Thursday, December 9, 2010

Willful Decisions or Frivolous Whims?

These are comments I posted to the article on Culture Change:
 The “Stuff” of the American Energy Footprint
Found at:

In my experience, while unfortunate, it seems true that most human beings are incapable of making intelligent conscious willful decisions based upon comprehension of facts. Habits, culture, tradition, comfort, convenience, emotions and frivolous whims always seem to weigh far more heavily on decision making than factual knowledge. It depresses me greatly that this seems to be the case. It seems that in all probability we will simply continue on our present course until factors external to our personal control start to limit our choices. Shock and anger, impossible demands, and ultimately -- conflict and war -- are predictable. Wars that will literally physically destroy the remaining functionality of civilization... which will eliminate most of the demand for material resources and energy (if there are any survivors at all).

I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that WAR will be our 'solution' which will 'solve' the problems of Peak Everything. What a horror. We should rename ourselves Homo ignoramus (literally: we have no knowledge), to at least get one fact straight.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

How to make the Bulls on Wall Street Happy

One of the generally agreed upon, but rarely discussed and usually ignored aspects of reality... is that the Earth has not been  growing all that much larger lately. A lonely meteorite smashes in once in a while, that's about it. Yet we pray to invoke 'growth' as the salvation of civilization. It would indeed be a miracle if the Earth suddenly started growing significantly larger. New continents just popping up everywhere. New and improved oceans. Plenty of big new oil field discoveries, bigger than Saudi Arabia, daily.  Brand new phosphate mines. An ever expanding cornucopia of fresh fertile soils. Sparkling clean air.  Free xtra sized drinking water supplies. And, of course, increasingly larger dumps for all our crap, but NIMBY. It would probably make the Bulls on Wall Street very happy.

Monday, September 27, 2010

comfortably numb

This is a comment I left at Jan Lundberg's site: Culture Change in response to his article:
"Celebrate the Stampede or Step out of It?

Celebrate... Hmmm... We are on an irreversible slide that will take us through the house of horrors -- the valley of the death of billions. No happy ending, no way to wake up from this nightmare. Most are still absolutely unaware. Perhaps there is less counter-productive panic that way. If there's nothing anyone can do about Anthropomorphically Induced Catastrophic Climate Change and Peak Everything any more... If it is just -politically impossible- to alter our course, maybe we should just wallow in ignorant bliss, in the fast-lane, of course. AC and Stereo on, blasting down the road, feverishly texting. Maybe we should celebrate all this death and destruction with a co-linear global self mutilation and sadomasochistic festival... Ah... right, we're doing that St. Vitus's dance already, to the tune of the big band march. But some pain is seeping through the cracks, a few folks are feeling it, and even talking about it. Apparently we're just not delirious enough yet. Hmmm, well, it looks like we're going to need much stronger drugs to be able to completely ignore this emerging catastrophe. With the right (positive) mental attitude, we'll be able to totally immerse ourselves in the experience, without feeling or thinking at all. Then everything will be simply delicious fluff... no content... just pure taste -- sweet as cotton candy but without the nutrition. Hey -- we'll be able to celebrate being 'comfortably numb', perhaps forever.

Read between the lines, maybe you'll hear a low growl. The closest I can get to celebration is growling along with the tune. OK, I'm a bit flat, but what do you expect under this load?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

On the Pain of Compassion

It hurts so much to care... to think about the suffering of others and all the sufferings to come due to environmental damage, and shortages of energy and materials...  to know that human beings have overpopulated this Earth, and that nature will balance things, one way or the other, in her own harsh ways. It hurts so much to know and care.

That pain seems like a good argument against caring. To just "forget about it" and save myself from the anguish by turning away. Perhaps I could find sufficient distractions. It's true that I'd  have to integrate my frustration and powerlessness and numbly accept those conditions as what I am.  But theoretically I'd be free of all the concerns and worries, at least over everyone else... But is there any way that I could also drop my concerns for myself? Especially if my whole reason for eliminating compassion towards others is an attempt to obtain aloof composure?  No, clearly I'd be in a self-centered mode, and therefor I could not drop my concerns over my own future and the suffering I'll personally encounter as a result of Peak Oil, and Catastrophic Climate Change.

