The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Making Sure YOU Stay Alive When Millions Are Dying

Okay, my friends, it’s time to talk seriously.

We are screwed, blued, and tattooed. We are so fucked that we can’t see straight.

The vast majority of people are in complete denial about the level of pain coming down the pike.

The combination of climate change and ecological collapse is going to hit us like a high-speed train carrying nitroglycerine derailing in the middle of a oil refinery.

The timing on this shit is unclear. I have seen coherently argued cases that ecological collapse could happen soon. Heck, I’ve seen cases that say it, er, should have happened by now.

But that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Combine climate change with the way we have utterly fucked up our management of fresh water, and this is going to lead to, in a reasonable best case scenario, hundreds of millions of deaths, and a billion or so refugees.

The aquifers are being depleted in wide areas in China, India, America, and elsewhere. The groundwater is also being polluted.

No one is prepared and no one is doing sweet fuck all. I get chewed on for being “cynical,” but the people who are not worried are absolute fools and morons: Anyone who cheered the Paris accords on the environment was delusional at best. They had no enforcement provisions. Virtually no one was going to meet those goals AND the goals were insufficient to begin with.

We were told they weren’t going to do enough, and that the signing countries weren’t going to hold themselves to it anyway, and people pretended to believe this BS was going to make the least bit of difference?

Grow the fuck up.

Now, if you are not old or the sort of sick that means your lifespan is shit and your odds of surviving and major catastrophe are crap, or if you care about your children or some other people, you need to start taking this into account in your personal lives.


It is too late. Too late.

Tattoo that into your brain.

Even if our governments suddenly were run by people who cared, it would be too late to do anything but prepare and try and reduce how bad it will be.

But they aren’t doing anthing, and they aren’t going to be doing anything soon enough. Heck, soon enough was about ten years ago, and that was optimistic to any sane person. By 2008, I was thinking “Yeah, we’re fucked, but maybe, just maybe, if we act now?”

Frankly, I was delusional. Hope’ll do that to you. Horrible drug. Obviously, our leaders are psychopathic douchebags with the planning ability of mythical lemmings (the real animals are not as stupid as the legend), and obviously most voters don’t take the issue seriously, and obviously nothing was going to be done no matter who was elected.

But,  y’know, “hope.”

Alright, hope’s over. It died for me by February of 2009, on a bunch of fronts.

High-speed freight train, carrying nitro. Derailing. In the middle of your life.

I don’t know when this stuff will really hit. Probably someone has made the prediction that is right. But I do know it will hit. I know it will cause major wars between major states. I know it will cause waves of refugees in the millions. I know it will cause vast numbers of deaths.

This is obvious.

So take it into account in your planning of your life. I’m not talking politics in this post, that ship is done. Do what you can at the political level if you want, but I’m talking about your personal survival and that of people for whom you care most.

If you live in the most vulnerable countries and areas (for example, India will be absolutely creamed), take that into account. But also take into account we have a very fragile, just-in-time delivery system.

Are you on drugs? I mean that literally. Legal, psychoactive drugs, or legal, life saving drugs. The US had a major shortage of blood bags due to Puerto Rico getting hit by a hurricane because, hey, they were made there.

We have an intensely locally-concentrated production of materials that are then sent to entire continents and countries through fragile supply chains that end in warehouses that do not hold large stocks, because everything is “lean and mean” and “just in time.” Shocks hit a system like that, and there will be shortages. Medicine, food, fuel, and plenty of other stuff.

So start building in some ability to survive if you care about surviving.

And don’t allow yourself to go all delusional thinking it won’t happen. The best you can hope for is you die before it does. It’s a good bet for some of us. But if you’re young and healthy, or care about people who are, no.

Note: Yes, this post includes swearing. No, as a commenter you still can not swear. Also, comments suggesting that climate change is not real, etc… will not be approved. Further, apologists, that warmer climates are more lush in the long run does not change the short term catastrophic adjustments, where short term means decades to centuries.

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.


The Subtle Art of Letting Go of Suffering


The Secret Determinant of Your Survival in Catastrophes


  1. atcooper

    Greer proposed banning flight as a first step towards re-establishing an equilibrium with the environment, an environment of which we are very much embedded in. I’ve mentioned this among my peers and the reactions have been clarifying in terms of how prepared folks are for the changes coming down the pike, for their willingness to change.

    For those who believe we can techno our way out of this, please hear me. I’ve lived in a mostly artificial environment. It is much harder on the body and spirit than you can even imagine. And we had the ocean from which to get fresh air and fresh water. Humankind cannot live like that for long periods of time.

    No one, including the rich, will be spared from what is coming. The survival of our species truely is at stake.

