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

Principles Of The Green Age After The Collapse: #1

Do as thou will, so long as you increase biodiversity and biomass, reduce pollution and heat, and replace any resources used.

Want to live in the howling wilderness? OK. But only if you can increase the number and amount of lifeforms, and reduce pollution by being there. If you can’t do all three, you don’t get to live in the wilderness.

Freedom today is based on money. If you have enough money, you can do what you want, if you obey the law. The more money you have, the fewer laws apply to you: either they are laws which if violated are punished with fines, which you don’t care about, or they are laws which are effectively not enforced against the rich.

The Green Age, instead of having a zero tolerance policy for minor infractions, will have no tolerance for people who damage the ecosphere or the climate.

Likewise, you will need to replace the resources you’re using if you’re using them beyond any natural replacement rate. If you’re taking water from a river or an aquifer, you’ll have an amount you can use that is equal to natural replenishment. If you use any more, you’ll need to replace it. Chop trees, plant them, and since you also need to maintain biomass and biodiversity, that won’t mean tree farms and will require you to keep doing it and, most likely, to have done it in the past. (This will make clear-cutting very rare.)

This also means that you don’t get to do what you want if you use non-renewable resources. Mining and other forms of permanent extraction will be something that society has a strict limit on. Much will be assigned by government, and much will likely be divided and given to each member of society and when they buy something which uses a non-renewable resource, that account will be debited, with no credit except in life-saving emergencies.

The principle is simple: replace what you use if it can be replaced, make the ecology and the environment better because of your existence and use limited amounts of non-renewable resources. This is how we fix the environment and make an environment is healthier and far more enjoyable to live in. (Just as almost everyone wants to live on a street with lots of trees.)

Long term, if you want to use a lot of non-renewable resources, we will have to go into space, but taking masses from Earth will be verboeten.

These rules will apply to individuals and groups, including whatever replaces corporations as our primary private economic vehicle and to households. This will lead to the end of suburbs and exurbs as we know them. Most people will either be rural (working on food production and environmental projects) or will live in dense cities. If we want the privilege of living in low population density areas, we will have to earn it by figuring out how to do so in a way that doesn’t decrease biodiversity, biomass or renewable resources, and instead of those who make more money being allowed to do more, those who will be allowed to do more will be those who increase those environmental variables the most.

This is only the first of the Green Age articles, we’ll dive into the rest of the principles and some of the details of how such a society must be run as the series continues.

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Quick Takes Nine


On The Use of Clubs


  1. Eric Anderson

    The building of a new green economy is easy in principle. The all the blueprints are already there. All one has to do is the complete, and utter, opposite of what we’re doing now.

    I’ve always said, the measure of a nations true wealth is the amount of resources they can afford to leave in the ground. Good to see that idea reflected back at me in print.

    Progress is understanding the utility of doing nothing.
    (I think I just invented my first koan).

  2. Mel

    That principle is excellent. When we apply it we’re going to be settling fights like “I’M doing the RIGHT thing. I’m using resources up to the replacement limit. It’s THAT GUY over there who’s using resources beyond the limit.”

    It depends on who “you” is. It has to be “society” at some scale. There are probably numerous forces creating this problem. One that jumps out at me is our botched Covid response. It didn’t stop the infection, but the enforced separation broke down collective culture in the village where I live. Volunteer groups are gone, small local initiatives are gone. We’ve got a Thatcherite paradise now where there is no society, only individuals

  3. Ian Welsh

    It has to be individuals and groups too, because they make decisions about how to live and what to do, and we don’t want a complete totalitarian system. (Or I don’t anyway, and I assume most readers don’t.)

    There will be some choice of what level to act at, I would think. You could act as an individual, but you might pool with a group — your family, or household, or commune, or fraternity, or church, or whatever.

    But, also, at the societal level the numbers have to work and at a global level, and there will need to be a council of nations with some real clout, I would think, especially to deal with the oceans.

    For the entirety of the era, your ability to control resources will need to be based on how much you’re putting back in: reducing pollution, increasing diversity and non-human biomass, renewing resources and so on.

    Those numbers will likely act like money does today: give you permission to command other people and more resources.

  4. surreal

    Much will be assigned by government, and much will likely be divided and given to each member of society and when they buy something which uses a non-renewable resource, that account will be debited, with no credit except in life-saving emergencies

    Goodbye any and all notion of culture and the depth and uniqueness they produce on both an individual and small-group level.

