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“We – those of us who care about life – have a choice. At each and every second we have a choice. We can open up to life, in all its complexity and horror and joy and sorrow and death and messiness. Or we can try to deny this complexity, this messiness, this life, and we can try to reduce it. …And of course once having opened up to the complexity and beauty of life, we really have no choice but to fight to defend this complexity and beauty from all those who would destroy it.” -- Derrick Jensen, Dreams (2011) “Which side are you on, boys?
As recently as a year ago it was considered heresy to suggest economic growth would not soon resume. Now, however, as The Big Engine That Couldn't has faltered for several years, it is becoming increasingly clear the economy is running off the tracks . Both investors and the public are beginning to realize the long-revered goal of endless economic growth is failing. Anger and fear are widespread, as the livelihoods and hopes of ordinary Americans are being destroyed.
[Première publication sur Orbite.info: Un entretien avec Dmitry Orlov ] I came upon Dmitry Orlov's writings—as with most good things on the Internet—by letting chance and curiosity guide me from link to link. It was one of those moments of clarity when a large number of confusing questions find their answer along with their correct formulation. For example, the existence of fundamental similarities between the Soviet Union and the United States was for me a vague intuition, but I was unable to draw up a detailed list as Dmitry has done. One must have lived in two crumbling empires in order to be able to do that. I must say that my enthusiasm was not shared by those around me, with whom I have shared my translations.
<img alt="Photo: Finlay Mackay" src="/magazine/wp-content/images/18-09/ff_madmaxtown_f.jpg" title="Armageddon, USA: A Tour of American's Most Toxic Town" width="660" height="457" /> Larry Roberts angles his white Mercury Grand Marquis into the empty parking lot of a tiny café, G & J’s Gorillas Cage, and cruises into a space near the front door. The restaurant’s red and white metal trim is faded and rusted, and the lightbulb-lined roadside sign has been dark for years. Hand-painted placards in the windows advertise burger baskets, corn dogs, and a couple of untruths—”Last Place in Picher!” and “Yes, We’re Open!”
Following on from yesterday's discussion , I want to make a point that seems like it must have been made before, but I cannot quickly find a good discussion of it. That is that the net energy of pre-industrial agriculture, taken as a whole energy-gathering system, must have been low, with EROEI probably on the order of 1.1-1.6 depending on place and time. Prior to the industrial revolution, the main source of primary energy in society was biological - agriculture and forestry, with a significant assist from water mills. The biological energy was used to feed horses (used themselves in ploughing, but also in transportation), as well as agricultural workers.
We must first realize that EROI is a somewhat theoretical concept; it is a unitless ratio that does not describe actual flows of energy. What society really cares about, and what is really used to grow economies around the world, are actual flows of energy. More precisely, the economy utilizes flows of net energy.
*An unrepentant sympathizer took the trouble to type up a full transcript of my speech at Transmediale 10 on February 6. *Since this volunteer made such a noble effort, it deserves to be pitched straight into the “Internet meme ooze” of blogs and social media. Here you are.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in the last two months or so, and at this point I want to summarize the territory thus explored and link it back into the core of this blog’s project—the search for a realistic understanding of the troubled future ahead of us, and a meaningful way to respond to it. One crucial part of that response, I’ve suggested, relates to that tangled realm where consciousness meets the unconscious drives that shape so much of our experience of the world: a realm that contemporary thought addresses, however incompletely, through the science of psychology, and that the older lore of magic approaches in a much more comprehensive and potent way. That latter lore is only one part of the toolkit we’re going to need to deal with the storms to come, but it’s an important part, and it’s well suited to deal with issues most of today’s proposals for the future leave unanswered.
"Clean." "Green." What do those words mean?
Today’s Outside the Box is the latest chapter in my ongoing discussion with Dr. Woody Brock on the rationale of the politics of economics. In this essay, Woody explains how political science has taken a back seat to economics, and how to redress the imbalance we find today between what he terms “Res Politica” (the rule of politics) and “Res Economica” (the rule of economics or money). Where the rubber meets the road here is that our important economic decisions are increasingly being made by politicians (who are not particularly well-schooled in either economics or political science), with consequences that are likely to be dangerous.
[A timely guest post from Gary. tl;dn: Hubbert was right. Again.] In light of recent events such as the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street I thought it would be pertinent to review Hubbert's Third Prophecy about the cultural crisis he expected. He wrote about it in the attached article entitled "Exponential Growth as a Transient Phenomenon in Human History". In case you are not familiar with Hubbert's first two prophecies, he predicted both the US and world oil peak very accurately. In 1956 Hubbert predicted the US oil peak would be sometime between 1969 and 1971.
Exit from comment view mode. Click to hide this space Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph NEW YORK – The Internet is an extraordinarily powerful tool. It has changed how we do business, how we do politics, and even how we change our leaders – at least some of the time. Comments View/Create comment on this paragraph But the ease with which we now communicate, the efficiencies we take for granted, can give us a false sense of how easy it is to follow through on some of these changes.
If all our debit cards stopped working suddenly, it could crash the economy. Photo: justDONQUE.images via Flickr. In the granddaddy of all collapse books, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , 18th-century historian Edward Gibbon gave ancient Rome a full 500 years to deflate.
The United States is increasingly similar to a 3rd world country in several ways and is accelerating towards 3rd world status. Economic data indicate a harsh reality that obviates mainstream political debate. The evidence suggests that, without fundamental reforms, the U.S. will become a post industrial neo-3rd-world country by 2032. Fundamental characteristics that define a 3rd world country include high unemployment, lack of economic opportunity, low wages, widespread poverty, extreme concentration of wealth, unsustainable government debt, control of the government by international banks and multinational corporations, weak rule of law and counterproductive government policies. All of these characteristics are evident in the U.S. today. Other factors include poor public health, nutrition and education, as well as lack of infrastructure.
This article is an attempt to respond to those who say they see me as a defeatist, a ‘doomer’, a dogmatically negative person. I have described myself of late as a joyful pessimist, and will try to explain why. This article draws on various theories about complexity, and the phenomenological philosophies of several writers, poets, artists and scientists. But it’s not a work of exposition of theory or of philosophy. It is, I guess, a confession.