunch of wombat poo. Except that wombat poo is far more useful because it marks the territory of the fine beast, and is also one step closer to converting plants into fertile soil than the hot air produced by such arguments as Mr Moscrop’s.

    Anyway, I marched against the first war for oil, way back in the day, and then kept on driving and so have had plenty of time to dwell upon the folly of that particular strategy. I decided instead that Gandhi was onto something and I’ve learned it takes a long time to learn to live with less stuff whilst beginning to produce stuff yourself.

    It takes extraordinary courage to step away from the goodies and entertainment (bread and circuses to quote the Romans) that are provided to those who follow the dominant narrative. And at the same time it is extraordinarily foolhardy to read something like “The Limits to Growth” or “Overshoot” (my personal favourite discussion on the subject) and pretend that it somehow all doesn’t matter or won’t apply to yourself.

    The funniest story that someone recounted to me about climate change activism, was when they remarked to me that they wrote a really important letter to the Greens political party on the very subject whilst on an aircraft between Melbourne to Hobart. I almost burst out laughing, except they were serious and probably would not have understood my uncomfortable laugh.

    Not to nit pick, but I’ll be enjoying strawberries fresh from the garden in January! 😉 When I lived in the big smoke, I really never gave the weather a second thought. Nowadays, I tend to feel that having a seven day forecast is a miraculous thing, and I watch the weather and forecasts like an eagle (excuse my unintentional pun)!

    A correlation has also been observed recently that lack of direct sunlight exposure has also caused an increase in those auto-immune diseases and that the incidence of them increases the further people are located away from the equator.

    Getting back to nature hardly means ‘going back to the caves’, as was suggested by a politician down here, it simply means enjoying less stuff. But there are upsides and downsides to that. Of course people have forgotten that there are also downsides to the stuff – and who wants to talk about those?



  188. @ JMG, Tude and everyone
    I´ve meant to ask a few questions and raise a couple of issues about this post, but after reading all the comments I realized they have been asked and raised by others and explained and elaborated on skillfully by our host (i.e. our embeddedness in the industrial system and the need to make compromises and to earn a living). I, like others here, am certainly looking forward to future posts and discussions along these lines.
    Tude said: ´´It’s interesting the reactions you have gotten with this post, it seems to have rubbed a few the wrong way, proving we all know we are part of the problem..but strangely so many of us don’t want to admit we are part of the solution? ´´ I think that´s true for a lot, if not most commenters here (I include myself on this) and it´s good to get some acknowledgement from others. Being self-criticial is all well and good (and necessary), but sometimes one has to remind oneself: No,I´m not perfect but at least I do some things and I´m willing/planning to do more in the future.
    So thank you JMG for this post, and thanks to all those thoughtful commenters here, and a happy soltice to everyone.

    @ isabelcooper: About 25 years ago I used to go to medieval markets a lot and even played some medieval music with a few friends, and I needed a costume to go with it; so I got some sewing patterns and some old clothes that I could take apart to see how they were cut, along with some second hand material and leather of the right strength and colour and started to make one.
    It´s easier than you´d think ! When I wasn´t sure about a pattern and/or I couldn´t copy or alter the cut of some existing old clothes (as was the case when I tried to make fake bucket-top boots), I did a paper version first (smaller scale) to see if it would look right. What I always needed help with was sewing it all together because I couldn´t (and unfortunately still can´t) operate a sewing machine, although I already got one and definetely want to learn how to handle it soon.


  189. G’day John Michael,

    Almost forgot to mention that: one thing that surprises me about living the way that we do – People invariably comment that: Oh my god, you work hard! What they don’t quite understand is that it is really a lot of fun to do all of the infrastructure building activities that we do here on the farm, and my lady is also involved in all of these activities. And yes, I also mean that observation even when the work involves digging and moving soil by hand for hours on end.

    There is a real pleasure to be had in dreaming up an idea for a chunk of infrastructure on the farm. Putting in the sweat equity and materials to make the dream a reality. Feeling satisfied at the completion of the job. And then enjoying the benefits of that infrastructure. It is a really satisfying feeling. The raspberries and strawberries this year have been beyond my expectations and they’re all part of that story.

    Oh, and top shot ol’ chap with the woodchucks. A thoroughly organic approach to garden invaders! I trust that you use that sword for other purposes? 😉 My dogs would sort out those woodchucks and that is what they get paid for.

    Fencing is not an all or nothing thing on a farm. I have long since suspected that farms are entirely fenced off (and I include plants and insects as well) because yields have dropped, and that a bit of predation pushes marginal into uneconomic territory. I let the wildlife run riot through most of the farm and garden, and have slowly learned how to live with them all. The chickens (foxes, dogs and eagles and owls) are entirely protected from predation as are the grapes and strawberries (birds and every known marsupial under the sun). It is not possible to raise or grow those without excluding everything else that would want to eat them. And even then, the chickens free roam through the orchard at times and insects, frogs and small reptiles have access to the strawberries. I do have I keep some crops in fenced off areas, which only keeps out the marsupials, but everything else has access to them. Does the wildlife do a bit of damage and take some of the produce, sure, but they bring benefits too such as converting plant material into soil as well as spreading fertility throughout the general surroundings. The wildlife also importantly spreads the soil life forms and the tiny little critters that nobody wants to think about into and from the farm. The diversity of life on the farm is quite extraordinary and it is getting more complex all of the time.

    As to the question of the hours worked by Medieval peasants, mate, I tell ya, if a farm is set up reasonably well, and the soil is fertile, then the plants largely grow with very little extra work. Especially if the plants have been selected to grow in that area for many successive generations. That is a job that people should be getting their heads around, like as in now. Most of the work I do here is building infrastructure – the plants really do look after themselves most of the time (and I don’t have access to huge quantities of water with which to spoil them either).



    Isabel – My understanding on that subject of fashion is that it wasn’t that long ago that people used to make their own clothes. There is something to be said about having the skill and equipment to sew and repair clothes. My lady tells me that because women (and males for that matter) are no longer taught sewing skills, that they often put up with very poor fit, cut and materials in their clothes. I can’t speak for your experience in this matter, but I see a lot of low quality stuff being churned out.

  190. Alright, I don’t think this is going to be a popular view here, but I feel compelled to speak my mind: Is it really a bad thing that we’ve distanced ourselves from Nature? As Hobbes so wisely noted all those centuries ago, life in a state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Why would we want to go back to that? You can argue that the modern world isn’t that great either, or that it’s all subjective, but what’s absolutely not subjective is the fact that infant mortality rates have gone down by almost two full orders of magnitude: Afghanistan has an infant mortality rate of 112 per 1000 births, the worst in the world, and that’s still 3-5x better than the 30-50% infant mortality rate that Medieval Europe had. And Afghanistan is an extreme outlier; most developing nations have infant mortality rates in the low double digits, and most developed nations have infant mortality rates in the single digits. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that global hunger is down, global poverty is down, crime and war are becoming increasingly less common, standards of living are constantly rising, and so forth. The fact that we have massively fewer people dying of disease, starvation, exposure, and violence is an enormous point in favor of modernity.

    But even leaving aside all the horrors we’ve at least temporarily put behind us, what about all the wonders that modernity has blessed us with? People now have more agency than ever before, at least in the sense that they have more control over the course of their lives, rather than being forced into predetermined roles (noble, soldier, peasant, blacksmith, housewife) determined for them by society at birth or during childhood. People now have a vastly greater array of opportunity and choices and experiences available, with more foods to try and more places to visit and more fashion styles to experiment with, and a much greater variety of entertainment available in both form and content. People are now more comfortable than ever before, to the point where most people in developed nations never have to suffer from hunger or from prolonged exposure to the elements. And psychologically speaking, people in developed nations are increasingly becoming more empathetic, less inclined to violence, less inclined to discriminate against other races and nationalities and religions, more tolerant in general.

    Admittedly, all of these things are somewhat subjective; there will always be some who complain that not having predetermined social roles deprives people of their sense of purpose, that having more choices just makes people more stressed out, that people’s lives should have some adversity to give them meaning. I’ve heard most of the opposing arguments. But agency and variety and plenitude and comfort and safety and empathy are all things I value nonetheless, and now that we’ve finally gotten to a reasonably good place, I really don’t want to see all of that slip away.

  191. Hi Tripp,

    Something you mentioned bounced into my consciousness, and I have long since wondered about it. Since I started blogging, I’ve had very pleasant chats with people from your lovely country. One thing that stands out to me is that most of the food preserving techniques I employ rarely use freezing as an option. I understand that our climates are vastly different, but freezers haven’t been around for that long, so it might not be a bad idea to think about how to get around the necessity for such a machine. Dunno. Something for you to consider.



  192. JMG,
    My ‘modest reduction’ comment was intended as sarcastic humor…I don’t want you to think I’m a clueless liberal! I think we’re headed for a total reduction in energy consumption of at least 50% (probably a good deal more) which is way beyond even imagining for most first worlders. We’re in for a wild and very bumpy ride down the ragged slope of decline and the most useful adaptations will occur on much smaller scales. The whole global civ/nation state led project has been a cruel hoax. There is no brighter future ‘if only we’ do this or that. Seems to me we’ve already struck the iceberg. Still the band plays on, for now.

  193. Am loving the sewing/fashion resources–thank you, everyone!

    @Beekeeper: Hee! I have a couple hobbies, and impulse purchases involving books/pastries/cheese, where the phrase “…look, it could be cocaine,” comes up as the occasional justification. 🙂

    On medieval peasants:

    Essentially, while I might not have much love for the Catholic Church, they pretty much mandated that everyone stop work on Sunday, plus holidays and saints’ days. The shift in seasons meant that there was a fair amount of time when people *couldn’t* work, or at least that work became mending harness in front of a fire while listening to a storyteller, rather than being in the fields or out with the animals. And the workday itself usually wasn’t that urgent–you did what you needed to do, and there was no concept of “productivity”. (If I ever find a time machine, I’m gonna locate the person who came up with that concept and take a crowbar to their sensitive bits.)

    As with many things (the worst aspects of gender roles and the insistence that everyone was cut out for heterosexual reproductive monogamy come to my mind, because biases) the Victorians/Industrial Revolution exacerbated tendencies which, while not *great* in the centuries before, became pervasive and awful during and are continuing to this day.

  194. John–

    Re “one foot in the future and one in the past”

    Your casual, albeit very true, inversion of the standard assignment of those two references made me laugh. Well done, sir!

    It offers a vastly refreshing perspective to see my work-life focus as residual past technology that will simply have to be managed for a while longer…

  195. @Kwo and anyone interested: Former Monty Python member Terry Jones is also a professor of (medieval) history and did a brilliant BBC series called ´´Medieval Lives´´, available on youtube.
    Here´s the link to the episode ´´The Peasant´´ in which he confirrms exactly what JMG said; there are a few other misconceptions of medieval life that he deals with: very informative (and entertaining) to watch!

  196. WRT David Moscrop and his ilk, I think they are bright enough to know perfectly well that serious austerity is going to be necessary to rein in climate change, but they want some governmental entity to impose it on everyone simultaneously. A high-end academic or media professional who reduces or seriously cuts back on flying is going to be at a serious career disadvantage compared to peers who do not. But if everyone has to do it, then relative status ranking within each discipline (i. e., employability) will be virtually unaffected. Thus, they want to have their cake and eat it, too, to keep their present social rank and earnings potential while also getting credit for saving the world.

  197. Very evocative essay – the first thought it raised in me was about a blogger who goes my Mr Money Mustache (link: – now there’s a guy who knows how to appeal to our vanity! Retired at an offensively young age by not buying tons of useless crap? Who wouldn’t want to rub that in the neighbor’s face? He clearly prefers renovating houses and taking long bicycle trips with his family to updating his blog, but it’s still a great source of inspiration – I wonder how well known/liked he is with this community.

    That actually brings me to something much more relevant to the topic of ecosophia – I think there is a really weird relationship in a lot of environmental circles to wealth, particularly among the more spiritually inclined. To make a Tarot metaphor – it seems like a lot of people who generally play quite well would rather fold a good hand than play a round in the suite of coins. Which seems to me a glaring oversight – coins corresponds to the earth element after all, it’s the humblest but also the most stable of all domains. People conversant in the suite of coins are generally grounded, sensible people, something we would all like to see a bit more of in our neighbors. I wonder whether the disconnect from our own finances is part of the same process you’ve pointed to, a desire to flee from the gross, much-too-apparent world of physical existence.

    The lives we live certainly promote a kind of disconnect from the earthy parts of the universe and a flight into the more fiery and airy parts. I’ve been thinking lately about possible societies and the relationship between spiritual and economic leaders. Right now at least, both spiritual and economic realms seem to be suffering from the flight from nature you mention.

    On a tangential note – your comment about Umwelt got me thinking about a weird distinction in the word Nature. In German the word Natur clearly brings to mind the outside world, while the English nature is often contrasted against nurture, and meant to signify something internal. There seems to be a desire to avoid exploring the external world altogether, even to make it disappear in some way, that seems very tied into this whole thing.

  198. While there’s no doubt that emitting millions of years worth of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere is going to have its effects, I note that acopalyptic doom is relatively rare. The earth, life, tends to survive.
    In any event, I prefer the abyss to the violent tendencies of the fear-mongers and their pseudo-religious persecution of ‘deniers.’

  199. JMG,
    I think Trump’s setting himself up for reelection by a landslide, considering how many campaign promises he’s keeping. If he manages to remove cannabis from the Schedule I list, I could easily see him doubling or even tripling his African-American vote percentage–cannabis decriminalization and prison reform overwhelmingly affect the black community, and the tariffs help the black working class.

  200. I also question the hubris behind the thousands of politicians, bureaucrats and assorted hangers-on jetting to Paris and other exotic locales in order to claim a sure and competent grasp on the world’s thermostat. Does government and its lackeys really possess the means to finely control planetary temperature? I’m more than a little skeptical.

    In the long run and speaking firmly to your point JMG, people living like I and many other readers do will have a greater impact – no car, modest living (by choice), thoughful purchasing, minimized contributions to the waste stream. These things might actually make a difference.

  201. John–

    OT (with apologies) but re Syria, Afghanistan, and the establishment losing it generally

    Shake up indeed! Witness the sputtering condemnations and prognostications of woe in this small sample:

    And, to top it all off, former CIA director Brennan has reduced POTUS to air quotes, openly asking Republicans how long they will allow “this farcical ‘presidency’ to continue”.

    Of course, the CIA working to overthrow a government is hardly anything new…

    Interesting times, man, interesting times.

  202. Sigh, you predicted it JMG, but the way ppl here are throwing around things like “solar panels” and “electric cars” as if they’re any kind of solution or represent any kind of conservation of resources shows me that “renewables” are the next fracking.

  203. @dfr1973,
    or, I should say, “before the Boomers and Silents sold out and decided ‘Greed is Good'”, (actually the Silents just conformed to whatever everyone else was doing and blew wherever the winds of society blew…) 😉

  204. Your cockroach metaphor… good. And can be extended to people’s actions towards Trump. They shriek and threaten him and everyone he touches with lawsuits and criminal filings. It is how they view his supporters too – cockroaches to be stomped out and eliminated. No good comes from them.

    I for one as thrilled we are pulling back troops, Mattis resigned showing respect for office of President and therefore cilivian control of military, and the government could be shut down over border security. Its a Merry Christmas. Happy Soltice to all!

  205. John–

    A bit more on-topic this time, re nature, energy, and data flows

    Reflecting on my previous comment re “big data” analytics, one of the things that is quite apparent is that our current industrialized civilization increasingly depends on constant, timely, and massive flows of data. Projections of the future, with its smart-cities and the like, double-down on the trends to date, extrapolating growth in these flows forward.

    And yet, nature herself manages even more vast flows of data across systems, from the global biosphere (and beyond?) to regional and local ecosystems. A talk by Michael Phillips, the author of Mycorrhyzal Planet, that I attended at an organic farming conference this past February comes to mind: he spoke of the incredible networks of soil fungi which communicated among trees and associated companion plants, transmitting nutrients and information re infestations.

    So my question is, if nature is already doing this and in a way that is obviously sustainable, is there a way in which we could mimic and/or borrow from that data flow, in lieu of the energy- and resource-intensive system we have today?

    As I think on it, I’m really talking about voor, aren’t I? 😉

  206. One odd thing I notice about climate: everyone seems to act like things are the same as they were years ago, even though they’ve drastically changed. People move from California to KY and complain about how “cold” the winters are, even though KY winters are now as mild as Calif. winters were (seriously, 50s-60sºF, light jacket weather). People in Ontario talk about how “cold” the winters are, even though they’re probably getting Kentucky winters of 30 years ago now.

  207. Here’s a thought: the whole trope of “if you are going to stop using any one energy wasting aspect of the modern world you must stop using them all of else who are you to judge?” has an overt and the covert message. The overt is “those in glasshouses shouldn’t throw stones.” The covert is quite a bit more sinister, it says without saying it, “if you are going to criticize Progress why don’t you commit suicide?”

    That always seems to be the implications; no industrial housing for you! No industrial food! No industrial job! Just rolling over and dying, fast or slow. Choose now! Death or hypocrisy? The label ‘Vampire Logic’ comes to mind for this style of argument. That is, it says in essence, “if you won’t join us at the table we will drink your blood!” Of course this is bad logic based on an emotional appeal to implied threats, but nonetheless it has infected most of the discourse on the green end of things.

  208. sinners in the hands of an angry Gaia! — I was thinking this very same thought a few months ago. I tend to recoil from anyone with that energy

  209. The realities of becoming more aligned with the forces of nature, thus possessing ecosophy is a bit intimidating. A drastically changing climate means having to develop ways of growing and preserving food which can be adaptable to a wide range of changes. It means being adaptable with your shelter. At any moment the forces of nature can take out our so called permanent structures. Having such adaptability means changes in our economic structures. All I can foresee are lots and lots of changes. That’s why learning to do with LESS as this and the previous blog have long advocated is one of the best ideas. How does one become an initiate of the LESS lifestyle, and a receiver/bridge of ecosophia? There is no doubt in my mind this motivating factor will involve some form of developing spirituality. Being of an area in which tamanous of strong, I can certainly envision a lot of monastic way of living in our future, some by choice, some because that is the only option which would allow individual freedom. A part of me feels very sorry for the children in these times. The changes can be difficult for some of them. But being a child also provides for a resilient spirit which may embrace these changes easier.

