Archive for the Category ◊ Collapse ◊

• Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Peak Oil Accepted by Arab countriesThis is a major shift by the Arab countries – away from denial and towards acceptance of the Peak Oil (PO) narrative.

When will other Oil producing countries like Mexico and Canada follow suit? When will Montreal start to make serious infrastructure investments for a time when oil and gas are prohibitively expensive or collapse overtakes the supply chain?

Source: Fabius Maximus

The timing of the impending onset of world oil decline was not an issue at the conference, rather the main focus was what the GCC countries should do soon to ensure a prosperous, long-term future. To many of us who have long suffered the vociferous denial of PO by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and OPEC countries, this conference represented a major change. In the words of Kjell Aleklett (Professor of Physics at Uppsala University, Sweden), who summarized highlights of the conference, the meeting was “an historic event.”

While many PO aficionados have been focused on the impacts and the mitigation of “peak oil” in the importing countries, most attendees at this conference were concerned with the impact that finite oil and gas reserves will have on the long-term future of their own exporting countries. They see the depletion of their large-but-limited reserves as affording their countries a period of time in which they either develop their countries into sustainable entities able to continue into the long term future or they lapse back into the poor, nomadic circumstances that existed prior to the discovery of oil/gas. Accordingly, much of the conference focus was on how the GCC countries might use their current and near-term largesse to build sustainable economic and government futures.

• Friday, February 15th, 2013

Too bad this wasn’t reported in the newspapers or 6 o’clock news…

Source: The Royal Society of Biological Sciences

Virtually every past civilization has eventually undergone collapse, a loss of socio-political-economic complexity usually accompanied by a dramatic decline in population size [1]. Some, such as those of Egypt and China, have recovered from collapses at various stages; others, such as that of Easter Island or the Classic Maya, were apparently permanent [1,2]. All those previous collapses were local or regional; elsewhere, other societies and civilizations persisted unaffected. Sometimes, as in the Tigris and Euphrates valleys, new civilizations rose in succession. In many, if not most, cases, overexploitation of the environment was one proximate or an ultimate cause [3].

But today, for the first time, humanity’s global civilization—the worldwide, increasingly interconnected, highly technological society in which we all are to one degree or another, embedded—is threatened with collapse by an array of environmental problems. Humankind finds itself engaged in what Prince Charles described as ‘an act of suicide on a grand scale’ [4], facing what the UK’s Chief Scientific Advisor John Beddington called a ‘perfect storm’ of environmental problems [5]. The most serious of these problems show signs of rapidly escalating severity, especially climate disruption. But other elements could potentially also contribute to a collapse: an accelerating extinction of animal and plant populations and species, which could lead to a loss of ecosystem services essential for human survival; land degradation and land-use change; a pole-to-pole spread of toxic compounds; ocean acidification and eutrophication (dead zones); worsening of some aspects of the epidemiological environment (factors that make human populations susceptible to infectious diseases); depletion of increasingly scarce resources [6,7], including especially groundwater, which is being overexploited in many key agricultural areas [8]; and resource wars [9]. These are not separate problems; rather they interact in two gigantic complex adaptive systems: the biosphere system and the human socio-economic system. The negative manifestations of these interactions are often referred to as ‘the human predicament’ [10], and determining how to prevent it from generating a global collapse is perhaps the foremost challenge confronting humanity.

The human predicament is driven by overpopulation, overconsumption of natural resources and the use of unnecessarily environmentally damaging technologies and socio-economic-political arrangements to service Homo sapiens’ aggregate consumption [1117]. How far the human population size now is above the planet’s long-term carrying capacity is suggested (conservatively) by ecological footprint analysis.

• Sunday, February 03rd, 2013

Great Waves of Change, free bookThis book is one of the most powerful books that I have ever read. Already I’ve read it twice and I will read it for a third time this year.

Published in 2008, this book is now available for FREE download. To get your free copy of the book, go to:

What is coming to our World is beyond what we have seen in recent history (100 years) and we need new tools and new techniques to mitigate the myriad problems we face. Extreme weather events in the U.S. have already increased 5-fold since 1980. This book gives us a clear picture of the future and the perspectives we will need to navigate our unprecedented difficulties. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.