  2. realitychecker

    Thank Dog we have all these safe spaces to hide in, otherwise I’d really be worried lol.

    Ian, you have unleashed your hidden Inner Commenter. My leashed Inner Commenter says “Bravo!.” 🙂

  3. Hugh

    I agree, and as always, I would add overpopulation. These existential threats are already underway. Even in an advanced country like the US, we have only until 2030 by my reckoning to have full responses up and running (and as Ian says, this would be mitigation, not reversal). Given the time to put together plans and implement them, I figure, at best, in the US, full crash program, we need a minimum of 10 years to do this. But the public awareness and discussion needed is nowhere in sight. Instead we look to be in a prolonged period of complete idiocy on the American political scene with all sides obsessed with and blathering about worlds that either have never existed or are already on their way out. So although we are in the best position to act, the odds are heavy that we won’t.

  4. Charlie

    I mourn the animals.

  5. Tom

    We started collapsing in 04, politically, economically, and ecologically. That was also the start of the caps shrinking substantially.

    We’re already in the collapse, been so for 14 years, all the fighting in the Middle East is being driven by keeping control of the Oil in hands of people the US trusts and aggravated by climate change droughts that wiped out Egypt’s and Syria’s agriculture.

    Africa’s conflicts are being driven by the growing Saharra pushing semi-nomads into settled areas where they can’t earn as much a living smuggling and thus fueling conflict.

    Asia is on the verge of blowing over the Spratleys where vast oil wealth is situated alongside one of the few remaining and viable fisheries.

    Even in the US collapse is apparent with Trump no longer seemingly in control of his administration with all the different branches working at cross purposes to each other, even inter-branch we got cliques working at cross purposes.

    The Mid West Fires continue and the Atlantic Seaboard is seeing more weather extremes.

    Lack of infrastructure spending means 80% US dams are in serious risk of collapse and we are having more and more close calls. Most are never reported except by the USACE.

    A complete systemic collapse is in progress.

  6. John

    At the collapse website,, Jay Hanson wrote that the psychological aspect of surviving will be intolerable when surrounded by so much chaos and death. More Cormac McCarthy’s The Road than teevee’s Walking Dead.
    James Lovelock backed off all his predictions. I don’t know his reasons, but it may be because they became pointless. It seems he ended up with advice to enjoy your life as much as possible and deal with the consequences when they come. No one will escape. You will develop the skills to deal with it as the need arises or simply die. Mother Nature is a strict Daddy Republican in that sense.

  7. robotpliers

    Thank you. I understand most of this intellectually, but sometimes reading it spelled out like this helps to integrate it at an emotional level, which then adds to motivation and prompts action.

  8. James Wheeler

    Agree completely Tom.

    A very lucid analysis of how we have been collapsing for over a decade now.

    I would add that Ian did not mention the peaking of conventional oil back in the mid-2000’s and how it has only been the explosion in higher cost unconventional oil/gas production that has stopped an overall decline in oil supplies available to the world economy.

    I would concur with the other commentators that the shit will hit the fan after 2030 on a number of fronts. This also goes along with the limits to growth business-as-usual modelling done back in the 1970’s!

  9. realitychecker

    One thing is for sure–if any of these predictions of societal catastrophe come to pass, you will definitely not want to have any guns as your fellow citizens fight for the remaining survival scraps./s

    Could there be a more definitive reality check?

  10. atcooper

    The evidence of collapse is all around us. All it takes is eyes to see.

    Just a few days ago I learned Milwaukee is lead poisoning it’s children. That is what a failed state looks like.

  11. Jaimie

    Ian, I think this is the best thing you’ve ever written.

    I said that about the last post, too.

    But this tops even that one.

    Well done.

  12. Blissex

    The book “2052” by J Randers has a long term “from the clouds” high level view, and the main conclusion is that from now to 2052 things will work-ish, that is they will plateau, and life will continue as before, with a bit more struggle and less prosperity, at least in the developed world. The overshoot will happen after that. Then the millennials and their children are pretty much screwed.
    Things are not so awesome already. I recently noticed that for the first time in recorded history several “first world” countries have had a significant fall in electricity consumption (which usually tracks quite well the actual income of most people), since 2005, consider these two graphs for UK regions and for various developed and developing countries:

    The huge (10-15%) fall in electricity consumption in several developed countries started before the 2008 crisis, and soon after the entry of China in the WTO, and at the same time chinese electricity consumption started growing twice as fast as before. The only other case of fall in electricity consumption was for “second world” countries (ex-soviet) in the 1990s, but they have recovered and it is growing in those places:

    You can play with graphs the electricity consumption per head of various countries here:

  13. Bill Hicks

    The truth hurts–badly. Back in 2008, I was a regular participant in a peak oil forum in which we used to have a regular debate on the subject of whether we were headed for a “fast collapse” or a “slow collapse.” I was in the latter camp, predicting that the mid-2020s would likely be when TS would really HTF. Fast collapse looked pretty plausible in those days, but I had a feeling the government(s) would pull out all the stops to delay it as long as possible, which of course they did.