  210. In light of my previous comment, I think I understand the ideas of tamanous and sobornost a bit better. In Russia, those who are wanting to make changes are going out and creating communities. They’re working together. In America, this process is going to be very different. It will be the individual going out by themselves. Someone like Tripp, going out in the forest, setting up camp, creating a place to grow healthier foods and setting up the networks for distribution of the goods. It’ll be people reusing the wood, bricks, and metal of old structures to makes themselves homes or places of business. And this will keep happening until the seeds are planted and taking root.

  211. I believe that the most environmentally destructive institution on the entire planet is the modern financial system. The need for “money” to earn interest leads to even the destruction of the very soil that feeds us. I once was having a conversation with a man who’s friend had purchased a large farm. I wonderingly asked how a person could make such a purchase, considering the giant financial commitment, and was told, (direct quote here), that the payback would require “farming the dogs**t out of it”. Does the mortgage on your house require you to buy a car and spend 2 hours a day commuting? Sure it does. Your beloved “home” and it’s mortgage is really nothing but a bank asset, and a taxable asset for your local government. In our small town, you are not allowed to build a residence of less than 900 square feet, because the city needs you to build something that they can harvest for taxable revenue. Think of what we could accomplish with our lives if we weren’t bank slaves and tax donkeys. The OWNERS don’t want THAT.

  212. @John Michael Greer You are deflecting my point. The Yale study is only the most current. A great many polls show ordinary people have reached a consensus. The only people who haven’t gotten on board are corrupt federal politicians and mainstream media organizations bought out by the fossil fuel lobby. To that deflection: I disagree with your analysis of the Yellow Vests in France. The protest is a reaction to common people disproportionally shouldering a burden that corporations have evaded.

  213. The Yale study proved beyond a doubt that 92% of Americans are thoughtless and ignorant.

    So, in 10 years we are going to convert every house from #2 oil and natural gas, change all our cooking stoves, crush every car, truck, train, and ship, eliminate every plastic, every hospital, every pharmaceutical, change the entire supply chain, convert every factory, manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, and product?

    Call me pessimistic that that will not happen. If it happened, 200 million Americans would die in ten years because of it, as CIA research firm Deagle suggests: the greatest dieoff or mass-murder of all time, and all on purpose, when — even if inevitable — could be as gradual as the 1,000 year decline of Rome.

    But such is the state of our environmental activism today, where either the question, or the answer could be taken seriously to believe in a eternal happy mall-motoring future in a world having any law of thermodynamics.

    As JMG says, there will be no savior; there will be no sudden collapse. Like the U.S. economic collapse, and military withdrawal, things take generations longer than you think they will, and humans invent stopgaps all the way down. Don’t panic, you’ll all die of old age before a fraction of these things take hold. Live well because that is the right way and the best revenge.

  214. @Caryn,
    please tell me you’re old enough to know how to count change back the old fashioned way: $4 total, $20 given–hands a dollar, says “five”, hands a five, says “ten”, hands a ten, says “makes 20. thank you for shopping (Publix), have a nice day!”

  215. A lot of rural ppl have mentioned the dependence on cars. I wonder how long till we’re back to the reverse of what my grandmother witnesses when she saw the first car (loudly) go down Main Street, to the consternation and disapproval of all respectable onlookers. How long before some brave soul in a rural area braves the disapproving stares of onlookers and says “frack it” and rides their horse into town?

  216. For middle ages, there was a children’s book series suggested here by Rosemary Sutcliff. The movie version is “The Eagle”.

    I can heartily suggest Magdalena and Balthasar, a collection of german letters from 16th century

    Among the hundreds of false things it debunks about the Middle Ages, Magdalena — those horrible, powerless, wee women treated as mindless property by society, runs the business empire, while her erstwhile husband, ruler of all, is stuck on the road, beset by bandits, to tour the guild trading fairs, subject to hardship, cold, diease, and scarcely able to be home, much less have a say in business matters. Nor is this an anomoly, as it is true of his merchant family and friends.

    In short, things were pretty much identical to today’s small home business, and similar to much of the Middle Ages and even Rome — the stories you hear, the fashion, the customs, are all about the upper class, the billionaires, which are just as weird, disturbing, and unrepresentative of reality as today. Is “Couture” real life? Is “Cosmo”? The 99.99% real people have no time for that nonsense and are the same as always were. Ask Chaucer.

  217. Honestly, I wonder how much the Clean Air Act and CARB (Calif. Air Resources Board) actually “saved” the environment. It’s been noted that a lot of pollutants (hydrocarbons, NOx (nitrous oxides), SOx (sulfuric oxides), particulates) are either not greenhouse gases, or actually COOLING (reflect infrared energy). So, older dirtier cars actually emit FEWER greenhouse gases b/c they emit more hydrocarbons, particulates, NOx, and SOx and less CO2. CARB likes to brag on its website how much smog it has eliminated while VMT (vehicle miles traveled) has increased exponentially. Imagine just how different things might have been global warming wise if instead of “cleaning up” factories and cars, we’d say “fine, you want clean air? Stop driving so much and buying so much useless crap!” It’s interesting to me that Americans were way more amenable to conservation in the 70s when cities were choking on smog and lead poisoning than today, when those things have been “engineered away” through technology.

  218. Will J and I have talked about this, but localities that are going whole hog on “renewables” are making their electric grid more fragile and subject to interruptions. Except for areas that benefit from abundant hydroelectricity, you can either have renewable, intermittent energy, or fossil fueled, consistent, always on energy, not both. As JMG has mentioned, renewables only provide 15% of our “needs”–so if you want a modern industrial lifestyle, you have to have fossil fuels.

  219. @JMG, RPC

    I’ve been thinking about RPC’s comment and your reply regarding making lifestyle choices that allow you to pursue other goals. Maybe this is one way to encourage a reduction in consumption and energy usage, even if the environment isn’t the primary motivator for the individual. For example, foregoing a car or line drying clothes is great for reducing energy consumption, but would you and RPC have done these things anyway because it allowed each of you to pursue unrelated goals? In your case, the freedom to work doing what you enjoy doing and in RPC’s case the ability to avoid debt. Was the benefit to the environment a primary motivating factor for your choices or just a great side benefit?

    Perhaps it’s possible to convince some people to change their lifestyle for reasons that benefit them personally, but also have the side benefit of reducing their carbon footprint. By reducing consumption and the need to maximize earnings to fund that consumption, people may realize a whole range of other options become available to them. You and RPC touched on some of those options.

    Not quite a collapse in lifestyle, but perhaps it can be called voluntary downward mobility. Since it’s voluntary, you won’t get the yellow vest protests by people on whom the government is imposing downward mobility. Probably the people that can least afford it and have a significantly smaller carbon footprint anyway.

  220. @Jessi,
    honestly, a Depression is the only solution to a lot of our problems, and, based on the collective consciousness, I think it is inevitable at this point. There’s just something in the air right now–it is palpable, and you can feel it. Besides, we’re on the verge of another 20s, and if the last 20s was when the 20th century arrived in full force, I don’t doubt that the upcoming 20s will be when the 21st century makes its presence known in no uncertain terms. First of all, a Depression is the only proven method to reduce income inequality in the US. The gap between rich and poor collapsed during the Great Depression, and it stayed collapsed due to social democracy until the Reagan counterrevolution brought the Gilded Age back. Since so much of global warming is tied to trade and consumption, a Depression is the only proven method to sharply reduce consumption. Right now, in the West, age distribution is dangerously skewed to the old: old, post-productive, retired people living on welfare (Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and their equivalents in other countries). As others have mentioned, these people came of age during peak prosperity and (mostly) have no useful skills to offer for living in leaner times. A Depression, by destroying the US$ and other bloated Western budgets, will eliminate old age entitlements, and most Boomers will simply not be able to survive leaner times w/out their entitlements, and their absence will lift a considerable burden and drag on Western societies. Keep in mind that the average Westerner, particularly Americans and Canadians, consumes way too large a share of the world’s resources, so having fewer Westerners helps reduce Gaia’s burden. Lastly, as has been mentioned, most people in the West, particularly the US, have a death wish regarding living in a post-progressive society. A Depression, by accelerating the already existing opioid crisis and helping out Santissima Muerte, will eliminate those people who simply can’t envision another way of living, thereby freeing up resources for those who DO have a will to live in a society in decline. JMG has mentioned how the Black Plague enabled the Renaissance. By the same token, would the Russian ascendance we’re witnessing now have been possible without the surge in mortality and plunging birth rates that accompanied the post-Soviet era? Russia HAD to see the die off of those who could not envision a post-Communist world in order to be in the position they are in today. Honestly, it’s a shame that Faustians can’t just “go quietly into that good night”, but I guess they just wouldn’t be Faustians if they didn’t fight it tooth and nail, and biophobically fear death till the very end. Myth is reality.

  221. @ Pogonip

    Yes, the air really does smell like chocolate. However, I’ve been a resident long enough (17 years) that I don’t generally notice anymore.

    I can see the Reese factory (on Reese Avenue) from my backyard where they’re making Kitkats and peanut-butter cups even as we speak. The new chocolate factory on Old West Chocolate Avenue runs three shifts daily. I can see this factory from the upstairs windows. The old chocolate factory on East Chocolate Avenue (just past the intersection with Cocoa Avenue) no longer makes chocolate. It’s all corporate headquarters.

    As you can see, Hershey Co. still makes tons of chocolate in Hershey.

    In addition, M&M Mars built a factory in Elizabethtown just to the south to make Dove chocolates, Snickers, and M&Ms.

    Hershey has its problems but it really is the sweetest place on earth.

    Teresa From Hershey

  222. About setting in sleeves, allow me to add to Beekeeper’s excellent instructions:

    The line of gathering stitches which are sewn OUTSIDE the seamline can be done by hand with a small needle and embroidery thread, use fairly small stitches, 1/8″-1/4″, to get a good gather. That way, you don’t get visible holes showing in your garment.

    I wholeheartedly agree about working flat. I like to sew the top of the sleeve to the bodice back and front from notch to notch–assuming you are using a commercial pattern. Then I sew and finish the side seam and then I sew the under arm part of the sleeve to the garment.

    About the Moscrop article, am I the only reader here who hears warning bells? For what it might be worth, I think a good hard look at Mr. Moscrop’s associations and sources of funding is in order. Anyone who believes he is going to Vegas for any kind of relaxation has obviously never been there. OTOH, Vegas is a good place to get up to all sorts of mischief while remaining anonymous. Maybe it’s just a bit of wife cheating. Maybe.

    Of course the vituperative language does not change minds, nor is it intended to change them. It is a tactic borrowed from the Angry Right Wing, who have been using it to great effect for decades, and its’ object is intimidation, not persuasion. It is a tactic which can be effective if your side has massive institutional backing, which the ARW does have from business and finance. Revolutionaries are well advised to maintain a courteous and elevated tone until they get into power and then the purges and exiles to Siberia can begin.

  223. @Ashara: For the most part, I totally agree about agency and empathy and so forth. As our host’s frequently said, the opposite of one bad idea is another, and I think getting away from the cult of growth/progress via a worldwide regression to pre-modern attitudes* would absolutely qualify. Whatever happens, I do hope we can keep notions like “the minority you don’t like still did not cause the bubonic plague,” and “no deity worth worship cares what you do with your own body, so long as you don’t apply it nonconsensually to someone else’s except to survive or help others do so,” and “you should probably keep the well and the privy a fair distance apart.”

    For that matter, I have five root canals, no fallopian tubes, and a much-loved (though it would embarrass us both to death if he ever saw this) father with an artificial aortic valve. There’s much about modernity that I like a lot, and that I hope we can keep around in some form or other.

    That said, I think being mindful about what we do now–each using “applied laziness” and figuring out which forms of comfort and entertainment and choice will really make our life better, and is worth the cost, and what we can cut otherwise–gives us the best chance of saving more of what we’d like to carry forward. Life is triage for everyone and every system, and, for me, it’s a good idea to keep that in mind.

    * Although they, too, vary considerably: one of the things that I’ve learned both from writing sort-of-historical romance and from watching debates with guys who get *real* whiny about video games and comics is that women and nonwhite people were around a lot more even in medieval Western Europe, and doing a lot more stuff, than the popular history admits. And once you get back to the Vikings, or Rome, things get even more complicated.

  224. Many thanks for the post John

    I do not know in US but here in Spain talking about “less consumption” or any related de-growth message is immediately assumed to be a kind of crypto-communist agenda, specially from the right, but also from the (not far) left.
    The standard comments are = “if you want to live sorrounded by misery, please, go to Cuba with your friends” or “communism fails to defeat capitalism spreading prosperity and freedom, and now they want to defeat capitalism masqerading as environmentalist policies, but we know very well who they are and what is the occult purpose of their preaching when they talk about “limits” and “sharing the burden” of de-growth to save the planet”; and of course all the rest of the standard ranting about North Korea, Cuba, and Pol-Pot, etc….you know…

    In the case of the more leftists party in our parlament, the Podemos party, they have in the program to achieve a “green-sustainable-environmental-friendly-solidary” growth of GDP of around 3,5 – 4 % per year, not bad at all eh?. But we need to understand that Spain was a poor country in the Franco´s time and the memory of the misery in large portion of the elder population makes much harder for anybody to assume the de-growth message, and also with the ascent of the precariat recently make the talk about degrowth a very bad joke for millions of people, who are de-growing exponentially, specially when everyone see a small part of the population is now much more wealthy than before

    Also if we tal about the CO2 footprint of the citizens: each french emits around 4,6 TnCO2/year, a spaniard around 5,0 TnCO2/year, an american 16,1 TnCO2/year, a german 9,6 TnCO2/year and a chinese is 7,7 TnCO2/year; and people in the mediterranean countries (France, Spain, Portugal, Itally), are asked to decrease the CO2 footprint “dramatically” when the big polluters per capita make nothing specially US and China with 1500 millions inhabitants

    For example after the crisis of 2007 Spain has decrease the CO2 emmisions per capita around 35% (from 2005), Germany has decreased less than 8%, but as the target for the decrease in the CO2 emmisions for all the countries in the UE were specified by the germans with the year base of 1990, exactly when western germans started the dismantling of the old, carbon based and inefficient GDR industries, so it was very easy for them to decrease the emmisions and increase the industrial output and the consumption level of the country, but Spain was poorer in 1990 than now, so the required target for Spain, based on year 1990, is a nightmare for the industries and the population even if they are consuming and emmiting much less CO2 per capita than the germans; all of this together with the crushing austerity measures imposed by the germans to the southern (lazy) countries is making people very angry with the recent and very aggresives environmental policies (tax for fuels, cost of electricity, etc…) imposed by the UE (germans) compare with that of the big polluters/emmiters of the UE (Germany and other rich northern countries)

    These are the benefits of living in the “Great German Co-prosperity Sphere” formerly called “UE”


  225. @Taraxacum – Your post brought together many of the thoughts I’ve had in reading JMG’s article and the many comments. First, JMG’s response is right on target. Those who decry AGW without taking steps to minimize their own contribution to it lack credibility. And without credibility, their message carries no weight.

    I disagree with the clamor and urgency being pushed by climate activists. While I agree that the sooner we deal with this issue the better, I’m enough of a pragmatist to know that it’s just not going to happen in a 12-year time frame. Nor should it. Drastic measures are not likely to succeed. And in fact we will have no way of knowing whether the methods we adopt will succeed until we have experience with them, and that experience must encompass both the technical and the social aspects of their implementation. It is small steps delivering measurable improvements that will solve the problem, as you know from your own experience.

    Which brings me to the next aspect that I’ve been meditating on: Why do so many climate activists not walk their talk? You hear a lot about them being “hypocrites” but I think there’s more to it than that. For one, I think many are at a loss for what to do on a personal level. How many know how to garden and save their seeds? Not a likely part of your skill set if you grew up in either an urban or suburban area. How many have weatherized their homes, or even know how to? How many of them ride-share or choose to live in areas where bicycles are a feasible mode of transport. And speaking of living areas, it also occurs to me that most of us live in a society and physical infrastructure that assumes the use of personal automobiles and cheap, plentiful fuel. Schools, stores, workplaces, homes, and the economics surrounding these… all have been built out based on these assumptions. Living in a manner that bucks a status-quo that’s this pervasive can be a tough gig.

    But I see some encouraging signs. When I was a kid, our parents drove cars whose gas mileage was in the single digits. Now, most people drive cars that get three to four times that. Incandescent light bulbs are being replaced by LED lights that consume an order of magnitude less power for equivalent light output. (Yes, I know about the higher energy requiement during manufacturing, but still…) I am quite sure that many localities in northern areas are going to either require or incentivize passive solar heating in new construction wherever this would be beneficial. Many people now telecommute, eliminating fuel used for commuting entirely. And more and more regenerative agriculture groups are springing up all the time.

    AGW is a long-term global problem which will require a long-term global commitment. I understand the tendency on the part of climate activists to dramatize the threat, but IMO, that’s counter-productive. It will be steady effort on personal, community, national, and global levels that will chip away at this problem. If the problem is to be addressed at all.

  226. @JMG: Thank you for your reply. I will continue to meditate on this and see if there is any way I can either live in that place, or be okay with visiting less often. And, of course, I am still looking at ways to reduce in my everyday life.

    @wet dog: Thank you for your comment. I agree with a lot of the things you said. The place I long to be developed relatively recently, so its heritage of self-sustaining villages is still in living memory. I can’t help but wonder whether it would be a good place to live a garden-heavy “collapsed” lifestyle. Is your dream place the same way? If you are able to work online (with the time zone shift) then maybe you can figure out how to live there soon. I will continue trying to find a way to live there, and I wish you luck on your journey.

    @isabel: Thank you for your comment. I was able to reduce my flying down to only when I fly over water. Unfortunately I will never be able to take long-distance ships: I get sea sick too fast. I’ve done several long Amtrak trips, but they don’t go everywhere, and sometimes leave things to be desired (I’ve been on an Amtrak that ran out of water. I didn’t think to hoard the bottled water beforehand. We were only out for about six hours, so it wasn’t a big deal, but it still spooked me!). I am jealous of the train networks in Europe and Japan.