    Any government with the power to enforce the measures you describe above will be more powerful than any government ever known in human history. It will have to be highly technocratic and militaristic.

    There is no way to do this with a physical currency. Thus, by default you are describing a situation in which everyone will have one unique identifier and that identifier will be digital. The tech alone wastes enormous amounts of resources in and of itself.

    But the larger point is that you have just described, again simply by default, a society completely devoid of any notion of personal privacy whatsoever.

    In other words, the article you wrote here (and you’ve written more recent ones quite correctly pointing out the same thing) is now obsolete and you no longer believe this:

    Ian, you are describing a (no longer) science-fiction like globally-enforced tyranny. Sort of like the movie Elysium.

  5. GrimJim

    I think you are being far too optimistic about two things.

    First, that society will be organized on any sort of level relevant to the need of these kinds of rules. 100 years from now there will be bands, clans, and a handful of large semi nomadic or fully nomadic tribes and a few Bartertown style settlements “mining” the old cities and towns. None of them will work together on anything other than the most in the moment quid pro quo basis, if they bother to trade rather than just slaughter each other on sight.

    Second, population collapse will make any effect remaining humans have on the environment absolutely negligible compared to even the Renaissance era, let alone the modern era. I’m projecting a global population ca. 2150 of about 120,000,000, tops. There won’t be any new mining, as such; why bother with that when you can just mine things from the ruins.

    As for the rest, everything will be hardscrabble and hand to mouth as it is. Sure, some clans descended from eco-conscious groups might maintain ancient taboos, often without remembering why, but when using a resource means life today or death tomorrow, pretty much everyone will choose life today.

  6. Raad

    Good stuff, can’t wait for the next ones

    Important to deal with how cities work and function now vs in the standard green age though since most people will live in them, look forward to reading about that as well

  7. Ian Welsh


    accounting existed before digital and so did ID and taxes, including individual income taxes. You don’t need a very large audit rate to deter mass cheating.


    perhaps. In which case these are the principles for 200 years from now, or whenever. The important bit is to lay down the principles because the problem will recur again and again till we learn to create a self-sustaining society.

  8. Eric Anderson

    We have to create culture that views excess as amounting to sin. It’s a moral, not technocratic, problem. History is full of examples of overturning the greed paradigm in favor collective morally centered humility.

  9. surreal

    Do as thou will, so long as you increase biodiversity and biomass, reduce pollution and heat, and replace any resources used.

    This is the problem you are running into vis-a-vis you keep running headlong into tyranny and it often reads as if you are openly embracing it. It isn’t incumbent on individuals to “increase biodiversity and biomass” nor to “reduce pollution and heat.” Further, an individual or even groups of individuals can’t do these things to any serious degree. Mother nature does this, and does it better than even the most dedicated perma-cultist and his merry, all-knowing gang could ever hope to.

    I hasten to add here that this attitude, though seemingly one of concern for the environment and by extension we humans and all life that coexist “within” the environment (the entire thing is actually one absolutely glorious process within which we might be said to be dancing)…this attitude is actually one of supreme human arrogance, itself derived from ignorance (which leads to fear) of our true place in this fantastic dance.

    This is evident in common language, as for example when a couple is said to be “bringing a child into this world.” Bringing a child into this world from where? Outer space?

    We grow out of this particular environment and are intimately tied to it such that when we forget our place and attempt to leave we quickly realize that we cannot go very far without bringing with us a containerized version of this wonderful organism-environment, lest we die.

    It is the self-deception that we are somehow separate from everything. Our incredible modern powers of both inner and outer exploration – and our powers of destruction – prevent us more and more from knowing and, more importantly, feeling this most basic fact of life. We are regressing.

    “Our scientific power has outrun our spiritual power. We have guided missiles and misguided men.”

    With all due respect to the late Dr King, the spiritual power derived from the dictates from on high of an all-knowing deity (“Do as thou”) are what have gotten us here.

