REAL Green and Renewables

My personal experience with renewables is they are not saving me money.  They have made me more resilient and sustainable.  They are part of my REAL Green effort.  I gather solar energy with PV’s and also solar water heating with evacuated tubes.  I also access the grid as needed.  In my home I have a switch box I can switch circuits to grid or solar.  I also have a diesel generator.  I have a wood boiler for wintertime space heating and water heating.  I am not interested in being off the grid completely.  I am interested in maximizing gathering of solar energy.  Being on and off the grid allows significant flexibility over a totally on or off the grid application.  It is my hope my local grid improves its renewable content.  It is currently low but rising because Missouri is embracing wind energy from the Great Plains.  I also harvest biomass in the form of wood energy and grass for animal feed.  I raise animals and have a garden, orchard, and grapes making food calories.  I am not self-sufficient but I am much more sustainable and reliant than most people.

My REAL Green point is as a people we should be doing more harvesting and gathering of lower density energy at the individual level.  We should also being doing large scale renewable energy collection.  It is my feeling fossil fuels are not going away if we intend to stay modern but we can reduce their usage as civilization degrades from depletion and planetary degradation.  Society has no intention of retrogressing and will only be forced into it by planetary realities.  My years of study on the subject have shown me the physics and the economics do not add up for a full fossil fuel clean transition.  Yet, I have also been pleasantly surprised at the new renewable technologies created in the last few years.  I am much more optimistic with renewables and hydrogen then previous years as a bridge sources.  This still means eventually we will not have what it takes to maintain the high consumption civilization we have currently nor the population levels.  If behavior changed in this regards then we would seek less techno advancement with more sustainability efforts.  The degree of behavioral change at this point will dictate how much time we buy.  We have the tech what we do not have is the behavior.

We need to retrogress to a life that is a hybrid of the old ways complimented by the best of the current technology and knowledge.  We should try to save the best knowledge and produce more of the best tech to aid this retrogression.  This means embracing the best energy gathering and harvesting of lower grade sources that can be economically managed.  A garden, animals, and PV’s are not going to save you money.  They will represent a cost that can only be managed through a lower standard of living.  This hybrid way of life would seek to eliminate the bad consumptive behavior found in consumerism to offset this sacrifice.  It would seek to integrate lifestyles into the planetary cycles.  These cycles include the hydrologic, carbon, nitrogen, and ecological web of life.  Like renewables this activity would be in addition to industrial efforts the modern society cannot dispense with without failing.  It comes with the understanding all this modernism will fail eventually in regards its extreme techno nature and also the high population levels.  This is very important because it represent acknowledgement first that industrial efforts are needed to be REAL Green and Modern man is at a cross roads of failure.  No amount of REAL Green or anything else will save us.  Modern man is on death row.  Yet, this effort will provide a new growth opportunity that will buy time and offset some of the nasty human foot print on the planetary system and web of life.

This means permaculture and this means less affluence.  This will not be without pain but those who begin the retrogression into a life closer to the planetary cycles by gathering and harvesting lower density energy will be ahead of the curve.  What REAL Green is calling for is not a phony transition fake greens advocate as they drive to their getaways, shop the brick or digital malls and eat their cheeseburgers in EV’s and PV houses.  Fake green is deceptive and delusional.  REAL Green is not saying don’t fake green necessarily.  REAL Green is saying acknowledge this state of affairs and begin your work to change.  REAL Green is saying be less dirty and combine efforts with offsetting lower density energy.  Much of the offsetting efforts are accomplished with efficiency, conservation, and demand management.  This requires education and a larger degree of control that reflect the need for a transformative human narrative. 

The failure today is we are talking fantasy green as we accelerate destructive efforts.  We are embracing the science that there is a problem with flawed science that says there is an easy solution to something that is a predicament.  There are no solutions for the predicament of techno modern man.  There are no solutions for bad behavior and lifestyles.   Fake greens act like they can have their cake and eat it.  REAL Green says acknowledge fake green flaw by living with it while you work on ways to leave it.  Stop worrying about fixing something that is broken and utilize the power the status quo offers to leave it.  This means you will utilize dirty energy that is not green to be REAL Green but the net result is greener.  Dirty energy is there being wasted on a way of life with no future.  Bad behavior is everywhere take some of this and make it REAL Green creating a life with more of a future.  This is only for some because many are too poor to do it or not smart enough.  This may or may not be any fault to them it is just reality.  A very small percentage can go REAL Green but those who can will make an oversized difference.

Degrowth and REAL Green

The current decline in global growth which appears to be as bad as what happened around the great financial crisis could be looked on as a good development from the point of view of ecological green efforts.  It is clear to anyone who follows the science that degrowth is needed.  Our collective ecological footprint needs to shrink.  That said how this happens and the behavior within the decline does matter.  Some positive outcomes might be a more sustainable and resilient regional multipolar economic arrangement.  The great economic powers of China, Europe, and the US will regionalize reducing the excesses of globalism.  The average global exponential growth that has been the case in recent history might noticeably begin to decline. 

It is degree and duration that dictate survivability.  We can apply this to the economic sphere as well as to ecosystems and species.  If this degrowth into a multipolar regionalism can be a modest growth decline we may see positive results.  Make no mistake positive does not mean without pain.  We are currently adding 80-90MIL people a year.  Planetary systems and the web of life are being degraded at an alarming rate.  The social fabric is fraying from general poor behavior at all levels.  So what we are talking about is a slower decline with relatively less pain.  This is not a new golden age it is one of less affluence and harder living.