  227. Isobel and Patricia, I often find good patterns and quality fabrics at thrift stores and estate sales.

    Brother Greer, on the current kerfluffle about an extended solar minimum, a solar scientist friend of mine (her big beef with climate models is that they treat solar irradiance as a constant when it’s a variable, so there’s the disclosure of personal bias) has looked at the latest reasearch, which does predict the past well when run backwards, and which does say we ought to be entering a minimum. It should last for just a couple decades, and at most, if no other factors are involved, cause a short term temperature drop of no more than two degrees. Noting that other factors are, of course, involved, in our overall climate, and that the natural human reaction to a short cooling period is to burn more stuff, is left to us to observe.
    Of course, journalistic integrity being what it is, reading and understanding the actual published papers and the new model requires one to either get their own education in the subject or aquire a friend in the field who can translate scientist to lay person, and the sun will do as it does and confirm or deny the new model in the next decade. Quite timely, really, compared to the geological models I’m used to seeing!
    In any event, some journalist invented four-hundred years of quiescent sun, which is, no doubt, what the usual under-bridge brigade will glom onto, though this is not predicted by any scientific models whatsoever at this time.

  228. @Beekeeper and Nastarana:

    Thanks so much! I’ve only done a few sets of sleeves (very first set on my wedding dress– they looked fine, but took soooo long!), they always give me fits, and I will happily try out your suggestions next time around.

  229. Hi JMG,
    It seems that all the strong reactions to this post are invokedby you holding up a mirror to the (usually very) middle-class audience. As long as you were criticising civilisation or the enlightenment or the myth of progress in a general sense people found it palatable, but as soon as you exposed all of our culpability in this massive crime it hit a personal note. Almost a sense of “what are you saying, I’m one of THOSE people?”

    Which makes me think, there’s a very good set of cases to making de-industrialisation a winning prospect for the working class. Reducing consumption also imples more labour resourcing, resulting in more jobs and employment stability. Better urban planning and bringing back corner groceries and markets can go a whole way towards not only supporting small businessses and reducing our consumption but also improving quality of life. I wryly observe that most of the time the most liveable cities in the world, and the sort Americans and Australians love to holiday to are those which are walkable, compact and aesthetically beautiful. Well, why can’t we do that here? Sydney and LA had some of the largest tram systems in the world, and the core of these cities existed at least half a century before the motorised age.

    Another strategy is to approach paying for carbon output the same way we do progressive tax – target consumption towards middle and upper class activities. That starts with airline travel and the tourism industry (which you have pointed out). I am most culpable in this because I work for a major airline, and since I started in early this year I’ve realised that this industry is obsessed with ever-expanding metastatic growth. Removing all the infrastructure subsidies for air travel, perhaps even taxing it, and investing it in passenger rail would go a long way towards reducing the average consumption of a middle class person in a developed country. It’s important to note that people did go on cross-continental trips by ship up to half a century ago, and anyone who wants to experience another culture and country can do so if they can commit to taking a few months out of their time or find an adequate job opportunity. Of course, that can’t happen anymore because the corporate management class has squeezed us all out of leisure time, kept us eternally anxious and insecure in our jobs so that taking out time for ourselves is unthinkable anymore.

    Thanks for your work in giving everyone a reality check and I hope you keep reminding us that society is nothing but an aggregation of individuals and that every societal shift requires change at the individual level.

    Now I’m off to a holiday to Japan (what a hypocrite I am!) but it’s on a staff travel ticket so I only get on if there’s an empty seat – so at least I didn’t create any more demand for air travel (yes, yes, it’s rationalisation). This is probably going to offset my entire year of commuting by train every day.

    Happy Solstice, Christmas and New Year to you!

    P.S. @Chris at Fernglade: I remember a couple of years ago you hypothesized that rising sea temperatures could result in more precipitation for Northern Australia. Well, CSIRO has corroborated this and agrees with you that this trend is likely to continue:

  230. @ Dana

    Re minimum house size

    I attempted to get our code modified on the point, but received a goodly amount of pushback. Property values, particularly those of neighboring properties, were cited as a primary reason, along with neighborhood consistency. (Our minimum is only 800 sq ft, so not horrible, but could be smaller.) There is wiggle room to develop smaller homes under PUD (planned unit development) zoning, but not under standard residential zoning.

    That said, code can still be changed. I’d encourage you to look into serving on your city’s planning/zoning commission (or, if you’re truly a glutton for punishment, city council) and try to introduce new points of view. I’ve been on the plan commission here for over eight years and council for just under two. This whole thing is much more a marathon than a sprint, I can tell you

  231. I interrupt these comments to wish JMG and all of you who celebrate this holiday a blessed Solstice.

  232. Greg S., I think you got my response to someone else mixed up with my response to you. That said, the approach you’ve suggested seems worth trying.

    Pogonip, two excellent points.

    Goedeck, you know, that’s a very good point. A very good point. Hmm…

    Chris, no question, wombat poo is much more useful than hot air! And of course the downsides to the gizmocentric lifestyle are important to notice.

    Frank, what can I say! This blog has a great commentariat.

    Chris, oh, I know. I see a lot of people who insist that (say) gardening is hard work, who go down to the gym a couple of times a week to get the exercise they could have gotten digging garden beds!

    Ashara, that is to say, you’ve bought into the ideology I call the religion of progress, and like to contrast a view of the present that emphasizes all the good things with a view of the past that emphasizes all the bad ones. That’s your choice, of course — but what about the consequences of the fact that modernity depends on burning through vast amounts of irreplaceable natural resources, on the one hand, and treating the biosphere as one vast garbage dump on the other? Sure, from your perspective, things are fine now — but what about the ghastly consequences our present joyride is storing up for the future? A little empathy for our descendants, who will have to live with the mess we’re making for them, might be in order…

    Jim, thanks for clarifying! I don’t always get satire, especially online.

    David, just one of the services I offer. 😉

    Joan, interesting. That makes sense.

    Christopher, hmm! Yes, I can see that.

    Karalan, I hope you feel the same way when it’s your turn to be slapped by the effects of the changing climate.

    Shane, nah, I leave stroking to — well, let’s not go there, shall we? 😉 As for Trump, no argument there. Half the reason the punditocracy is melting down so spectacularly over these latest changes is that they know the vast majority of Americans (a) don’t want our troops to be stuck in a perpetual Mideast war, (b) support enforcing US immigration laws, and (c) think that it’s high time to accept the fact that people are going to smoke pot and that it’s no worse than a lot of legal drugs. A president who acts in accordance with those ideas is going to be hugely popular no matter how much the media shrieks at him.

    Karalan, no argument there. Leading by example is the indispensible first step.

    David, oh, they’re melting down big time. That a president should actually do what the American people want — sheesh!

    Shane, yep. Another point for the archdruid. 😉

    Denys, thank you. And a fine winter holiday of your choice to you and yours — and also to all those families whose sons and daughters in the military will be coming back from Syria in the weeks ahead.

    David, what you’ve asked is to my mind one of the biggest questions our species faces just now. Yes, you can call it voor if you like!

    Shane, no argument there. It’s December 21, I’m sitting here in New England, and rain is drumming on the windows. Rain, not snow…

    Violet, yes, exactly — it’s another example of the all-or-nothingism of modern thought, the insistence that if you don’t accept everything all the way over to one side of a spectrum you must accept everything all the way over to the other.

  233. ShaneW – according to this morning’s paper, the withdrawal from Syria is under way, and Trump has announced a partial withdrawal from Afghanistan. “Nearly half of our 14,000 troops,” it seems. (Erk. half-measures can give us the worst of both extremes sometimes. Oh, well.) It might even be that someone has informed him of what happened to every empire in history that ever tried to conquer Afghanistan!

  234. Shameless bragging: In answer to a lament on the NextDoor website about a car lock being remotely hacked by thieves, I offered this comment:

    “Join the wave of the future with items totally impervious to hacking!Garage door openers? I have a combination garage door opener/arm & back strength exercise machine. Lock no computer can hack? Similar in design to one taken from my bicycle when I gave up cycling. Car door lock? You have to be right there at the door in order to get it open, with a tiny tool made by the dealership especially for the purpose. Etc.

    BTW our own security agencies have taken to a form of communication which, again, cannot be hacked. The documents are created on a machine similar to a computer keyboard, but with no connection to the internet, and then delivered in a form which can be intercepted – but which requires mugging a courier in broad daylight in front of everybody.”

  235. @Pogonip: “[W]hen American peasants finally rebel, I hope the first one they jail for life is that so-and-so who destroyed K-mart!”

    That’s Eddie Lampert AKA Fast Eddie Lamprey, who also sucked Sears down with K-Mart, some of whose closed locations experienced an afterlife as Spirit Halloween locations, complete with homeless people camping out behind them.

    “At our local K-mart you could get durable clothes at a reasonable price. I have a summer blouse I bought there for $5 25 years ago that’s barely faded.”

    Looks like you had very good luck with clothes from Kmart. I’ve never heard as good a story about Walmart’s clothes or even Target’s. Sears, on the other hand…

    @isabelcooper “Lord, yes! Also Sears, which was the classic “this is not designer fashion, but it looks pretty good, will last, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg” place when I was growing up.”

    When I wrote over at Kunstler’s blog that the fall of Sears produced a level of nostalgia and despair among those who remember the chain in its heyday that never fails to strike me while I don’t know anyone who misses Kmart, certainly not as much as Sears, I was told that at least one person here missed them. That brought me back here. Thanks, Pogonip, for giving me a good counter-example.

  236. @ JMG: the extreme binary thinking frankly baffles me since it strikes me as profoundly untrue to experience, but then again, to be fair, it does seem like an exceedingly useful tool if one wants to avoid thinking clearly about painful, emotionally insoluble issues.

    @ Commentariat: If I may, I’d love to wish everyone a lovely solstice, a Merry Christmas, and altogether happy holidays!

  237. Yes! A return to your original intent is timely. There are always so many other things that come up, and while I don’t comment much lately I do read and value your opinions on various topics.

    Ironically I don’t really believe many will change their views of their relationship to nature, and certainly not quickly or voluntarily. It is generations now of conditioning, and few would even question the veracity of their ingrained views of what is normal. Yet it won’t be voluntary of course, as intertwined impacts of both climate change and economic collapse will demand change. Those forces grow by the day.

    Perhaps it is wishful thinking on my part, but through my kids (20 and 24) I sense a big change underfoot. A major rejection of the nonsense that is being portrayed as real in all the media forms they’re immersed in. I’ve no idea where that will lead or what the scale will be, but it is an indication of the timing.

    It would be good to have the concepts of Ecosophy thought through and prepared ahead of time. Then maybe if someone could be found who can write well could produce some good fiction to translate those ideas into a narrative that could be easily assimilated……

  238. Hey jmg
    A little off topic, but a dilemma that has been bugging me.
    If there was an energy source that was as good as carbon fuels, zero emissions and endless, like how people think fusion would be and you could choose to release it to the world now, destroy it or release it after a thousand years what would you choose?

  239. Thanks, Vince Lamb! Why did Sears not fire Fast Eddie? I never understood that.

    Our local K-mart also carried a lot of cute Halloween and Christmas tops at reasonable prices.

  240. BTW, I just fielded my first really funny troll for this post, insisting at the top of his well-developed lungs that I was claiming that all climate change activists ought to go live in wickiups, et cetera, blah blah blah. Clearly I landed one good and hard!

    Okay, on to comments:

    Ken, yep — it’s just as toxic in environmentalism as it is in religion.

    Prizm, good. Yes, we’ll be going there.

    Dana, fair enough. What do you propose to do about that?

    Anima, no, I’m not “deflecting” your point. I’m pointing out that your argument’s irrelevant, which is not the same thing, you know! Once again, it’s the easiest thing in the world to get people to say “yes” to a feel-good question on a poll, so it doesn’t matter a bit that you have a whole series of polls on which people have said “yes” to feel-good questions. Have climate change activists been able to turn that into success in changing people’s behavior, passing laws, and electing representatives who will offer more than lip service to climate issues? No, they have not — and they won’t, until they prove their sincerity by living the way they expect everyone else to live.

    Jasper, or simply that 92% of Americans will say “yes” to a bland feel-good question on a poll, knowing that nothing of the sort will ever actually be implemented so they don’t have to worry about the consequences! Thank you very much for the medieval references, btw; Rosemary Sutcliffe’s fiction — especially her Dark Age pieces such as The Lantern Bearers and Dawn Wind — catch the feel of a postcivilized world perhaps better than anything else I’ve ever read.

    Shane, interesting. I’m not at all sure that’s the only factor in the collapse of support for environmentalist causes, but it may be a contributing factor.

    Ryan, that’s exactly what I’ve been trying to encourage via my blogs and books for a while now, with modest but real success; the major obstacle has been that so many of the people who insist they love the Earth run like rabbits back to their SUV lifestyles if you suggest that maybe they might want to show that love by using fewer resources and producing less pollution.

    Shane, are you sure you meant a nutshell? 😉

    Nastarana, I figured that since he’s a journalist writing for a major Canadian corporate-media firm, his commitment to business as usual explains itself.

    DFC, thanks for this. In that case, Spain will have to make the transition the hard way. Of course most of the industrial world is going to do the same thing…

    Jane, you’re most welcome. I hope you can make it work.

    Sister BoysMom, fair enough. We’ll see if those models are right.

    YCS, of course! That’s one of the reasons I tend to make a beeline for topics like this one — it may make people uncomfortable, sure, but there’s a good chance that some of the people thus made uncomfortable will think about it, and address the aspect of our predicament they can change directly — that is, their own lives.

    Patricia M., and a very happy solstice to you and yours! A fine comment, btw — I admit to wondering what kind of reaction you got.

    Violet, and you’re probably right on target in pointing to the role of emotional avoidance in this whole business.

    Twilight, funny, I was wishing the same thing… 😉

    J.L.Mc12, I don’t know. If it ever happens, you can ask me then.

  241. John Michael, I can tell you that in these generations there is a huge split between those that buy it all totally, and those that reject it completely. Not much middle ground. I expect that in the years ahead many of the former will be left completely adrift as the illusions go poof and the real corporate faces are bared. That may tip the scales, leading to a big backlash.

  242. @Joan from Michigan

    Slightly off topic, but not really… Since you brought up Heather Jo Flores. I think she has some good things to say for sure, but after spending several hundred dollars signing up for her permaculture course and “women’s guild” I was disgusted by the constant man hating and offensive “progressive” politics that we are all discussing here. After reading several blog posts (not to mention the rants on facebook back when I was on there) ridiculing “deplorables” and spreading the same tired “Progressive feminist” BS, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

    For example this

    And possibly one of the most offensive things I read

    Now I was considered a far, far left wing radical, and extreme radical feminist for the last 30 years, and my views haven’t changed THAT much really, but it’s all just too much.

    In the spirit of this blog post, she needs to continue walking the walk in the permaculture space, and leading by example, and stop the holier than though BS and shaming IMO. I’m just not interested in hating or blaming men for all the worlds ills, nor searching out heretics, or calling people out, or blaming everything bad on Trump and/or the Republicans. I’m just so over it.

  243. Nicely written! It reminds of the first JMG post I ever read, almost exactly three years ago, on the occasion of a similar diatribe by Naomi Oreske written after the Paris COP21 conference.

    With regard to the future of our civilization, I suppose my approving or disapproving it doesn’t much matter, though I admit I rather like post-war European social democracy.

    Those who cite Hobbes on “brutish and short” might consider that Hobbes knew very little about prehistory or anthropology. He did know the contemporaneous civil wars, and his hypothetical state of nature served to justify absolute monarchy.

  244. @Patricia Mathews: in re hacking

    A few years ago, after it was discovered that Merkel’s cell phone was hacked by one of the US intelligence agencies, the main German intelligence agency went and bought three dozen old school manual typewriters, for the most critical top-secret stuff. I read about this in Der Spiegel.

    I also have a computer game, a murder mystery called Art of Murder 3, in which the killer hacks the software on the victim’s car. When the car crosses the railroad tracks, the brakes slam on, the engine cuts out, and the doors and windows lock shut leaving the driver trapped inside. A few minutes later, the train comes along and wipes him out.

    I wonder how long this will remain fiction.

    Antoinetta III

  245. @JMG: Maybe you’re right and we need to give up some of the gains we’ve made, in order to prevent future generations from losing out on all of them. But I still hope that we can find another way, through technological advances and human ingenuity. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, we can cut down on resource usage now while still devoting some of those resources towards research and development projects. As they say, hope for the best and plan for the worst.

    And if it turns out that there isn’t any feasible way forward, then I hope we can at least preserve some of the gains we’ve made in the long term. The idea of going back to an age of 30-50% infant mortality rates is beyond horrifying, to say nothing of all the misery and suffering and death that would accompany a new dark age, or the massive loss of social and personal freedom that would almost certainly result. I don’t want to leave future generations with a barren and polluted wasteland, but I also don’t want to leave them with nothing to show for these centuries of progress save for the grim knowledge that things used to be better, a half-forgotten myth of a forever-lost golden age where humanity was briefly free from the harsh and merciless constraints of nature. Such an ending would truly be lamentable beyond measure.

  246. OT: In regards Trump pulling out of Syria and the change in DC power arrangements – have you noticed the tectonic shift in the five eyes relations with China that has just happened? There was a contingent of US intelligence officials who recently visted Wellington, and shortly afterward Huawai was banned from building NZ’s 5G mobile infrastructure. Then the Canadians arrested Huawai’s CFO, and most recently a senior NZ minister has openly critcised China by admitting links between hackers and CCP are nothing to be surprised at. I have never seen open critique like that before. Something significant has just changed, I guess only time will tell what.

    Slightly more on topic: There is an interesting dynamic playing out in NZ over the use of 1080 – a poison which is dropped en mass over large areas of native forest in an effort to reduce the population of a number of introduced mammal species that have been deemed ‘pests’.

    This act of mass killing has quite a few side effects (as one might expect when dealing with living environments), but one of the most interesting is a rapidly growing protest movement against the poison that almost openly rejects any ‘educated’ views of the program. The movement borders on the level of conspiracy theories in beliefs, but to the utter dismay of the powers that be, it is gaining quite a lot of traction despite being almost totally ignored by the media, and openly ridiculed when it is mentioned.