So I'd still be anxious and depressed. And now also isolated. Alone in my own selfish concerns, and I couldn't honestly expect anyone else to care about me.

If my original motivation is to reduce my own suffering -- then the only path to that goal is to maintain my compassion for others. We're all in this together.   It hurts so much to care - yes, the suffering has begun, it cannot be eliminated, and the only way to reduce it is to face it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

American Boat People

Judging by the general consensus that Cuba is the most sustainable nation on the planet today, and the U.S. being somewhere near the bottom of that list... Will we see millions of American Boat People - Peak Oil Escapees - seeking to enter Cuba as an emerald refuge in the Caribbean? Naturally a mass migration-invasion of that sort would destroy the civility and sustainability of Cuba. U.S. citizens would be better advised to copy the Cuban efforts... if only there was enough time and determination. But with declining oil supplies predicted to hit hard in just 3 to 10 years, it seems likely that a burgeoning flotilla of Nouveau-Poor American Boat People is an all but certain future phenomenon. The New Pirates of the Caribbean could well be Ex-Suburbanite CEOs attempting to navigate their yachts. And they get really pissed when they run out of Grey Poupon Mustard.

On: The Story of Here: Why Words Matter-Part Two

Link: The Story of Here: Why Words Matter-Part Two

Here were my comments on the article linked to above:

"the most important element of defending myself is believing that I can" Hmmm... It almost seems a nuisance to have to point out that: Belief alone never assures the desired outcome! Someone might fully believe (stupidly) that they can take on a 1,500 pound Grizzly Bear all by themselves with their bare hands... until total loss of consciousness, forever. No doubt our minds are the best tool we have... we should use them. But I don't imagine that the power of our minds can maintain 'civilization' or even our population levels. I think the best we can hope for is to alleviate some suffering and mitigate enough of the damage to avoid extinction.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Peak Oil: Ignorance and Arrogance, a Dangerous Concoction

Ignorance is where we all begin. It is forgivable -- assuming that a person is willing to learn.  But combine ignorance with arrogance and the result is a dangerous concoction. Earlier today the topic of Peak Oil came up in a conversation and to my astonishment someone claimed two incongruous notions -- that not only were they not worried about Peak Oil... perhaps those who know little about it honestly feel this way... but this person also claimed to: "Know all there is to know about Peak Oil."

That is a dangerous mindset. A closed mind combined with false confidence or perhaps blind faith. This may even be a popular stance, given the general lack of familiarity with peak resources.  The individual who made this outrageous statement of omnipotent awareness of -- and lack of concern over the dire situation humanity is about to enter, even claimed to be a scholar of history. Apparently the fall of myriads of civilizations due to resource depletion such as soil erosion, were never discussed at his school. Now I might expect such a distressing combination of ignorance and arrogance from an economist, or a corporate hack, but from a student of history...!

The problems of peak resources will be profound now, no matter what we do... but we could probably still soften the impact if enough people understand what is going on... and took the right steps. However, conversations like the one I had today, and the realization that such a stance is the dearly held opinion of the majority,  put any such hopes in the improbable category, at best.  I still can't quite believe I actually heard someone say, out loud, that they: "Know all there is to know about Peak Oil." and that they "were not worried about it." We're doomed.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

On solar powered refrigerated trucks, Sun-Reefers

Well, I did a little research and came up with the following figures:

A 53 foot long by 8 foot wide reefer container has 424 square feet of roof area.
Typical solar panel efficiencies are in the range of about 10 to 14 watts per square foot.
So we'd get about 424 x 12 = 5,088 watts per truck roof. Assume an average full sun equivalent of 4 hours per day.
5,088 watts x 4 hours = 20,352 watt-hours per day.
Reefer compressors consume 15 to 20 thousand watts when they are on.
So, a truck roof completely covered with panels would provide maybe an hour of compressor use or approximately 3 hours of refrigeration, per day. If you could save a full day's worth of solar collection, and had 100% efficiency - but most inverters and other components add up to maybe 80% total storage/recovery efficiencies. OK, maybe we can get 14 watts per square foot... Total system installed price, with really decent wholesale costs for the equipment, maybe as low as $40,000 to $80,000 per truck. About 80 panels, about 200 watts each.