Some issues for those who follow the science and economics of our human predicament are renewables and debt.  These are important consideration because renewables are absolutely essential for a powerdown of industrial civilization.  Greens who are excessively technoptimist are fake and delusional.  Tech alone is not green.  Behavior must be part of this tech with demand management and conservation.  The status quo is not green so adapting tech to status quo is more of the same.  That said behavior will need tech to manage a decline.  Renewables are part of this managed decline.  This decline might not be sustainable longer term but it may be the gateway to another life.   Optimistically this may be a lengthening of the decline and fall of modern man.  Renewables will help us figure out this gateway.  It is clear industrial agriculture and fossil fuels will have to be a part of this.  How much depends on behavior not tech.  The tech is there the behavior is not.  There is a time value to life.  A terminal condition that is acknowledged in stages with acceptance has value over a cascade of declining physical and mental health.  One is meaning based the other panic.  This can be applied to our civilization.  Will renewables survive degrowth?  We surely will not see the same investment if globalism economically bifurcates into a multipolar regionalism.  How much is still a question. 

The other issue is debt and the financial system underpinning the global economy.  Can this multipolar regionalism successfully decouple from the Dollar.  It is really the US dollar and the Eurodollar because much of the global financial flows involve the dollar outside of the US.  Can the mountains of debt that has been built up since the great financial crisis be rationalized and still allow a functioning economy?  Let’s be clear with so many people and so much consumption economic velocities cannot fall below a certain level without catastrophic effects.  Energy, food, and daily activity must be maintained.  We are now in a new normal of central bank economic management.  This is now influenced by tech and has the potential to take us further into a new financial age.  It is not clear if this new age is a dark age of inhuman control or one where the excesses of market based capitalism are tempered.  Likely it will be both because behavior is dangerously turbulent.  Behavior is again the issue here.  For this new financial age to work it will require behavioral changes.   How dehumanizing this becomes is an open question. 

Currently behavior in the realm of the global community is deteriorating with a cold war between the US and China and Russia.  The EU nations are caught in between and the rest of the world tailing along.  This is probably the most dangerous issue ahead.  We may be able to negotiate an economic degrowth into a multipolar regionalism without war.  If a hot war would occur but contained it might be possible the resulting crisis could be a catalyst of change but more likely it would be a cascading failure of our modern life support.  We then must hope for transition in behavior at the very top. 


Considering all this I am proposing to individuals and their locals to practice REAL Green Deep adaptation.  Confront these issues individually and locally.  These greater global trends are very much self-organizing with a few very powerful people and groups jockeying for power.  This is both proactive and reactive with rational and irrational.  This process at the top where the global power resides is not constructive change.  Currently this is destructive change that individuals and locals should adapt to if they desire meaning and less pain.  This destructive change can be adapted to but behavior must be changed with new lifestyles and attitudes.  What is required of REAL Green Deep Adaptation is the acknowledgement and adaptation to the fact that planetary systems and the web of life are likely already bumped into phase change beyond human change.  This will very likely bring an end to the stable planetary world civilization grew up with.  This then is the greater challenge above the destructive decline of human civilization that REAL Green individuals and locals must adapt to.  This is about what most certainly is an end game both planetary in regards to stability and human in regards to modern civilization.  This may play out over decades or it may quickly unravel.  This timeline is likely in our collective hands.  REAL Green says adapt and beat the rush and hopefully examples of proper GREEN ways of living will bubble up through grass roots behavior.

“WTO Warns Global Trade May Plunge 17% In Full Trade War”     zero hedge

“In the event of a full-blown trade war, global trade would collapse by 17%, a move that would rival the Dot Com bust, warned the World Trade Organization (WTO).”

“The increased trade tensions have forced the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to slash its global growth forecast from 3.7% to 3.5%.  “If the two sides carry through with their threats to wipe out all bilateral trade via prohibitive tariffs, this could have the impact of knocking off even more,” he added.  Rockwell said global imports of capital goods dropped 3% in 1Q19, the lowest level seen in over three years and a warning that the global economy is cycling down through summer. “We see uncertainty rampant, we see manufacturing output stalling, and export orders are down. All of this bodes ill for economic growth,” he said.”

“The best way to visualize just how dangerous the trade war threat is to the global flow of trade, and the world economy in general, below is a chart on the year-over-year changes in global trade as measured by the IMF’s Direction of Trade Statistics, courtesy of BMO’s Ian Lyngern. It shows the absolutely collapse in global exports as broken down into three categories:  Exports to the world (weakest since 2009), Exports to advances economies (also lowest since 2009), and Exports to the European Union (challenging 2009 lows).  Even if the trade war is deescalated, the damage to the global economy is irreversible. The world is likely teetering on the edge of a trade recession, making the likelihood of global trade collapsing by 17% extraordinary high.”

The basics of REAL Green

MY individual and local REAL Green Deep Adaptation strategies are for those who are in a similar situation that I am.  I am mid 50’s semi-retired doing a permaculture farm that is also a doomstead.  Not everyone is placed to do what I am doing but those who are should for the sake of the planet.  It is about the harvesting of low intensity energy through biomass and the gathering of solar energy from renewables.  This is done with an effort at incorporating permaculture in the planetary cycles.  This means both technological efforts and natural efforts. 

My focus will be on attitudes and lifestyle that prepare those who are awakened to a future of decline and hardship.  It takes attitudes and lifestyle adaptation to peruse low energy gathering of permaculture REAL Green permaculture.  Conservation and demand management are required because low energy is not economic nor sustainable in the status quo so it is a subsidy.  REAL Green is holistic in regards to lifestyles and attitudes but it is not a replacement for your existing lifestyle and spirituality.  It is an add on just like software you would add to enhance what you are doing already.  Granted the add on only works for those who are already following a green awakening. 

