Why you need to set up an off-grid Rural Homestead: Part 2

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Published on The Doomstead Diner on January 21, 2017

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Erratum from “Why you need to set up an off-grid Rural Homestead” part 1:

"Consider this carbon neutral scenario…The current atmospheric GHG concentrations today of more than 480ppm CO2 equivalent…will still commit us to around 4 degrees C global average temperature rise and around 25 metres sea level rise in the long term (perhaps 80 years)" should be corrected towill still commit us to around 4 degrees C global average temperature rise in the medium term (perhaps 80 years) and around 25 metres sea level rise in the longer term (the "locked in" ice melt which eventually raises sea level by 25 metres will take much longer than 80 years to complete).


Why you need to set up an off-grid Rural Homestead part 2


by Geoffrey Chia, January 2017

A minority of people in the rich countries, the semisapients, accept that we urgently need to radically transform our unsustainable profligate lifestyles, but still avoid taking any meaningful action. They prefer Dr Suzuki's message: if only we vote Green, get our country to transform to 100% renewable energy, then things (hopefully) may turn out fine. This will almost certainly not happen because the semisapient voters are a tiny minority nowhere near the critical mass needed to vote in transformative governments. The semisapients are overwhelmingly outnumbered by the clueless sheeple and the knuckle dragging rednecks with the “drill baby drill” mantra. More progressive nations such as Germany and France are far more conscious of environmental issues, but are now faced with huge, destabilising, unwelcome distractions, viz: the influx of hundreds of thousands of desperate MENA refugees who have fled their homelands which were destroyed by the failed attempts of the USA to bring about "regime change" and control the MENA fossil fuel resources3. The destruction of those MENA states has provoked hatred from many of that heritage and thus hugely aggravated blowback terrorism, for which there is no end in sight.

If, despite using irrefutable evidence-based arguments that our planetary future will be dire, we are still unable to persuade the semisapients to establish rural homesteads for themselves, how else can we encourage them to embark on this undeniably difficult task? Especially since their city lives may be quite comfortable at the moment? People will certainly resort to desperate and futile measures when their urban neighbourhoods collapse, but by then it will be too late for them. How else can we motivate the semisapients to act now so that they will be well prepared when the crunch comes?

Some thoughts:

The pursuit of a more satisfying lifestyle and of happiness

I confess I am addicted to one particular genre of reality television i.e. shows about people building or choosing a tiny house so they can embark on a new, more satisfying low consumption lifestyle. There are many good ideas about tiny house design to glean from those programs, but more than that, I always feel a warm glow when I watch the exuberant joy those folks radiate when they inspect their new tiny house for the first time. Some may be downsizing from McMansions, yet all seem genuinely happy to live according to their basic needs and not according to contrived desires borne of envy, fabricated by the mainstream media.

What are the ingredients of happiness? Let us exclude the views of psychopaths, who enjoy killing and bullying people, from this consideration. Sociologists tell us that for most ordinary people, these are the ingredients which comprise happiness:

  • Basic material needs and comfort (clean water, food, shelter, good sanitation, physical security) must be met, beyond which there is no evidence that greater wealth leads to more happiness. Living in a McMansion does not offer happiness, only larger spaces to clean.

  • Good health, for which good nutrition and regular physical activity are necessary.

  • Good relationships, not just with family and friends, but within a harmonious community, and making meaningful contributions to that community. The person who volunteers in a soup kitchen for the homeless invariably gains more happiness than the billionaire who makes yet another million from his newest corporate acquisition. In general we gain more happiness from giving (to appreciative and deserving people) than receiving. This explains why Bill Gates quit his role in Microsoft to spend all his time on philanthropy.

  • Interaction with Nature. We are biophilic creatures. This explains why urban families feel the need to bring their kids to the park or beach at least once per week. Children need to learn that food and water come from the land and from Nature, otherwise they will grow up to be delusional fantasists whose eyes are always glued to computer screens and thoughts are completely divorced from the real, natural world (and hence do not care about the destruction of the real, natural world – which is leading to their own destruction)

  • A sense of meaning or purpose, which varies among individuals according to their inclinations. This may take the form of social, intellectual, musical, artistic or other creative endeavour e.g. fine cooking. Unfortunately one type of person who may not be able to pursue their passion in life on a permaculture homestead is the elite sportsperson. They need urban facilities and services to attain and maintain such elite levels. Having said that, when all the urban facilities collapse, the city based elite sportsperson will die. Being an elite sportsperson will not help them die any later than the average person, although they will certainly die fitter than the average person.

  • I believe a carefully planned rural permaculture community can offer the above and thereby provide happiness for its inhabitants. A good internet connection (for as long as the system allows) means that even folks in the most remote areas need not be deprived of the best intellectual, musical or artistic resources in the world, including the ability to visit virtual museums and virtual zoos. They can also interact with people on the other side of the world who may have similar rare esoteric tastes e.g. ancient Sanskrit poetry. Networking by teleconference or skype is far, far preferable to burning jetfuel to attend meetings. Homesteaders will need to preserve their own archive of hard copy reference documents so that when the internet and their computers eventually go down, there will continue to exist disseminated repositories of valuable printed legacy information around the world. Important knowledge and skills can still be passed on.

Financial and Economic reasons

We were born into this growth dependent financial-economic system and it is all we know. We were told we must work within the system to earn fiat currency to purchase the goods and services we need to live well. We were brainwashed into believing that more is better and we should sign up to 30 year mortgages for capacious McMansions. We were bombarded with advertising telling us to "use money we don't have, to buy things we don't need, to impress people we don't like". When terror strikes, go shopping. This system appeared to function satisfactorily in decades gone by, when the world was on the upslope of the Hubbert curve. Now we are on the Hubbert downslope, real economic growth has stopped and contraction has started. With zero or negative interest on savings, but ongoing compound interest payable on loans, with flat or declining wages, it is now impossible for many people to pay off their debts. They are lifetime debt slaves4. This economy is a Ponzi scheme and like any Ponzi scheme, those canny enough to exit at the peak will benefit, the rest will lose their shirts. These are powerful arguments for the semisapients to sell their assets, get rid of debt, buy rural land with a good fresh water supply and establish their off-grid homestead where they can provide for themselves and participate in the local exchange economy. Those who lack sufficient individual financial resources can join with their peers to purchase or lease land-in-common. They can then park their mobile tiny houses or RVs on their jointly owned land and live in their own off-grid community. Those who lack the money to invest in a land owning partnership can acquire the skills to make themselves indispensable to such a community (horticulture, plumbing, electrical, welding, building, carpentry skills etc). They need to make themselves known to the landowners and land cooperatives now. How much does a good second hand RV fitted with composting toilet and 12V electrical system using solar panels cost? A damn sight less than a McMansion. Not to mention ongoing McMansion maintenance, utilities and fees. After TSHTF, life on the homesteads will be egalitarian. All residents in theory should be considered equal in dignity, but not everyone in practice will be equal in value. Even if you are not a partner in the land ownership, if you can offer the community skills to grow food or deliver good drinking water sustainably, you will be considered more valuable than the land owning rocket scientist or brain surgeon or cardiologist who no longer has the high tech infrastructure to practice their skills. Well before we reach that stage however, there are tremendous psychological benefits to getting rid of debt now: a sense of freedom, less mental stress and improved interpersonal relationships.