    We do not, can not, and absolutely will not live under dictates handed down from on high, whether those commands come from the ruling class’ “God” and their and His functionaries the kohens, priests and kings and pols etc, or whether it comes from the ruling class “The Science” with its own peculiar functionaries in white lab coats, grand university halls, and of course its policymakers the politicians – who either come out of the ruling classes themselves, or attempt to join them by doing their bidding via maintaining and increasing the wealth of the already wealthy to the benefit of the policymakers…at the expense of the rest of us.

    replace any resources used

    You can’t argue with this per se, but it’s very important to know that we already did this for the great majority of our time on earth without any ruling authorities whatsoever. This is because it was our way of life when we still recognized we are a part of the great dance.

    In other words, this happened without any idea of having to necessarily “replace” any “resources” that we “used.” This language wasn’t even known to us then. This is the cold language of those who historically have always striven for power and control. It is the language of bankers and their accountants – which is what got us here in the first place!

    The conditions for Mother Nature to thrive will only come about through non-coercive thinking and acting.

  10. Flaser

    A fundamental barrier to more widespread, genuine recycling[1] is cost.
    Not just in money – that could be fixed through policy as Ian keeps reminding us[2] – but in terms of energy.

    Why is this a problem? You’d be tempted to say, if it takes more energy then let’s use more energy. OK. Where shall that energy come from?

    Renewable energy sources have drastically less energy density due to a combination of factors:
    1. Due to intermittency you need storage[3]
    2. Due to a lower capacity factor[4] you need to overprovision
    3. Sunlight/wind have inherently less energy density than fossil fuels[5]

    To match our current energy needs with renewables will dramatically increase the land use and introduce waste streams that will be very hard to handle.
    That is *before* we account for the increased energy demand of recycling.
    Also, unless one ascribes to eco-fascism[6] our energy needs must also increase to empower the rest of the 3rd world who are still living in energy poverty.

    We need cheap (in terms of resources), plentiful (it needs to scale!) and clean power.

    Those who know me will guess where I’m leading:
    Nuclear power is the only source that meets all of those demands and is the only form of power that already has to account for 100% of its waste streams [7].

    Things need to change though.

    Current forms of nuclear power are hampered by policy:
    Imagine that we stopped developing heat engines after the invention of the steam locomotive.
    Safety laws demand that all new engines must demonstrate that they’re less likely to have a steam explosion than current models… even if your invention is not a steam engine to begin with! You cannot build a prototype because it may explode, but you can’t convince the authorities it won’t do that unless it is a steam engine that they know.

    This is the current reality of nuclear power [8].

    To add insult to injury, misguided safety concepts like ALARA + LNT[9] make it artificially expensive and stuck in the 1960′ in terms of technology.
    The worst part? By stifling innovation these rules have likely made nuclear power *less* safe.

    [1] I live in Sweden where people like to quote a 99% recycling rate.
    Unfortunately this is bullshit: most of the waste that is today considered “unrecyclable” is burned.


    [3] Currently pumped hydro is the only viable solution.

    Unfortunately, just like hydro power it’s inherently limited by geographic realities.

    No, batteries aren’t anywhere near feasible on the grid level. Check your math.
    Those Lithium based batteries peddled by Musk fans also come with a terrible societal & moral cost of slave labor and environmental damage due to mining.

    [4] This is the other facet of intermittency: if your plant will only produce 40% of the time, it’s effective output over-time will be likewise only 40% of its nameplate capacity.
    Therefore, you’d need to install at least 250% (2.5x) the originally planned capacity to actually deliver what you promised… plus extra for the energy loss from storage! (5-10% under ideal conditions)






  11. surreal

    We do not, can not, and absolutely will not live under dictates handed down from on high

    Well, this was a gross mistake. We obviously DO currently live under these conditions of dictates from on high as opposed to the freedom Ian talked about within, say, a non-surveillance society* with untracked physical currency.

    The point is humans can not and will not live under dictates from authorities on high. We yearn to be free. It is our natural state, the way we lived for the vast majority of our precious time on this earth. Anything else is non-negotiable. Negotiations begin and end with freedom, and freedom is perhaps best defined as non-coercion. We can and of course will have various cultural/social taboos. That is all.

    For the better part of human history, it was taboo to take or have too much. Someone with a lot of stuff wasn’t looked at as being wealthy or special in any way; just the opposite, they were looked at as a viper. There were often strong social taboos against this sort of behavior. There was never any authoritative coercive power with the ability to “audit” and subsequently to coerce behavior from a place of central authority. Someone wanting to audit and maintain a central ledger on individual behavior would be seen as off-the-charts wacky. This is when were truly free.