    Today I no longer believe peak oil to be the most dire threat since it is pretty clear that fracking has made available enough fossil fuels to burn the planet to a crisp, and the government(s) will do everything they can to keep that party going as long as possible. What hasn’t changed in my mind is the timing of my original prediction, assuming we get through the Trump years without him pressing the button as Madman Mattis and Bomber Bolton whisper sweet nothings in his ear.

  14. ibaien

    oh my god please don’t turn into a prepper blog; alex jones and jh kunstler out behind the house ranting and selling snake oil. things are almost certainly going to get bad somewhere on the spectrum between ‘i should have laid in more champagne, Aÿ is ripening too early these days’ and ‘how do i make a bow out of sinew, again?’ and there’s no reasonable way to predict which extreme we’re going to get. ‘beans bullets and bibles’ is as goofy as ‘millions now living will never die’.

  15. Sid Finster

    Did Barbara Tuchman not write “A Distant Mirror” about times much like own own and the times to follow?

  16. Gagabloggerette

    Can we talk specifics here of what we are all seeing. For example, bugs. In the midwest in the summer here, my car windshield used to get covered in bugs driving. No longer. Hoards of june bugs used to constantly be buzzing around the front porch light. No more. And I can’t remember the last time I saw a spider in the house.

  17. Anon

    I am so frightened of what’s coming down the pike I can barely do my job or have fun with my children anymore, knowing that their future dreams have already died. God have mercy on our souls.

  18. you might be right – although you can never tell when something surprising [in either direction] might happen

    i am a time traveler from the mid-20th century, and so cannot expect to get beyond the middle of this century even under extremely favorable conditions, and so i am likely to be gone before the worst occurs – and if the worst occurs sooner, so will my expiration date

    if young people were ask my advice – and this is unlikely – i would point to new zealand as a place that might be propitious in the medium term – although one cannot rule out the possibility of its conquest by some regime [cough*china*cough] that regards it as worth the trouble to take it over – maybe canada will be alright – really, it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future

    although of course, as the firesign theatre pointed out, THIS is the future – you got to LIVE it, or LIVE WITH it, and eventually get out of the way

  19. Willy

    I like helping out good people. I’ve never had a person of high integrity screw me. A few of those may have watched in fearful silence while somebody else did, but the idea that ‘good people sometimes do bad things’ has its limits. One needs to ask themselves “They’re good in what ways?” and “What’s in me for them?” I’m trying to limit my closer associations to people cut from the better cloths. Since most everybody puts on a good face at first, an ability to be able to see past any play-acting and masking, to the basic temperament, seems a good thing.

  20. realitychecker

    I want to make a very serious point here, by asking this very serious question:

    How foolish and nonsensical are ALL the current leftmost positions and talking points that urge us to get closer to that perfect world concept, if we are simultaneously to take seriously and believe that the world is going into the crapper in the next few years no matter what anybody does?

    If we believe the thesis of this post, shouldn’t we all be concentrating on getting tougher so that we have a chance to survive longer in the tougher world that is now seen to be coming, so clearly seen that no comments denying the thesis are permitted here?

    Serious question, folks. Can you deal with it?

  21. Herman

    At this point, justt wish I knew to try to ride it out. Find my near a Great Lake? South America, non Brazil edition, where there’s plenty of ocean on both sides of me?

    This comes of as extremely self-centered, but as Ian says, it’s already baked in.

  22. Chuck Mire

    Listen to the NPR Science Friday Podcast here:

    Our current era of climate change is unprecedented in human history. But it’s not the first time the Earth has been through such changes. 56 million years ago, shortly after the extinction of the dinosaurs, the planet warmed faster than it has at any other point in time, except for today. Sarah Kaplan, science reporter for the Washington Post, joins Ira to discuss whether anything can be learned from history repeating itself.

    This ancient climate catastrophe is our best clue about Earth’s future:

  23. scruff

    I mourn the animals.

    They, at least, deserve to be mourned. As for the civilization that will (probably) be slowly annihilated, it couldn’t happen to a more deserving group of people. And of course it is also true that the faster the collapse of civilization happens, the more lives and futures – both human as well as non-human – will remain.

  24. Ian Welsh

    The people who survive best in catastrophes are people who pull together and are at least group altruistic. There’s a book called “A Heaven Made In Hell”, which covers this well.

    A long time ago, the Egyptians and Middle East had a hundred year drought. Egypt prepared.