    There seems to be a lot of energy driving this particular piece of blowback against the policy, and watching the process it feels like this is the beginnings of something bigger, a new way of interacting with nature that is quite different to what we have now.

  247. RE: military pullback. I’m thinking this is because Trump knows the establishment has it in for him and is going to do whatever it takes to get rid of him, so he wants his supporters in uniform (rank and file military and police overwhelmingly support him) stateside to protect him/start an insurgency if he is removed…

  248. Relating to the subject of your current fine and unusual thunderous essay, it seems to me that the Green Wizardry thing which you proposed in the days of the Archdruid Report hasn’t gone anywhere as much as you had hoped for?

  249. As a person primarily concerned about the fate of wildlife, I observe that in the mainstream there is a lot more attention paid to climate change than on the loss of “biodiversity”, the communities of wild plants and animals with whom we have evolved. For instance the conference of the parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity took place a few weeks before the climate change conference, but there were no demonstrations like for Climate Change.

  250. PS JMG: I was on the point of trolling you (with much hesitation because I really appreciate your blog) about the condemnation of those three woodchucks in your garden, but on rereading your comment I saw that it was “once”!

    In the Middle Ages you would have filed a lawsuit against them and a tribunal would have decided whether these “creatures of God” had a right to a portion of the produce of your garden or not.

  251. Much of what was written here rings true. Walking the talk is important. However…

    “The Left in particular has become very well known in recent years for its passionate willingness to pursue its goals by spending every penny of other people’s money and, if need be, spilling the last drop of someone else’s blood.”

    This one unfortunate nonsensical line inspired me look a little deeper into the fair-mindedness of this piece. Here’s what I came up with in terms of omissions:

    That at least people like David care which is more than you can say for most people. And caring is the first step to looking at one’s own contributions to the problem.

    That the Right generally is living in a world of willful self-delusion and active predatory denial when it comes to climate breakdown. There are many solutions that they energetically oppose.

    And that we’ve made no progress in the work of protecting a stable climate. Obviously there’s is so much more to do but renewable energy deployments, energy R & D, the Paris agreement, carbon pricing, and regulatory actions taken to date are all steps in the right direction.

    Omissions aside, I found the piece worth my while and the main concerns and criticisms cited above definitely deserve to be part of the wider conversation. Cheerio.

  252. Ashara – Obviously, we have all found the world a more pleasant place as we bleed the earth of its high-energy oil (and gas, and coal). But those blessings are finite. Now, we have some degree of choice as to how we (and our descendants, if any) will find the world as these resources diminish. Do we gun the engine and fly off the cliff, or stop driving and climb down cautiously? I prefer the latter. Continuing exponential growth on a finite planet is just not one of our options.

  253. JMG – Opinion polls about environmentalism are like opinion polls about health-care finance. If reduced to, say, ten major talking points each, we can enthusiastically agree on nine of the ten (“less pollution”, “cover pre-existing conditions”). But it’s that tenth point: “how much will it cost, and who will pay?” that we reject. Folks, it’s not a menu. You don’t get to skip payment, the way you might choose to skip the dessert course. Of course, no one presents environmentalism (or health care) the way a restaurant menu is laid out, where each choice comes with a price tag. (Yes, I know that ‘prix fixe’ menues exist.)

  254. BoysMom – As an active ham radio operator, I’m keenly aware of the solar cycle. We may be in for a “minimum of minimums” for a cycle or two (each cycle being 11 years), but the idea of a “400 year minimum” is, if I recall correctly, a careless misunderstanding. No, the Maunder Minimum lasted about 50 years. Somebody noticed that cold decades seem to come along on a “400 year cycle” (about 400 years since the Maunder Minimum), and thought that meant that the return of the hypothesized “Little Ice Age” would last 400 years.

  255. Ask and you shall receive. First response to my post about the garage door openers:
    “Robert Steinberg from Nob Hill Southeast thanked you for your reply: “

  256. David BTL – Speaking of big data and networking, one of the design goals for the new “5G” mobile communications system is to be sufficiently responsive as to manage traffic flow between vehicles which are linked through the mobile network. The analysis I saw explained that collisions which would be likely with a message latency of 10 millisecond could be prevented with a latency of 1 millisecond.

    I recoiled in horror at the thought of mobile phone service “in the loop” for brake activation. That seems insane, not just because it would be hard (i.e., expensive) to get it to work some of the time, somewhere, but because if it actually worked almost all of the time, in almost all places, failure could be catastrophic. (I hope they’re not really serious about that, and that 5G is really just about making 4G LTE obsolete to suck more money out of the pockets of the gullible. It will be a shock when they realize that those pockets are empty, and even the credit cards maxed-out.)

    Whenever we transfer the performance of routine tasks to others (whether automation, or other people), we sacrifice the development of the ability to perform non-routine tasks.

  257. @Anima Monday:

    Two anecdotes, and my part in them:

    1) In college in the late ’80s, and a group of us students voted on stuff to improve the world. Everything diffuse and impacting others passed easily, but everything that would impact them directly failed by sizable margins. Sadly I voted with the majority in each case, and with well reasoned logic for each of the rejections (nothing I couldn’t have done or wasn’t doing at the time, but I always couched my logic in costs and inconvenience to the public at large).

    2) A nurse told me that she never gave out health advice, saying that everyone already knew what they needed to do. A couple of years later, she noticed I had lost 20+ pounds and was positively impressed – both with the weight loss and with my answer as to how I did it (fasted 2x a week. Every stop at a convenience store rest room a temptation of food to be actively resisted, offers for lunch or dinner resisted, shunted over or surrendered to with the fast done the next day anyway).

    Between both of these anecdotes the point should be obvious – EVERYONE knows what should be done, it’s the actual doing that needs to be done. Further, whomever’s doing what needs to be done will need to sacrifice – and know that their sacrifice may indeed be in vain – to do what needs to be done.

  258. Mostly for Prizm: RE: sarcastic joke about how humans could just create nature with a 3D printer

    I found this Onion article to be deliciously funny. And, as an aside, I often find that The Onion is actually not news in the sense of a newspaper that has reported on an event that has happened, rather it is news that is going to happen in the not too distant future.


  259. Honestly, what I don’t get is why activists are so hung up on getting people to admit climate change exists. It’s just one of the many aspects of modern society where words matter more than deeds. Fine, so Canada has signed every global warming treaty since Kyoto, and even added “climate change” to the name of their environmental ministry. Hasn’t stopped Canada from having a higher per capita emissions rate than those “denialist” Americans…

  260. “I almost burst out laughing, except they were serious and probably would not have understood my uncomfortable laugh.”
    I actually DO burst into laughter when watching Trump speak or listening to Trump coverage, which always leads to disapproving looks. 🙂

  261. About K-mart–I think ppl were referring to K-mart in its heyday, 20-30 years ago, not K-mart as it existed when the one in the town where I’m from closed this past year.

  262. @Shane, !’m 57, yes, of course I can count back change, it’s actually easier than working with the computer. If the whole store devises a retro plan, we can do that, the problem will be in the transition, as the drawers don’t even open without the computer system and most people use credit debit or EBT cards to pay. Very few cash transactions these days. So there will be a painful adjustment for both store and customers if/when that happens. What I find interesting enough to share in my observations of working in this capacity is that so much, increasingly is abstracted / outsourced to computer machinery to “make things easier” for all of us and it doesn’t really. It just makes it different, easier in one way = harder in another and it changes our ‘brains’, (for lack of a better word or way to express it). We become mentally lazy and our sense of time is so truncated, we, (customers) become really irrationally irritable when delayed by (literally), seconds! And yet, more and more businesses are eager to implement more and more higher and higher tech solutions, (where there was no problem). My neighbour just told me we (Winn Dixie, not Publix) are obsolete. Sam’s Club now has an app wherein she checks her purchases out as she goes around the store and shops, it reads the bar-code and deducts money from her account immediately. There are no check-outs or cash registers, no cash transactions. (What could possibly go wrong! LOL)

    Isabelcooper, sewing discussers, et al: Having spent a good chunk of my young adulthood in Fashion Design and Theatrical Costume Design, sewing for my supper and even working for a Bespoke Couturier in London: One of the most important secrets I’ve learned (you may or may not know this already, apologies if you do) in making clothing (and am now learning is true of wooden furniture as well) is simply that it is never perfect. Nothing is and that’s OK. The seams rarely match up perfectly on their own, you have to woodgie them in and make them fit. Fabric is malleable. That’s the secret, nothing is perfect. If you examine carefully even the most bespoke garments or well crafted pieces, and certainly all factory made garments – they’re all slightly imperfect like that. Just knowing and accepting this IMHO has allowed me to attempt many more things than I thought I could and with very good, (however imperfect) success.

    I used to tell my elementary school art students, when they’d moan about their work being imperfect – the story about the Navajo blankets. Those blankets are works of Art, (capital A!) Each blanket has a flaw woven into it. If the weaver manages to get to the end without a single flaw, they go back and put one in. It is to remind them of the imperfections of the world and in themselves. A lesson in humility.

    Hey! Maybe that’s an equally good lesson in life as well as echosophy!

  263. I haven’t read all the comments, so I don’t know if someone has already talked about this, but I feel as if I’m a big part of nature, and not particularly happy about it. I retired to a very small town in a rural area far from any big cities. The house is walking distance to everything in town. The washing machine is my irrigation system for all vegetables, fruit and nuts grown in a permaculture way. Passive solar heat keeps me warm. The TV is gone and the library supplies my internet connection.

    So what’s the problem? Nature. Every fall I have mice invade the house. I have woodchucks tunneling under the foundation. I’ve had bats living INSIDE the house. I have so many rabbits that I have had to cage everything in the garden. Yes, the answer might be predators, but I’m sick of the foxes leaving rabbit, vole, opossum, coon, and feral cat guts all over the place. So far the snakes have stayed outside. I can’t help but think about all the pioneering ancestors living in soddies with all of these critters. I hear suicide was common. (I’m not suicidal, just frustrated.)

    I understand completely the point to this post and agreed with everything you have said, however, I suspect that none of the commenters want to live in this much nature. Human settlements have always attracted varmints. So what’s the answer? I keep thinking that nature also includes rabies, bubonic plague, and Lyme disease. Did I mention the ticks?

  264. @Ashara,
    yes, but the whole point is that modernity is not sustainable, so, even if all of those things are good, they still can’t be sustained w/out fossil fuels.

  265. @Violet,
    “‘if you are going to criticize Progress why don’t you commit suicide?'” There is a collective death wish in our culture right now that will be realized in the near future. It will be as bad, if not worse, than the post-Soviet era in Russia. Better steel yourself now in preparation. The opioid epidemic is just the canary in the coal mine, the tip of the iceberg. Santissima Muerte is ready to roll…

  266. There is good and (to me) convincing evidence, that CO2 emissions are rather unimportant for global warming and extreme weather events compared to destruction of the local water cycles:
    and the presentation
    “Walter Jehne – The Soil Carbon Sponge, Climate Solutions and Healthy Water Cycles” ( )
    Destroying the local water cycles and the water holding capacity of the land seems to be the main reason for global warming and extreme weather events. However, restoring the local water cycles would reduce the CO2 content of the atmosphere in the long run.
    What is most important. Everybody and every small community can just start do save the climate. There is no need for any global efforts and global conferences.
    Further more, imagine that the Chinese became convinced, that reducing the CO2 emissions would really be as important as those climate activists believe: From their point of view, the fastest and best way to reduce the global CO2 emissions and to preserve more fossil fuel is collapsing the economy in Europe and the USA. May be by war or just by an economic collapse.

  267. OT: because it should go on the other blog: One of the fluff reading novels in my bookcase is set in a desert culture which has a Toad God in its pantheon, and a well-traveled character remarks “Resurrection symbol. All cultures have them.” Because the toad burrows in the mud to wait out drought, or at least the ones in this story do. I was wondering about yours.

    But thanks for the guide to the Great Old Ones! The Wanderer and the Mother Goddess from “Innsmouth” were a very easy call, as was the Guardian at the Gate, but after that, I was scratching my head a bit.

  268. P.S. I figured the lady with the antlers as Mistress of the Beasts, but thought of the Irish Flidais, the White Deer, and of Finn McCool’s first love. Though there’s a story about Artemis, before her Hyperborean origins were lost, having antlered female deer to pull her vehicle. Which of course means reindeer.

  269. “dismantling of the old, carbon based and inefficient GDR industries”
    and the Germans now have quite the working class problem because of that…

  270. Just like the alternate history where Carter gets reelected, it would be interesting to think of an alternate history whereby catalytic converters, electrostatic precipitors, scrubbers, fuel injection, unleaded gasoline, evaporative canisters/vapor controls and all the other whizbang gadgetry on modern vehicles and factories was considered hopelessly costly, and the commonsense approach to cleaning the air was reducing VMT (vehicle miles traveled) by alternative means of travel and production of goods.

  271. another advantage of a Depression that ties in to the theme of this article is that it punctures the illusion of control of the “economy”, which would have immense psychological benefits. As JMG has mentioned before, contraction and decline works by shoving ever increasing classes downward, and as a class conscious person who wants to promote class consciousness, I am looking forward to seeing the upper middle classes getting that downward push.

  272. Dear JMG,

    I suggest that this sort of hypocrisy be labelled ‘ecological Protestantism’ – after all, it’s the “sola fide” approach to saving the planet… 😉


  273. One other advantage of a Depression is that it removes the power of choice in these issues and makes the necessary changes mandatory. I get so tired of hearing the professional classes pontificating about these issues, and a Depression is one surefire way to make that stop.

  274. JMG,

    Is climate activism designed/marketed for the middle/upper-middle class any more than other forms of modern activism? When I look at the people attending rallies or going on marches all I see is the middle/upper-middle class.

  275. And of course it’s all the fault of those horrible people over there, those “cowards or selfish monsters or wretched social liabilities willfully closed off to the reality of imminent doom,”

    ++I tend to react to the above sentence by wanting to back away slowly from crazy.
    “That means shouting them down at town halls if giving reasons fails.”

    ++A red flag for me. These tactics are all too common now among the left. Pure hysterics, no reason. Bullying.

    “Al Gore’s extravagant energy-wasting mansion and bumper crop of frequent-flyer miles did immense damage to the cause he thought he was supporting, “

    ++Did he really think he was supporting the cause or was he just another opportunistic, lying politician who never believed a word of it? I vote for the latter.
    He talks about ways people distract themselves from the reality of climate change, and mentions that trips to Las Vegas are one of the ways he does this—and then acts as though the only problem with those trips to Las Vegas is that they distract him from pursuing climate change activism and make him feel sad about the future. That each flight Moscrop takes to and from Las Vegas dumps a big plume of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere—the very thing he thinks we should all stop doing—finds no place in his essay, or apparently in his understanding of the cosmos. “

    “I have to say, it appears we are all (well, almost all) climate change deniers. How else to explain such behavior?

    ++The above two comments begin to confirm for me what I have begun to suspect – that none of this CO2-climate theory is truly believed by most of its adherents. I think there are a few people, and JMG is one, for whom this is not a vague, quasi-religious fear porn fantasy. Thus his frustration. But this Macron guy – as far as I am concerned he is certifiable, displaying every red flag and no evidence that he is grounded in reality.
    “…the householder gets angrier and angrier, and ends up shrieking insults into the phone because nobody will come and get rid of this intolerable intrusion on the part of nature. “

    ++That was a very funny point. May be true! What do all the activists and protesters want? They want someone to come and fix the thing for them, so they can get their lives back…

  276. TO:

    and George Simay at the beginning

    oooh! there are so many electrical pops and omens going on here with misunderstandings or asides netting other long tangents like with George Simay’s beautiful bit about colonizing the world and psychic stuff blossoming..yes, i believe that too… so beautiful about this place and why as an addict i landed here again and i’m so glad i did:

    since you’re just beginning and i think you even are hand sewing- i believe that this is another mystical phone number i’ve stumbled upon. there are many regarding art connection and paying attention/listening in a myriad of ways.

    but research alabama chanin’s books at the library on hand sewing and how to work with the beauty of a handmade look and PUSHING it as a form of art beauty and rebellion. alabama chanin is its own interesting story.

    but sewing i’m learning is a sacred art…spend even a short time in the presence of a working seamstress or tailor and you can FEEL they are the people behind the curtain. the architects for a lot of all our show and who we think we are or who we show ourselves to the world.

    i thought my love of fashion was so shallow and in my middle age, all my childhood fascinations and loves are stomping back into my life.

    so fashion: on my own with the san francisco public library and beloved link+ systems, i read up on fast fashion pattern making or draping and ended up obsessed with SLEEVES and WHY they are set just so and how they’ve changed through the years because of ease of sewing in INDUSTRIALIZATION.

    so when we think mystical experiences are mystical and not the “natural” everyday ones, things are upside down. because sleeves used to be sewn in men’s doublets so’s they’d STAND a certain way, have a more imposing posture.

    and how if women’s freedom came at the end of corsets, why do so many women secretly long to be held and bound tightly as if by a hug in a society where you’re considered creepy for trying to pick up a woman in an elevator even by the woman who longs to be picked up said elevator?

    so many fascinating questions.

    and clothing is mostly stretchy knit tubes all serged together now and sold as sporty to make us feel like we’re getting somewhere at least.

    so as i needed to figure out how to make another kind of artistic career, it is turning out to be learning how to make custom casual wear for men. why men? because i am like a dry hooker and can get into men’s heads and try to make them more of who they are without getting messy with the power games of “i don’t need you!” when you DO b.s., and i don’t wanna have to do that sexually, so i figured make clothes for men. one basic set of blocks and slopers for each man and then make his custom tshirts and pants in sets to amortize the cost of fitting over a wardrobe instead of one thing at a time.

    and why men? because men tend to dress in uniforms and when i learned that i did it too, and it saved me SO much time getting out of the apartment which is hard enough these days.

    women don’t spend or shop that way.

    however, when i started chasing men around at the gym to learn how to fit real bodies, i had no idea the emotions that’d be pouring out of them from platonic touching. and when you know the arm that fits into the sleeve you’re building, you want it to be the most PERFECT sleeve EVER.

    it’s a form of love that industrialization takes away from the art of the sleeve. because i think in victorian times, the seam was farther forward and women couldn’t move much in such dresses. what this does to our HEADS. it’s fascinating.

    it’s fascinating to me that we even call anything small or long on ourselves. all this comparison. when it just is us. someone’s torso isn’t long. when his is the only pattern i’m making, it’s just HIS TORSO. i love how it changes my thinking.

    so sewing patternmaking fitting… it’s intense. like dancing music of a time and feeling what they felt then. it collapses time. it’s so damn cool.

    if you’re daring to hand sew, go all the way and make your own patterns. yeah, you can learn so much by looking at existing ones. but it sounds like you’re about to go somewhere deeper with all this.

    clothing makes people. i get it. it’s theatre. and theatre is good magic. i take this very, very seriously. it’s not just armor. it’s them naked if i can do this OPPOSITE thing right. (i’m always figuring out what is opposite so it’ll be all mine at first like Warhol said of the best thing about rain being Central Park’s all to yourself if you don’t need a sunny day).

    we’ll see. i’m trying to start an underground localized industry that people can do where they are. there are ways to do the fitting faster if you’ve seen Shingo Sato on youtube doing speedy custom fittings with muslin and masking tape.