The doom and prep part of this adaptation is integral to REAL Green.  The doom is the acknowledgement of decline and the impulse to collapsing in place beating the rush.  It is about collapsing into a poorer way of life with dignity.  The prep part is about a hybrid life of using the status quo to leave it in a psychological condition of relative sacrifice.  Relative sacrifice is about changing relative to your status quo persona.  Most of us are stuck in the status quo requiring the status quo for survival.  We have family, friends, and a community that are generally not awakened and do not practice REAL Green Deep Adaption.  Relative sacrifice is a mindset that bridges the status quo of the unawakened with the transformative condition of being awakened.  You use the status quo to leave it while finding psychological meaning in the realization there is no transcendence nor transitioning.  There is only riding the wave down.  This means green is not REAL green and meaning still means being part of a civilization destine to end it only means getting closer to REAL Green and its meaning.  There is not nirvana of transcendence just because you have found REAL meaning. 

This awakening is giving yourself over to the enhancement of the planet in your own individual and local way.  This is about the individual and the local in permaculture residing in the destructive industrialized modern status quo.  It is about using the old and new triaging out the worst of our meaningless way of life.  It is the resulting distilled meaning.  It is about a routine of hard work with mental conditioning that is a mental and physical prepping action.  You live healthy, you clear out the deadwood, and you assemble a monastery of tools and knowledge.  This is ultimately about the pursuit of individual wisdom that allows you to say “NO” to the parts of the status quo that are deadly to meaning.  It is about choosing knowledge, tech, and relationships that enhance meaning. 

This wisdom is based on the concept of lifeboats and hospices.  Few will escape collapse.  REAL Green Deep Adaptation does not offer an escape it offers the meaning that will deal with collapse.  Most doomsteads and prep efforts will suffer quick decline along with community and environment.  Without resupply and community protection most efforts will not last long.  So this adaptation is about finding a good local to build your doomstead in.  Some locals have no future but others have a relative future of months or years.  If you are unable or unwilling to leave a local that is compromised by all the wrong lifestyles than it is about fortifying for the last days that might come.  This is where the life boat and hospice part comes in.  If the world falls apart then Deep adaptation is about the meaning one will find when life ends.  It can be heroic or degrading.  It is your choice.  It is about becoming a warrior for your local and its meaning

REAL Green is finally about collapse and the misunderstanding of the process.  It is about MAD MAX but also a longer term process.  Collapse will be local ultimately so get out of the default collapse fantasy of Hollywood.  It will be a process that might stretch out with a long tail or could be a sudden onset of a nuclear winter.  This means those who make draconian changes instead of relative sacrifice risk destroying what they want to achieve.  This means staying vigilant to current events and riding the wave.  It means the understanding that MAD MAX is possible.  REAL Green Deep Adaptation acknowledges there is no escaping the pain and suffering of death but there is the hope that comes with meaning to brace oneself for the trials ahead. 

This is also about those who chose to be leaders and care givers.  Only a few in the world are capable of awakening.  Only 10% have what it takes and of that 10% only 10% have the will and the garden for the seeds of REAL green to grow.  This is about the humility of knowing you are one of them and the impulse to go forth in your locality and lead by example.  Since this is relative sacrifice in the condition of being trapped in the status quo this is an individual strength.  You do not plan on leading people and groups to change the world.  This is not what REAL Green Deep Adaptation does because once you reach out to the politics of the world your effort will be lost.  This is about being a Shaman and a Sage that draws the power of the planetary system to affect change locally and with your significant others.  This power is not personal.  Once this power is taken and used personally for selfish reasons it is lost.  It is only giving oneself over to planetary trajectories that one finds and channels the will of the planet.  REAL Green is about a warrior spirit on behalf of the planet.

REAL Green and Collapse

Jared’s Book “Collapse” is in my library.  I read it back when it came out when collapse was more immediate than it is now.  Immediate is a deceptive term because saying not immediate is like saying we are off the hook.  The immediate in 2011 was that energy and economy were going to sledgehammer the global economy into collapse within 3-5 years.  Energy and economy are still relevant but their conditions of immediacy is not as strong.  We still have the condition of immediacy and it has not gone away.  They won’t go away because they are symptoms of a civilization in predicaments.   Climate change, resource depletion, and environmental degradation are not as immediate but they are converging forces that play into more immediate forces.  They are also terminal forces.  Once we destroy them we don’t get a second chance.  Energy and economy we could adapt a human world around a different civilization.  Could does not mean without extreme pain.  If this could be done the terminal forces might be arrested.  This “could” seems moot today like we are on death row.  The theoretical is often just fantasy.

This is where the social condition comes in because it is our macro attitudes, population levels, and social arrangements that could give us a chance of change.  If we have a flawed social narrative then we are not going to affect needed change.  In this case energy and economics will continue to be potentially immediate problems.  Climate, resources, and environment continue to rot permanently.  I would like to say human wisdom is key but saying anything is Key is deceptive.  A keystone to humanity is wisdom and it is key to the individual also.  The problem with wisdom today is humans are not scaled to our planetary system of natural cycles and the web of life.  We are too large a footprint.  There are instincts of our intellectual patterns driving action that are diverse caught in this out of scale footprint.  We are in competitive and in overshoot.  This then means wisdom can never be a key to success because human wisdom is overlapping in competition.  The ability to have human wisdom globally is compromised now because we are not scaled.  Human wisdom cannot regain effectiveness until our footprint is lowered. 