    It did not stay together: but it stayed together 50 years longer than the fertile crescent nations.

    Finally, people fix the pain they feel now. I don’t think this is the wisest triage, but it is what it is.

    People ask the wrong questions about how to survive, anyway. Yeah, you need to be away from the ground zeros, but other than that it’s almost all social factors which will decide if you decide, not how well you know how to shoot (though I believe everyone should know how, it’s useful.)

  25. I know that my grandchildren have no future. My children, who are in their 40’s and quite intelligent, had children anyway. I did not speak to them about this delusion. That makes me complicit. Humans are animals and animals make more animals. Everytime I visit my family, I am both happy and mournful. There is no future.

  26. realitychecker

    @ Ian

    I agree that group allegiance will be important for members of that group, but that also means the group will have to be tougher in how it deals with outsiders to the group.

    So, my question remains, aren’t we crazy to be worried about safe spaces, harsh language, and child-proofing the world?

  27. Pdxreader

    Not disagreeing with it but this post doesn’t provide much in the way of specifics.
    I doubt there are any steps any of us can take to reasonably assure our survival of the coming apocalypse ( but certainly there are some we will be doomed by if we don’t take them). But I’m not really interested in those either, since I’m 55 and alone and pretty much resigned to my fate (just as long as my dogs don’t suffer).
    But seeing as 20 years of doom and gloom scenarios haven’t really happened yet and we seem to be self destructing socially and politically faster than climate change can get us, I’m more curious in the specifics of how this plays out.
    If you’re not going to lay that out, how about some links to such scenarios you have found, please?
    I used to read Nicole Fosse, but she seems pretty much out of things to say, and her website taken over by a crazy trumpista who denies he’s a trumpista. Who else is out there to read that isn’t crazy?

  28. different clue

    Pdxreader raises a good question. After another few-couple posts telling us to Get Real And Accept The Future, I hope it is determined that no more such “Face It” posts will be considered necessary.

    At that point, I would hope that any more such posts on the subject feature efforts to think about specific ways to ensure various aspects of viable survival. Such posts would encourage commenters to offer links or sites or URLS or books or other sources of and about specific applicable knowledge of methods and materials and techniques and knowledge for survival/ resilience/ sustainment/ etc.

  29. different clue


    That is a very interesting Google chart. Google has done/offered something of some use with this chart.

    Unfortunately, it is still pretty vague and general, unless I just haven’t learned to break it down for all kinds of sub-categories. But since I haven’t, I will just have to accept the Overall Per Capita Use Of Electricity Per Year as being the basic figure that I have to figure with.

    So for 2014 here in the US, I calculated it to be 35.5 kilowatt-hours of electricity used per person per day. I can’t imagine it being so much less than that in 2018. If my own personal dwelling-unit per capita use of electricity is less than that per day, then I have to suppose that the rest of my 35.5 is made up the electro-use caused by my buying stuff in/from the economy, and using electricity outside the home such as computing on workplace or library computers, and all the electricity I use at my job.

    I can do something about my dwelling-unit use of electricity. I can do less about my “participation in the economy” use of electricity. I could quit my job. But I won’t. I could stop computering. Maybe I will give up my computering if John Michael Greer will give up his computering

  30. capelin

    preparing how to survive end of the world “lite” could be a good start.

    say, for 2 months your normal access is cut off to: food, toilet paper, gas, money. go.

    lets keep the electricity, water, and sewers flowing for the moment, powered by unicorns.

    and yeah, poor animals.

  31. And a Happy Easter to you too, Ian! I suspect the planet and the species will survive but with lower numbers and that will restore the necessary balances. However I won’t be around to find out as I am now over 70!

  32. Hugh

    If you want to do your own research on population, you can go to:

    I would suggest looking at population by country 1950; 2018; and 2050. You can copy the data and manipulate it in Excel. You can also look at the wikipedia article on “World population”:

    What I find interesting is the estimate that world population in 1800 was around a billion. This would correspond roughly to a measure for a pre-industrial carrying capacity. The question then becomes how much beyond this would a sustainable industrial base, given current conditions, increase it.