  277. More on the other blog – Phauz is obvious and I worship her myself. Yhoundeh was known to the Norse as Skadhi, daughter of a frost giant; but she is also Hyperborean Artemis.

    MZB, as messed-up as she was, had what I consider a nobler back-story for Hastur, Cassilda, and Camilla, and Aldones, rather than something our of True Romances.

  278. J.LMc12

    It is impossible to make work using energy without producing waste heat. In a few thosuand years the planet would melt from the growing energy use. To arrive there fossil fuels would be extracted at an energy loss until the energy systems were converted. It would allow the current excesses to continue, transforming Earth into Trantor.

    The obvious answer is to destroy it now.

  279. There’s another factor at play that’s worth noting (sorry if another commenter picked this up already — I didn’t read all the comments). People working in professional areas that affect the climate (e.g., energy) are pretty much required to turn up at conferences to make presentations and network with others in their field, or risk being left out of the important conversations. As a professional in the electricity field, a major part of my work is to articulate alternative ways of framing the process of change toward greater sustainability, to go beyond conventional thinking in an industry that has a century-old mindset of how things work and a fairly substantial amount of climate denial in its ranks. I want to minimize my air travel, but each time I must weigh the relative value of appearing in person at a conference against the environmental impact of going there. To be sure this method of convening is environmentally costly, but if one is trying to help shape change in such an arena, it’s also costly to stop attending such meetings.

  280. Mr Greer,
    Thanks for all that you do to make the reading of your blog such a stimulating delight. I have been reading your writings since about the time you penned the story Adam’s Tale. (I’ve no idea how long that’s been, but it’s been a while.) I sit here today, a rainy day, with a bowl of unicorn skittles in my lap, by my wood stove and I laugh out loud. This week my thoughts lift me mentally from my easy chair as I read your essay. While I find writing a cumbersome challenge, I am inspired to jump into this fray, just for the pure fun of it.

    Since this is only a comment, mostly about other comments, I’m wanting to keep it brief. Thus, I’ll just go down a list and let the wombat chips fall as they may. (A tip o’ the hat to the master of Fernglade.)  

    1. First off, many, many comments are about what we can do to fix the mess we are in. Who’s we buckos? You-all  and the mice in your pockets? I do not see a collectively orchestrated solution in my future. It will appear in hindsight that we all acted together to survive this storm, but as just one person, with dirt under my fingernails, I know it’s going to be rougher and considerably more lonely than that. (Yes, and disensus to you too.)

    2. About living in caves: Keep in mind it was a capital offense during colonial times in North America to go off and live with the savages. The existing records are all pretty clear that the road was one way; those who left did not wish to return, ever, to the colonial fold. If anyone did return, it was usually in chains. I wonder why?

    3. The current life expectancy in the USA is somewhere in the ballpark of 78 years. Just for contrast let’s look at Mr Hobbes (of nasty, brutish and short fame) who was born in 1588 and died in 1679 (you do the math).   How far back do we have to go? Abraham was still living in his parents basement at 75 years of age. Then he went off and had his adventures. That was 4,000 years ago. I’m puzzled by this.

    4. I would love to take on agency, variety, plenitude, comfort, safety and empathy separately, but I’m just making a point, not writing an essay. Let’s just say that I find the Panglossian concept of our exceptional modern world stands out like a few rat droppings in a sugar bowl.

    5. Is there a solution? How do we fix this predicament? (Yes, I’m being tongue in cheek with this choice of words.) Will the world change as a result of the fossil fuel age? Certainly it will. I don’t know how or at what speed it will change. But it will change. Therefore, I don’t know what to do, other than to keep on keeping on, at the highest (most ethical, as I define it) level of which I am capable. (Not as easy as it sounds. Many here attest quite eloquently to that.)

    6. Let’s all do this, let’s all do that. That will fix it. Living-with-less as a way of life. Leaving aside the idea of collective action (covered in #1 above), I perceive that many solutions are about doing physical stuff to or in the world without the necessary sense that the world itself is sacred and that all of the actions we take, with the awareness of that sacredness in mind, are likewise sacred. Ecosophy, for me, is not eco-action. It is a foundation for behaving well in the world. Ecosophy leads to eco-action. ( The word scientism comes to mind as I think about how solutions are approached. Not in positive sense.)

    I was going to take a run at what might help the recovery. Such a recovery will certainly take place in the far distant future (without the benefit of my considerable wisdom, of course or alas. Your call.) but I think I’ll save it for a short story. (One I will probably never write since I find writing such a cumbersome challenge. Yeah, right.)

    Again, with gratitude,

    Aged Spirit

    P.S. Mr Greer, I heartily recommend Come of Age by Stephen Jenkinson as a book to put on your reading list. I know, I know, Mr Jenkinson is still alive (though probably a bit older than you.) and that by your standards he does not qualify for the preferred books by beneath-the-soil-surface authors. Nevertheless, his ability to think and write outside of the ruts of common thought is both refreshing and very disturbing. He doesn’t have an answer but can see the folly of our current path. This is rightfully disturbing. (You know, what if all I have lived my life for is just a pile of wombat poo?) (Again, with a warm thanks Chris.)

    later, A. Spirit

  281. JMG–how shocking to imply that you would tell climate change activists to live in wickiups. That would cultural appropriation–very very wrong.

    On the women’s fashion thing. Back in the 80 and 90s a wardrobe consultant named John Malloy wrote “Dress for Success” and “Women’s Dress for Success” books based on research. I think he started by designing corporate uniforms and so forth. But he would vary one aspect of an item or outfit: color or lapel width or type of tie, etc. and ask panelists which person looks trustworthy, which person would you promote, which of these lawyers would you choose?, etc. His main advice to women looking to move up in business was to ignore fashion and to not confuse business appeal with sex appeal. This was a time of expensive designer scarves, which he dismissed with the memorable line, “silk is made by worms, not by leeches.” Of course the fashion industry couldn’t let women get away with dressing as sensibly as men–there go their profits. So women who followed the skirted suit, conservative blouse formula were lampooned mercilessly while all the fashion magazines endlessly repeated that success didn’t have to mean giving up your individuality. And network TV would show characters who were supposedly successful career women in impractical and unprofessional outfits: skirts too short, heels too high, hair uncontrolled. So, as feminist analysis retreated from practical affairs to arcane areas of gender studies ordinary women remained in thrall to a system that relies on their wardrobes being replaced seasonally.

    Add to that the switch from domestic production to China, Indonesia, etc. One of the maddening aspects is that we have an overwhelming choice of styles but limited choice of actual sizes. Particularly galling in shoes, where fit matters. So a company will make 30 styles that vary by color and number of stripes or swoops and they all come in one width. When I was a kid high end women’s shoes even came with different width for heel and arch. Now you see otherwise well-dressed women slopping around in high heel shoes with 1/4 inch between their foot and the back of the shoe because the shoe doesn’t actually fit. Weird.

  282. For Isabelcooper: Isabel, when you get your time machine you could go back to the nineteenth century and look up Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915), the world’s first efficiency expert. (check out “Taylorism” or “Scientific Management” on wikipedia, or read the biography of Taylor by Robert Kanigel. Maybe when you are back in the nineteeth century you could arrange for an unfortunate canoeing accident in Maine or something.

  283. JMG: You might want to take a look at Darren Allen’s 33 Myths of the System. Allen tries to address and detail many of the myths society imposes on people. Although I do not agree with his political conclusions, his rebuttals are worth reading.

  284. I wish everyone a happy Winter Solstice. It’s not an official holiday in my religion, but I always enjoy both solstices, when Creation pauses and seems, for the moment, to snuggle up closer to the Creator. And I feel closer to the generations before me who noticed, too. (Of course if your family hails from near the equator or the North Pole you may feel differently.)

  285. @J.LMc12, echoing packshaud

    I was finally able to let go of the dream of Progress when I projected it into the future and realized that it led to a planet I would not want to live on. Which is to say that – given the seemingly unavoidable tendency of humankind to reproduce until a hard limit is reached – removing the most pressing limits could hardly be the best option for the planet. Given the choice between a fusion-powered artificial city-planet and a time of crisis and decline due to energy overshoot, I might actually choose the latter.

    I may have linked this before, but I wrote an essay on this topic a few years back titled “I do not wish to live on Coruscant.”

  286. In regards to people not being aware of them being in nature. When you travel from the city to the country, there is no boundary that you cross – it is just one single movement. It is the when you realise that the city no, matter how artificial it may seem, it still exsists in nature.

  287. Luddene,

    For starters, shouldn’t you have a cat? And what about mousetraps? Cats may also catch some bats. I don’t know where you live, but here bats had a devastating disease so if you can provide a recovery habitat…

    It also sounds to me like you need to fence your garden. Here, the deer are plentiful enough that you pretty much have to have a fence. But what we also did is to run chicken wire around the fence, and dig it into the ground a bit. There are rabbits, but none have ever entered the garden.
    I don’t know about woodchucks tunneling under your foundation. We have groundhogs, which appear to be about the same. Perhaps they are less numerous but we haven’t had them tunnel under the chicken wire.
    A bigger problem is predation of our chickens, an ongoing battle. We put out traps and catch raccoons and possums. Some people relocate them. We shoot them. But a good dog can also help with it. My sister trains her dog to chase away hawks.
    People in the past used all these measures. That’s why there are terriers.

  288. Suburban hypocrisy is important to point out, and is correct, but I think there are some missing points which are probably more relevant to any change given that humans will follow the path of least resistance in their everyday life. Changes have to occur primarily at a societal and institutional level.

    1. There is no opt in greener lifestyle in the US. As you have pointed out, Europe has shown that they can live a healthier life, with close to an equal standard of living to the US, with far less of a carbon footprint. For example, my understanding is that the solar programs in Germany are very effective. Under our current system, people have to go out of their way to be more green.

    2. Solar and wind energy are now more cost effective than carbon based energies which still get $7 billion per year in Federal subsidies. The current GOP administration is working aggressively to remove subsidies for alternative energy. In fact, the GOP blocks any attempt to move even incrementally to a more sustainable society. Sure you can blame democrats for not making progress if you completely ignore all the roadblocks the GOP places in the path. This is fact.

    3. For 25 years, Fox News, right wing radio and Evangelicals have radicalized about 1/3 of the US population that now lives in an alternative Universe where Climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese among other verifiably asinine things. Where are the conservative leaders that can tell the truth about basic realities?

    4. You are correct, this is primarily not a working class problem. Also, most lower income people still vote reliably Democratic by 10%+ margins. Most of my more wealthy acquaintances voted GOP in 2016 because they wanted their stocks to go up and get tax cuts.

    That all being said, in the bigger picture I am somewhat of a neo-Malthusian and agree with your message. I certainly use more than my fair share of resources. We got 7.6 billion clever, but nutty apes running around eating resources up at an ever increasing rate. Not only do we have climate change, but pollution of all kinds, depletion of resources, mass species exctinction and animal die offs and soil erosion. I have no idea how it will play out, but it’s looking increasingly apocalyptic.

  289. Re descent and dark ages

    One of the most difficult emotional hurdles we have is accepting the shape of the future coming at us. Less energy, lost knowledge, but also fewer people (if the BAU projections of the Club of Rome are any indication, we’re looking at a world population of 4 or so billion by the year 2100, and falling). What will humanity manage to carry through the narrow passage of the 23rd/24th centuries? We can not control that. What we can do is work to preserve what we can by making what knowledge we deem important as applicable as possible to those who will face those conditions while also being honest with ourselves about what will not. (And also not confusing social structure with technology. Nothing requires a low-tech society to brutalize women, for example.)

    I think one of the best things we can do today is to spread the notion that well-being does not derive from consumption, that “enough” is a thing of actual value, and that one can be very happy (even happier) with far less that our present culture would have us believe.

    With respect to the more immediate issue of the collapsing American empire, it is natural to see that as the end of the world or the coming of chaos. I’m sure we’ll be witness to many more examples of this sort of shrieking in the years and decades to come as it becomes clear that the US has become (at best) a second-rate power.


    Re 2020 and voting for Trump

    Quite possibly. If he actually pulls off these troop withdrawals and the Dems do something truly boneheaded and nominate another establishment character (Biden, for example, or heaven forbid, HRC again), then I very well may do that. I’ll be voting for Sanders (or possibly Tulsi Gabbard) in the Democratic primary first, however. We’ll see what happens. There’s a good amount of time yet. (And yes, I do expect that the Dems will be boneheaded, as I see no indication that they’ve learned anything from the prior election.)

  290. @ Aged Spirit
    “6. Let’s all do this, let’s all do that. That will fix it. Living-with-less as a way of life. Leaving aside the idea of collective action (covered in #1 above), I perceive that many solutions are about doing physical stuff to or in the world without the necessary sense that the world itself is sacred and that all of the actions we take, with the awareness of that sacredness in mind, are likewise sacred. Ecosophy, for me, is not eco-action. It is a foundation for behaving well in the world. Ecosophy leads to eco-action.”

    Yes, absolutely. No matter how we conceive “fixing” it, we are still labouring under a delusion of control. Whereas gently relinquishing the urge to fix, the urge to control, the urge to rescue, allows us to wake up to all the beings around us, that, like ourselves, are busy living, acting, willing in the world, and with whom we have a standing invitation to interact and relate and get to know and discover. For good or for ill, or for, just because… 🙂

  291. Happy belated Alban Arthuan/Winter Solstice everyone! Whenever I walk at this one forest preserve, there are always a bunch of people there either jogging or biking. More often than not, they dress in special, elaborate exercise clothes and wear sunglasses and helmets. To me, it looks like the aliens have landed. I swear they go to the preserve, which is full of prairie life, marshlands, and magnificent trees, and they deliberately tune out nature while they use it for exercise. They use it as a racetrack. What are they trying to outrun? Also, I know two bikers, old family friends, who flipped their bikes over downed trees and ended up in traction. I suppose this communicates a deep metaphor about modern life.

    There’s something to be said for just slowly walking down the trail and absorbing its beauty.

    Also, I wrote a funny song lyric a while ago. “Half caught in the future/half drowning in the past/I tried to live in the now but I couldn’t make it last”

  292. As a nature conservationist, I observe that there is a lot more concern about climate change than about the loss of “biodiversity”, the communities of wild plants and animals with whom we have evolved and who have been sharing the planet with us. The conference of the parties of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity took place a few weeks before the climate change conference, but there were no demonstrations nor the attention paid to Climate Change.

    This was the initial message I wanted to post before the woodchuck defense one.

  293. I’m hoping that as you get into this series of posts, you’ll skewer modern societies’ privileged place for humanity and human beings. On the one hand, you have Christianity, which puts humans on a pedestal as being “made in God’s image, having dominion over nature, and having a ‘personal’ relationship w/Christ”, on the other hand, you have secular humanism, which just does away with the God thing altogether by making humans the god instead. Neither are particularly useful. One of the most useful and most cherished beliefs you have given me is the idea that the gods and spirits are indifferent at best about humans and humanity, and that we’re just not that important in the grand scheme of things. As a lot of people lose the will to live and facing a huge uptick in mortality in the near future, this belief that humans are just not that important in the grand scheme of things makes this much more palpable.

  294. Mark L: even worse: Isaac Asimov’s Trantor, pre-collapse. Though for a look at how Trantor would actually look like and work out, also read Donald Kingsbury’s Psychohistorical Crisis.
    Squatters here, public spaces there, enclaves everywhere……

    Post-collapse, of course…. I can not read Second Foundation’s characters Ma and Pa Palver without running the soundtrack from Fiddler on the Roof

  295. Twilight, that’s interesting to hear. Thank you.

    Matthias, postwar European social democracy has a lot going for it, and I hope Europe can make that its standard mode of governance as it settles into however long a period of stability history gives it.

    Ashara, excellent. You’re thinking along the lines that, to my mind, need to become as widespread as possible: not “How can we chug onward to some kind of shiny Star Trek future?” but “How can we save the best achievements of the Age of Fossil Fuels and pass them on to the future?” That latter, it seems to me, is the great task of our time, and it’s something I’ve discussed at great length in my previous blogs., Trump et al. are taking the rise of China as a global superpower seriously. I don’t agree with all their tactics, but it’s crucial for your country and mine alike to grasp that we could lose — and the world under Chinese global hegemony will not be an improvement on the world under US global hegemony. (Ask a Tibetan or an Uighur about that latter point sometime.) As for the opposition to spraying, let me guess — all the officially approved experts insist at the top of their lungs that 1080 is perfectly safe and all the nasty effects that people are experiencing aren’t real, right? That’s one of the classic ways to guarantee that people stop trusting the officially approved experts…

    Shane, I read it as something simpler. Now that Trump has an expanded majority in the Senate and a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, he has much more control over the executive branch than he did — he can put his own people into cabinet positions without having to compromise with “Never Trump” Republicans, and can get the Supremes to overrule at least some of the court orders that have been deployed against him. So he’s in a much stronger position, and can start pushing for the rest of his campaign promises in the runup to the 2020 election.

    Booklover, no, it’s gotten about as much traction as I expected. I thought there was a chance it might go further than that, and I’ll doubtless discuss it again at length once the price of oil spikes again — but that’s still a few years further down the track.

    Pogonip, thanks for this!

