11/19/2017
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Speaking Truth to Power

You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, and praise the name of the Lord your God, who has dealt wondrously with you.  ~The Book of Joel~ We are the transformers of Earth. Our whole being, and the flights and falls of our love, enable us to undertake this task. ~Rainer Maria Rilke~ For the past six years I have been writing profusely about the challenges the earth community is encountering in the face of energy depletion, climate change, and burgeoning economic calamity worldwide. Throughout my exploration of these topics, I have used the word “collapse” to depict what I believe is the termination of a paradigm out of which industrial civilization was fashioned. The use of “collapse” has been intentional as I believe that the entire...
​ Many of us who have been researching collapse for a decade or more repeatedly use the word in writing, speaking, and daily conversation, but few of us have the opportunity to define it with such precision or personal experience as one finds in Dmitry Orlov’sforthcoming book Five Stagesof Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit(New Society Publishers, 281 pages). I first heard of Dmitry when I was writing for From The Wilderness in 2005 after FTW published “Post-Soviet Lessons For A Post-American Century,” one of Orlov’s first articles in the United States naming our predicament and likely outcome.  Since then I have been a huge fan of Dmitry’s work, and I must concur with Richard Heinberg who says, “Even if I believed collapse were impossible I’d...
If you want to understand how much energy costs, don’t look at your electric bill; instead get a copy of the new book Energy: Overdevelopment and the Delusion of Endless Growth [4]. This massive coffeetable book contains hundreds of arresting images showing the effects of our energy choices, including oil spills, nuclear accidents, massive solar arrays, tar sands mines, fracking operations, transmission lines, and more. The photos are complemented by essays from leading writers like Wes Jackson, Wendell Berry, Sandra Steingraber [5], Douglas Tompkins, Bill McKibben, Lester Brown and many others, which put into context our growing energy problems and what we can do about them. The book is a collaboration of great minds, including...
The wonderful thing about food is you get three votes a day. Every one of them has the potential to change the world. ~Michael Pollan~  The earliest humans were hunter-gatherers who never knew exactly where their next meal might be coming from. In fact, their “meals” were probably eaten on the run as they stalked enough prey to constitute an actual meal, but it is unlikely that their meals were regular or even eaten daily. Given the conditions under which they secured food, it was impossible for them to take any of it for granted. Every morsel was hard-won and therefore, exceedingly precious. When humans became sedentary, they transitioned from hunting and gathering to growing their own food, and while this made eating more predictable...
The more rational a culture seems to be, the more irrational will be its underside when the dark times come, the veils lift, and more is revealed than most want to see.~Michael Meade, Why The World Doesn’t End~ For most modern human beings, it is difficult to imagine that the Western world was essentially dominated by religion from approximately the fourth through the fifteenth centuries. For more than a thousand years, humans functioned in a world without a scientific perspective and with little that resembles what we know as scientific exploration in the twenty-first century. Overall, their lives were ruled either by religion or superstition or both. The culmination of what we have come to know as the Dark Ages was the Black Death---...
State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University, is ensconsed in a somewhat bucolic region of the commonwealth called Happy Valley. The name exquisitely connotes tranquility, American values, and the smiling faces of guileless, hard-working citizens. It is also home of the Nittany Lions, a name long synonymous with Penn State’s football team. The Nittany lion was adopted by the student body in 1907 as the official football mascot and was taken from the name of nearby Mount Nittany, which derived its name from a Native American word meaning “protective barrier.” Since then, Penn State has become synonymous with football and all of that sport’s infinite sexual connotations such as “penetration,” “tight end,” and “wide open in the...
Humanity is entering an age of accelerating decentralization and complexity.  The turmoil we are witnessing globally is a manifestation of this and suggests a turning point altogether as cataclysmic as the transition from the agricultural age to the industrial age.  The forces of centralization and control (governments, corporate and labor structures, any hierarchical structures really) are in full panic mode because they are being rapidly upended by the decentralization trend. If you want to see the violent death throes of centralization and control in action, look no further than our food production and distribution systems.  Mac Slavo shared an outrageous story yesterday that will make your blood boil.  It was about a group of private...
ORIGINAL BLOGPOST The economic news of the last few weeks has not been encouraging. In Europe, the various national debt crises remain unresolved, with a continued monopoly of banker-friendly austerity programs, and their predictable consequences of rising unemployment and stagnation. Debtor countries are being forced into the same financial orthodoxies that prolonged the depression of the 1920s and 30s, so we shouldn’t be surprised at the failures they will bring. More recession may also be the future of the countries enforcing these once-discredited policies, as weak demand across the region represses consumer demand, investor confidence, and government spending. In the United States the details are different, but the main story...
Here’s the good news about energy: thanks to rising oil prices and deteriorating economic conditions worldwide, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reports that global oil demand will not grow this year as much as once assumed, which may provide some temporary price relief at the gas pump.  In its May Oil Market Report, the IEA reduced its 2011 estimate for global oil consumption by 190,000 barrels per day, pegging it at 89.2 million barrels daily.  As a result, retail prices may not reach the stratospheric levels predicted earlier this year, though they will undoubtedly remain higher than at any time since the peak months of 2008, just before the global economic meltdown.  Keep in mind that this is the good news....
ORIGINAL ARTICLE Is anything in America more faithfully followed than economic growth? Its movements are constantly watched, measured to the decimal place, deplored or praised, diagnosed as weak or judged healthy and vigorous. Newspapers, magazines, and cable channels report endlessly on it. Promoting growth may be the most widely shared and robust cause in the United States today. If the growth imperative dominates U.S. political and economic life, what happens when growth hits some serious stumbling blocks? When I was in school in England, the dean of my college told us when we first arrived that we could walk on the grass in the courtyard — but not across it. That helped me love the English and their language. Here is another creative...

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