Average reefer fuel costs run in the range of $6,500/year per truck at $5.00/gallon, (online calculator), with solar providing 1 hour/day of a typical 8 hours per day of diesel (Note: It seems they are basing this on the estimate that the compressor runs about one third of the time, or 8 hours per day. See calculator.)  So solar would provide about (1/8*100) 12.5% of total energy consumed per day: $6,500 x 12.5% = $812.50 savings on diesel fuel per year with solar. The break even would be: $40,000 divided by $812.50/year =  49 years... (without any tax breaks or subsidies or accounting for possible interest earnings if the $40K was kept in the bank, or the interest on a loan for that amount) but the cost of fuel will continue to increase, so the value of the system will also. OK maybe a 30 year payback without tax breaks or  depreciation write offs... about the same result as putting panels on a house or business. What we need is a carbon tax and/or tax breaks and/or subsidies to make this a go... before the diesel is gone. But... by then survivors might just be growing most of their food locally, so the whole point may be moot.

Meanwhile this has been a great example of how much we take the enormous power of cheap fossil fuel energy for granted. 15 to 20 thousand watts to run every refrigerated truck on the road. Doesn't even include hauling up the hills and mountains, that's just for the refrigeration!!! Imagine if it all had to come from bicycle powered generators! That's a lot of hungry slaves pedaling really, really hard for their 1,500 mile iceberg lettuce salads!

Gentlemen: Start your gardens.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Business culture demands optimism. Peak Oil is not an optimistic scenario. Therefore it will be ignored, or denied, or ridiculed, or... explained away with fantastic optimistic notions of ever improving innovative technological solutions -- that haven't been invented yet... and are often simply impossible because they violate the laws of physics and/or geological/ecological limits.

But human business or human activity of any sort, if it is to be successful, also demands, actually requires, a solid footing in reality. Determining what is real is often daunting, especially when that reality isn't what we expect or want to see. That is basic human nature. We are happiest when living in a population that experiences an abundant environment, a cornucopia of food and resources.

Yet we are overpopulating, and depleting non-renewable resources to the point of scarcity and expense and contraction of the economy - making ourselves miserable. We need cultural acceptance of a population slim down plan, preferably via birth control, to the point where we can live in an abundant, sustainable way -- on renewable energy and resources. Yes that means big changes... for the better.

So we can be optimistic, we just have to look to the far horizon and understand what it will take to continue human life and all life on Earth deep into the future:
Balancing our demands with the limits to what the Earth and Sun can actually provide to us, virtually forever.

This was originally written as a comment to the article:
Here's What Peak Oil Prophets Are Failing To Consider
There are several very good comments there answering this absurd article of faith.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Deep Delusion

Delusion takes us down this path
Beneath the earth, below the sea
Beyond the reach of you or me
With steel fingered robots we do the math
With their spiny digits we unleash the wrath

Of a long sleeping dragon
Despite its' fire breath and toxic blood
We can't get off this crud
It hauls our wagon

So we go deeply now, and deeper still
So we can still crave the thrill
Of flying fast over the hills
Over the spills
Over the kills
Salivating over our grills
Where our flesh burns

Dream deeply, now only in our dreams
Are there ways to slay these Dragons
Now the answers only exist in our dreams
Wake up and remember them

Saturday, June 26, 2010


Possession is a funny thing... no not the scary zombie movie sort, something much scarier - the delusionary belief that one can possess part of the world... while everyone in the game respects each other's claims, it seems we can congratulate ourselves on successfully dividing reality.

But each time we divide and take away a portion of the whole, destroy its natural interaction with the rest - it ceases to function and overall we are left with less.