    Dominique, yeah, here as elsewhere there’s a very strong element of fashion in what gets protested and what doesn’t. To my mind biodiversity is even more important than climate change — the biodiversity the planet’s still got when industrial civilization grinds to a halt at last is what’s going to be available for the next burst of global evolutionary radiation.

    As for the woodchucks, yeah, it was just one time, and I’d tried literally every other thing I could think of to get them to leave the garden alone. We normally got along just fine with the wild things, but the woodchucks ate every single lettuce plant we had in ten minutes. In classic medieval style, since I caught them in the midst of their crimes, I put them to the sword. Vae victis! 😉

    JS, that is to say, my comment about the Left sent you scurrying to find other things you can get upset about. The fact remains that, especially but not only in the US, the Left has earned quite a reputation these days for demanding big government programs that someone else is supposed to pay for, and being just fine with bloodshed in other countries — Barack Obama’s fondness for drone strikes and Hillary Clinton’s equal fondness for overthrowing governments (“we came, we saw, he died”) are good examples. If you don’t like that, fine, but I suggest you encourage people on the left to change that habit, rather than insisting that the rest of us stop talking about it.

    Lathechuck, exactly. That’s why you have to pay attention to what people are actually willing to do, rather than relying on the results of polls.

    Patricia, hah! Delighted to hear it.

    Shane, oh, but it’s so much easier to make mouth noises than it is to actually do something that might impact our precious lifestyles!

    Luddene, that’s what you get for existing in a living biosphere. There are ways to manage interactions with the biosphere so that you and the other living things don’t get in one another’s way, but it takes a very different way of thinking and acting than the ones we’ve been taught in modern industrial society.

    Christoph, water’s also a crucial factor, of course; climate is a complex engine with many inputs. I agree wholeheartedly that making changes in our own lives and communities is the necessary starting point for any attempt to deal with the current mess.

    Patricia M, it helps that since I’m treating Lovecraft as an unreliable narrator, I can do my own thing with the Great Old Ones. Still, getting them assigned to the Tree took very little work. (Readers who don’t know what I’m talking about will find the discussion here.

    Shane, that would be part of the alternate history in which Carter won reelection in 1980 and John Anderson became president in 1984…

    Olof, funny! Thank you.

    GlassHammer, hmm! Yes, I think so — certainly the media venues that attract a middle and upper middle class clientele tend to be first in line to utter pious homilies about climate change.

    Onething, yep. The sense of wanting to back away slowly from such people is one I share…

    Patricia M, it’s part of the frame for The Weird of Hali that the Great Old Ones are the old gods of Nature, who have had many different names in different human cultures, so I ain’t arguing. As for the backstory for Hastur et al., that’s actually something I’m having to develop at length just now, as the current novel in process (The Nyogtha Variations, the second of two novels about an aspiring young neoclassical composer and a shoggoth) has the main human character, Brecken Kendall, writing a chamber opera based on the play The King in Yellow, and so I have to know enough of the plot to make her compositions and her experience of opening night make sense. I won’t be using MZB’s version, but I also won’t be using either of the standard story lines; as usual, I have my own take.

    eLPersonne, true — but you’d think that climate scientists, at least, would start doing something else so that they wouldn’t be contributing to the problem they’re studying…

    Aged Spirit, excellent. Yes, exactly — we can’t “fix it” if “fixing it” means continuing to live the way we’re living now, without causing the consequences that the way we’re living now is causing. I’ll consider the Jenkinson book.

    Rita, funny! I’ll have to keep that accusation in mind the next time some troll trots out that kind of language.

    Bruce, so noted and thank you.

    Michael V., an excellent point. I live in a city, in one of North America’s major urban corridors, and the trees here are taller than the apartment houses; hawks hunt for mice in back yards, and perch on chimneys; the local waterways and green belts are alive with critters. We’re in no way separate from nature here.

    Ace, notice that you’re defining green living as purely a matter of powering current lifestyles via renewable means. I’m suggesting changing our current lifestyles to use less energy and fewer of the products of energy,and that’s something anyone can opt into at a moment’s notice. What’s more, it saves a lot of money and frees up time for other uses. Why isn’t it the obvious choice? Well, that’s what I was trying to talk about…

    David, exactly. One of the downsides of the religion of progress is that a lot of people think that having fewer technogimmicks necessarily means that all sorts of social abuses will come back into style. Even a brief glance at the diversity of human social forms disproves that, but the myth of progress demands it, so people keep on insisting that it’s true.

    Kimberly, I know the feeling. I watch people jogging in the parks with ear buds yelling something in their ears, utterly disconnected from the everyday miracle of nature, and I wonder if they’re actually alive or if we’ve got a lot of electronically animated corpses lurching about…

    Dominique, it got through and I responded to it. I was simply running way behind yesterday!

    Shane, why, yes, we’ll be talking at some length about that — I want to bring Robinson Jeffers into the discussion, as he has some crucial things to say about it. (And of course H.P. Lovecraft — I wonder how many people realize that he got his indifferentist philosophy as much from Greek mythology as from Nietzsche et al…)

  296. Luddene – On point, although yours does sound like an extreme case. Perhaps you are living in an area where things are radically out of balance? Permaculturists and organic gardeners — including me — can contribute their own stories. In my area (central Va), it has taken me more years than I care to admit to achieve any kind of balance. OTOH, the alternatives are either buying locally from farmers markets or eating commercially grown and processed food of unknown quality and contamination. My best solution so far is to grow what does well here and buy the rest from farmers markets. And have good fences. I do keep testing out new varieties that are reputed to be more disease-resistant, and doing things to attract more pest predators. But it’s a moving target.

  297. @ Shane W

    Hershey was founded by Milton Snavely Hershey as a company town back in 1905 or so. He was a very progressive industrialist wanting his workers to have decent housing, entertainment possibilities, medical treatment, education, etc. The worker housing he built, mostly duplexes, had to vary with each building so they did not present a cookie-cutter approach from the street view.

    Milton Hershey died in 1945. He still resides in living memory along with the standard comment of ‘Mr. Hershey wouldn’t have done it that way’ or ‘What would Mr. Hershey think?’.

    Today, Hershey has, shall we say, interesting politics. We’re a township, not an incorporated town, so our rules are different. PA is weird that way. Despite not being a ‘town’, we are acknowledged by the US Postal Service as a ‘town’.

    The ‘Hershey Entities’, despite sounding like a conspiracy, are real.

    The stunningly wealthy Hershey Trust owns about 1/3 of the township land. They run the worlds richest and largest orphanage, educating kids from kindergarten to 12th grad and helping with college thereafter. Hershey Co. runs the chocolate manufacturing end. They employ a lot of people. Hershey Entertainment and Resorts runs Hershey Park, two major hotels, and several restaurants. They employ even more.

    You don’t have to work for any of the Hershey entities to live in Hershey.

    Everything the township does is colored by the Hershey entities and what they want. Whatever the Trust wants, the Trust gets. The board of supervisors walk a fine line trying to keep them in check so the residents get taken care of.

    The Hershey Entities fund all kinds of things, over and above what local taxes do. Hershey Co. is why at the annual Halloween parade, the marchers throw huge quantities of Hershey chocolates to the cheering crowd.

    Attend your local municipality meetings! You learn the darnedest things, such as where the power in your community really resides.

    Hershey can also be seen as a demonstration of how a town can work when the power resides in the hands of a benevolent dictatorship. It can be really nice, as long as you play by their rules. We aren’t quite a dictatorship, but the staff of the township can’t ever forget that what the Trust wants, the Trust gets.

    Teresa from Hershey

  298. ShaneW — Re “modernity is not sustainable, so, even if all of those things are good, they still can’t be sustained w/out fossil fuels.” So then the questions would be, what elements of modern life ARE sustainable, and what do we need to do to preserve them?

  299. Christopher Becker — This is a primary theme of Regenerative Agriculture. It will take a long time before many commercial growers are won over, but a growing number do recognize the possibilities and are trying it out.

    Your post reminded me of another globally important issue, which is the ubiquity of pharmaceuticals in the environment. Antibiotics in the milligrams-per-liter range are now to be found in almost every water source tested. This is already having a measurable effect on microbial life nearly everywhere. Antibiotic resistance is transmitted incredibly quickly in microbial populations. It seems possible to me that, just as we are living in a “fossil-fuel bubble” that will be of short duration, we may also be living in an “antibiotic bubble” that is even more short-lived.

  300. ShaneW — the problem with a depression solving all our problems is that our profligate use of energy has engendered a commensurate infrastructure. Clearly, this infrastructure will… umm… “need work” in order to maintain a decent standard of living in the face of reduced energy availability. But during depressions, capital needed to implement such changes is pretty hard to come by. So I’m thinking that this is not the best possible course of events.

    Still, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention…

  301. Yeah, that was a big reason why Ahavah and I had to part ways. I just couldn’t stomach all the biophobic version of “we’re all gonna DIE!!!!” rhetoric all the time. When I’d be like, “yeah, so? A lot of us need to die to give the planet some breathing space,” she’d sneer some version of, “Well, you’re going to DIE, too!” and she just couldn’t seem to accept that I was being honest when I’d shrug my shoulders at that prospect, too. It really amazes me the sheer amount of cowardice running around modern Western society.

  302. Aged Spirit — I’ll take a crack at the longevity issue. Even in Psalms, the longevity of adults was said to be 70 to 80 years. However, this is assuming a full life that was not cut short in infancy or at other stages of life by infectious diseases, accidents, or violence. It is these latter that have been drastically reduced in modern societies. Modern medicine has added a few years to the top end, but the major factors are reduction in infant mortality, drastic reductions in infectious diseases, and increased safety in develop[ed societies.

    Mark L — Re “given the seemingly unavoidable tendency of humankind to reproduce until a hard limit is reached” Actually, this is not the case. Generally, as peoples’ standard of living is improved, their birthrate drops. People who are confident in the survival of their children and who have the means to control fertility almost always choose to limit family size for obvious reasons. This has been observed in all of the major world religions, including Catholicism despite the admonishments of the Pope. The UN predicts that the size of the under-15 cohort in the year 2100 will be exactly the same as it is now. Barring a major catastrophe such as a pandemic or world war, the total population will continue to increase as today’s under-15 cohort and the ones following it move up through the age brackets, but will level off when today;s youth reach their end of life.

    JMG, thanks again for another enlightening and thought-provoking post. Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

  303. @Aged Spirit: Brilliant comment! Thank you, I have read it twice already. I especially appreciate item #6 about “fixing” things and the prerequisite of developing an attitude that the world is sacred as a foundation for all other action.

    And to Scotlyn, thank you for echoing the thoughts of Aged Spirit and taking the words right off my keyboard (only better and more succinctly stated). I heartily agree with you.

    Yanocoches (yes, already no cars, an aspiration rather than an actuality)

  304. Our betes noire are squirrels. I think if we had the natural number of squirrels the area could support, there’d be no problem, but one of the neighbors has a squirrel feeder. Any suggestions on how to keep squirrels from eating all your tomatoes?

  305. @David, BTL,
    As a registered Dem, I’m w/you there, although if the Dems put forth a competent younger candidate like Beto (O’Rourke), etc, I MAY prefer them over Bernie, but, like you, my guess is they commit hari kari and go w/Biden or another unacceptable establishment candidate. How would you feel if Sherrod Brown were the nominee?

  306. @ J.L.Mc12

    I would like to answer your question to JMG: “If there was an energy source that was as good as carbon fuels, zero emissions and endless, like how people think fusion would be and you could choose to release it to the world now, destroy it or release it after a thousand years?”

    When I was a teenager I saw a film called “El Planeta Prohibido” (Forbidden Planet), and this film impressed me and left me disquiet, and this disquiet were growing with time, with my readings and with my life experience; even after I became an engineer (what a paradox), because I realised that logic and reason is a superficial part of the human mind, and you cannot forget the “submerged continent” of the Unconscious (individual or collective)

    I do not know if you remember the plot of this film, but to summarize there was a kind of Artificial Intelligence that manage 9.200 thermonuclear reactors, that was designed to satisfy all the “desires” of the Krell (the former inhabitants of the Altair IV planet), but at the end it kill all of them (or they kill themselves). The thesis is that it could be a very dangerous thing to fulfill all of your own desires, because what really you “desire” below the surface of your rationality? How do you prevent the arrival of the “Monsters of the Id” in your dreams?
    As the famous Goya painting says: “El Sueño de la Razón Produce Monstruos”, because at the end the Reason is, in a good part, a tool in the hands of the “Id”; Reason is, in fact, powerless as any other tool in the hands of “Desire” (individual or cultural desire)

    Do you imagine what the Faustian Civilization could do, the short of destruction it can achieve, with a limitless energy source really “too cheap to meter”?

    Today, even before the climate change have enough impact, we are seeing and extinction event and an ecosystems destruction as in the worst periods of the life on Earth; due to habitat degradation, pollution, use of poisons, invasive species, exploitation, etc….Could you imagine the speed of this process with free energy for all? We would melt the whole planet in a blink, as you said

    As Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) says in the film: “Humanity is not ready to receive such limitless power” (nor the Krell)

    Thank God the fossil fuel resources are not big enough and we will have peak oil and peak all, so we have a chance to avoid our total obliteration; although the big unanswered question is if Humanity will survive, or not, his Faustian Dream (with his many thousands thermonuclear megatons built by the Faustian Science)

    PD: I also liked the Anne Francis’ short skirts

    Season’s Greetings and Merry Christmas to everybody

  307. Some years ago I started reading Ernest Seton Thompson’s Birch Bark Roll of Woodcraft Indians, probably because it mentioned somewhere in the Archdruid Report and because I’ve been interested in trying to develop ways to encourage people to get outdoors and communicate with the natural environment. That was the purpose of the Woodcraft Indians, which later became the Boy Scouts. Those avenues of developing interest in the outdoors are now waning, partly because I am sure they don’t encourage as much outdoors and outdoor skill development as they once did. I’m wondering what role clubs/groups are going to have in ecosophy… it’s definitely something I might interested in helping to develop!

  308. I see people here commenting on installing solar panels in their homes. Perhaps in their rooftops, I guess.

    Here in the glorious Federative Republic of Brazil, sometimes a curious kind of theft happens. A house is left alone because everyone works or gors to school, and when people come back the house is empty. Furniture, even toilets, are gone. Intriguingly, neighbors did not notice it happening. Of course this happens in “bad neighborhoods.”

    As the Long Descents progresses (pun intended), everywhere will be like that. Having solar panels installed will drive envy and robbers. You will not need to arrange them forming the message “LOOT ME” to attract problems.

    I think this is a terrible idea. Your mileage may vary, of course; being better than your neighbors is always bad. I do not think relying on electricity is worth the risk. Consider that maybe the city might confiscate them to power, say, the city hospital. Or City Hall. You got the idea.

  309. Yes, indeed. Plenty of wildlife within easy walking distance of my house – which is 3 1/2 blocks from Central Avenue (ex-Route 66). A pair of roadrunners on my block and the next one north, hawks in the nearby park, all sorts of birds, a coyote seen crossing a parking lot – bears down from the foothills and raiding garbage cans in season closer to the mountains. People have seen our regional 6-foot pussycats on the streets of Denver occasionally, though I’ve never seen one in Albuquerque. Rock squirrels have been the plague of some of the neighborhoods nearby (anyone for terriers? Oops! Instant doggy entertainment and chow.)

    BTW, I copied the Guide to the Great Old Ones and the picture of Tsathoggua onto a Word Document – with proper attributions! – for my own enjoyment and to tuck into the book, and promise to buy a published guide from you if one ever comes out. If this is piracy, I’ll delete it and tear up my copy.

  310. Sigh, to think we may have eliminated the personal automobile by the time I graduated high school so that people it the 21st century blathering on about electric cars would seem absurd!

  311. Ace, Towards the end of the Roman Empire there was no opt in for living without slave labor but St.
    Benedict told his followers that just that is what they would have to do if they wanted to hang with him. Ora et labora.

    About pattern drafting: there are essentially two methods, draping and drafting. The former appeals to people who like to do things quickly and the latter is favored by picky, fussy slow solids like me. Two good books are How to Make Sewing Patterns by Donald McCunn and
    Dorothy Moore’s Pattern Drafting and Dressmaking. Both are mid 60s I think and show up in 2nd hand venues from time to time. People who live in big cities can look for Japanese sewing books and magazines which feature fantastic wearable styles, patterns included and instructions. The two books will show you how to draft a basic pattern which fits you exactly–really, I have used both–and then you can simply lay that over a commercial pattern to check the fit. There is little reason to buy overpriced commercial patterns. If you want the latest, cutting edge styles, check out the website for Mood Fabrics which offers free, downloadable patterns to be printed out.

  312. Shane, the thing that blows me away about the “we’re all gonna DIE!” rhetoric is that, ahem, all of us are going to die anyway. Human beings are mortal; they fall over dead within a century or so at most. You, me, Ahavah, everybody else — we’re going to die, full stop, end of sentence. Shrieking over something that’s going to happen to every one of us soon enough anyway strikes me as profoundly addled!

    Helix, thank you, and a belated happy solstice to you and yours!

    Pogonip, have you considered keeping a dog? That seems to do the trick.

    Prizm, my take has long been that an updated version of Seton’s Woodcraft, with room for adults as well as kids, could have a huge role to play in the transition ahead — it simply needs people who have the passion, knowledge, and inclination to make it a reality. Are you interested in doing that? If so, go for it.

    Packshaud, that seems very sensible to me. As always, if your plans are based on having stuff, someone else is always going to be ready to take the stuff away from you, and eventually you’ll run out of ammo. If your plans are based on having useful skills, other people are going to value you and make sure they have the chance to benefit from your skills. Oh, and if you voluntarily use less of any given resource than others do, in a time of shortage, the others will tend to be grateful since you’re using less than your share…

    Patricia, alas, we don’t have six-foot pussycats here, although they used to show up in city parks in Seattle when I lived there. As for the tentacular Tree of Life, you’re fine — I posted that free of charge on a public journal, so you’re entirely free to make a copy for personal use.

  313. JMG, no, I can’t keep a dog, my autistic son is terrified of them, and the squirrels laugh at cats.

  314. I bet JMG is already scribbling notes for “The Weird of Hershey,” featuring the eldritch Hershey Entities!

  315. The amount of cowardice in modern society is palpable. One thing about the military, at least they’re willing to face death, even if I don’t necessarily support the cause they’re fighting for.