The Moral Imperative

Living on an off-grid permaculture homestead can reduce your resource consumption and waste production by more than 90% compared with the average fossil fuel addict in the industrial world. More people going off-grid will ease demand on an already overstressed central grid. Gandhi put it most succinctly, "be the change you want to see in the World". Nuff said.

Timing is everything

Some people claim that positive, inspirational arguments are more effective than negative, fear based arguments to motivate people. That opinion is not based on any evidence whatsoever, only a warm fuzzy mindset. Humans evolved to react towards real or perceived immediate threats with "fight or flight" responses. That trait promoted survival in our hunter-gatherer past. Apart from immediate threats, most humans tend to be lazy, complacent, passive and inert. We tend to choose the easy options for short term gratification. Few choose to expend blood, sweat and tears pursuing lofty long term goals. Negative messages about real or perceived threats can and do work to galvanise the public. They are the most effective propaganda tool of governments. Like any tool, negative messages can be used ethically (when based on truth to save lives e.g. public health anti-tobacco campaigns) or criminally (when based on deceit to rob and kill innocent people e.g. Nazi anti-Jewish propaganda). The chickenshit warmongering US Neoconartists were very effective in promoting the invasion of Iraq by brandishing the fearsome bogeyman of WMDs, even though it was utterly bogus. However, that unjustifiable invasion could not have been sold to the US public if 9/11 had not occurred beforehand. Hence timing is everything. The Neoconartists used the psychological trauma of 9/11 to promote the invasion of Iraq, even though the two were completely unrelated.

I suspect the events that will eventually motivate the semisapients to act will indeed be negative factors. When adverse events start to affect them personally, they will realise that the limits to growth have come knocking at their door. Some people need a short, sharp, shock to get them off their butts. Different people have different "road to Damascus" moments. For some it is when they see a piano above their head suspended by a fraying cable. For others it is when the piano falls on their head5.

Survival of the species

Many Extinction pundits, including Guy McPherson himself, frequently conflate the question "will humans go extinct?" with the question "should humans go extinct?" despite the two being very different questions, the latter being heavily value laden. The fanatical NBL hangers-on in particular, the “true believers”, are so infused with their loathing of humanity and so fixated with their rabidly held view that humans should go extinct, that they vehemently insist that humans will go extinct in the near term, in order to spread dismay and hopelessness far and wide (hence they troll every “collapsitarian” blog). If they can demoralise and demotivate others from attempting to save themselves, such failure to prepare for the coming collapse will indeed cause those dismayed to perish, thus creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Those toxic NBL ideologues are so hell bent on perpetrating their agenda of schadenfreude, because that is the only way they can feel any sense of power or influence in the world, being useless no-hopers themselves. I strongly oppose such malevolent nihilism, which I consider downright mischievous, even evil. Whereas I have a dim view of humanity in general, I know some people who are strongly ethical, honest, honourable, reliable, hardworking, kind, generous and decent and who must be saved and must be encouraged. Readers of this article will know similar people. They are the best seed for future human survival. Sentience is rare in this Universe, wisdom even rarer and in my view must be preserved. That is my value judgement. Humanity's only hope is that a small number of sapients may emerge on the other side of this near-extinction bottleneck to create truly sustainable and wise human societies that live in harmony with the environment. I agree it is possible there may be no survivors in the Northern hemisphere before the end of this century. None. Complete human extinction is also possible and I have no problem with someone expressing a personal view that NTHE may be 99.9% likely based on the environmental devastation facing this planet. But nobody is entitled to promote a message that human extinction is guaranteed unless they can prove they are clairvoyant. Our extinction is not a forgone conclusion, it is not a certainty, so long as you can demonstrate there is just one feasible scenario in which human survival may be possible. Just because McPherson could not imagine such a feasible scenario, does not mean that human extinction is guaranteed. It just means that McPherson has a limited imagination. I previously described such a feasible scenario, which does not require complex technology, in which humans may migrate to a thawing Antarctica and survive an 8 or even 10 degree C global average temperature rise, a scenario which McPherson could not logically flaw, and hence chose to disregard. He then portrayed me as a nasty villain who had upset the delicate sensibilities of his emotionally fragile Extinctionist disciples on NBL by contradicting and ridiculing their stupid ideology of utter nihilism. If human beings are forced to migrate to the Southern tip of South America as global warming spirals out of control, they will. If human beings are forced to make the sea crossing to a thawing Antarctica, bringing along the necessary seeds, saplings and livestock required to settle there, they will. The survival imperative is strong.

Two Metaphors:

Some say that setting up a remote homestead and giving up on mainstream society is a selfish act. However, if you have been sounding the alarm for ages that our house is on fire, but have utterly failed to persuade the Establishment to quell the flames which now rage out of control, surely the only remaining option is to advise people to leave the collapsing house and for yourself to do the same? What conceivable purpose does it serve for you to burn to death in "solidarity" with the clueless sheeple who scorn you, especially if you are fortunate enough to be near an exit? Furthermore, action speaks louder than words and your action may encourage a few semisapients to follow you out to safety.