    “If I were to tell another man what to do, I would not be chief anymore.”

    The coercive powers that were evident in the hierarchy and empire of, say, the Incas, was not the norm for the better part of our free indigenous existence on earth.

    We are regressing when we talk about currency and a purely or even largely transactional relationship to each other and our environment’s “resources.”

    Do you see? The language itself cuts us off from our experience of being and acting in the midst of this glorious dance.

    *We haven’t even touched on this. You can’t have cameras everywhere. And certainly not cameras that are all tied into a central authority’s surveillance center, which is essentially what we have in the US in most medium and large cities now. Both the public cameras as well as many of the business cameras, from small to large businesses, are directly tied into city surveillance centers. This trend is only progressing, where it needs to stop and be reversed for any talk of human freedom to have any meaning whatsoever.

    Ian, I don’t remember you doing anything on cameras everywhere, particularly as mentioned the trend of all cameras tied into a central surveillance center, something unheard of even twenty years ago.

    The ACLU tracked cameras in NYC prior to 9/11 when there weren’t yet that many citywide. They then stopped due to 9/11 and allegedly couldn’t begin again until a few years later, at which point they stated that it was pointless to even try because within the two or three years between the 9/11 event and when the ACLU began attempting to track again the ruling class and its government lackeys had inundated the city with cameras.

    accounting existed before digital and so did ID and taxes, including individual income taxes. You don’t need a very large audit rate to deter mass cheating.

    This is all massively regressive thinking. The history of individual income taxes in the US and elsewhere is one of ups and downs, but it should be noted that the taxes are always to pay off war debt or to fund new wars, and the taxes were always able to be initiated in the first place because they were put on wealthy and high earners first and the taxes on the masses were kept low. Until they aren’t.

    “You don’t need a very large audit rate to deter mass cheating.”

    Again, no human being in their right mind, body or spirit should willingly submit to being audited, a thoroughly invasive process akin to raping a being’s personal dignity and autonomy…not to mention their spirit. Just look at the definition!:

    a formal examination of an individual’s accounts or financial situation; a methodical examination and review


    If we revisit this:

    accounting existed before digital and so did ID and taxes, including individual income taxes. You don’t need a very large audit rate to deter mass cheating.

    we will also see that we have now moved from the government or whatever authority maintaining a debit/credit ledger and appropriating currency or “things of value” – to now the government or whatever authority wanting to maintain a credit/debit ledger on us for an even less immediately tangible reason, and one which is conveniently only truly “understood” by a small caste of scientists and technocrats who’ve essentially invented a new language that most don’t understand the inner workings of…just like most people didn’t know how to read when TPTB at the time invented, in their interest of power and control, the idea of an all-knowing and all-seeing omnipotent monotheistic presence they called God with a capital “G” and told the people they had to obey.

    With all the cameras, the idea of “God” with a capital “G” has less use value for the sick, rich and powerful.

    “For the better part of human history, it was taboo to take or have too much. Someone with a lot of stuff wasn’t looked at as being wealthy or special in any way; just the opposite, they were looked at as a viper. There were often strong social taboos against this sort of behavior. There was never any authoritative coercive power with the ability to “audit” and subsequently force things from a place of central authority.”

  12. sbt42

    I think Monsanto is slavering at the mouth to be first in line for the government contracts that must be established to standardize “increasing biomass.” Personally, I’m hoping there can be a 200 year spread between the end of the modern dominant culture and the establishment of these (noble and admirable) Principles. That’s a fair reset period, in my opinion.

    A couple other comments reminded me of one of my favourite songs by DEVO: “No Place Like Home” :

    We push against the rest of life
    As if we can survive without the world around us
    Can have a rainbow without the rain
    Can have a painting without the pain
    […] There’s no place like home to return to.

  13. Carborundum

    The only prime movers I see here are government (explicit) and morality (implicit). I’m struggling to think of a period in human history where either of these (or really any combination of any other measures I can think of) has resulted in cultural and technological systems that didn’t reduce biodiversity and biomass, increase (at least nominally) pollution and heat, and consume resources. Why is this time going to be different?

  14. Ian Welsh

    Because we won’t have any choice.

    And the first step to changing the world is changing the ideas.

  15. GrimJim

    Ian, again, you are being grossly optimistic.