    If you are interested in climate change, you can download the 2014 Fifth Assessment of the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) from here:

    The next IPCC report will be out in 2022. NASA also has a climate change site:

    If you are interested in biodiversity, you can go to The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES):

    Its most recent release:'s-contributions-continue- dangerous-decline-scientists-warn

    You can also download more detailed reports here:

    As for political disintegration, I know of no sites. It is happening in many places at many levels. In the US, it manifests as a travelogue of imperial decline, replete with a clownish, destructive President and the complete bankruptcy of the political classes and the two party system. In Europe, it is the slow, inexorable breakup of the EU/EZ as witnessed by Brexit, the economic decline of the Southern Tier and the right wing, authoritarian resurgence in the all but forgotten Eastern Tier. In Africa, you have failed states like Somalia, Libya, and South Sudan as well as failing ones like Congo, instability throughout the Sahel, East Africa, Zimbabwe, etc., and large scale repression in Egypt. In the Mideast, you have failed states like Syria and Yemen, a failing one in Iraq, another repressive dictatorship in Turkey, a powder keg in Saudi Arabia, and an apartheid state in Israel. In South Asia, you have a failed state in Afghanistan, a nuclear armed powder keg in Pakistan, and increased sectarianism in India with levels of corruption (always high) now so high as to interfere with its basic functioning. In East Asia, you have China returning to its imperial ways, dictatorship in the Philippines, and a nuclear armed rogue state in North Korea.

    So yes, there are ways to assess what is going on and what is coming. But you do have to do your own leg work. There is no one-stop place or site for it.

  33. Robert Callaghan

    ► Humans and livestock are 97% of earth’s land-air vertebrate biomass.

    ► 10,000 years ago humans and livestock were a mere 0.01% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    ► Humans and livestock are now 97% of land-air vertebrate biomass.

    ► Our crop and pasture lands caused 80% of all land vertebrate species extinctions.

    But it will get worse as climate takes the driver seat of species extinction.

    THE MISSING ENERGY CHARTS (fossil emissions from total energy mix going down 1%/decade)

    Stefan Rahmstorf says we must reduce emissions 100% in 20 years to stay below 2° C.

    James Hansen says 2° C = DISASTER

    Kevin Anderson says we have a 5% chance of staying below 2° C.

    World energy consumption

    In 2017, the myth of powering the world with 100% renewables has started to crack


    The EU is emitting way more greenhouse gases than it says

    UC Davis Peer Reviewed Study: It Will Take 131 Years to Replace Oil with Alternatives (Malyshkina, 2010)

    At this rate, it’s going to take nearly 400 years to transform the energy system

    No Soil & Water Before 100% Renewable Energy

    Humans emit 40 gtons of carbon each year.

    Humans must emit 0 gtons of carbon in 20 years, every year to survive.

    Humans must suck 10 gtons of carbon out of the air each year after to stop runaway emissions.

    We do not have the land, water and energy resources to do that.

    We cannot turn rainforests into tree plantations without killing life on earth.

    The biogeochemical systems that give us the good life are killing earth faster than thought.

    SMARTPHONES = Earth Dead Faster Than Expected

  34. robotpliers

    Related, I recently came across a paper that reconstructed the paleoclimate of the past 100Myr and found that the sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 was 3.7 – 7.5K, while the IPCC gives present day sensitivity as 1.5 – 4.5K. Its possible that we’re in a lower sensitivity regime right now vs. most of the last 100Myr, but I wouldn’t count on it. The authors note that similar paleoclimate reconstructions find roughly the same range for sensitivity, notably in excess of IPCC estimates. On our current path, CO2 is expected to double over pre-industrial values by ~2060.

  35. Darn, I was so looking forward to hearing how CO2 is a fertilizer gas.

    It’ll get uglier before is gets purty. Nor will it necessarily be the strong, who survive.

    The sound you don’t hear is this old “lefty” jackin’ a round into my well-oiled AR.

  36. different clue


    Some of the things you have named are easy enough for a “homeower” in the suburbs to plan for and do. Read up on what foods you would need to eat over two months to stay healthy. Then decide what spices and flavor agents you would need to mix them with to be happy. Or ask those who have done it and who know.

    If/when you are satisfied you know, buy 3 months-worth of every okay-living-on food item you would want 2 months of. Spend a month eating a month’s worth of it. Toward the end of that month, buy another month’s worth to store at the “back end” of the pile. Then eat the next month’s worth. When that is almost finished, buy another month’s worth and store IT at the back end of THAT pile. First in, first eaten. That way, you will always have 2 months of reasonably non-expired storable food there to be eaten if you have a 2-month food-interruption.

    Same for gasoline if it can be stored for 2 months without gumming up or going otherwise bad. If it can be stored that way, buy and fill enough gas storage cans with gas to keep your car gassed up for non-recreational uses for three months. Gas up your car with one month’s worth from the “first monthload” of cans, then refill those cans and put them at the back of the can-pile. And so forth and so on, just as with the food. And if you get caught by a sudden 2-month gas-drought, you will have your 2 months of gas always on hand because you have been stockpile-lifestyling with gas all along for that just-in-case moment.

    Toilet paper is simpler. Just buy 2 months worth of tp and pile it somewhere out of the way where it will never get wet and protect it from the cats and kiddies. It is storable for years so no need to do the constant rotate-and-restock.