Here is another metaphor. You can sound the alert about the sinking Titanic, but you cannot force other passengers onto the lifeboats. The evidence that our ship is sinking is irrefutable: it is listing at an alarming angle, the meatballs have rolled off the dinner plates and water is lapping at our ankles. The people at the high, dry, end of the ship remain comfortable and reject the idea of moving onto a small, cold, dark, bouncy lifeboat which lacks a live orchestra (the orchestra continues to play on the high end of the main deck). They believe the denialists, who confidently declare there is no hole in the hull and insist that present troubles are only a temporary phenomenon ("economists say that current difficulties are just part of a normal cycle and it is merely a matter of time before global growth is restored"). The optimists say a huge hole in the hull does indeed exist but it can be repaired if we just vote for leaders who will fix it with sticky tape and chewing gum ("elect a government that will transform your society to 100% renewable energy"). The fantasists say that aliens will descend from outer space and teleport us to a techno-utopia just before the Titanic goes under ("science fictiony technology will save us"). The supernaturalists say that Jesus will descend from outer space and teleport us to heaven just before the Titanic goes under ("the second coming is nigh"). The nihilists assert with clairvoyant certainty that all the lifeboats, every single one, will sink or fail to reach any shore, therefore it is futile to board any lifeboat and everyone must passively wait to drown or perhaps kill themselves beforehand (but nevertheless should "live lives of excellence" – whatever that means).

Very few passengers are boarding the lifeboats, hence you will not be depriving anyone of a space if you are lucky enough to have access to one.

So review your options and make your choice. Not every rural homestead will succeed in the long term, but some will. Not trying will guarantee failure.

G. Chia, January 2017

PS: If you live in South Eastern Australia (or plan to move here soon), have similar views and values, are physically fit with a cooperative personality and have practical skills to offer, please send your details to RE who can forward them to me.

PPS: footnotes to the red reference numbers will appear as part 3 of this essay triptych




Antifragile Food Systems

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Published on Peak Surfer on January 10, 2016


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"The alpha person at a gathering of "high status" persons is usually the waiter. "


  In the film, No Escape, Owen Wilson and Lake Bell's characters play a stereotypical USAnian couple, Jack and Annie Dwyer, cast abroad like fishes out of water. He is a corporate engineer in charge of putting a water plant into a fictional Southeast Asian country. She is the dutiful wife, bringing along to the temporary assignment two young children and their favorite kitchen appliances.




When civil war suddenly erupts before they have even gotten past jet-lag and they find themselves in an urban killing field, hunted by machete-wielding guerillas who are really angry about the way Jack's corporation has stolen and monetized their water rights, they must run for their lives, which they do for the next hour or more of screen time.




That's the plot, but the film is less about why the couple got into their predicament or why this small country has decided to murder all its foreign tourists than how Jack and Annie and their children absorb the changed circumstances, adapt to their precarious situation, and do what it takes to survive. Theater audiences are rooting for them, despite their complete lack of preparation.




In Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb distinguishes antifragile from words like robust or resilient by saying that when something is antifragile, it benefits when things go bad. Taleb is a recovering Wall Street quant trader. He understands hedges and shorts, and indeed, wrote the textbook on dynamic hedging in 1997. His subsequent books, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets (2001) and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable (2007) redefined at how traders look at risk and how people should think about risk in life choices.




If Jack and Annie had read either Fooled by Randomness or The Black Swan, they would not have been thrown into such profound stupor when the country they had landed in suddenly dissolved into anarchy and savage brutality. These things, or equally unpredictable things, are to be expected, even predicted.




Antifragile goes a step beyond and asks how one can be prepared to benefit from Black Swan events. Taleb gives the example of biological and economic systems. Efficiency and optimization are the final stages of succession — a mature ecology. They are also fragile. Inefficient redundancy is robust. Degeneracy is antifragile. The early sere following some disturbance is filled with fast-growing, thick-stemmed "weeds" that require few soil nutrients or supporting microbial diversity. If there is not much sun, too much wind or rain, poorly suited pioneers will fall aside and those better selected will dominate.




Fragile systems hate mistakes. Antifragile systems love them. Postmodern thinking, almost completely divorced from nature, is built on a scaffold of prior delusions. Medieval Europe, grounded in a theological storyline that is unwavering (like hard-core Evangelical Christianity or Sunni Islam) is more robust. But the pre-European Mediterranean seafaring cultures — pantheistic, surrounded by random dangers and ubiquitous risk (pirates, police states, conscription, volcanoes) and utterly free enterprise, was antifragile. People in that time exchanged rites and gods the way we do ethnic foods. Like Silicon Valley, ideas and gods failed fast, failed often, but occasionally winners emerged.




Taleb casts this into mathematical metaphors: the fewer the gods the greater the dogma and higher the risk of conflict and loss. For atheists n=0; Sunni purists n=1; monophysites n=1-2; Greek Orthodoxy n=3-12; pagans, wiccans and most native peoples n=infinite. Whose religion is more fragile and likely to occasion bad things happening?




Jack and Annie Dwyer are in the fragile, corporate employment class. They are pampered. They did well in school. They don't need to know a word of the language of the country they have been sent to. They complain if there is no a/c in the room or the limo doesn't arrive on time. They are intellectual tourists. Their antifragile counterpart is a slacker — fläneur is the word Taleb uses — the creative loafer with a large library or an X-box. Taleb says the alpha person at a gathering of "high status" persons is usually the waiter.




Engineering and corporate middle management are fragile professions. Financially robust professions in the run-up to ponzicollapse would be dentists, dermatologists, or minimum wage niche workers. Antifragile jobs in the overtopping and onset of decline are payday check cashing tellers, taxi drivers and nomadic fishermen. The Roma, living parasitically at the urban edges of European cities, are antifragile, but have vulnerability to travel restrictions. When Sweden closed its border crossings and started doing screening of incoming migrants, Denmark had to follow or risk being swamped with migrants denied entry to Sweden. Holland, Germany and France did the same. This is not a good thing for gypsies, but they are resilient enough to make do with one country at a time and antifragile enough to exploit weaknesses in border security and even turn that into new opportunities and enterprises.




What is an antifragile food system? This becomes especially important as we enter an era of rapid climate change and civil disintegration. A decade ago in "From Foraging to Farming, Explaining the Neolithic Revolution" (J Econ. Surveys 19:4:561-586, 2005), Jacob Weisdorf at the University of Copenhagen reviewed the main theories about the prehistoric shift from hunting and gathering to agriculture. The transition, also known as the Neolithic Revolution, was necessary precursor for capitalism, industrialization and the monotheistic religion of economic growth. Hunting and foraging societies were egalitarian and communal. Farming and herding societies are vested, competitive and hierarchical.