Let me be a little clearer: when we take from the Earth or destroy it's natural functions, for the illusion of profit, we reduce the whole.

Only by sharing can we keep it all alive.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Raising Solastalgia

"Solastalgia describes a palpable sense of dislocation and loss that people feel when they perceive changes to their local environment as harmful." ~worldchanging
Without perception, there is no reaction. No solastalgia. It is impossible to perceive the natural environment through television or computer screens. All this news about the Gulf Crisis - the Gulf Oil Crisis - hmmm... the Gulf of Mexico Oil Crisis... well, that's just another news story to most of the human population on Earth. Just another distant abstraction. We've learned how to watch movies. We've conditioned ourselves as spectators. Removed from the people and events and dramas out there. They're cool to the touch. And they don't touch us.

No wonder "they" don't feel it. The sickening world. The death of species. The decline of life. It's all Out There. Who actually goes Out There anymore? Most surf tragic news from a safe distance - through their screens. Their cool screens which can't touch. Another story. Another movie. Some sports. Next!

But soon TV Land will go away. Soon enough, most of the living won't know it ever existed. The inevitable collapse of industrialized civilization due to scarce resources, toxic build up, catastrophic climate change and extinctions -- will probably take TV Land down too.

Maybe then we will feel solastalgia.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Listening Madly

I was listening to the noise of the big city, the rumble of traffic on the road, the sky encompassing roar of jet airliners above -- and realized I was listening to the sounds of burning oil. Burning oil that is causing catastrophic climate alterations and extinctions. The noisy process was impinging on my eardrums. Directly into my body and into my mind, making my soul squirm.

In a big city -- even in rural areas far from big cities -- the noise of industrial civilization is a constant background din. Something 'normal' people are simply supposed to ignore. Normal people are supposed to have more important things to think about and focus on and do. Like making money or spending it. Noticing these noises at all makes a person arguably weird. Obsessing over these sounds, and their meanings, is probably considered a form of madness by modern psychiatry.

We are supposed to ignore the destruction of our home. We are supposed to ignore the commonplace disrespect shown towards living things. We are supposed to deafen ourselves to the rumble... to the never ceasing buzz of our own demise. Or go mad.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

What we can Do?

My response to a good article titled: "What You Can Do in Anticipation of Peak Oil" by Charles Hugh Smith:

A refreshingly realistic portrayal of our situation. I fear that most people who live in industrial civilization are going to be caught unprepared - mentally, emotionally, and physically. The vast majority go on believing that the future will be much like the past, with ever advancing technology enabling and even enhancing human life. Very few of us clearly see the portents of the Great Surprise. It seems frivolous to even hope that people will be better able to deal with truth and reality, while suffering from severe shock, than they can now. A major consideration in any Post Peak scenario should include the added obstacles caused by the bulk paralysis of the general population. And the fact that the general population of humans on this planet is deep into overshoot and unsustainable. Given all that, the suggestions in this article would be very useful if we were a rational species living within our ecological limits. Maybe a few will muddle through somehow. That's the best outcome I can hope for. I certainly don't foresee Mother Nature allowing us to continue with 6.8 billion plus. Once there was an ad with the line: "It isn't nice to fool Mother Nature" -- actually it's impossible.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Getting the Lid On

The oil continues to gush out of that hole in the bottom of the ocean... Gloom is increasing with each failed attempt to stop the flow from below. The damage from what has already leaked will be extensive, and worse is expected. It could take weeks, or perhaps months to get a lid on this thing. We have been soiling the Gulf for years, ruining what was one of the most biologically productive and diverse regions on the planet. This leak could downgrade, 'simplify' the ecosystem throughout the Gulf and west Atlantic seaboard. Extinction is forever. Evolution is slow.

Yet human population continues to expand on borrowed life support... Squeezing every last bit of whatever we can get our hands on, turning it into more human bodies to feed... Now we're cutting into the root, the foundation of support for humans in the future. We are destroying the capacity of the ecosystems of the Earth to sustain human beings.