    Same for money if you can actually afford to store enough cash somewhere in the house. Maybe spend a month buying every little thing with cash so you have a feeling for how much you spend in a month. Then stockpile twice that amount. A cash shortage or drought might even increase the purchasing power of your cash. In the kingdom of the cash-blind, the cash one-eyed man is king.

    I did a version of this years ago when I thought my work was conspiring to fire me and I might have to go camping inside my own dwelling unit. ( Hindsight revealed that my supervisor was indeed conspiring to fire me . . . but the next few high-tension years revealed that she did not have a crowbar big enough to pry this limpet off its scar on the rock.)

    What is this “go” to which you refer right after the word “money”?

  37. Heliopause

    I’ll disagree somewhat with your depiction of how dire things will get. They may well, but there is still a great deal of uncertainty.

    But that said, you are spot on about what has been done and what is proposed to be done. It’s a sick joke, perpetrated by technocrats and spread by elite media. Voluntary accords with goals set a couple of decades hence for future politicians to implement; what kind of clown thinks that will work? Yet, somehow, they’ll find a way to blame Trump for whatever ends up happening.

    As I said, there is uncertainty as to how bad things will get, but mitigation planning is surely sensible.

  38. BCNurseProf

    The greenest thing you can do is to kill yourself. I have considered this many times, until someone pointed out that in China they skin and gut the dogs while they are still alive, because “the meat tastes better”. There are reportedly YouTube videos that show this but I could not take another breath as a human being if I watched it. Then I realized that when I’m dead, my retirement money stops coming. Humane Society International and SPCA International are trying to stop this, so I stay alive in my old age so that I can send as much money as I can to them because I’m too old to go there and raise hell about it myself.

    Nicole Foss has lost her vision. Illargi is now a very damaged person. Gail Tverberg has all the right ideas and the debate on her site “Our Finite World” is between slow collapse and fast collapse. Gail now puts her hope in some kind of religious being. I guess that’s the only way she can face each day.

    Humans will extinct themselves and good riddance. What humans do to each other on the way down will be horrible, but it won’t be any more horrible than what we have done to animals ever since we stood up and walked. We have no right to kill off all the other species on this planet apart from the extremophile bacteria and viruses, but I realize that there are no such things as “rights” and “justice” and “hope” and love, God, ethics, good and evil. We made it all up. Those are all just words. There is only biology, and if you drill down into that, the only thing that is really real is entropy and it’s catching up with us very quickly.

    Count your bullets and save the last one for yourself. I was a nurse. I know that death is not bad. Suffering is bad. Trying to make suffering go away with happy thoughts, cute memes, psychological trickery, and meditation does not work. I’ve meditated every day for a few years now and it has done absolutely nothing except to allow me to insist on a half hour of peace and quiet, and invariably ends in tears.

    Taking down industrial civilization sooner rather than later would save many species other than humans. The way to do this is spelled out very clearly in a book by Wade Davis called “One River” but again, I’m too old to do it. I wish someone would.

    Go adopt another dog and give it a good life while you still can.

  39. atcooper

    One suggestion is to learn older technologies, the ones discarded for faster, bigger, stronger over the last several generations. Another would be to get more fit in a practical manner – walk more when there is time.

    Gardening would be good. Trades that have long been discarded need picking up again. For the gun nuts, maybe that is gunsmithing. How to make gunpowder by hand. Etc

  40. all this gloom and doom really harshes my mellow

    i think i originally read this in something by idries shah, but found it on the web page of a linguist at u. michigan – my point being “a lot of things can happen over a period of time” and some people commenting here seem to be more certain about the shape of things to come than seems justified to me –

    Nasrudin was caught in the act and sentenced to die. Hauled up before the king, he was asked by the Royal Presence: “Is there any reason at all why I shouldn’t have your head off right now?” To which he replied: “Oh, King, live forever! Know that I, the mullah Nasrudin, am the greatest teacher in your kingdom, and it would surely be a waste to kill such a great teacher. So skilled am I that I could even teach your favorite horse to sing, given a year to work on it.” The king was amused, and said: “Very well then, you move into the stable immediately, and if the horse isn’t singing a year from now, we’ll think of something interesting to do with you.”

    As he was returning to his cell to pick up his spare rags, his cellmate remonstrated with him: “Now that was really stupid. You know you can’t teach that horse to sing, no matter how long you try.” Nasrudin’s response: “Not at all. I have a year now that I didn’t have before. And a lot of things can happen in a year. The king might die. The horse might die. I might die.

    “And, who knows? Maybe the horse will sing.”