The Neolithic Revolution augured slavery, which began as agricultural serfdom and abides today as the "jobs" system. Taleb opines that in the days of Suetonius, 60 percent of prominent educators (grammarians) were slaves. Today the ratio is 97.1 percent and growing.




Charles Darwin in The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1868) said:


The savage inhabitants of each land, having found out by many and hard trials what plants where useful … would after a time take the first step in cultivation by planting them near their usual abodes…. The next step in cultivation, and this would require but little forethought, would be to sow the seeds of useful plants.




Did it really take several million years for our upright hominid ancestors to get the idea they could domesticate plants and animals, or had they known that much longer and invariably decided it was a bad idea?




One hypothesis is that the extinction of large herding animals by Paleolithic hunters led to farming. This is discounted by the fact that the loss of the former did not coincide with the gain of the latter, either geographically or chronologically. Another theory is that we were forced into farming by population pressure, but that is countered by the fact that the first domestications took place in resource-abundant societies. Moreover, dietary stress would have marked the skeletons of foragers and studies have failed to show any nutritional stress immediately prior to plant domestication.




Another theory is that the rise of agriculture came from ‘competitive feasting;’ the idea that culinary diversity conferred social status and therefore resulted in competition to create delicacies. Let's call this gourmetgenesis. Unfortunately for foodie anthropologists, it appears that early domestication unambiguously consisted of a small number of important staples rather than appetizers, pastries and confections.




Those who study the evolution of consciousness suggest that the shift may have occurred, with or without sacred plant intervention, about 10 millennia ago when the brain had a hundredth monkey moment and, like Kubrick's apes before the shiny monolith, transformed bone shillelaghs into plows and space stations.




More recent work suggests that climate shifts not only contributed to the Paleolithic large mammal extinctions and may have caused psychedelic mushrooms, vines and cacti to extend their ranges and abundancies, but also permitted more reliable predictions about weather, which allowed crops to be grown more consistently.




Some ancient Greeks thought that this process was cyclical, and that eventually good weather would lapse and we would return to hunting and foraging. Medieval Christianity embedded the meme that the process is linear, an inexorable progression of human civilization from brutality to refinement.




Weisdorf notes:


Farming [is] still assumed to have been clearly preferable to foraging. But, in the 1960s, this perception was to be turned upside down. Evidence started to appear which suggested that early agriculture had cost farmers more trouble than it saved. Studies of present-day primitive societies indicated that farming was in fact backbreaking, time consuming, and labor intensive.




In the 1960s, "a picture began to emerge that showed that foraging communities were able to remain in equilibrium at carrying capacity when undisturbed." Where the ratio of population to productive land area is favorable, foraging generally provides greater return on labor invested than tilling and herding. Once the ratio becomes unfavorable, tilling and herding are not only more effective, but necessary. To any foraging society, therefore, two disciplines are required. They must regenerate land resource and restrain population growth. Soil fertility sí, human fertility no.




In Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems in a Changing Climate (New Society 2015), Laura Lengnick gives her take on the progression from foraging to pastoralism to agriculture:


Foraging and the early farming systems that followed it propose very different solutions to the same basic question facing all animals: How best to allocate the available time and resources to acquire food? All things being equal, animals (including humans) tend to solve this effort-allocation problem by maximizing the capture of calories, protein and other desired foods in a way that yields the most return with the greatest certainty in the least time for the least effort. Moderate, reliable returns are usually preferred over fluctuating high returns. It turns out that, for a long time, foraging was a good solution to the effort-allocation problem facing early humans. But climate change changed everything.


Lengnick, Resilience Design Criteria for Agroecosystems
Lengnick describes the strategies employed by native peoples of North America. They foraged and hunted, sustainably used irrigation, amended with fish scraps and animal manures as fertilizers, rotated grain and legume crops and selected and improved their seeds. She looks at the Mohawk, Cherokee, Mandan and Hohokam as representative of the North American Northeast, Southeast, Northern Great Plains and Southwest. She then turns to the practices brought by European colonists, before and after the arrival of petroleum, modern machines and chemicals. Regional specialization continues today, based more on industrial infrastructure than soils or suitability, but climate has thrown in a monkey wrench, much the way it did 8-12,000 years ago.
From the summer of 2013 through late winter 2014, Lengnick interviewed 25 award-winning sustainable producers from across the United States. All had been farming in the same location for at least 20 years, many for 30 and some for 40 years or more. Many expressed concerns about the path the food system has taken over the last 50 years and their frustrations with scientific, economic and regulatory policy. Listening to their stories is like sitting around a campfire with two dozen Joel Salatins.


At the Happy Cow Creamery, artisanal dairyman Tom Trantham told Lengnick,


Really, we see some drought and hot temperatures every year. This year (2013) is the first year that we haven’t really had a drought. This year it has been really wet. We had the rain, but we also didn’t have the sun, so we had two big problems. I’m 72 years old, and I’ve never seen as much rain in a year in my life, anywhere. It really affected my crops. Our hay was 9 percent protein. It would normally have been 18 or 20. Like I say, never in my life have I endured that much rain.




Lengnick, Resilience Design Criteria for Agroecosystems
Lengnick's distillation of their advice is sage. Produce food as part of an ecosystem. Adapt by going back to letting nature do what nature does best. Lengnick calls this "adaptive management," but what she is speaking of is what the UN has been calling "eco-agriculture, and it contains a suite of tools and practices that not only provide greater food security but can, scaled quickly enough, undo the worst of the Fossil Age's climate karma.




For Lengnick,


Functional diversity and response diversity describe the capacity of the agroecosystem to maintain healthy function of the four farming system processes (energy, water, mineral, community dynamics) and other ecosystem services. Functional diversity describes the number of different species or assemblages of species that participate in agroecosystem processes to produce ecosystem services. Response diversity describes the diversity of responses to changing conditions among the group of species or species assemblages that contribute to the same ecosystem function. Agroecosystems designed with high functional and response diversity have the capacity to produce ecosystem services over a wide range of environmental conditions.