This then points to no hope for the status quo.  No hope is deceptive too because this just means this status quo will not end well someday maybe immediately or maybe not.  The status quo is mortal just like humans.  There is hope until it is over.  The hope is day by day survival hoping for another day of being alive with hope.  Where there is this type of hope is the individual and the local.  The key to effective wisdom can now only be found individually and locally when one attempts proper scale.  Use the status quo to get to proper scale.  In these times of macro destructive change you can effect positive formative change individually and locally.  This is where you find the day by day hope.  Let’s be clear many have no hope even if the status quo was flourishing.  Some people are walking no hope people living in a day to day hell.   We are all going to die and some are closer than others. 

Those who have individual and local hope can have empathy for others that don’t.  Keep scale in mind because empathy is a scale danger.  If you are blessed with the ability reach out within your scale and help another then you should do it.  The reason is more than altruism it is also what makes your local stronger.  This is also true of the dying environment.  Take a piece of your dying local environment and heal it. 

Another individual act in your local is assemble a monastery for those who are lucky enough to negotiate a human collapse.  Leave them something as a guide that came from your experience.  Experience is hard won knowledge that came by trial and error.  The monastery is your own personal example of wisdom.  It is what you have learned that can be used to survive and more importantly these days what you should not do.  Today we are threatened by too much and too many things.  Simplicity is gone and a zombie meaning pervades life.  It is as if we are working harder and harder to kill ourselves but can’t figure out why.  Your own individual monastery of local meaning can be a small beacon of meaning.  It can be a flashlight in a dark world. 

There are many ways to deal with our civilization in decline individual and local is just one.  It is for those who can.  Those who can and are awakened to the end days.  Some will choose bigger avenues of change with government and business.  It does not really matter because no way will save us. It is over we just are not there yet.  If that turns you off then that is fine too because you have choices.  You can believe this time humans are exceptional and all previous history of failed civilization is different.  Maybe you are right and I am wrong.  I would say finally be honest with yourself because meaning degrades very quickly once the corruption of dishonesty occurs.

There’s a 49 Percent Chance the World As We Know It Will End by 2050  ny mag

“As far as national crises are concerned, the first step is acknowledge — the country has to acknowledge that it’s in a crisis..  Number two, once you acknowledge that you’re in a crisis, you have to acknowledge that there’s something you can do about it. You have responsibility. If instead you say that the crisis is the fault of somebody else, then you’re not going to make any progress towards solving it.”

“there seem to be a lot of countervailing impulses on the environmental left — from those who believe the only solution to addressing climate is through individual action to those who are really focused on the villainy of particular corporate interests, the bad behavior of the Republican Party, et cetera. In that context, what does it mean to accept responsibility?”

“As for what we can do about it, whether to deal with it by individual action, or at a middle scale by corporate action, or at a top scale by government action — all three of those. Individually we can do things. We can buy different sorts of cars. We can do less driving. We can vote for public transport. That’s one thing. There are also corporate interests.”

“I’m repressing a chuckle because I know how people react when I answer that. Whenever somebody tells me, “How should we prioritize our efforts?” My answer is, “We should not be prioritizing our efforts.”

Whole article:

 There’s a 49 Percent Chance the World As We Know It Will End by 2050  ny mag

Jared Diamond’s new book, Upheaval, addresses itself to a world very obviously in crisis, and tries to lift some lessons for what do about it from the distant past. In that way, it’s not so different from all the other books that have made the UCLA geographer a sort of don of “big think” history and a perennial favorite of people like Steven Pinker and Bill Gates.

Diamond’s life as a public intellectual began with his 1991 book The Third Chimpanzee, a work of evolutionary psychology, but really took off with Guns, Germs, and Steel, published in 1997, which offered a three-word explanation for the rise of the West to the status of global empire in the modern era — and, even published right at the “end of history,” got no little flak from critics who saw in it both geographic determinism and what they might today call a whiff of Western supremacy. In 2005, he published Collapse, a series of case studies about what made ancient civilizations fall into disarray in the face of environmental challenges — a doorstopper that has become a kind of touchstone work for understanding the crisis of climate change today. In The World Until Yesterday, published in 2012, he asked what we can learn from traditional societies; and in his new book, he asks what we can learn from ones more like our own that have faced upheaval but nevertheless endured.

I obviously want to talk about your new book, but I thought it might be useful to start by asking you how you saw it in the context of your life’s work.
Sure. Here’s my answer, and I think you’ll find it banal and more disappointing than what you might have hoped for. People often ask me what’s the relation between your books and the answer is there is none. Really, each book is what I was most interested in and felt most at hand when I finished my previous book.

Well, it may be a narrative that suggests itself to me because I’m thinking of Guns, Germs and SteelCollapse, and this new one, Upheaval, but for me it’s interesting to note that each of them arrived when they did in a particular cultural, intellectual moment. That begins with Guns, Germs and Steel — it’s obviously a quite nuanced historical survey, but it was also read coming out when it did, as a kind of explanation for Western dominance of the planet …
I would say you’re giving me more credit than I deserve. But one-third of the credit that you give me I do deserve. And that’s for CollapseGuns, Germs and Steel, I don’t see it as triumphalist at all.

No, I don’t either. I don’t mean to say that. But it met the moment of Western triumphalism in our culture, I think.
The fact is that you and I are speaking English. We’re not speaking Algonquin and there are reasons for that. I don’t see that as a triumph of the English language. I see it as the fact of how history turned out, and that’s what Guns, Germs and Steel is about.