We need to get a lid on it.

We need to produce fewer human beings.

'Growth' could continue - per capita - as we have fewer and fewer people... until population levels stabilized with what the planet can actually support over the long haul... until we reached a sustainable balance. 'Growth' could continue - growth of knowledge, growth of compassion and caring, growth in our connection with the Earth, growth in self-respect as a species. We could actually grow up.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Waiting for a Wake Up Call

Environmentally aware people are hoping that the toxic spill of oil from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico will have some positive impact... that this time, for sure, people will suddenly wake up and change their oily habits. Hmmm. Consider the recent earthquake in Haiti. For days it was all the mass commercial media could talk about... already a distant fading memory. I predict that this oil calamity will be long forgotten, as soon as the rupture can be staunched. A few soapy birds... Then the show will go on with other stories - for a while longer... The show must go on. The masses believe it will.

Every effort will be made by those who can pay or wrangle their way, to maintain the creature comforts of civilization for as long as possible... irregardless of spills or cost. Systems will be patched and propped and ingenuity will be applied... but despite all the efforts and prayers of the 'civilized', increasingly insurmountable problems with declining resources (such as Peak Oil) and toxic effluents (such as Catastrophic Climate Changes and Mass Extinction) will ensue.

The notion that we are highly organized, and can act with mutual intelligence seems to me to be vastly overblown. Essentially, for all the political hoopla and adoration of VIP's -- we are essentially living in global anarchy. A massive mess of individuals going about their lives, doing the best they can given their circumstances. Circumstances which they did not create and do not control. The combined past and present actions of all of humanity's individuals, disorganized and frequently in ignorance... is the creator, the controller.

Politicians follow the masses -- winning elections by telling people what they want to hear. They say the show will go on. They speak from the distance, way up high. People bow low, cooing in dreamy comfort. Everything is safe, the people are told reassuringly.
They should smile and be happy. Everything is under control. Hmmm. Really?

Occasionally leaders who see the world without delusion arise and pioneer in new directions. But to tell the truth they must swim against the flow of lies... leaders, to break new ground, must take the risk of saying things people are not comfortable with... since people generally prefer the familiar, and fear the unknown. Leaders break taboos, and face ostracism. Politicians are not, and cannot be leaders. Leaders guide us away from the familiar, politicians promise more and more of it.

We can't count on politicians to save humanity. We need many individuals waking up to their roles as leaders, breaking new ground -- making those wake up calls. Maybe our anarchy can be shaped a bit more intelligently and shoved hard enough to survive.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Cells of Society

The basic biological building block is the cell. Each of us is made of billions of cells working together. Most of those cells must be healthy for the entire organism to be healthy and function normally.

The basic building block of a species is the individual, be it one cell in single celled species or the billions of cells in beings of the multi-cellular variety, such as ourselves. Individuals are the building blocks of families and larger groupings, such as nations. The complete population of individual human beings makes up our species.

Like all species, our species is a flow of individuals: each one of us a momentary pocket of life which dies. We have varying degrees of communication and understanding and organization among the individuals which make up the population of our species, forming a society. Make no mistake -- even the largest corporations are not monolithic entities, they are composed of and operated by individuals.

Just as most of the cells of our bodies must be healthy for our entire organism to be healthy... most of the individuals in our species/society must be healthy and operate freely for the population to be healthy and function normally. Individuals must have a healthy balanced exchange with their environment -- which enables a species to live.

Since our species is composed of individuals, it is up to individuals to solve and fix the problems our species is facing. When a species, a society, has a high percentage of dysfunctional individuals, living under circumstances which are beyond their control, the health of the entire species suffers. When these problems cannot be solved by individuals, working alone or together, because they are powerless and dysfunctional, they will not be solved, and unhealthy consequence will ensue. The consequence could be the death of our species, our extinction.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In the Oil's Path

A personal perspective: At the moment I'm camping in the oil's path, at the southern tip of Florida. I'm almost used to the approach of hurricanes, going through varying degrees of anxiety according to how close I happen to be to the center of the projected path, watching the raw speed and power of the winds and the torrents... considering my options. When you're camping, you tend to have heightened awareness of such things.