Like Taleb, Lengnick identifies the fragility of monocultural, industrial farming practices:




Appropriately connected agroecosystems will build relationships that enhance functional and response diversity. Many weak (i.e., not critical to function) connections are favored over a few strong (i.e., critical to function) connections. Agroecosystems that rely on a few strong connections for critical resources reduce their resilience to events that disrupt those connections; in contrast, many weak connections enhance response capacity.




In permaculture, we speak of harmony and stress and some see those as opposites, but in a more tantric Buddhist interpretation they can be viewed as a symbiotic pair. Stress is the bending of a system away from its natural pattern, making it fragile. Harmony is the restoration of balance and connections, inherently antifragile. Natural succession is a cycle of disturbance, experimentation, and equilibrium. There is no steady state, there is only the constancy of change.




In another month we leave for Belize to teach the 11th annual Permaculture Design Course at Maya Mountain Research Farm (seats still available here). Personally, it will be our 50th time instructing the standard 72-hour Design Course. We often say, when we teach in such places, it is not the people that are the instructors there, it is the land. In this case it is land that has been refined, articulated, complexed and restored to if not the Paleolithic model, then to a Neolithic transitional stage, where both domestic and wild systems co-exist in a riot of cascading productivity.




If the Dwyer family had taken this workshop, or read Lengnick's book, they would not have been caught by surprise when their world of modern illusions suddenly dissolved. They would probably never have gotten into that situation to begin with.





Resilience Testing Week

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on January 3, 2016

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This week was notable on the Last Great Frontier for not 1, but 2 critical infrastructure failures.  Neither one lasted all that long, but both gave me the opportunity to see how prepped and ready I am for intermittent failures of the 3 basics you often take for granted, running water, central heating and electricity on demand. to full on SHTF where this stuff goes off and never comes back on, there is likely to be a period where such outages become more frequent, and run for longer periods of time.  This is the way it is already in the 3rd World countries that have such ammenties in their larger cities, actually it's always been that way and never really got a whole lot better.  When I was living in Brazil back in the 60s, we had a power blackout at least once a month.  Nowadays in Sao Paolo, with water rationing the taps go dry either for a few hours each day or for a few days each week, so everyone still stuck living there has to adapt by storing water and conserving what is stored.

As crucial as water is in your preps, for me it was one of the last things I developed a full plan for.  While I was on my early prepping frenzy in 2008-9, I worked up a good 2 year food supply, but my water supply on hand was limited to about a dozen quart size water containers, which were old Cranberry Juice bottles I rinsed out and filled with tap water.  Far as just drinking and cooking goes, this probably would last a week, but if you add in stuff like flushing the toilet, washing dishes, taking showers etc you probably would use it up in a day or two the most. upon moving to my new digs, I developed a more comprehensive water plan.  I now have 3 large 20 gallon water containers, 2 1 Gallon Water containers for water transportation, 10 1 gallon containers of Distilled Water, along with the original dozen quart bottles.

2 of the 20 Gallon containers are for drinkable water, the 3rd is for "gray water" used for toilet flushing.  After doing a task like washing dishes or taking a Sponge Bath (no showers during water shortage time, even if you have a portable shower system!), you store the leftover water in your gray water container for later use again as toilet flushing water.  Also keep your toilet flushes to one/day if possible.  If several people are using the same toilet though, this may not be possible.

The other means I have for keeping the gray water container filled s a stream that runs nearby my digs. That is what the 2 1 gallon jugs are for.  I can take a trip over to the stream on the Ewz, fill the two jugs then return to the digs and dump this water into the gray water container to keep it topped off with plenty of toilet flushing water.  The only time this is problematic is if the creek is frozen solid, but it usually is not these days.  Of course, not everyone has a creek running nearby them, so not everyone can use this method.

If your water problem is just local to you, like your well ran dry but there is still running water nearby you like in convenience store bathrooms, that is what the quart containers are for.  You drop one or two in a backpack and when you hit a convenience store, you use the bathroom and fill them up with FREE water.  When you return home, you dump this water into your drinking water 20 gal containers and keep them topped off.  Similarly, you can do this at work if you still have a job, and your kids can bring one to school each day and fill from the school tap water.  If everyone brings home a quart of water each day, you should all stay well hydrated unless sweating heavily because it is hot, in which case you will need to double this possibly.

If the problem is systemic like in Sao Paolo, this is not going to last forever.  Eventually no convenience store will have running water, no school and no workplace.  Guess what?  Time to either move out of Sao Paolo or roll over and die!  It's no longer fit for human habitation.

So your Water Plan is not a solution to a permanent drought, and neither is the Electric Plan following a solution to permanent grid down scenarios.  The plans are just designed to get you through disruptions to normal infrastructure supply that lasts for a defined period of time.  How long that time is depends on how much of anything it is you store, but IMHO a minimum standard is 1 week.  1 week is about how long on average it will take to get all neighborhoods back on grid power and running water after a typical decent Snow or Ice Storm or a Flooding event.  Really bad ones, 2 weeks and stuff like a Hurricane or F5 Tornado passed through your town, it could be several months.  In my case, I estimate I can go 3 months completely off grid, no running water, utilizing gas from my cars and Bugout Machine for my generator after the first week or so.

This water plan is very inexpensive, less than $100 for the cost of the containers.  Now onto the Electric plan. was one of my earliest preps, but I have expanded on it as time goes by, adding solar PV panels as well as a gas powered generator.  Mainly however it is a storage plan for grid power for the occassions when you lose electricity for a few days.  The core of the plan requires only 3 things, all of which can fit on a shelf in the garage or a corner of a closet, Battery Storage capacity, an AC/DC trickle charger for the battery and an Inverter for converting stored juice back from DC/AC when the power goes out.  One of each can suffice for most critical purposes for a while but I recommend a bit larger system for this.  Here is how it played out today in my Grid Down Resilience Test for electricity. the case of my power outage, besides running the laptop and light for a while, the Deep Cycle Marine Battery also fully charged the laptop and the cell phone, so even after it fully discharged there would have been hours of time left on their independent batteries.  However, the DCMB was barely touched here on this, and I now think it would run at least 24-48 hours full time without a charge on just this drain.  It is now plugged back in on the trickle charger and collecting juice for the next outage.

With this knowledge, I can now recommend a Minimal System for short term electric outages.