  41. MrTSchutte

    It would seem to me if you’re looking for how to prepare just go take a good look at how people are trying to cope in Puerto Rico. Disasters are just going to happen more frequently and any recovery will be delayed and incomplete until people just stop expecting to have electricity or running water or regular import of food & supplies or public health infrastructural.
    Those In Charge are writing off larger and larger swaths of humanity with the hope the die off doesn’t turn into a title wave of pandemic or all out nuke war and maybe that’s the best case scenario – 40% to 70% population decline by 2100 through small scale war, famine and general greater mortality rate. Those that make it through that be comfortable with being uncomfortable and a morality that values survival. From our vantage point it sucks for future generations but for much of hominid history life probably just pauses between likely fatal events.

    “Anyway, maybe there weren’t any solutions. Human society, corpses and rubble. It never learned, it made the same cretinous mistakes over and over, trading short-term gain for long-term pain.”
    ― Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

  42. Steeleweed

    John Michael Greer has been pointing the way for years. Off-grid, human power, hand tools & the skills of farming/husbandry, ( which consist of a lot more than just growing stuff). I grew up ranching and gardening and I know what it takes to live that life. Unfortunately, I also know that I don’t know how to do it, at least not very well. One of the most self-reliant, prepared and capable people I know is Don Henry Ford Jr, whom many of you may be familiar with. He once commented, “I’ve got way more than I need, as long as the trucks keep running. If the trucks stop running, I don’t have anywhere near enough”. That from a man who knows what to do, how to do it and is actually doing it. I might do a half-assed job, but be able to learn enough to survive. My kids don’t even know what, much less how. My grandkids will be helpless and I don’t even want to contemplate how my four great-grandchildren will survive. They will live in a completely different world. Joe Bageant noted the world he grew up with (which has now vanished), was “labor based” rather than “money based” and it was also a community in the true sense of the word. I too grew up in a community and I haven’t seen anything remotely like that in this country in over 50 years. Aside from drought and more extreme weather, rising seas will engulf some major population and shipping centers. I’ve often thought that some 3rd-world folks might suffer less than folks from ‘[over-]developed” countries. Sadly, a lot of those will be devastated by drought. And no country is even remotely prepared for the mass migration on the horizon, which will make the current (and genuine) migration problems seem like child’s play.

  43. Stormcrow

    I’ve figured, for the last decade, that the species is done. Technical civilization certainly is. We’re in an ecological deathtrap, and the trap slammed shut before anyone reading this was even born.
    Anthony McMichael lays this out, without really saying it in so many words, in Climate Change and the Health of Nations. A 4° C increase in global temps cuts the sustainable human population to 1 billion.
    Does anyone here think we’re going to evade a 4° C increase? What happens then?
    I think we can take it for a given that there’s no way humans are going to manage the requisite a sevenfold population reduction without literally genocidal levels of violence.
    In other words, it won’t be global warming that does us in. What kills us will be the political bow shock of global warming.
    What we’ll see will be nation-states whose ruling elites will be every bit as desperate as the wretches at the bottom of the socioeconomic pyramid. Because they’ll know they’ll be bloodstains on the pavement if they can’t navigate their way out of a literally impossible situation.
    So they’ll try to take what they need from their neighbors, by force.
    It won’t work. But they’ll use absolutely every means within their power to attempt it anyway, because they will be completely out of choices.
    That means another round of total war, on a planetary scale. We haven’t seen anything like that since 1945.
    Jesus, in a country that was touched fairly lightly by that war, people who’d normally be peaceniks, like Oppenheimer, were casually talking about designing weapons that would kill 200,000 people per strike. And to get an idea of just how desperate that war really was, you need to immerse yourself in the history of WWII in Russia. Most Westerners haven’t done that.
    But last time, nuclear weapons were in diapers and bio weapons were aspirational, Unit 731 to the contrary notwithstanding. That’s why we’re alive to talk about this.
    The next round of total war will see both nuclear and bio weapons used quite freely. I honestly don’t know which scares me more. For an example of the potential of bio weapons, run a Google search on “Ramshaw Jackson mousepox”. Something like that easily has the potential to run through 90% of the species just by itself.

  44. Hugh

    mistah charley, a lot of what is coming is already happening. The trajectories are already discernible. The choke points are known. It is already clear that the effects won’t be linear. Nature is not going to give us any respites. My advice is do the math, and don’t bet against it.

  45. Ché Pasa

    Our Betters have been preparing for the Apocalypse for generations. They’ve known that things are going to shit sooner rather than later, but that the Final Elbow doesn’t come all at once. It comes in a series of discreet calamities between which a new stability is established. Each crisis is yet another opportunity for their further consolidation of wealth and power.

    They fully expect to survive whatever comes, whenever it comes. The rest of us, not so much.