    From this point on, it’s all downhill, all the way down to effective extinction. Or perhaps, evolution to a less obnoxious creature.

    The Apes With Delusions of Grandeur have had their run.

    Sure, there will be periods of plateaus on the downward spiral. But it is all downward spiral.

    Any “recoveries” will be short lived and highly local (say, a generation, maybe, and in an area like a small state, at best). And all of those will be in areas where there remain plenty of old ruins to mine.

    It will take tens of thousands of years for the ecology to reach anything even remotely approaching a new equilibrium. Floral and faunal resources won’t remotely approach the needs of anything even City State sized for countless generations. Whole ecosystems will be destroyed, vast swaths of species will become extinct. We’ll be lucky if anything larger than a small antelope will survive.

    Without access to fossil fuels and large animals for labor, well have to get by on pure human muscle power. Wind will be too iffy… Doldrums or hurricanes for weeks at a time… And solar requires a level of tech far beyond anything that will be available.

    Remember, if you can’t build it from what you have available within 10 miles, it can’t be built.

    Water power will still be available in moderation, classic water wheel mill style, but that’s about it.

    The Aztecs managed to build an empire on that, but then, they didn’t have a complete ecological collapse happening every 10 to 20 years. Most of the Earth will be reduced to scrub, steppe, tundra, and rocky desert. There will be oases here and there, as I mentioned before, along the Great Lakes especially.

    But the era of the techno-empire will be long dead. The vast majority of surviving bands, clans, and tribes will live as pre-agricultural societies did, with leadership by assent, and communal commissary (though those who hunted/gathered will, as always, get the choice bits to distribute).

    Bartertowns will be like Wild West towns of fiction… The classic Bartertown of Thunderdome being typical. Bands of exiles from other groups held together by charismatic leaders and/or cult. Centered in or nearby the choice rules ns, the best mines.

    But slowly, inexorably, the ever rapidly and lethally shifting climate will take its toll. One by one bands, clans, tribes, and towns will die out. Too many bad hunts. Too long a drought. Too many locusts. Played out ruins.

    The ever further damaged genome and poisoned ecosystem will finish them off. Too many heavy metals in the food chain. Ever higher radiation from exposed ruined nuclear plants. Ever greater poisons in the waters from ruin runoff.

    The last degenerate bands of bestial humans will die off, never understanding what killed them.

    The only place where you might find a technocratic despotate after ca. 2150 will be among the descendants of the elite and their servants in their vast generation bunkers. But they’ll have so many other problems by that time that the ecosystem of the world above wont even be a consideration, if they even remember its existence…

  16. capelin

    Sorry Ian, the peanut gallery is uppity on this one. It honestly reminds me of all that back-to-the-land hippy commune utopian strategizing, combined with WEF agri-dystopian strategizing.

    Folks in the densly populated cities deciding who gets to live in the country, based on tabulated “life-miles” credits. Oh that’ll work right some good.

    We need to get basic human governance under control, then the rest will sort itself out in jig time, mostly by reverting to what we used to do.

    If we don’t get this under control, nothing else will get resolved; applying system-wide bandages will only acrue power to those who currently have system-wide reach, and tanglefoot everyone else.

    Instead, we need to start by taking their feet off the gas; wars/ wealth theft/ space tourism/ etc. I believe this needs to be achieved before any large collapse, as it will be too toxic and violent and random to rebuild afterwards.

    This is our window of opportunity.

  17. Ian Welsh

    This isn’t going to happen now, it will happen after or perhaps during the collapse.

    There is no chance of the current regimes doing something like this,and these are only the first principles.

    People have both too much hope and too little. Fortunately the peanut gallery is rarely representative of the general audience.

  18. Eric Anderson

    New ideas. Precisely. There is so much inside the box thinking in this thread it’s laughable. So many “revelatory” facts about why we can’t do things differently, which in truth are supported by factual foundation. Largely industry propaganda that has been thrown down our throats for so long people (commenters) knee jerk parrot it.

    Really disappointed by the lack of imagination in the responses I’m seeing. Everyone parroting problems with nobody proposing solutions.

  19. Eric Anderson

    *** unsupported by factual foundation.

    I love it when people wax on about “it’s just human nature” we can’t do things this way. When, in fact, scientists like David Graeber have have shown again, and again, and again, that culture is nothing if not malleable and masterfully adaptive. Human nature is to survive. What cultural shape best suits survival is unbounded.