3 DCMB @ $100 each
1 1000W Modified Sine Wave Inverter $100
1 500W Modified Sine Wave Inverter $75
6 Amp DC Automotive Battery Charger $50

Total Cost Basic System: $525 1000W inverter is dedicated to your Fridge.  Typical fridge draws 500-750 Watts, but not all the time, only when the compressor runs, and that depends on ambient temp in your digs.  One DCMB is dedicated to keeping the food cold as well during an outage.  You also don't need to use it for the first day or so long as you don't open the fridge or freezer too often.  Keep your freezer PACKED.  If it's not packed up with meat, fill the empty spaces with tupperware filled with frozen water.  Only fill the tupperware about 80% full before freezing, because the water expands on freezing.

The 500W inverter is sufficient for your laptop and a couple of lights, and will also keep you portable rechargeable electronics fully charged. Another DCMB is dedicated to this Inverter.  The 3rd DCMB is a backup for either of those if they fail or run out of juice.

By itself, this sytem will probably get you a week of time if you are careful about electricity usage.  Like dont leave your laptop on 24/7.  lol.

A simple Upgrade to this is to add a 2000W Generator and have say 10 gallons of gas in 2 5 gallon jugs.  Use this to recharge your DCMBs as they run down.  This probably brings you up to a month of resilience time with enough juice for the basics.  That is going to cover any outage other than true SHTF stuff.  If your neighborhood electric company cannot restore power inside a month, it is Mad Max time.

This addition to your electric resilience costs

2000 Watt Generator: $300
10 Gallons Gas: $25
2 5 Gallon Gas Containers: $40

Total Options Cost: $365

After that, you can invest in solar panels or RV Wind Turbines to get a little more trickle charge going in some locations depending on Sun & Wind resource.  Also remember if that if necessary, you can repurpose your SUV battery for additional storage.

So, IMHO, there is no reason the typical McMansion owner cannot Prep for power outages lasting upwards of a month.  the whole package comes in less than $1000, a one time cost which is CHEAP insurance.  It's also highly portable and can be taken on the road with you if you have to abandon your digs (wildfire, flooding, earthquake, volcanic eruption, war breaks out etc).

If you have extra FRNs, you might want to go with Li-I batts which will shrink and lighten the load in the SUV for the bugout scenario, as well as give more discharge cycles.  However, they are pricy, and will probably triple the Batt investment cost in this type of insurance.

After Water & Electricity, the final part of your Short Term Disruption Preparedness plan (besides the food of course, which every prepper starts with usually) is having enough HEAT in your place so you dont freeze and the pipes don't freeze during the disruption.  This is only an issue in the winter in places where the temps go below freezing, but that can be the case most anywhere these days except equatorial regions.

In most setups these days, if you lose your electricity you lose your heat also, even if the heat is NG or Diesel fired furnaces.  They have electronic controls and will shut down without electricity.  If there is no manual overide to this, you are without heat as well as electricity, even if you still have fuel. long as your digs are well insulated, lack of heat is probably not going to be a problem the first day.  In my case over a few hours the internal temps only dropped a couple of degrees from the 60F I keep the place at in the winter.  Not enough to even drop on a second sweatshirt.  Your primary preparation for heat disruption is having good winter gear to throw on as the temperatures drop, in layers as it gets colder.  Above freezing, there is no real need for heat at all,  good clothing.will cover you fine.  However, you do have your pipes to worry about, so once the internal temps drop below around 40, you're going to want a backup here also.  Best for this in terms of Energy Density and ability to run indoors without killing yourself from Carbon Monoxide poisoning instead of freezing are portable Kerosene Heaters, which have CO detectors on board and automatic shutoffs. much kerosene you will need to have stored and how many of these heaters you will need for any given length of time depends entirely on how big the space is you are trying to keep above freezing, and how low those external temps actually go.  If you have a big place and the temps outside are -20 Below Zero, you would need a LOT of heaters and a lot of kerosene every day to keep the place above freezing!  So for good resilience at an affordable price, best NOT to live in a big McMansion.  Also better to live together with several people in a reasonably small space, since your combined body heat by itself does a lot to keep a small space warm.  This of course is the Igloo principle of the Inuit, Athabascans and other "Eskimo" tribes that live here in Alaska, although they hardly live that way anymore.  You put husband, wife, 2 kids and 6 dogs in an Igloo big enough to fit all that mammalian biomass, you will not need a fire inside the Igloo just about no matter how cold it gets outside.

However, you shouldn't have to go the Igloo route for a short disruption if you match your heat generation capability to the size of the space you need to keep above freezing.  This is an important point, because you don;t want to try to keep the place at the same kind of temp you would under "normal" circumstances with your backup heating gear.  You are just trying to keep yourself and the pipes in your digs from freezing, not making it so hot you can walk around comfortably in your BVDs.  lol.

To conclude here, all of these plans are SHORT TERM DISRUPTION  plans.  They will not help you in a permanent Grid Down, SHTF scenario longer than their designed lifespan, which at the very outside I think would be a full year.  Perhaps longer if there was still working money and fuel to buy with that money, but in such a long disruption that probably would not be the case.  The deal here is though that as this spin down proceeds, it's unlikely that your infrastructure will fail all together, all at once, for good.  Being able to survive through the intermitent problems while the society reforms is crucial to making it THROUGH the Zero Point to the Other Side.  You don't wanna be the guy that freezes to death in his digs after just 3 days of an Ice Storm power disruption, but you get stories of those folks all the time.

For the longer term when all of these things we take for granted now are gone for good?  Most of the population, including me, will die off.  I'm not suited to building mud huts with stone tools and living the full primitive anymore.  Only a few younger folks may be able to do that, and I wish them well in their efforts.  For most of us though, you take it one day at a time, and try to keep going just as long as you can.  Covering the basics for the short term disruptions can help you do that.









The Permaculture City: Cities as Complex Systems

gc2smOff the keyboard of Toby Hemenway

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Published on Resilience on September 8, 2015


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The following sections are excerpted with permission from Chapter 1 of Toby Hemenway's new book The Permaculture City, published by Chelsea Green.