  316. Quite frankly, after seeing what the Americans did to the Middle East and other regions of the world, I don’t buy for a moment that they are the lesser of two evils. I think a lot of people around the world are looking forward to a day when the USA is too impoverished to hurt anyone else besides themselves.

  317. As someone whose a bit (ok, extremely) sensitive I would think the disconnect with nature stems from a feeling issue rather than a thought process error although perhaps those are more interlinked when I think on it. Sometimes I feel like I live in a different world entirely to others and one where nature is much more alive, invigorating and connected. It seems like people live in squares put in by rules that explain the world at a level they can understand but then it turns into a maze and they can’t perceive the world outside of those boxes(a world I find hard and abrasive often). I guess we all do that to varying degrees but I do find it odd how fixed peoples worlds are, I guess I find it an odd idea to have so little self doubt when I find I am constantly wrong about things and have to keep adapting my perceptions.

    I think perhaps I think the next big religious/spiritual movement has to be linked back in to a love of the living world because if that feeling connection to the living world isn’t established I think humans will continue to follow a pattern of trying to rise above nature. Perhaps that is more achievable in a gentle natural environment like how I am able to enjoy my home and land so much more knowing that there are no snakes in the long grass when my kids are out playing, thanks to being in New Zealand. And also perhaps a greater acceptance of the natural worlds irregular nature and of our own irregular nature needs to be accepted. After all you can’t love a living world as a blanket belief if there’s wasps in it who sting you just because they feel like it, you have to accept its different personalities and respect it.

  318. Hi John Michael,

    Border laws are enforced quite ruthlessly down here. Is it a good look internationally – Probably not. Do we turn people smuggler boats back at sea – yup. Do we have to patrol ocean routes to New Zealand – yup. Are there people who proclaim “Bring them here” – absolutely. Do we possibly have children in off shore detention until recently – yup. Do we allow more immigrants and refugees to settle here for our small population than pretty much anywhere else – yup. Have we imported grains onto the continent this year due to extreme weather events, when previously we were an exporter – yup. Is the whole thing a complicated mess – you betcha!

    That is what decline looks like. I ask folks down here who like to consume grain products such as bread and pasta the hard question: How much do they know about growing grains? The inevitable answer is: not much.



  319. Hi YCS,

    I’m fortunate that some of my rainfall comes from the warming of the Indian Ocean far and away to the north west of the continent. I have the rainfall readings for the past 140 years and rainfall is on the increase on average at this location. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that the rain can’t suddenly disappear for a few months in the middle of summer and leave me in a state of worry about the land here. It is a complicated business. This year the major rainfall events are arriving by way of a warmer Southern Ocean and it is different every single year. The variability in climate here is a serious challenge for agriculture.

    Hi Aged Spirit,

    Well only you can answer that question! 😉 Wombat poo is a fascinating (and useful) thing though, and the mechanism by which it derives its square shape has only recently been discovered: Great moments in science – Cube-shaped wombat poo. Enjoy! The wombats send greetings to you!



  320. JMG,

    I’ve been benefiting from your writings with somewhat regular visits to your blogs over the last few years—thanks so much for the impressive effort to share your knowledge.

    The following comments are in the vein of some advise you gave in response to a comment a couple days ago:

    “YCS, of course! That’s one of the reasons I tend to make a beeline for topics like this one — it may make people uncomfortable, sure, but there’s a good chance that some of the people thus made uncomfortable will think about it, and address the aspect of our predicament they can change directly — that is, their own lives.”

    I’m not going to pollute your comment section with a bunch of links, save three—anyone inclined to investigate further will search using their own methods, but I would urge people to be cognizant of search engine bias on sensitive subjects—as an example, duckduckgo delivers significantly different results than some of the mainstream engines.

    As you’ve pointed out, our climate has cycled through warmer and colder periods continuously—at one point the CO2 level was 20 times higher than it is now, 8000 ppm. The interesting thing is that temperature rise precedes rising CO2 levels by many years. We’ve been in a warm period, but it’s starting to trend down as the Sun has become more quiet over the last three 11 year solar cycles.

    The main driver of our climate is the Sun. The climate models are simplistic to the point of being useless, as the programmers relegated the Sun to be nothing but a bit player. We are absolutely trashing the place, causing species extinction on a large scale and wasting resources, but our contribution to climate change is modest at best. The Sun is incredibly complex, with multi-year thru multi-century cycles overlapping each other.

    When you search “mass gains in antarctic ice” on the NASA website, you find there has been a net gain in the ice pack of 100 gigatons/yr on average since the early 90’s—that’s 100 billion tons per year. It’s true that the West Antarctic Peninsula has been losing ice and of course that’s where all the media has been focused, but the overall gain for the continent year after year has been massive. Recently, significant volcanic activity has been discovered to be taking place under the West Antarctic Peninsula.

    Our real problem is that physical cosmology and astrophysics went off the rails around the time of Einstein and allowed scientists to go down the wrong path toward the Big Bang theory and black holes, eventually forcing them to concoct the ideas of dark matter and dark energy to try and patch together a failing model as more and more observations didn’t match up to expectations.

    The Plasma Cosmology model is the beachhead upon which an accurate understanding of our own solar system is being built. Plasma is ionized, conductive matter and pervades all of space, constituting 95+% of all matter in the Universe. The Universe is fundamentally electrical, consequently our Sun is an electrical phenomenon. There is no nuclear furnace at the core. Electricity flows into each pole of our Sun from the Milky Way Galaxy and partially emerges from the sphere as solar wind, which is highly variable. Earth’s weather, volcanism and earthquakes are electromagnetic effects of our Sun.

    One thing I was always curious about: our jet stream rotates faster than the Earth, in the same direction, why? The Electric Universe model gives the answer–the Earth and its atmosphere are being electromagnetically driven by the sun, from the principal of the homopolar motor. Steady or increasing sunspot activity, indicating steady or higher energy output from the Sun, imparts torque to our atmosphere (and the Earth), which keeps the jet stream and polar vortex coherent and stable. Decreasing sunspot activity/lower energy output decreases torque and allows the polar vortex and jet stream to become chaotic, which brings cold weather South/warm weather North. Venus is an extreme example of this effect: it has a rotation period of 243 days, but its atmosphere circles the planet in 4 days!

    Notable Plasma pioneers: Professor Kristian Birkeland (Birkeland Currents), Irving Langmuir (Nobel Prize winner), Hannes Alfven (Nobel Prize winner), Dr Anthony Perratt (electrical engineer)

    Wallace Thornhill (physicist) check out his early archive from 1999 thru about 2012

    Professor Donald Scott (electrical engineering) author of “The Electric Sky” 2012

  321. Another big advantage of a Depression is that it would give people a lot of free time. I’m always amazed at how busy people are and how that keeps them from reflecting on their lives, their communities, and their society. By grinding things to a halt, a Depression would give people time to reflect on those things.

  322. IDK, JMG, maybe it wasn’t true, but wasn’t cowardice regarded as a mortal sin punishable by death in the not-to-distant past? It seems like cowards were shot point-blank in a lot of cases in the 19th century, particularly during time of distress.

  323. “I don’t agree with all their tactics, but it’s crucial for your country and mine alike to grasp that we could lose — and the world under Chinese global hegemony will not be an improvement on the world under US global hegemony.”
    Sigh, if only the Canadians could realize that their future lies NOT w/the US, but w/either China or India, and choose wisely. (Not going to hold my breath.)

  324. @DFC

    Interesting factoid: _The Forbidden Planet_ is based on Shakespeare’s _The Tempest_. Great movie of a different era.


    A number of Dem seem to be all hot-n-heavy about O’Rourke as the second coming of Obama, which makes me suspect that’s exactly what he’d be. Thank you, no. As for Brown, I can’t say. I’d need to learn more about the policy platform being supported.

  325. @Shane: “to think we may have eliminated the personal automobile by the time I graduated high school”… This took me several moments to parse! One of the hurdles for non-English native speakers in understanding Americans is the innovative use of “may 🙂

  326. Climate change defeatist here.
    I just find it way too convenient that the point of no return for our species is always 5-20 years in the future, just long enough for a big collective push to save us all from disaster. This seems tainted by wishful thinking – who is to say that we didn’t miss the deadline back in 2005, or 1987? We’ve been messing with the environment for way longer than that.
    I also keep thinking of the Leap Manifesto ( from a couple of years back, a great moral document that (among other things) suggests funding the massive expense of saving the planet by… tapping the international bond market. After all, if it can fund wars it can save the planet, right?
    Wrong. Capitalism is a blind idiot god and it will not be sated until every last drop of economically viable oil is removed from the ground and sold at market price, the survival of the system itself (and its primate components) be damned.
    This is the kind of thinking that Moscrop decries, but I think fails to really address. Hopeless optimism in the face of damning evidence is actually worse than waiting for death, because at least people tend to get bored of supine despair and wander off to do something when armageddon fails to occur. Things like: accepting that catastrophic climate change is inevitable, and figuring out what can be done to mitigate its impact. Dismantling sea-level nuclear power plants seems a reasonable priority, as does anticipating the food and shelter needs of billions of displaced people from the global south. (hint: they can’t all move to America and western europe) Don’t get me wrong; it’s going to be terrible either way. But like Brexit, wallowing in comforting illusions till the 11th hour is a perfect way to make a catastrophe exactly as bad as possible.

  327. Actually, I kinda thought Christmas was our way of celebrating the Winter Solstice. But then again, I guess Christmas has strayed pretty far away from that and gives the solstice itself short shrift anymore…

  328. Shane: You write “my guess is that the two are intertwined–climate is changing faster than organisms can adapt.”
    Yes, they are intertwined. The normal way organisms adapt ito climate change is mobility. Now they are limited by infrastructures, like roads, railways, industrial zones, and housing areas, plus there are limited remaining habitats for wildlife. In addition, they face other stresses like overhunting and overfishing. They can be annihilated in these ways even in the absence of climate change. The reason why concern for the fate of wildlife is more urgent for me than climate change is sympathy: they are living beings like us..

  329. Helix – Do you have a source for you assertion that antibiotics are being found in “milligram per liter” levels? That seems awfully high to me, and the few sources I’ve turned up are describing “nanograms per liter” levels. Now, “” does admit to “over 1000 ng/l” but 1000 ng is only 0.001 mg, and that was a particular contaminant in a particular place. I don’t doubt that powerful chemicals are still contaminating our water, even though we haven’t had a river catch fire lately, but I think it’s important to get the numbers right.

  330. packshaud – I have rooftop solar panels, but they’re not visible from the street, and I keep a dented 2003 station-wagon in the driveway most of the time as a signal (and an honest one) that there’s little worth the trouble of stealing inside the house. I imagine that if thieves did break in, they’d look around and say “just books? No TV? Let’s move on…” I probably could cultivate better relations with my neighbors, but there’s one that I loan pruning equipment to, another that I do computer maintenance for, and a third that we trade culinary experiments with, so we’re on the right track.

    If my solar panels allowed them to recharge their devices when the neighborhood power was out, you can bet I’d have them do it! (However, the neighborhood power has been very reliable for the last few years.)

    If my ham radio station allowed them to keep in touch with friends and family, I’d schedule weekly chats. (For now, of course, the commercial telecom system works fine for them. Let’s hope that continues.)

    As JMG said: be an asset to your neighbors, not a source of envy.

  331. Dear Pogonip, the bane of a gardener’s life are neighbors who want to feel good about themselves. Often it is feeding scores of feral cats who then use your vegetable beds for bathrooms. One technique which has worked for some gardeners is to spread copious amounts of both red and black pepper around your plants. One seed company recommends planting melon pears as a sort of trap crop for small wildlife. Whether the small melons would satisfy the uninvited guests or simply attract even more I can’t say.

  332. @ David BTL

    I’m curious what you mean when you say the US will be a second rate power? I agree the power of the US will continue to decline significantly relative to other rising nations. However, I think the likeliest outcome is the US remaining a strong regional power, but no longer dominant outside its own neighborhood. The size, population, and resources that remain in the US (even as energy resources are constrained) lead me to believe the US will remain a significant world power. Not a superpower, but still a first rate power. Of course, the relative decline from being the sole superpower to being just another nation may make it feel like second rate status to Americans.

    Where I see the US possibly falling to second rate status is if it disintegrates in some way. Is that an outcome you think is likely?

  333. That’s one of the blind spots we fixate on when we think of Dark Ages, both past and present. We fixate on the crumbling and decaying civilization w/out noticing the resurgence of life that destroys the civilization. Dark ages are simply a surge of life and nature and a retreat of humanity.

  334. For anyone wanting a review of events and conditions of the last year, largely business, finance, and American culture, see this:

    It’s not filled with the absurd humor of Dave Barry’s year in review, but it does have flashes of levity… or is that just sarcasm. It’s long, but well foot-noted so you can go back to his sources and draw your own conclusions.

  335. At the end, what we need is to accept to die, but nobody is talking about this, not even Druids, for what I know.
    I think Climate Change will gradually disappear from media and social, as overpopulation have already done.

  336. Re: tentacular tree of life -thanks~! Re: 6-foot pussycats, we did have one crash into a furniture store here a few years ago. In Florida, where I’ll be moving to in midyear, they’re one of the state’s 2 totem animals, the other being the manatee. Though north Florida’s is really the Gators.

    Merry Christmas to all who celebrate Christmas!

  337. Of course we can choose our level of participation in industrial culture, it’s not all or nothing. If we want to become closer to nature and live in a culture that is closer to nature, we’re going to have to go beyond lowering consumption into producing goods and services (and harveting nature’s bounty) from our local environment in a way that there is a market for our products. I think rather than judging people based on how much they consume, we could also judge them based on how much (and how locally) they produce, and in which direction they are headed. But not in a virtue signalling way. In a way that’s goal-driven, rather than morality-driven, with the goal being as much production and consumption from local environment (which automatically and quickly ensures nature-care, and limits over-production and consumption or we don’t survive).

  338. Chris at Fernglade wrote,

    “one thing that surprises me about living the way that we do – People invariably comment that: Oh my god, you work hard! What they don’t quite understand is that it is really a lot of fun ”

    Recently Sharon Astyk talked about going to the doctor, and the doctor read from a checklist of “self-care activities” that Astyk should, apparently, be doing – as a mother of ten she was supposed to be horribly stressed. Of course, she’s not stressed from her work – she’s too busy to be stressed! More importantly, looking after her ten children fulfils her.

    Half a century ago Erich Fromm was often writing about people being alienated from their work – being in a factory putting a nut on a bolt as it went by, not feeling part of the end product, likewise in office work, etc. If you are alienated from your work, then of course you need “self-care” and breaks from it. But if you are intimately involved with your work, if you feel the work makes the best use of your creative and productive powers, then maybe you don’t need as much “self-care”; the work itself is caring for you.

    I was once a chef, and I can’t say I enjoyed every shift. But most times I prepare food for my family, I enjoy it. Physically and technically it’s the same task, but it feels different. I’m no longer a chef.

    As well as industrialists and environmentalists both being disconnected from natural processes and rhythms, people are disconnected from their work. And so you get little moments like Astyk described, and like you described. Really it’s a cultural clash. For example,

    Ashara wrote,

    “As Hobbes so wisely noted all those centuries ago, life in a state of nature is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short. Why would we want to go back to that?”

    This is not necessarily so. Hobbes was writing with no experience either of primitive life, nor yet even of farming. In fact, it is notable that Hobbes was writing of an URBAN environment.

    Humans are by nature not solitary – we have such long periods of infancy that we simply have to co-operate or we won’t survive; whether the long infancy caused the co-operation or the co-operation caused the long infancy is open to argument.

    Nor is life necessarily poor, nasty, brutish and short. Our ideas of primitive life are shaped by the surviving primitive tribes. But why are they surviving? Because they live on very marginal land, areas with little or too much rainfall. And historically these are the areas with horrible long conflicts. There are lengthy civil wars in Somalia, Syria and Yemen, rather less in Germany. When resources are scarce, people fight over them – and of course, the constant conflict holds back all kinds of development, nobody is going to invest in a startup in Afghanistan.

    We Westerners took the good land and resource-rich areas from stone and iron age locals, and left them with the wastelands. We then turned around and said, “Look how miserable they are in those wastelands, what a terrible life, good thing we came to liberate them from it.”

    This is not to say that we should all live a stone age life; it is to say that it was not as universally bleaky dreadful as commonly imagined.

  339. Hi Nastarana,

    Oh, Lord, cat ladies! We had one across the street. The landlord could do little except keep trapping—he couldn’t evict her for exceeding the pet limit because he couldn’t prove they were hers. The poor things were all sick. I encountered a kitten whose eyes were so badly infected they were dissolving. I took pictures and called the police about the animal cruelty. They referred me to Animal Control, who said, “There are 400,000 stray cats in [this] county, get in line.”

    I also had pictures of the huge red wounds on my legs from all the flea bites. After seeing those pictures the landlord did manage to get Cat Lady out somehow, and I appreciated it! I think her lease came up for renewal right then, and he tripled the rent.

    Mental hospitals should be revived if for no orher reason than to confine cat collectors, who are not only practicing animal cruelty, they’re a danger to their fellow citizens. Suppose that, instead of eye infections and fleas, those cats had all had TB (yes, cats can catch it) or, perhaps, rabies?

  340. On a more cheerful animal note: —Where does the Peter Rabbit Magical Lodge meet?
    —Why, in Mr. Egregor’s garden!


  341. Also, Ashara, I want to respond to your assertion of 30-40% infant mortality in the Middle Ages.

    It is true that worldwide about 1/3 children died before the age of 5yo. However, one of the leading causes was malnutrition – both of the mother breastfeeding, and of the child past weaning age. While fossil fuel based agriculture has certainly made more food available (the world produces about twice as much food as is needed to feed everyone) malnutrition is typically a local and preventable event.

    The second major cause of infant mortality in the middle ages, as today in poorer countries, are communicable diseases causing diarrhoea. Most of those are preventable by good sanitation. For example London in the 19th century built a sewer system []. They actually did not yet have a germ theory, but believed disease was carried by “miasma”, basically the stinky vapours of the waste. The system carried the filth away and far, far fewer people got sick. Drinking and washing in clean water saved millions of lives.