    I’m convinced the commentariat can do better than this sordid sample.

  20. Carborundum

    “Because we won’t have any choice.”

    I think the challenge will be that people won’t believe that. I think the chances people will recognize that increase if we have an acute collapse that is perceptible on human life scales. But I’m very unsure whether that will occur – collapses have this way of seeming comparatively slow when they are occurring, but being thought of as much more rapid when looking retrospectively. Hominid brains, not so good with holding multiple timescales simultaneously.

    We’ve been being given pretty solid evidence of the slope of change for at an absolute bare minimum of two decades and more realistically for somewhere around four plus (up to well over a 100 years if we take a maximalist view), combined with a good theoretical framework for understanding that these are discontinuous systems (at least 35 years here), but we’ve still not modified behaviour significantly enough. My best guess, unfortunately, is that we will continue to faff about until such time as we suddenly tip over (either politically or because of climatic phase change) and go directly to climate engineering measures. Needless to say, very risky, but I don’t really see how we avoid it unless last year was a very significant outlier and the next couple of years very, very obviously revert to the mean. If the hypothesis that last year’s step function shift was due to bunker fuel changes bears out, I can’t see how that doesn’t lead very directly to a clamour for interventionist climate engineering.

  21. mago

    Since nothing is solid, fixed or existing from its own side, possibilities are boundless, fixed only by perception, although causes and conditions pertain.
    Not to get too enigmatic about it.
    Not happening on my tour this time around, but making aspirations for all positive outcomes whenever and wherever they may arise. . .

  22. Soredemos


    With all sweeping generalizations about human nature stretching back to before recorded history: ‘how do you know’, and ‘actually, probably not’.

    The reality is that the narrow, obsessive focus on ‘inate human liberty’ is very much an idiosyncratic western, specifically Anglo-American thing. It’s far from universal.

    Further, ‘humans won’t submit to orders from above’ is inherently an anarchist and libertarian obscurantist talking point to try and pretend government and authority can ever be anything but alien to the will of the population. It’s a strawman to pretend democratically decided policy can’t exist at scale.

  23. bruce wilder

    what we’re doing is heading toward catastrophe — no argument there

    but do we actually have any concept of what it means to, on balance do no harm?

    the rhetoric is appealing: “net zero” and all that. and prosocially we would carry our refuse out of a national park.

    we have to find principles that don’t crash the global ecology but are reaching a lot more than grasping?

  24. Ian Welsh

    I’ve written articles about cameras everywhere. In fact there’s an entire category called “surveillance societies” on the right.

    “Surreal” — your last comment (unapproved) was one of the most insulting and condescending I’ve seen in years. Your comments, overall, have been rude. I’m sure there’s a blog that would welcome your comments, this is not it.

    This is not about disagreement. There are regular commenters here who disagree with almost everything I say, and have for years. How you say things is more important than what you say when it comes to moderation.

  25. capelin

    I’m all in on the idea of figuring out societal ways “… to replace the resources you’re using if you’re using them beyond any natural replacement rate.”

    Core to any sustained interaction with nature; and attempting this was a part of the hippy ‘trip’.

    There was some good learning all around and “new” ideas disseminated out. Then (most) of them went back to the cities and got straight jobs. But their ripple still expands, I think.

    “Much will be assigned by government, and much will likely be divided and given to each member of society and when they buy something which uses a non-renewable resource, that account will be debited,”

    Green Technocracy. Concentration of power. Shudder. This is exactly why them rednecks stay armed; and that is more likely to be the determinant of who gets to live in the country.

    I don’t know how many times I’ve heard urbanites say “oh, I’ll just go out and raid farms if it comes to that”. In the country there is an almost DNA – level understanding of that age-old relationship.

    I’ve never once heard a farmer say they were a’ fixin to go grab a bunch of paperwork – or anything – from the city once the end times come.

    With enough of a die-off, humanity’s ongoing impact will be negligible. Nature sure does seek balance…

  26. Curt Kastens

    To promote democratic movements as a strategy to avoid the collapse of (fill in the blank) one has to have faith in humanity. Has the history of humanity given anyone any reason to have faith in humanity?
    To promote a non democratic system, for example Confucism, as as a strategy to avoid such a collapse one has to have faith in somebody. Has the history of anybody given anyone else a reason to have faith in someone?
    If so I would like to know who this person is.
    IT does seem easier to me to have faith in someone, or a few people, than to have faith in humanity.
    But I am almost positive that such faith is not only a mirage, the people that one places one’s hopes on are often a mirage in sheep’s clothing.
    Did I say that right?