    Of course even the best laid plans can go awry, and hubris is a fundamental characteristic of our Overclass. Those who think they have the future licked are likely to be proved wrong in the end, whereas others who do little o r nothing to prepare might come through the End with practically unscathed. It’s a crapshoot.

    Nevertheless, those of us who can have long been reducing our dependence on less and less reliable provisions of the government and the market and have been doing more and more for ourselves, independently and it small communities. Those who can do so get away from the coasts; they abandon the cities and find refuges in the more and more depopulated rural areas. They grow as much of their own food as they can and they trade and share their surplus with their neighbors. They disconnect from vulnerable utilities and don’t necessarily replace them with the latest technology. They learn to live simply, to “live lightly on the earth.”

    Some are consciously reviving ancestral/historical ways of life, others try to pioneer something else again, but the point is always to free oneself from the bonds of materialism and a predatory culture.

    Many of Our Betters will survive whatever comes — at least for a while. But so will some of the rest of us.

  46. benign brodwicz

    Paul Erlich has been saying stuff like this for decades. it really doesn’t help at all.

  47. realitychecker

    @ mistah charlie

    “And, who knows? Maybe the horse will sing.”

    Seems to me that pretty much sums up the dysfunctional hopes of the current left, in general. 🙂

    Not a great basis for plotting strategy, IMO.

  48. Jeff S


    Unfortunately, the buying-time-horse story is the same approach we use to things like developing nuclear power plants. Back in the early days when we were building these things everywhere, it was, don’t worry, we have 40 years to figure out how to dispose of the waste, we’ll figure something out. 60 years later, it’s all stored precariously on site waiting for Fukushima type accidents to unleash global contamination.

    IOW, its that kind of thinking that is guaranteed to screw us over to begin with.

  49. What happened in February 2009?

  50. The Stephen Miller Band

    Well, all is not lost.

    We can always Protest and there will always be Dancing With The Stars until the Very Very Very Very End.

    I promise.

    Feckless Protests

  51. Karen

    Peak Prosperity offers a wealth of insight and practical tips for becoming better (more self-reliant and more helpful to others) amid the challenges described above. There’s no one more insightful in all this, in my opinion, than John Michael Greer. His Dark Age America is brilliant.

  52. ibaien

    these absurd ‘little house on the prairie’ fantasies don’t do anyone any good. if the social order actually breaks down that far then 1) you can’t make even a pioneer level existence work due to lack of inputs (salt, saltpeter, nails, glass, name it) and 2) even if you set up your personal slice of eden and provisioned it for decades, it’d be violently expropriated by the local warlord who i guarantee would have no compunctions about killing you and your family. we’re stuck on this ship, and we’re all going down together.

  53. Thank you, Ian. I’ve been telling anyone who will listen, and there aren’t many that don’t think I’m a conspiracist, that we have less than 10 years. When the power stops, the water stops flowing and the trucks no longer deliver, when the insects are gone and the creatures in the sea all die, how long would most of us last? Maybe the US has the right idea, they’re going to have one hell of a shoot out when people get hungry and thirsty.

  54. Ian Welsh

    In February 2009 I gave up all hope that Obama was going to do anything meaningful correctly: economy, military, environment. A fiasco.

    And almost no one on the left was willing to see it.

  55. wendy davis

    why would ‘I’ want to stay alive while millions die? if ‘the undeserving and ill-prepared’ come for the large amount of food we’ve stored in our cellar (home-canned, frozen, dried things of all sorts, and spices) we’ll just grant them free access to it and say ‘please share it among others’. we wouldn’t dream of defending it with guns, even though we have a few for putting badly injured horses and deer out of their miseries.

  56. OK, I get it.

    I lost hope in Obama in October of 2007. Seriously, here is the link. ( )

    That was when he threw gays under the bus in South Carolina. It made it clear just who we were dealing with.

  57. Brucie Bruce

    Today’s Guardian: ‘We’re doomed’: Mayer Hillman on the climate reality no one else will dare mention

    “We’re doomed,” says Mayer Hillman with such a beaming smile that it takes a moment for the words to sink in. “The outcome is death, and it’s the end of most life on the planet because we’re so dependent on the burning of fossil fuels. There are no means of reversing the process which is melting the polar ice caps. And very few appear to be prepared to say so.”

    Hillman, an 86-year-old social scientist and senior fellow emeritus of the Policy Studies Institute, does say so. His bleak forecast of the consequence of runaway climate change, he says without fanfare, is his “last will and testament”. His last intervention in public life. “I’m not going to write anymore because there’s nothing more that can be said,” he says when I first hear him speak to a stunned audience at the University of East Anglia late last year.

    Obviously, he doesn’t read this blog. Obviously. Obviously.

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