When a permaculturist sees words such as “function” and “synergy,” it sets off lightbulbs in his or her head. Function, for example, indicates a relationship, a connection between two or more elements. A road functions to move traffic, thus the road has a relationship with vehicles, and it mediates the movement—that is, it makes connections—between the traffic, its origin, and its destination. Knowing a function, in turn, leads us to identify the items and processes necessary to fill that function and also points to the yields created when that function is filled. Thinking in terms of functions, then, is a powerful leverage point, because it identifies needs, yields, relationships, and goals, and it helps us spot blockages, missing elements, buildup of waste, and inefficiencies in the various flows and linkages that are part of that function’s workings.
This means that when we look at cities, their residents, and the other components of urban life in terms of their functions, we can spot the factors that influence how well they are able to perform those functions. Then we can study, understand, and direct those factors and influences in ways that will create and enhance the functions and properties of cities that are beneficial, such as community-building public plazas, parks, and structures; open and supportive marketplaces; and habitat-creating green space; as well as human elements such as responsive policy processes. We can also spot and damp down the negative factors. Once we’ve done this, the next step is to evaluate, to see how well our changes have moved us toward a more livable, and life-filled, environment. That is the heart of design.
The importance of the three primary functions of cities—inspirational gathering space, security, and trade—is also visible in the negative. When cities grow ugly or inhumanly scaled, when they are crime-ridden or prone to raids, or when their industries fail, urbanites retreat if they can to the suburbs, the hinterlands, or another more functional city. Those who can’t leave often crowd—or are forced—into ghettos and enclaves. The movement of people in and out of a city is useful feedback about how well that city functions and what needs to be redesigned…
Cities as Complex Systems
The sciences of complexity studies arose in the 1960s and 1970s and spread, because they were so widely applicable, from the arid realms of theoretical physics and mathematics to other disciplines. A subdiscipline of urban planning, sometimes called complexity theory of cities, emerged in the 1980s and has since generated a blizzard of publications and experiments in urban design. I will give an overview of the origins and tenets of complexity theory of cities as it relates to permaculture. For those interested in exploring the intersection of urban design with complexity theory in more detail than I can offer here, a good place to start is an anthology of articles collected under the title Complexity Theories of Cities Have Come of Age, edited by Juval Portugali and others.
Understanding that cities are a form of complex adaptive system has helped urbanists restore some vibrancy to moribund metropolises, so it’s worth understanding a little about these systems. The general “messiness” of cities has been irritating urban theorists and planners for centuries, but it wasn’t until recently that urbanists truly understood that it is just that messiness that gives cities their life.
The urge to rationalize and give order to cities—which, incidentally, culminated in the dehumanizing urban-renewal projects of the 1960s—has its seeds back in the Enlightenment era. Philosophers and scientists of that day, inspired by the successes of Newton, Galileo, and Kepler at finding simple laws that explained and predicted mechanical action, began thinking of nature and the universe as a machine that could be dissected, rebuilt, and controlled. Once they saw that planets and falling bodies operated by simple rules, some of them began extending the machine metaphor to the living world.  Soon farming and forestry were remade in the image of the machine, and this mechanical worldview spread to human systems as well. The standardized, abstract measurements of the metric system supplanted local and traditional units that once kept their uses connected to natural objects and activities. An acre, for example, was the area of flat land that a pair of oxen could plow in a day; an inch was the length of three grains of barley laid end to end. A meter is just, well, a meter—and since the 1983 General Conference on Weights and Measures, defined as, “the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time interval of 1/299,792,458 of a second.” How’s that for abstract?
Tested land-use customs that had been culture- and site-specific were swept aside by nationwide property laws, official languages taught in state schools extinguished dialects and indigenous speech, and major cities such as Paris and Washington, DC, were rebuilt on rigid geometric patterns.
This attempt to impose a clockwork order on the confusing welter of urban life, while making cities more comprehensible to travelers and tax officials, reached its peak in the neighborhood-razing visions of New York’s Robert Moses, the sterile facades and inhuman whole-city plans of Le Corbusier, and the crime-ridden high-rise projects of south Chicago and countless other cities. As the failures of what has been called high modernism became obvious in the 1970s and 1980s, architects, planners, officials, and urban dwellers began to see that a machine city is a dead city.
Right at that time, though, several countering forces were emerging. One was an activist revolt against large-scale urban planning. As so often happens in the simultaneous emergence of parallel ideas whose time has come, this grassroots movement was also gaining academic legitimacy in work by theorists in the developing new complexity sciences. Mathematicians, ecologists, economists, and planners alike began to spot the consonance between complex systems such as weather, forests, neural networks, markets, and cities. Some of these complex systems could adapt and learn, while others, like the weather, could not. The former came to be called complex adaptive systems, or CAS. Researchers soon determined that to be able to learn, adapt, and evolve, CAS needed to possess certain features:
1.  They are composed of autonomous agents; that is, their parts work according to their own internal operating rules, whether they are nerve cells, trees, or people.
2.  These agents interact with each other according to certain (often simple) rules. A rule for a bird in a flock may be, “Keep the bird ahead of you at a 45-degree angle and 3 feet away.” These simple rules can result in stunningly complex behaviors, as anyone can attest who has watched a shimmering flock of birds spin patterns against the sky.
3.  Those new behaviors are an example of emergence, which is the appearance of novel properties that can’t be predicted by studying the parts in isolation. Watching a single bird in flight would never let you predict the intricate, captivating dance of a swooping flock of birds. Studying one cell of a slime mold would never suggest that as a group they can merge to fashion a bizarre mushroomlike colonial structure for reproduction.
4.  The agents respond to changes in their environment via feedback. They sense some of the effects of their actions, which allows them to adapt and learn.
5.  CAS usually exhibit homeostasis; that is, they self-regulate and “tune” their behavior to certain states that are preferred over other, less stable states, and they can return to these states after a disturbance. These states are usually far from equilibrium. A mammal, for example, maintains its body temperature independent of both the air temperature and how hard it is exercising. If it were at equilibrium, it would be at air temperature—and it would be dead.
6.  These systems maintain themselves in a rich, possibility-filled region between perfect order and total randomness that complexity thinkers call the edge of chaos. An organism, for example, contains proteins that are made to a specific pattern but are constantly moving in and out of that pattern as they are built up and broken down in metabolism. But metabolism isn’t chaotic. It follows specific pathways and rules. We can see this also in our genes. They generally are built to a set DNA sequence and pattern, but occasional mutation and regular recombination permit new possibilities to emerge. Perfect order is dead, while complete chaos allows no structure. Life and other complex adaptive systems attune themselves to the fecund, creative place between frozen order and seething randomness, to the edge of chaos, and thrive there. Healthy cities do the same.
In summary, CAS contain many autonomous parts, they respond to changes via feedback, and they form self-organizing, self-maintaining assemblages that display emergent properties. So how do the principles of CAS apply to urban permaculture?
Those principles suggest that rigid planning that leaves no room, or even not enough room, for spontaneous self-organization will create sterile cities. Strict top-down planning is anathema to CAS, including cities; it imposes a rigidity that eliminates adaptability and spontaneity. On the other hand, pure bottom-up accretion of elements with no rules or pattern at all approaches chaos and can result in grossly unequal distribution of resources, incoherent layout, gentrification, food deserts, and the other ills that plague many cities. Thus urban design methods that provide enough organization in the form of simple rules but create the conditions for spontaneity to occur can take advantage of the ways that cities behave as CAS. What does that look like?
One of the first to grasp the importance of urban life’s lack of tidiness was Patrick Geddes, a biologist who later turned to sociology and urban planning. Geddes was a student of Thomas Huxley, the man known as “Darwin’s bulldog” for his fierce defense of the theory of natural selection, and Geddes brought his own appreciation for evolution and life’s spontaneity to urban design. During the late nineteenth century, when Geddes was practicing, the common view was that cities were simply “architecture writ large,” mechanical elements assembled on a large scale. Geddes taught that every city evolves in both a historical context and a unique geographical setting, and any planning that ignores or attempts to remake these will harm those who live there. But Geddes was nearly a lone voice against the rising influence of those who saw the city as a machine, and their views dominated the first six decades of the twentieth century.
Figure 1-1. Emergence in action. The slime mold Dictyostelium germinates from spores as individual cells that remain independent until food becomes scarce. At that point the cells aggregate and can move as a multicellular organism in the pseudoplasmodium or slug stage. This “slug” slithers to a well-lighted, open place and transforms into a mushroomlike fruiting body that then releases spores. The slug and the collective fruiting body possess properties not present in the individual cells, such as the ability to form complex shapes, solve mazes (in the slug phase), and release spores (the fruiting body). Illustration by Elara Tanguy