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If you don’t mind dwelling on Collapse for a second … Has your view of these issues changed at all over the intervening years? I mean, when you think about how societies have faced environmental challenges, how adaptable they are and how resilient they might be, do you find yourself having the same views that you had a decade and a half ago? 
Yes. My views are the same because I think the story that I saw in 2005, it’s still true today. It still is the case that there are many past societies that destroyed themselves by environmental damage. Since I wrote the book, more cases have come out. There have been studies of the environmental collapse of Cahokia, outside St. Louis. Cahokia was the most populous Native American society in North America. And I when I wrote Collapse it wasn’t known why Cahokia had collapsed, but subsequently we’ve learned that there was a very good study about the role of climate changes and flooding on the Mississippi River in ruining Cahokia. So that book, yes, it was related to what was going on. But the story today, nothing has changed. Past societies have destroyed themselves. In the past 14 years it has not been undone that past societies destroyed themselves.

Today, the risk that we’re facing is not of societies collapsing one by one, but because of globalization, the risk we are facing is of the collapse of the whole world.

How likely do you think that is? That the whole network of civilization would collapse?
I would estimate the chances are about 49 percent that the world as we know it will collapse by about 2050. I’ll be dead by then but my kids will be, what? Sixty-three years old in 2050. So this is a subject of much practical interest to me. At the rate we’re going now, resources that are essential for complex societies are being managed unsustainably. Fisheries around the world, most fisheries are being managed unsustainably, and they’re getting depleted. Farms around the world, most farms are being managed unsustainably. Soil, topsoil around the world. Fresh water around the world is being managed unsustainably. With all these things, at the rate we’re going now, we can carry on with our present unsustainable use for a few decades, and by around 2050 we won’t be able to continue it any longer. Which means that by 2050 either we’ve figured out a sustainable course, or it’ll be too late.

So let’s talk about that sustainable course. What are the lessons in the new book that might help us adjust our course in that way? 
As far as national crises are concerned, the first step is acknowledge — the country has to acknowledge that it’s in a crisis. If the country denies that it’s in a crisis, of course if you deny you’re in a crisis, you’re not going to solve the crisis, number one. In the United States today, lots of Americans don’t acknowledge that we’re in a crisis.

Number two, once you acknowledge that you’re in a crisis, you have to acknowledge that there’s something you can do about it. You have responsibility. If instead you say that the crisis is the fault of somebody else, then you’re not going to make any progress towards solving it. An example today are those, including our political leaders, who say that the problems of the United States are not caused by the United States, but they’re caused by China and Canada and Mexico. But if we say that our problems are caused by other countries, that implies that it’s not up to us to solve our problems. We’re not causing them. So, that’s an obvious second step.

On climate in particular, there seem to be a lot of countervailing impulses on the environmental left — from those who believe the only solution to addressing climate is through individual action to those who are really focused on the villainy of particular corporate interests, the bad behavior of the Republican Party, et cetera. In that context, what does it mean to accept responsibility? 
My understanding is that, in contrast to five years ago, the majority of American citizens and voters recognize the reality of climate change. So there is, I’d say, recognition by the American public as a whole that there is quite a change in that we are responsible for it.

As for what we can do about it, whether to deal with it by individual action, or at a middle scale by corporate action, or at a top scale by government action — all three of those. Individually we can do things. We can buy different sorts of cars. We can do less driving. We can vote for public transport. That’s one thing. There are also corporate interests because I’m on the board of directors for the World Wildlife Fund and I was on the board of Conservation International, and on our boards are leaders of really big companies like Walmart and Coca-Cola are their heads, their CEOs, have been on our boards.

I see that corporations, big corporations, while some of them do horrible things, some of them also are doing wonderful things which don’t make the front page. When there was the Exxon Valdez spill off Alaska, you can bet that made the front page. When Chevron was managing its oil field in Papua New Guinea in a utterly rigorous way, better than any national park I’ve ever been in, that certainly did not make the front page because it wasn’t a good picture.

And then finally the Republican Party, yes. Government has a role. In short, climate change can be addressed at all these levels. Individual, corporation, and the national level.

In the book, when you write about the present day — you talk about climate, you talk about resources, but you also talk about the threat of nuclear war and nuclear weapons. It may be kind of a foolish question to ask, but … how do you rank those threats? 
I’m repressing a chuckle because I know how people react when I answer that. Whenever somebody tells me, “How should we prioritize our efforts?” My answer is, “We should not be prioritizing our efforts.” It’s like someone asking me, “Jared, I’m about to get married. What is the most important factor for a happy marriage?” And my response is, “If you’re asking me what is the most important factor for a happy marriage, I’d predict that you’re going to get divorced within a few years.” Because in order to have a happy marriage you’ve got to get 37 things right. And if you get 36 right but you don’t get sex right, or you don’t get money right, or you don’t get your in-laws right, you will get divorced. You got to get lots of things right.

So for the state of the world today, how do we prioritize what’s going on in the world? We have to avoid a nuclear holocaust. If we have a nuclear holocaust, we’re finished, even if we solve climate change. We have to solve climate change because if we don’t solve climate change but we deal with a nuclear holocaust, we’re finished. If we solve climate change and don’t have a nuclear holocaust but we continue with unsustainable resource use, we’re finished. And if we deal with the nuclear problem and climate change and sustainable use, but we maintain or increase inequality around the world, we’re finished. So, we can’t prioritize. Just as a couple in a marriage have to agree about sex and children and in-laws and money and religion and politics. We got to solve all four of those problems.