This event has those elements... with a darker feeling.

As I watch the red slick approaching my sense of dread and horror is increasing. Reports are now indicating the oil will arrive at Key West in four days and hit the mainland south of Miami within a week. The potential impact on the Everglades is overwhelming. Mangrove swamps, coral reefs and underwater fields of sea grass with myriad life forms could experience devastating impacts that will linger for decades. Or perhaps forever. Extinction is forever.

This catastrophe will diminish us, and make the path ahead more difficult.

Watching the world die isn't pleasant. I want to do more. Many want to do more. As our anguish deepens so must our resolve -- to stop destructive ways. Stop deep water drilling - obviously the technical ability to handle deep high-pressure spills does not exist.

We must decide whether it is more important to survive or have toxic comforts.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Urban Powerlessness

The frustration of knowing that your own way of life is destructively wrong but seeing no way to correct the defects seems to be a spreading condition. Many know they 'should' be reducing their consumption, producing their own food and energy -- but have no significant means of doing these things. We are urban... much of humanity lives in circumstances about which the typical person has little, if any, control. We cannot decide, for example, to retrofit the insulation in our rented walls or collect rain water from rented roofs -- or put windmills on them. Few of us have any say about the methods millions, including themselves, must use if they wish to transport themselves. Or how the residents of their city obtain food and water. It's rude to discuss the energy/pollution rates of your neighbors, worse to suggest limiting it. We are all victimized by actions beyond our control. Our lifestyle options are limited by our circumstances. Going green is difficult, sometimes illegal, often impossible, for many in urban settings.

An oft heard phrase is "you can't change other people"... quite often spoken as sage advice when the discussion turns to big problems such as peak fossil fuels, climate change, extinction. This phrase chides for impertinence, for you have touched a sensitive taboo: our helplessness, our powerlessness, the root of our anxious frustration. You are expected to do penance for being such a downer, and put on a happy face.

We're told that the only one we can ever hope to change is ourselves. But... can we even hope to change our own acknowledged destructive unsustainable lifestyle when we're locked in by circumstances beyond our control?

Many would move to a country farm, if they could. Many would have enough land for a self-sufficient homestead and grow their own food, make electricity with solar panels, collect the rain... if they could. It happens to cost money to do these things... money that many simply do not have. Even if they have cash for a down payment, how many also have a portable income stream or can find a good paying job in a rural area? Leaving their job would leave them broke.

This also begs the obvious question: Are there enough farms just waiting out there for all the new urban transplants who would buy and live on them? The answer is also obvious: a resounding no.

We are stuck in our cities, and will face whatever consequences that entails. Perhaps simply suffering the pain of collapse, powerless and frustrated. Anger can amplify our problems. Perhaps this unbearable dilemma will be broken by more fundamental changes in how we rule ourselves, in how ownership of our circumstances is distributed. We must be empowered to change.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Preparing for the Storm

The necessities which enable human life will be in ever shorter supply while human population increases and planetary resources decline. What should humanity do? The moral and existential aspects - particularly if most of the global population simply goes on with business as usual as long as possible - may be riveting, but for the moment we'll focus on the practical. Perhaps instead of 'should' the question might be rephrased: What can humanity do? What can we do for our fellow human beings who are already being severely affected by resource declines and all the masses who will follow them down that path? Politically (and physically) it may prove impossible to offer aid. But we can take general approaches that will reduce the intensity and scope of suffering.
  • Reduce population
  • Reduce consumption
  • Increase sustainable production from renewable systems

In many cultures the notion of forced birth control is anathema. These people may be more willing to accept a voluntary approach... which can realistically only be a success if the media helps convince people to have fewer children. A movement with the goal of making it socially unacceptable to have more than one healthy child would help if enough dedicated people got on board... This will not solve our overshoot problems, but it can soften the blow to some extent, down the road a piece... since it takes a full average human lifetime for changes in birth rates to have a significant impact on the overall number of humans alive on Earth. If the human species can survive through the period of an average human lifetime, the efforts we make now will be purposeful. We can also expect increasing death rates from increasing resource scarcities.