  27. different clue

    There were Indian societies, some even at the complexity level of “civilizations”, which worked out principals of how to live greenly and sustainably over thousands of years, maintaining diversity, increasing diverse multiform biomass up to a high level, etc. Some of the knowledge still remains in existence, including by living members of those tribes and nations.

    Besides trying to invent new principles, it might be good to learn from them how to apply or re-apply the principals they developed over time. Part of that openness to learning might involve returning large amounts of Indian Treaty land to the Treaty Indian Nations which/whom legally own that land. They would get to say who lives within their borders and how they live there. We could learn by observing what they do and applying those ways and means on the land which we Settler States and Peoples still retain. ( Because, after all, we are going to keep a lot of what we stole “fair and square” >>technically referring to the Panama Canal<< as S. I. Hayakawa once put it . . . . and we are not going "back where we came from".)

  28. Ray Blaak

    For the record, I finding Surreal’s comments interesting, not rude, but then I am not the target.

    Still, I would prefer to have them here, they help the discussion.

  29. Eric Anderson

    Kurt Kastens:

    You said that beautifully.
    For now, I’m just absorbing the impact. It’s a thought provoker.
    But, my knee-jerk reaction is we (I say we because I agree with you) only feel this way because we have the luxury. Because we have it so good still. And, even as bad as many of us have it, we still have it historically good.

    I like to add a spin to the old Gil Scott-Heron saw:
    “The revolution won’t be televised, because it won’t occur until the revolutionaries can’t afford televisions.”

    So long as the poorest among us can afford to sit in front of TV, in TV we will continue to place our faith. Change that equation and many things become possible.

  30. Eric Anderson

    And lest anyone take this too literally, I use “TV” as simply emblematic of “gadget” culture in general.
    And lest anyone pull the “but you’re saying this from a gadget” card. Yes. I’m a hypocrite.

    At least I know, and can admit it.
    Can you?

  31. different clue

    @Eric Anderson,

    About the “saying this from a gadget” card . . . . we live in a gadget-based civilization. There is no escaping the gadgets. We live stuck to the strands of our Iron Fairyweb of gadgets.

    Perhaps we can ask the question: are we ( I) using the gadget or is the gadget using us (me)? Is there a gadget we can creatively use which would displace our use of two or more other gadgets?

    Perhaps an Amish-lite approach might be worth considering. The Amish are not anti-gadget. They are only anti any gadget which disrupts the religious law discipline ( the ” Ordnung”) under which they live.

    Perhaps we can evolve-emerge a Greenish Ordnung. Perhaps within that Greenish Ordnung it will be not-the-least-bit hypocritical to use a kilowatt-hour of power reading a computer to find information allowing us to delete 10 kilowatt-hours-of-power from all the rest of our life as we live it ongoingly.

  32. different clue

    Here is a neat little specific example of how a Greenish approach can be taken to a problem ( if it really even is a problem).

    Problem: hornet’s nest way too close for comfort to where people come and go. Here is a non-chemical non-violent solution . . .

  33. Eric Anderson

    Different clue:

    Interesting you mention it. Check the comment section to the Saturday links over at NaCap. I don’t even remember the article that sparked the thread but it goes on for a literal meter of comments how the Amish and Mennonite communities approach tech.

    My next door neighbor (I have one and he has me encircled with his farmland and cows) is Mennonite. So, from experience I agree. Just enough tech to get the job done is the rule it seems. It’s in no way used as a form of “entertainment.” They entertain by gathering in large groups, playing games/sports, and eating. You know, like humans, not cyber-monkeys.

  34. different clue

    Here is a little article about a trade show devoted to power tools which have been converted to running on compressed air instead of electricity to make them “amishkosher”.

    In passing, the article mentioned a day-time light-grabber for leading sunlight into buildings to intensify the indoor lighting without electricity. They have a website.

  35. different clue

    Here is a possible green principle shrunken down to bumper sticker size. . .

    Live greenly, that others may greenly live.

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