What should we do? Are there lessons from history? 
To conduct a happy marriage, it’s not enough to sit back and have a holistic view of marriage. Instead you need to discuss your budget and your in-laws and 36 other things. As far as the world is concerned, solving national crises, the checklist that I came up with in my book is a checklist of a dozen factors. Now, I could make a longer checklist, or I could make a shorter checklist, but if we have a checklist of three factors it would be obvious we’re missing some big things. And if we had a checklist of 72 factors, then nobody would pick up my book and they wouldn’t pay attention to it.

As an example of one of those factors that the United States is really messing up now, it’s the factor of using other countries as models for solving problems. Just as with personal crises, when someone’s marriage breaks down or is at risk of breaking down, one way of dealing with it is to look at other people who have happy marriages and learn from their model of how to conduct a happy marriage. But the United States today believes what’s called American exceptionalism. That phrase, American exceptionalism means the belief that the United States is unique, exceptional, therefore there’s nothing we can learn from other countries. But we’ve got this neighbor, Canada, which is a democracy sharing our continent and there are other democracies throughout Western Europe in Australia and Japan. All of these democracies face problems that we are not doing well with. All of these democracies have problems with their national health system. And they have problems with education. And they have problems with prisons. And they have problems with balancing individual interests with community interests. But the United States, we too have prisons and we’ve got education and we have a national health system, and we are dissatisfied. Most Americans are dissatisfied with our national health system, and most Americans are increasingly dissatisfied with our educational system.

Other countries face these same problems and other countries do reasonably well, better than the United States in solving these problems. So, one thing that we can learn is to look at other countries as models and disabuse ourselves of the idea that the United States is exceptional and so there’s nothing we can learn from any other country, which is nonsense.

Do you think of this as being a sort of book about the path forward for the U.S.? Or do you think of it as having a broader, global audience?
It is a book about the U.S. plus 215 other countries. The United States is one country in the world, and we’ve got our own problems, which we are struggling with. I came back from Italy and Britain. Britain when I was there was at the peak of Brexit, but Britain is still at the peak of Brexit.

They’re not leaving that behind.
They’re making, I would say, zero progress with Brexit. Italy has its own big problems. Papua New Guinea has its own problems. I’m trying to think what country does not have problems …

It’s hard.
Norway is doing pretty well. What else?

Portugal maybe is doing relatively well.
Which one is that?

Portugal, maybe.
Portugal, maybe. Costa Rica, all things considered. Well, Costa Rica has problems because I think all four of Costa Rica’s last four presidents are in jail at the moment. That’s a significant problem.

If there’s hardly a nation in the world that seems to be a good model, a thriving example for other nations of the world to follow behind, how much faith does that give you that we can find our way to a kind of sustainable, prosperous, and fulfilling future? 
That’s an interesting question. If I had stopped the book on the chapter about the world without writing the last six pages, it would have been a pessimistic chapter, because at that point I thought the world does not have a track record of solving difficult problems. The U.N., well bless it, but the U.N. isn’t sufficiently powerful, and therefore I feel pessimistic about our chances of solving big world problems.

But then, fortunately, I learned by talking with friends that the world does have a successful track record in the last 40 years about solving really complex, thorny problems. For example, the coastal economics. So many countries have overlapping coastal economic zones. What a horrible challenge that was to get all the countries in the world to agree with delineating their coastal economic zones. But it worked. They’re delineated.

Or smallpox. To eliminate smallpox it had to be eliminated in every country. That included eliminating it in Ethiopia and Somalia. Boy, was it difficult to eliminate smallpox in Somalia, but it was eliminated.

I wonder if I could ask you about California in particular. It’s interesting to me in the sense that when I look at the example of California, I see a lot of reasons for hope in the sense that there’s quite focused attention on climate and resources used there — probably more sustained interested in those subjects than there really is anywhere else in the U.S. And it has policy that’s, by any metric, I think more progressive than the relevant policies elsewhere in the U.S.

And yet, it’s also a state that — maybe it’s an unfortunate phrase — by accident of geography is also facing some of the most intense pressures and dealing with the most intense impacts already, from water issues to wildfire and all the rest of it. As a Californian who’s informed by these concerns looking at the future and thinking about the future, how does the future of California look to you?
California has problems like every other place in the world. But California makes me optimistic. It does have the environmental problems but nevertheless we have, I would say, one of the best state governments, if not the best state government in the United States. And relatively educated citizens. And we have the best system of public education, of public higher education in the United States. Although, I, at the University of California, know very well that we are screaming at the legislature for more money. So we have problems but we’re giving me hope at how we’re dealing with those problems.

I’m a native New Yorker and lived my whole life in this environment on the East Coast. And when I see images of those wildfires and when I hear stories of people I know or people I meet, and the fact that they’ve evacuated, the fact that no matter where you are in Southern California, also in parts of Central California and Northern California, you have an evacuation plan in mind. I just don’t understand how you guys can live like that. It must begin to impose some kind of psychic cost.
Well, I understand psychic costs and I understand getting my head around it because I was born and grew up in Boston. The last straw for me was that in Boston I sang in the Handel and Haydn Society chorus, and we were going to perform in Boston Symphony Hall the last week in May and our concert was canceled by a snowstorm that closed Boston down. And for me that was the last straw. I do not want to live in a city where a concert in Symphony Hall is going to get closed down in the last week of May by a snowstorm.