In The Great Waves of Change, Marshall Vian Summers explains the steps you can take to navigate our increasingly turbulent and uncertain times. In the face of such uncertainty, Summers presents a revolutionary new way of knowing—a unique process that can be applied by people everywhere. By understanding the Great Waves and by connecting to a deeper authority within, you can find the strength, courage and inner certainty to adapt and to become a contributor, not a victim, to a rapidly changing world.

Table of Contents

• Saturday, January 12th, 2013

Crisis is the only antidoteIn an interview, Dennis Meadows, one of the authors of the Limits to Growth, said:

We are going to evolve through crisis, not through proactive change.

Most of the angst we folks who are paying attention feel regarding the future comes from not understanding this critical point.

We feel despair and disappointment when there is a difference between our expectation of the future and what we think is the likely future. I would go further and say that we have a certain future: economic contraction, starvation, regional wars over resources, etc. These are all the consequences of being several billion people into overshoot and dealing with declining oil production and climate change. Nature, via the immutable laws of physics, will eventually rebalance things.

The machine will not stop or even slow down willingly because the individuals and institutions that comprise it have strong interests in keeping it running. We would have had to teach enough people in time that infinite growth was a disaster, and we didn’t do that. As a species, we blew it.

Getting that all we can do now is take care of our little corner of the machine is when I finally experienced peace.

Give yourself the same gift and accept that we will not, as a whole, proactively address our converging crises. We will learn only as events unfold. Once you accept this, you too will feel much more free to live your life.

Source: The Automatic Earth

We are incapable of solving our home made problems and crises for a whole series of reasons. We’re not just bad at it, we can’t do it at all. We’re incapable of solving the big problems, the global ones.

We evolve the way Stephen Jay Gould described evolution: through punctuated equilibrium. That is, we pass through bottlenecks, forced upon us by the circumstances of nature, only in the case of the present global issues we are nature itself. And there’s nothing we can do about it. If we don’t manage to understand this dynamic, and very soon, those bottlenecks will become awfully narrow passages, with room for ever fewer of us to pass through.

As individuals we need to drastically reduce our dependence on the runaway big systems, banking, the grid, transport etc., that we ourselves built like so many sorcerers apprentices, because as societies we can’t fix the runaway problems with those systems, and they are certain to drag us down with them if we let them.

• Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

If you really look at them, there is little difference between wishful thinking, technology and magic. All three are beyond our rational understanding. All three purport to solve problems beyond our means. All three have a heightened value in our culture. Kunstler, as always, is on to some startling discoveries.

Source: The Arlington Institute

Jim Kunstler has a new book out, “Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation.” You can tell from the title that Jim is still operating in big-idea land. Kunstler is always fun to read, and whether you buy all of his ideas or not, they always make you think.

This book is like a straight line into the future – considering many of the ideas and people who believe that humanity and America will be saved by technology. This is a good summary of the structural, sustainability arguments against the automobile industry, mass migrations and demographic shifts out of suburbia and the inadequacy of renewable energy sources and alternative fuels (as we understand them today) to sustain the present systems. As always, Kunstler offers delightful reading (he does know how to use the language), and thoughtful perspectives.

• Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Dark Mountain, an alternative to Transition TownFor anyone who ever attended Transition Town meetings and was driven nearly insane by the huge efforts to generate community consensus…and for artists who need to express the raw emotion of witnessing this slow motion train wreck we call “civilization.”

Source: Transition Network

Dark Mountain Project is neither a political campaign, nor a community group. In some ways it is as hard to define as Transition. Stemming out of a manifesto written by Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine in 2009, it soon developed into a book, then a festival, then a movement. It is both a cultural response to a collapsing world, and a network of people who gather to make sense of that collapse…

… There’s all the intensity of a Transition debate here but without the concerns of the Village, worrying about whether “the community” is going to come to your event, or understand you, or fund you. No battle with the Council, no struggle to get Other People to do stuff. No psychology or sitting around in a circle talking about your feelings. Everyone understands you.

The festival struck a chord deep within me that Transition, for all its complexity, does not reach. It speaks of rain and birds and ancestors and everything I am putting myself on the line for…

…What the two networks have in common is providing a meeting place and platform for people who know that the story our parents told us about our world is not holding; that the socio-economic model we have taken for granted most of our lives is not only precarious, but is socially unjust and environmentally destructive. As a people, hemmed in by denial and illusion on all sides, that meeting place is crucial. As the manifesto state,s Dark Mountain does not seek solutions, it holds a space so that a different narrative can be created. Not another monoculture but an “uncivilised” culture that is diverse in its expression as an eco-system. To be part of that creative edge is what pulled me: to listen to the stories that people are telling around the fire, on the edge of the forest, in tune with each other, intellectually sharp as a scythe.

• Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Source: BioEverything

We could have a heaven on Earth, but what have we got? You’ve got to lock all your doors, all the time. Build something and you don’t know if somebody’s going to tear it down. Go to sleep thinking you’ve done everything you can for your loved ones, and you wake up realizing life’s thrown you another curve ball in the form of unexpected problems. Work your fingers to the bone, and what do you get? Boney fingers.

Why is this all happening to us – the economy tanking, the crops dying in the fields, extreme weather events? Could it have something to do with the fact that humanity, and we as a country, have gotten a little lazy about helping our neighbors? Or gotten a little greedy about the world’s resources? You have to at least admit we each ourselves haven’t always been completely loving. So why would we be surprised when other people and even nature smacks US around?

The fact is the Earth as a whole is profoundly disturbed, and we’re going to have to make peace if we hope to survive. We have to quit making money doing destructive things, such as war over resources rather than self-defense. We need to quit trying to beat nature into submission by e.g. mowing lawns, and nurture ALL plants to grow to soak up the carbon dioxide. We have to quit making and selling poison processed “food” to each other, and quit telling poisonous half-truths to each other to justify the destructive things we are doing.

So you have to say to yourself: What is really important? That reminds me of another thing my mother used to say – “Share and share alike.”

For the most part our community gardening experiences have been a joy. We worked hard to build things, sweated working together, slept well knowing we did our best, and enjoyed that legal high you get when you do something out of love. But we have much more to do. For myself, neighbors are welcome to any food I grow, as long as somebody eats it. Unfortunately, some harvesters don’t know when to harvest, and so have picked cantaloupe, peaches, and pumpkins before they were ready. And children have been having food fights with tomatoes. It feels overwhelming sometimes to me that we as a society have become so disconnected with our own world that we don’t get it, for instance, that tomato plants growing in the dirt (fed by manures, composts, rotting dead plants and animals) are what goes into making pizza, spaghetti, tomato sauce, catsup, chili, etc.

Our roots are in the Earth. Every one of us. We need to eat. And we won’t eat if we don’t work together to grow food, which is not a given in this time of great change.

I recommend a book called City Farmer: Adventures in Urban Food Growing, by Lorraine Johnson. The hunger drama being played out here in Hazelwood, in which people of all income levels suffer for lack of healthy food (not knowing about nutrition and food growing), is being played out all over North America, and all over the world for that matter. This book chronicles radical efforts – from guerrilla gardeners planting places they don’t own to edible weed activists opening peoples’ eyes about unrecognized healthy food growing all around us – to regenerate our tattered web of life.

Rather than reacting to higher food prices in fear by being ever more cutthroat in dealing with our neighbors and environment, the only successful way to make healthy food accessible for all is for all the different kinds of people to try to be good neighbors to all the other living things – plants and animals and microbes – which are the source of our food.

The attitude of taking from other people and nature without giving has got to stop – or else.

• Thursday, July 19th, 2012

USA drought 2012Hasn’t the summer in Montreal been just wonderful? Many beautiful warm, sunny days with little rain. I love it.

However, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. Our warm days have been replicated over most of North America. With so much summer sunshine and so little rain, 61% of the lower 48 states of the USA has been declared a drought zone, the largest natural disaster by size in the history of the country.

Here’s a good dose of gloom with a bit of humor to help us come back to the reality that many of the intractable problems facing humanity, or rather our civilization, are not going away and seem to be getting worse.

Source: Dimitri Orlov

Corn prices are up over 40%. These are the only terms in which we can perceive the phenomenon of crop failure; we can’t see, touch, smell or taste the corn, it has been reduced to just a statistic. And when there isn’t enough of it, you too will be reduced to just a statistic. How do you like the sound of that?

A lot of people don’t like that at all, and react, strangely enough, by using the word “unsustainable.” You see, everything would be fine if we made it sustainable, by recycling or putting up solar panels or driving electric cars or what have you. We need to transition to a sustainable future, and for that we need a transition plan. We’ve been following the wrong plan, you see—the plan to exterminate all life on earth—but with a new plan, one that leaves out the bit about the extermination, all that would change, right? Why doesn’t it occur to anyone that the human industrial monoculture is, if anything, a little too sustainable? It may well sustain itself right up to the point where it kills everyone. A bit less sustainability might be a wise choice at this point.

• Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Resistance, Revolution, Liberation: A Model for Positive Change (print $18)
(Kindle eBook $9.95)

Source: Oftwominds

We are like passengers on the Titanic ten minutes after its fatal encounter with the iceberg: though our financial system seems unsinkable, its reliance on debt and financialization has already doomed it. We cannot know when the Central State and financial system will destabilize, we only know they will destabilize. We cannot know which of the State’s fast-rising debts and obligations will be renounced; we only know they will be renounced in one fashion or another.

The process of the unsustainable collapsing and a new, more sustainable model emerging is called revolution, and it combines cultural, technological, financial and political elements in a dynamic flux.History is not fixed; it is in our hands. We cannot await a remote future transition to transform our lives. Revolution begins with our internal understanding and reaches fruition in our coherently directed daily actions in the lived-in world.

Category: Collapse, Economics | Tags:  | Leave a Comment
• Sunday, June 10th, 2012

This was post was eye opening and poetic.

I have spent the past 8 years preparing internally for the worst (Mad Max style collapse), while cheerfully hoping for the best (free energy devices). I have researched and experimented with new ways to live, harness energy and produce food.

This author says that is all prideful folly. The easiest way to adapt to decline is to decline yourself.

Read the entire article to understand the logic of inducing personal collapse now, rather than later.

Source: The Archdruid Report

One of my presentations to [the Age of Limits] conference was a talk entitled “How Civilizations Fall;” longtime readers of this blog will know from the title that what I was talking about that afternoon was the theory of catabolic collapse, which outlines the way that human societies on the way down cannibalize their own infrastructure, maintaining themselves for the present by denying themselves a future.  I finished talking about catabolic collapse and started fielding questions, of which there were plenty, and somewhere in the conversation that followed one of the other participants made a comment. I don’t even remember the exact words, but it was something like, “So what you’re saying is that what we need to do, individually, is to go through collapse right away.”

 “Exactly,” I said. “Collapse now, and avoid the rush.”
…Across a wide range of geographical scales and technological levels, civilizations take an average of one to three centuries to complete the process of decline and fall, and there is no valid reason to assume that ours will be any exception.  The curve of decline, to be sure, is anything but smooth; it has a fractal structure, taking the form of a succession of crises on many different scales, affecting different regions, social classes, and communities in different ways, interspersed with periods of stabilization and even partial recovery that are equally variable in scale, duration, and relevance to different places and groups.  This ragged arc of decline is already under way; it can be expected to accelerate in the months, years, and decades to come; and it defines the deindustrial age ahead of us.
Fifth, individuals, families, and communities faced with this predicament still have choices left. The most important of those choices parallels the one faced, or more precisely not faced, at the end of the 1970s: to make the descent in a controlled way, beginning now, or to cling to their current lifestyles until the system that currently supports those lifestyles falls away from beneath their feet. The skills, resources, and lifeways needed to get by in a disintegrating industrial society are radically different from those that made for a successful and comfortable life in the prosperous world of the recent past, and a great many of the requirements of an age of decline come with prolonged learning curves and a high price for failure. Starting right away to practice the skills, assemble the resources, and follow the lifeways that will be the key to survival in a deindustrializing world offers the best hope of getting through the difficult years ahead with some degree of dignity and grace…
…The way to avoid the rush is simple enough:  figure out how you will be able to live after the next wave of crisis hits, and to the extent that you can, start living that way now. If you’re worried about the long-term prospects for your job—and you probably should be, no matter what you do for a living—now is the time to figure out how you will get by if the job goes away and you have to make do on much less money. For most people, that means getting out of debt, making sure the place you live costs you much less than you can afford, and picking up some practical skills that will allow you to meet some of your own needs and have opportunities for barter and informal employment.
…There’s quite a lot of money to be made these days insisting that we can have a shiny new future despite all evidence to the contrary, and pulling factoids out of context to defend that increasingly dubious claim; as industrial society moves down the curve of decline, I suspect, this will become even more popular, since it will make it easier for those who haven’t yet had their own personal collapse to pretend that it can’t happen to them.
Research credit: Carolyn Baker