Consumption and Production

Consumption and production are two sides of the same coin. We need high quality products which last. We need tools and appliances which are manufactured, maintained and repaired locally. We need clothing that doesn't wear out quickly for the hard manual field work we'll be doing to grow food.

Consumers can alter the marketplace. We the consumers need another mass movement - with the goal of convincing we the consumers to refuse to buy junk. A Reject the Junk movement.

The Junk includes the whole array of toxic substances: pesticides, herbicides, artificial fertilizers, various industrial processes and their byproducts...

We need to turn to local and regional organically based life support systems and reduce long distance trading. Straw bale, rammed earth, thatch. We need architecture that keeps people comfortable without non-renewable energy inputs through the intelligent use of sunshine, thermal mass and insulation. Local -at least regional- fabrics and fibers. Local shoes. Local art and entertainment. Local organic food. Local water systems that operate on local power, such as a wooden bucket and hand crank. By collecting rain water in a cistern, energy inputs -the work required to get the water to point of use- can be drastically reduced, instead of getting it up from a 600 foot deep well with an electric pump powered by a coal mine.

We need organic mulches to reduce the volume of water required to grow food -- and to feed and rebuild soil. We need composting toilets and/or anaerobic digestion to recycle phosphorus and other nutrients back to the soil... instead of flushing them into the oceans beyond our grasp. We should simply eliminate sewers, aka: 'waste water' systems. Even small scale anaerobic digesters can produce useful quantities of methane for cooking and illumination. Solar hot water, local electrical generation... and reduced use. Electric bicycles can help us through the transition... hopefully future generations will have stronger legs, if they find it impossible to make electric bicycles or any bicycles at all... well, maybe they'll be able to... walk.

Assuming we manage to avoid causing our own extinction.

We might as well try.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Midnight Gusher

Snapshot of the moment: Oil. Bleeding from the deep. From the dark. Rupturing confidence. Manifesting our deepest woes.

The end of our one-way dead end is visible. But humanity isn't mustering the collective will to break that self imposed one-way law of endless growth, and make a u-turn. Many still don't even see a problem. Or refuse to admit it. Or are afraid of the conformity cops. Or afraid of being called a "Debbie Downer", a nay-sayer, a gad-fly, a psychic energy vampire. Blind faith expressed as bold optimism is required (by polite society) to mutually uphold the delusion that the next 50 years will resemble the last 50 years.

The information, the evidence, the facts - are readily available: severe ecological break down is occurring due to human activities. Life on Earth is dying. Extinction of species is happening 1000 times faster than during normal healthy periods. This is a mass extinction. On the same scale as the extinction which wiped out the dinosaurs -- then probably caused by the impact of an object from outer space. But this time, we are causing this death. We are killing the systems of life on this Earth. Everyone of us is made of life. Reminder: human beings are not immune to extinction.

A few other catastrophic conditions: Peak Oil, Peak Coal, Peak Gas, Peak Phosphorus, Peak Soil, Peak Water, Peak Population...

Is there any hope? Can enough species survive to enable the survival of the human species? Perhaps there's still enough time to make a u-turn. Collectively we made the choices that built this road. The end of this road is death. Collectively we signed on to that endless growth law, put up the one-way sign on this lousy dead end... it's high time to change our ways - become desperado outlaws against growth, against obscene consumption... break the law - make a u-turn.

Either we will make chosen sacrifices of our creature comforts of civilization or we will have deep loss seep up from the darkness beyond our control. Maybe we can avoid the cliff; find a softer way off these peaks... a gentler way down the mountain. A stopper for the gusher from hell.

We must get our feet on solid level ground. Not float between the dizzying heights of peak maximum unsustainable consumption and the dreary depths that energize it. We must find rational level ground and live sustainably within the garden of Life. Or we will die.