That’s just one event, but the fact is that Boston is and was miserable for five months of the year in the winter and then it’s nice for two weeks in the spring and then it’s miserable for four months in the summer, then it’s nice for a few weeks in the fall. Similarly with New York. So when I moved here, my reaction is, “Yes, we have the fires and we have the earthquakes and we have the mudslide and we have the risk of flooding. But, thank God for all those things because they saved me from the psychic costs of living in the Northeast.”

NY Mag

EV’s and FAKE Green

Electric vehicles are Fake Green.  People that drive them often have a cult fake green mentality.  For some reason they feel special to be driving electric.  Driving is the problem and the car culture is what has destroyed the planet and our species.  That said we are where we are and that is a car culture necessary for survival.  Electric vehicles are part of the solution to lowering our foot print if we are also pushing into renewables with vigor.  In many places we are doing this so this makes EV part of the solution.  Hybrids are part of the solution too because they fill many applications well.  Both EV’s, hybrids, and fuel cell technology need to be pushed and ICE vehicles slowly taken from the road.  Most of all our modern consumeristic mobile mentality reshaped instead of adapted with Fake Green fancy shit like EV vehicles.  Most EV are sold to the rich who are the biggest consumers of resources by far green or not. 

The Real Green approach is to go local.  In all fairness this does not work except for some but it should be an option governments around the world are pushing.  Subsidize low footprint lifestyles and green good behavior.  Eco communities could be certified and supported with economic protection.  Eco communities would voluntarily go low tech and simplify.  This means leaving normal life much as monks did in the Middle Ages with the difference being economic and environmental not religious.  Monasteries are a blue print for what these communities would resemble.  Eco communities engage in permaculture even more so.  Many poor in the third world are already there so policies should avoid disrupting what they have and an effort made to keep them from developing into a modern consumer. 

Industrial Ag is something we need to move away from at least partly for a lower foot print and food supply resilience.  Electric with renewable power is part of this.  Tractors can go electric and the greatly reduced transport these eco communities would engage in also electric.  These communities could pack the vehicle with people for multi tasked trips for supplies and sale of goods.  This would be a very low foot print compared to normal people who drive single occupancy vehicles EV or not.  These communities could be powered by renewables off the grid with a lifestyle adapted to intermittency.  Their surplus power if any sold to the grid along with their eco harvested food production. 

EV’s do not make you green.  Most EV’s are fossil fuel charged to some extent because the grid is not green.  This whole EV thing is in some ways a farce but they are trying and it is better than Trump Orange or Conservative brown that are anti-green and mainly profit oriented.  Real Green is planet oriented first.  We all know these activities have to make a return.  Wolves don’t survive if their rabbit catch was more effort than the meal gives. This is where the certification comes in.  An energy audit is needed to allow economic support and protection.  The EV cult mentality needs to be taken from Fake Green to Real Green for those who can and who in their heart want to dedicate their lives to the planet and the web of life.

Black Hawk’s 11 Percent Solution

“Black Hawk’s 11 Percent Solution”    The Great Change

“I reiterated, among other things, Growth, whether of material “wealth” or population, cannot be sustained and some serious degrowth is overdue. You can get as much from looking at the Baltic Exchange Dry Index or the Dow.  If production cannot be decoupled from quality of life then we are chasing a paradox because we live on a finite planet of limited resources.  There is good news in that at least some of our problems can be addressed by reversing climate change and building ecosystem health through a multitude of natural, antifragile and frugal means.  However, none of these things are being done at any significant scale, and that scaling seems dangerously far off.  We are poised at the edge of the Seneca Cliff and will need to find a better way down than leaping without a parachute.”

“What I confirmed by reading Black Hawk’s account is the same as we might learn from any number of anthropology studies; that voluntary simplicity and gift economies provide for all, allow ample time for leisure, celebration, and sport, foster honesty and integrity as the highest social values, and encourage exploration of natural spiritual powers through deep observation, revelation, and clairvoyant dreaming. It is no worse than the lives we live now and in many ways better. This is why in the history of the American colonies those who switched sides and became Indians remained so, while Indians who tried out Western Civilization usually lasted only a short time in their strange surroundings before returning home.”

“Most of us likely cannot conceive of how a society as complex and populous as modern techno-consumer culture could transition in a century or less to something resembling Black Hawk’s village. We take half measures, like installing renewable energy, supporting a Green New Deal or joining transition towns, which are steps along the path, but not nearly enough to get where we must go. Next week we will have a look at David Holmgren’s latest missive, the strategies of the Global Ecovillage Network and Ecosystem Restoration Camps, and how to adopt the most realistic patterns of living that can be sustained into a fragile, hazardous and uncertain future.”

We may dismiss and even ridicule the above permaculture thinking but reality says at least some of this must be embraced.  I say some of this in regards to parachute strategies of lifeboats and hospices.  The nature of lifeboats and hospices does not need to be taken in the extreme just as collapse is nearly always mistaken in the extreme.  Lifeboats and hospices are a strategy of mitigating and adapting to a collapse process that may be a longer term phenomena.  It is very possible it could be short term but there is nothing that says it must.  This is about the here and now and the next day not some far off future in 2050 or 2100.

I have been a doomer and prepper now since 2000.  I have studies climate change and peak oil since 85 in college.  Even though peak oil story has change it is still relevant.  Energy is still a dangerous problem and possibly a predicament.  In any case a way of life is the real predicament.  I have come to the conclusion that the individual and small communities can embrace the necessary change to find resilience and relative sustainability within the context of a collapsing globalism.  This does not ensure survival but it does offer meaning.  Meaning comes from making efforts at survival.  Is this not what humans used to do before we become sedentary in modernism? 