    I would observe, by the way, that while their Christian neighbours had infant mortality rates of 30+%, urban Jewish and Islamic communities had more like 10% – because of all their ideas about ritual purity, washing themselves after going to the toilet, handling dead animals or people, and so on. While we rightly decry superstitions about women being “unclean” during menstruation and “miasmas” and the like, they did have a good effect in the end.

    Once the bacterial diseases were minimised by sanitation, that left the viral diseases like polio – for which we developed vaccines. Now, many vaccines are developed with quite high technology such as recombinant DNA stuff, but many others are relatively low-technology and were done around 1900.

    Once you take away malnutrition, add sanitation and vaccination, infant mortality goes from ~30% to under 10%. The world infant mortality rate is some 4.5% now, and most of us that is either diseases for which we have no vaccine (malaria, HIV/AIDS) or for which a vaccine is widely-available globally but not in that particular region (eg measles).

    Thus, in principle infant mortality could be at 1% or so with universal sanitation and vaccination – at around a 1900 level of technology. In this as in so many other things, it’s an 80/20 rule – 80% of your results come with 20% of the things you could do.

    Good food, clean water, and vaccinations. The year 1900. Now, obviously I would hope for a higher standard of living than that; nonetheless there are far less deaths and much less misery than you might imagine at that level.

  342. RE: China–my understanding is that they’re much nicer abroad than at home, relying on the charm offensive, which has won them more allegiance than the US, which relies on the stick and is absolutely clueless when it comes to diplomacy. Still, IDK about China once their empire solidifies.
    Interesting to carry this thought experiment forward, but consider that in this alternate, Carter-2nd-term, then Anderson, world, tariffs were increased to deal with the threat of increased imports. American auto manufacturers and the UAW manage to protect the US auto industry from Japanese imports, thereby ensuring that more reliable, efficient cars never revolutionize the American automobile market. Increased gas taxes make driving ever more expensive, meanwhile, unreliable, domestic leaded land yachts are the norm at car lots into the 80s. At the same time, the nation’s rail and transit network is revitalized w/increased gas taxes. By the 90s, when the UAW and American auto manufacturers realize the need to improve their fleet, it is too late, and the industry goes under. By this time, autos have already been banned from urban areas to deal w/the lead and smog problem. Electric and self-driving cars never even came onto the radar b/c cars were eliminated a good 20 years before such technology was even possible, and by now, the nation’s interstate highway system is being dismantled starting with the urban areas moving outward.

  343. @Ryan S

    Re the US as a second-rate power

    By second-rate (I ought to say, second-tier: more a neutral term), I mean that there will be a circle of primary global powers, including but possibly not limited to China, and the US will not be a member of that circle. Think Britain, as one example, playing second-fiddle to the US, except we likely won’t have a former colony to whom we might serve as chief vassal, but will simply be a has-been power.

    I see this discusssion we see out there of “oh, we’re going to be in a multi-polar world and the US will have to learn to share power among others in the top-tier” as face-saving and, to put it bluntly, denial. No, by the time this century is half-done, I expect it will be quit clear that the United States is no longer among the major group of global power brokers.

    Is that bad? It depends. If one’s self-worth is based on how much power one wields, then such a turn of events is devistating. (Personally, given our inflated national ego, I suspect it will be a significant psychological blow.). However, a nation can get along quite nicely, minding its own business and tending to the needs of its own citizenry without involving itself in the affairs of others or of the globe generally. That is where I’d argue we should be heading and investing our resources. A deliberate and controlled strategic retreat from empire is a far better thing than the standard collapse. And given that we will no longer be calling the shots in the global system as it lingers on for another century or so, it would behoove us not to be too dependent on that system, I’d suggest.

    Self-reliance, not international integration. Self-sufficiency, not globalized consumerism. Self-defense, not empire.

  344. @Ryan S

    Re the second part of your question, which I realize I didn’t answer

    With re to the US remaining intact, the short answer to your question is yes, I believe disintegration is the most probable outcome. And I’ll give you my reasoning behind that conclusion.

    If you look at the course of US history, we have always been a collection of various polities, whether we are talking about states or regions. We have never been a single, coherent polity. Our present construct is a direct outcome of our march to empire (which I mark, as a conscious policy choice, as beginning with the Mexican-American War). Our one major regional secession crisis was solved via brute force and by the time the offending region regained its feet, the US had completed it march to world dominance. That world dominance and its benefits are what hold us together. As those benefits go away as our empire goes away, those ties will weaken and the interregional divisions, which have only been papered over in the interim, will rise to the surface again. Personally, I expect that before the tricentennial, one or more states will have functionally seceded (de facto, if not de jure). Hopefully, it will be more a quiet dissolution than armed conflict, but we will see.

    This is another reason I argue for a proactive decentralization of our current highly-centralized system of governance. By returning to a looser confederation of states, working together with respect to certain very limited issues of common interest but otherwise staying out of one another’s business, I believe we stand a better chance of avoiding the more explosive outcomes and retaining some of the benefits of this Union.

  345. The problems w/the American automotive industry in the late 60s and early 70s were well documented @ the time, and if they’d just been left to stagnate w/out the pressure of foreign competition, it could’ve gone a long way towards building a post-car world.

  346. PlasmaU,

    Thank you for your post. I recently learned that Antarctica is the most volcanically active land mass. But does the plasma cosmology model have an answer to why rotation speeds vary so much? Venus is nearly identical in size to earth, yet it rotates 243 times slower.

  347. Teaching humans to rescue the planet’s ecology seems about a plausible a project as teaching the cat not to hunt birds or the grass not to grow. I mean, it’s a kind of category error. The history of ‘civilisation’ since the age of exploration is one of exploitation, enslavement and destruction, of nature and the peoples who live closest to nature, by technological man. You can disengage from this process if you like, but the wheels of history will run over your bones.

  348. @Violet, Wow, your comment at -December 21, 2018 at 10:53 am- was the best comment I’ve read all day, and that’s saying something considering that –rather than celebrating a holiday– I’ve been reading on here and Naked Capitalism all day long.

    Hypocrisy or death indeed. We don’t do binaries here!

  349. JMG, do Druids go to Chinese restaurants on Xmas, as some Jews do, or join the neighbors’s holiday dinner, as other Jews do? Whatever you and Sara did, I hope you had a great time!

  350. @David BTL

    “Self-reliance, not international integration. Self-sufficiency, not globalized consumerism. Self-defense, not empire.”

    If this is the outcome, I think it’s very hopeful. For personal and nostalgic reasons I do want the US to stay intact. I think you’re right, to stay intact we need to accept that certain regions or states will have very different laws and norms. Only very fundamental rights should be dictated from the center. (Maybe we can return to the Constitution as a guide. One right that I want to see survive is freedom of movement, so people can go to the places they feel most comfortable ideologically.) If the Union can hold together in any form, the US will have no problem with self-defense given its relative isolation from other potential first-tier powers.

    While I will oppose dissolution, I realize it’s a very likely outcome. I doubt anyone today has the will to do what the North did from 1861-1865. If the images of Gettysburg were flashed across a TV or computer screen, that’s the end of the Union. We need more flexibility and local control.

    As for China and India, their ascension seems primarily based on population. Since the US has the world’s third largest population and is half a world away, I don’t think they pose an existential threat to the US. If they rise in tandem, their proximity and history with each other suggests a lot of their time and attention will be devoted to dealing with each other. That will leave the US alone to go about its business.

    I’m also not sure China and India rise to first-tier status and leave the US very far behind because of how relatively poor they are as we enter an era of resource constraints. It’s also arguable that China, in particular, will grow old before it grows rich as a result of the one child policy. China faces the same constraints as western countries in terms of a growing elderly population without nearly as much per capita wealth. That is a needle the Chinese will need to figure out how to thread.

    I think all of this does mean that countries near China and India (Australia and New Zealand come readily to mind) will need to adjust their foreign policies significantly to new realities. I think Canada will remain fine in the US sphere of influence, which will more closely resemble a relationship of mutual advantage given our proximity and shared history. That’s just my opinion though.

    These are certainly interesting times.

  351. @Kaye Oh,
    I find it very comforting when I have to go to a suburban shopping center to imagine it as an overgrown wilderness full of life 200-300 yrs. from now…

  352. “Self-reliance, not international integration. Self-sufficiency, not globalized consumerism. Self-defense, not empire.”
    Honestly, David, that seems to be where Trump’s policies are leading us. It still remains to be seen whether someone on the other side (Brown, Gabbard) could offer a more tactful, palatable approach. I must admit, having been sold out so many times before, I’m skeptical. To me, the Dems are way too nice and PC and unwilling to literally fight for things–look at the way Bernie caved. Honestly, part of me did not trust him not to cave and sell out BEFORE he caved to Hillary, and I certainly don’t now. I’m always wary that any progressive Dem will turn out to be another Obama once they get the reins of power.

  353. “With re to the US remaining intact, the short answer to your question is yes, I believe disintegration is the most probable outcome. And I’ll give you my reasoning behind that conclusion.”
    And on that note, I’ll be approaching House and Senate leadership in the KY legislature during the next session to pass a “consent to secede” resolution for California, in keeping w/the Texas v. White decision. Polling shows support for California secession to be highest in the reddest states. In keeping with, “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,” I’m noticing we’re well into the “fight you” stage, judging by the level of rage I’m sensing regarding secession, so I think that secession is an idea who’s time has come. “As goes California, so goes the country.” In a world where Trump gets elected president, California secession doesn’t seem so far fetched. For those who say it would never be recognized, well, let’s just get the resolutions passed in a majority of states (preferably 2/3rds of them), then get the prop on the ballot in Calif. and get it passed, and then see what happens. Lay the groundwork first. People who said that Trump would never be allowed in the Oval Office nor Britain leaving the EU say the same thing about California leaving the Union.

  354. @dropBear

    If you are taking it upon yourself to save the world, or the Tongans, I would expect for you to solve their obesity epidemic first. Or perhaps the thousands of people imprisoned in individuals dungeons right now, or the boys in Afghanistan used for sexual play. I look forward for your crusade to right all the wrongs in the world. For if you go for it, go all the way. Why do you get to pick and choose who to save or who to not?

  355. RE. Donald H’s comment “EVERYONE knows what should be done, it’s the actual doing that needs to be done.” This is what Christianity refers to as “original sin” which is, as G. K. Chesterton put it, the only part of Christian theology that can be universally proven by personal experience. (I realized far too recently that most revealed religions are similarly based on true diagnoses; though the suggested treatments tend to run off the rails (cough Marxism cough).)

  356. @Brian R

    No one individual has to right all the wrongs of the world. All of us, even acting in concert, cannot possibly right all the wrongs of the world: they are too tightly interwoven with one another, and too weighty.

    In consequence of this, any attempt you make to right some wrong for some people will inevitably wrong other people elsewhere, and will hurt at least as many people as it will help. This cannot be avoided.

    However, that is no reason to do nothing. After all, no one can possibly live a full adult life in the world without having gotten an enormous amount of human blood on one’s hands by the time one dies. (Mostly we just arrange our iives so that we can fool ourselves into thinking that our hands are relatively clean. That sort of self-delusion strikes me as vile: far better to fact every truth head-on, no matter how bad and guilty and ashamed it makes us feel.)

    So go ahead and try to save the Tongans–no matter how obese they may be–if that’s what you feel called to do. And let healthier, wiser folk go down in flames. The latter have as much or more blood on their healthy hands as any other people do.

    You, dropbear, I, anyone here cannot help being unfair in our choices of action; no matter what each of us does, it will harm others. That’s no reason not to do what speaks to your heart. Unfairness is baked into the cake, and has been since our primate ancestors were not yet human.

    It is the Perfect that is the very worst enemy fo the Good, not the Bad or the Evil.

  357. Hi Ashara, You said:

    “a half-forgotten myth of a forever-lost golden age where humanity was briefly free from the harsh and merciless constraints of nature”

    Certain species might see it this way, instead:

    “a half-forgotten myth of a forever-lost golden age where *nature* was briefly free from the harsh and merciless constraints of *humanity*”

    Lest we forget about the non-human nature, which is the vastly larger portion of nature, but currently shrinking.

  358. Hi Onething,

    Yeah, Antarctica seems to have some extreme localized heat in the West and East. This recent Nasa article backpedals on the 100 gigaton/yr gain in Antarctic ice, but does show the volcanic heat sources very well:

    Another thing about volcanic activity—there is a lot more going on than most people realize, underwater. A couple decades ago the estimate for the number of underwater volcanoes was less than 10 thousand, now it’s a million+. In the Electric Universe, activities of the Sun are the main driver of volcanism, as well as earthquakes. A quiet Sun=more volcanism:

    The Arctic ocean has plenty of volcanoes—how much heat is being released beneath the Arctic ice?

    It’s interesting to contemplate the World 18,000 years ago at the peak of the last ice age, when the seas were 400 feet higher than today, while also considering the accuracy of sea level rise measurements, including the phenomenon of post-glacial rebound:–east-coast-than-others

    Rebound Northern Canada=18mm/yr:

    About the rotation speeds, the specifics of different planets get very complex, but the following would be a good place to start.

    Here’s a diagram for our electric Sun, from the website of physicist Wal Thornhill:

    The homopolar motor, aka Faraday motor is the model that would explain the rotation of many structures in the Universe—galaxies, down to stars, down to planets:

    “As retired Professor of Electrical Engineering Don Scott wrote:”

    “In 1986, Nobel laureate Hannes Alfven postulated both an electrical galactic model and an electric solar model. Recently physicist Wal Thornhill has pointed out that Alfven’s circuits are really scaled up versions of the familiar homopolar motor that serves as the watt-hour meter on each of our homes.”

    Electrical engineers have a big leg-up in this new paradigm of Plasma Cosmology, so I recommend the website of retired electrical engineering professor Donald Scott:

  359. Have to be honest, as someone who has been in and around climate acitivism for the past 25 years, I find this article quite objectionable.
    A major shortcoming of most activism, in my view, has been the reduction of a fundamentally political impasse into talk limitted to ‘strategy’, ‘the projecting of integrity’, ‘winning hearts and minds’ etc.
    John’s critique here follows this same line, and both his and Moscrop’s analyses seem to bypass consideration of the vast resources of the propaganda system which shapes public opinion.
    Such opinion is not formed in a ‘free market of ideas’ where the best strategy wins the day by answering the ‘needs and wants’ of ‘political consumers’, rather, it is shaped by the investment of huge amounts of money (by plutocrats) for the deliberate creating and nurturing of ‘needs and wants’ in the population, and through the outright owning and distortion of the ‘market of ideas’. The strategies which John claims have failed the climate change movement are the very same that have been utilised to great effect by their opponents, thereby undermining his argument somewhat. The state-corporate-lobbying nexus has funded astroturf protests, has bankrolled lawsuits, has shouted down the reasonable opinions of those who want to stop the destruction. (They have of course gone much further, for example criminalising dissent, infiltrating activist groups etc.). The reason they won and climate activists ‘lost’ is that they have the concentrated wealth and power of a capitalist-state system behind them, not just because they employed a more effective ‘strategy’.
    If we consider that the scientific and academic institutions which try to research and refine an understanding of what is happening to the Earth; the educational and media systems which communicate knowledge and mediate the exchange of opinions; and the political institutions that are supposedly the domain of societal decision making, are all effectively captured the the very same vested interests which (we now know) deliberately skew their work in favour of their own interests – then the gain in support for action on climate that we have seen is actually a remarkable achievement of a relatively small ‘David’ against industrial capitalism’s ‘Goliath’.
    There are plenty of climate activists who demonstrate the integrity to both live outside the consumerist madness which our society has become, and to devote time and energy into the political struggle of demanding change at the top. These people are kept off any platform which might give them a significant audience though – for reasons that should be obvious.
    Climate change activism is not above criticism, but for me, the thing that is interesting in its ‘not being mentioned’, is that the flow of ideas themselves has long been the essential node of power what is an ostensibly open and democratic society. Nobody can build a movement for drastic change without getting a democratic hold on those nodes. The climate movement has been slow to recognise this.

  360. This current, hierarchical, consumer-industrial culture is destroying our life support systems. I am nurturing the culture in which we humans can live on this planet for another 60,000 years. I see three major principles of this ‘new’ / ancient culture.

    First, it is communal instead of hierarchical. Power flows horizontally within the circle instead of vertically from the top down. Relationships are freely chosen, co-equal partnerships of sovereign human beings. Power With replaces Power Over.

    Second, all functions are localized. We live within our local bio-budgets: water, food, fuel, energy, shelter, et al. We localize our economy, our politics, our community, our recreation. When everything we need is right here, we don’t need the industrial / exploitation concept.

    Third, we notice how nature is doing it. We surrender the illusion of control and follow nature’s lead.

    I support this cultural transition by taking leadership in creating local, eco-community and by energizing it whenever I discover it.

  361. I would like to “be the change”. However one way I have avoided is travelling more by bicycle. Partly because of the inconvenience but also because of fear of death. So many drivers today are only thinking about themselves and not about anyone else. Considerate Citizens have been successfully transformed into self-absorbed Consumers.

    I’m constantly reminding my teenage children that just because the light is green doesn’t mean all drivers will stop.

    This year for the first time, I saw a driver run through a red light after stopping, basically treating it the same as a stop sign.

  362. I go away for a month and you all have this fascinating discussion! It’s been a while since I’ve been in Australia, and much longer since I’ve been in the US. The last time I was in the States, a full six years ago, my husband and I were astonished to see the newly homeless or soon to be homeless in shock at their condition, begging for money. We sometimes invite relatives from the States to come see us, knowing full well they won’t. The ones that did take us up on it had spent their childhood in India and were not shocked at our tin-plated digs, but the others? Nah, if they come, there are several lovely climate-controlled hotels nearby, and we’ll go see them there. Yet I still consider myself a success…

    Regarding the hypocrites, I see one or two things happening. Most likely their numbers diminish as more and more of them wake up astonished, like one relative near Boston who bought a lovely home for retirement away from those awful Texans here he used to live, and is now getting eaten alive by the fuel bill but cannot consider any of my practical suggestions–heat only one room? Good god what would the neighbors say??! The other possibility is that people perceive the Trump gamble to be a failure and swing hard left, in which case hypocritical posturing and other forms of virtue signalling will prove to have been a wise choice, as you and I get paraded around in clown hats.

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