This Real Green approach to a localized permaculture future revolves around the individual and small communities.  It offers a blue print for change at the grass roots level.  It acknowledges things like a Green New Deal are a waste of time.  Maybe something good will come out of the so called Green New Deal but for the most part I see a wasted effort that could of used political capital in a more informed and focused fashion.  This is the real failure of progressives and that is thinking they have the answers when they are part of the problem.  All I see is more political maneuvering to shift resources that is just another wealth transfer exercise.  The new deal is a new group who will benefit from free lunches.  This is really about power not the environment.  If it was really about the environment these people would be living differently. 

This is not about healing the planet.  That is no longer possible.  The damage has been done and the consequences are ahead.  This is more about triage and stabilization.  This is possible in small ways at the grass root level.  The top is too noisy with different ideologies corrupted by power plays.  The leadership of the world is dishonest and corrupted by affluence and power.  This is the raw truth of it, plain and simple.  This will not change until it ends.  The top has been coopted by psychopathic tendencies of power politics which is deep human nature.  It is the black hole of the ego.  There is no way to change this.  Corruption follows a process and we are in a late stage of it. 

When one realizes this predicament of human nature then they start where change can work and that is the local.  This does not mean we should reject efforts at the top.  We need efforts at the top but the point is these efforts will never make a difference with what is needed.  The efforts at the top will be cancelled out by other wrong efforts.  Let’s hope more good can come out of them is the best we can hope for.  This means if you want to be part of real change that is green with relative resilience and sustainability look right in front of you.  Quit expecting government to do it because they will not and cannot.  A flawed and destructive way of life cannot be made right with renewables and vegan practices.  Your life can be changed concentrate on that.

REAL Green Start

I have come to the conclusion after years of living what I preach and investing in it that way of life the world will not change enough and soon enough to avoid some very unpleasant consequence.  I am no longer a radical doomer.  There are stages of doom and prep one must go through.  There are basics of both that must be learned then the rest is an art.  It really comes down to attitude in the end.  There is no set manual for the undertaking because there are so many setting for doom and prep and so many different states of individual meaning.  Isn’t meaning what we are after anyway?  Those with a brain realize no amount of prepping will save you.  Those with a brain realize consequences of collapse are real and the science is real.  The problem nowadays is with solutions.  Those who think the world will engineer a way out of this mess are in a fantasy world.  The solutions are not reality tested with science and human behavior realistically.  Most solutions I see are theory. 

This should not matter to you the individual.  Quit worrying about society and worry about your little world and meaning can be found.  Maybe solutions will occur but probably not.  This conclusion has pushed me towards individual solutions and small scale reclamations of life.  These efforts may be the seeds of the future if a lucky environment is found for those who come after.  You are leaving something like an artist leave art.  If they fail then does it matter?  It is the journey that matters in the end in my opinion.  In the end we are all dead anyway.  I find meaning in my way of life.  I have learned so much.  I feel blessed because I can do it. 

I am specializing in dispersed energy gathering and harvesting while still utilizing the high intensity energy the status quo offers us.  I do this with animals, solar panels, and biomass from the forest and fields revolving around permaculture.  I am using the status quo to leave it.  I will give what I learned to anyone interested.  I do not claim to be special or above anyone.  I am just lucky and enlightened.  I have been awakened and so many others remain unawakened.  Many because they are not capable but many others who have not had the right circumstances to change their status quo behavior.  This is about behavior in the end.  It is about the individual.  Survival is about the community and landscape but the reasons are individual.  This is not concerned with a higher power.  What I am preaching is an add-on to what you have now.  It is a way to navigate the decline of human affluence and environmental succession. 

The numbers don’t add up doing cost accounting unless you place high value on real value.  Real value is sustainability and resilience with a lower footprint.  I can’t live like I do without the status quo but I do participate in the status quo less than others.  I call that the honesty of Real Green.  Gardening is not cheap.  Wood does not pay and solar is overpriced.  I have to use machines to cultivate the fields and gather wood.  I could avoid this if I had a large family or slave like the old days.  If I made the large investment in work animals I could do more without equipment.  It is only the wife and I so I have no choice but to use money from my investments and modern equipment. 

For me it is not about leaving the status quo it is about a hybridization of it.  It is about localism and collapsing in place.  The word collapse is misleading.  It is more declining in place.  I would love to be totally off the grid and out of the consumeristic world.  That is not realistic for anyone but a few.  What I am preaching is relative sacrifice that attempts to harness old ways combined with new ways to achieve a more resilient way of life.  This is with the understanding the trajectory of the planet and society is in succession with decline, extinction, and dysfunction of human complexity.  The individual can navigate this.  The individual can yield to larger forces.  Many of us will not make it with or without what I am doing.  What I am saying is you can find meaning and feel good about something by following a path to a more sustainable and resilient life that acknowledges the awful consequences ahead.  We are going to be less affluence.  We are going to experience more pain.  We are going to see death and dysfunction more.  You can face that now and be more prepared when it comes. 

You can also just do what you are doing if it is easier.  What I am preaching is a lot of work.  I am beat by the end of the day.  I could have just retired by the ocean in a warm climate.  Instead I am pursuing something that is a project of hard work and financial investment.  I had the money to do it but many don’t.  For those who don’t you can still make some changes.  Those who have the money need to realize the economics of the status quo are such that permaculture and homesteading do not add up in the world of financialized globalism.  This life does work if you use globalism to leave it creating meaning in the process out of noise and chaos of the status quo.   In the process you can make the planet a little better and your life a little more meaningful.  That is the best it gets.