Snatching Defeat

Off the keyboard of Albert Bates

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Published on Peak Surfer on August 9, 2015

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Last week we concluded our post on climate change with a quote from James Hansen, "the matter is urgent and calls for emergency cooperation among nations." All this year we have been leading up to our collective fin de seicle moment in December, the grand denouement of the Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol in Paris. At this late date, we are frankly pessimistic for the outcome there.

It isn't that we expect the parchment won’t get inked, but rather that the document won’t actually accomplish its task even if the conference is a complete success. After more than two decades of negotiating for every paragraph, the Paris Treaty will be two decades out of date and strategically misdirected.

In those 20 years the goalposts have moved. They are not farther away now. They are closer.

The United Nations, Eleanor Roosevelt's singular passion, is showing signs of age, architecturally symbolized by its under-maintained (owing to deadbeat nations who never pay their dues, nudge to the ribs of USAnians) 1950s rusting steel and chipped glass edifice fronting the East River on the New York skyline.

Instead of peering through the mists into a bright but challenging future, the building peers out across the river to Roosevelt Island and back in time to a Rooseveltian utopia with strong labor unions and a chicken in every pot. Actually, a-chicken-in-every-pot was the 1928 campaign slogan of Herbert Hoover, a Republican president who presided over the Crash of ‘29. Hoover advocated "kinder, gentler" capitalism. He said, "We want to see a nation built of homeowners and farm owners. We want to see more and more of them insured against death and accident, unemployment and old age." It would become the mantra of future candidates of both parties, a code for enslaving the working class through health and home insurance, college and mortgage loans while feathering the nest of banks and insurance companies.

This is oddly where we find the United Nations now, making impossible promises to lure the gullible while holding a finger on the scales of justice.

Like a military bureaucracy busily arming with the obsolete weapons of the last war, the United Nations is stuck in the past century, driving a pink Cadillac to the Mall. Here, for instance, is a chart of its projections for world population, which it derives from fertility, life expectancy and demographic trends over the past decades:

Those dash-dotted blue lines at the margins are the range that would be accomplished if there were half-a-child more or fewer births per woman than at present. Half-a-child smaller families is all it would take to move planetary stress out of the red zone.

Another way would be for the entire globe to follow the example of Greece and depopulate immediately, just by starving pensioners and slashing budgets for hospitals, fire departments and other vital services.

One problem is that projecting the past into the future is always a fool's errand. Consider the UN's projections for low-lying island nations:

By 2100, if not 2050, most of these low-lying chains will be under the ocean. Are these projected people, still worth counting, presumed to be in refugee camps, waiting at border crossings in places like Calais, or in submarine cities?

Which brings us back to stranded expectations.

Our friend Joe Brewer, a linguist who, with George Lakoff and others developed the concept of "framing," wrote a thoughtful piece on the language of the UN's sustainable development goals, now scheduled for ratification in September. Just take a moment, though, to consider the embodied ignorance of a term like "sustainable development."

What is it, exactly, that we wish to sustain? Development? What kind? Do we want Donald Trump to build condos for billionaires in Namibia? Or maybe we want more jobs for Namibians assembling smart phones in Chinese factories while former Chinese factory slaves spend their renminbi vacationing in Dubai?

Last month the long laboring UN Open Working Group announced it had formalized 17 Sustainable Development Goals with 169 associated targets and deemed them “integrated and indivisible.” It submitted a lengthy report for ratification by the 69th Session of the UN General Assembly in September. Beaming with pride at its accomplishment, it bragged:

Never before have world leaders pledged common action and endeavour across such a broad and universal policy agenda. We are setting out together on the path towards sustainable development, devoting ourselves collectively to the pursuit of global development and of “win-win” cooperation which can bring huge gains to all countries and all parts of the world.

And then, in the next breath, it snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.

We reiterate that every state has, and shall freely exercise, full permanent sovereignty over its wealth and natural resources.

We will implement the Agenda for the full benefit of all, for today’s generation and for future generations. In doing so, we reaffirm our commitment to international law and emphasize that the Agenda is to be implemented in a manner that is consistent with the rights and obligations of states under international law, taking into account different national circumstances, capacities and priorities.

With these caveats, the UN essentially emasculated its own achievement. It was kind of like saying, “From now on, no-one shall be allowed to shoot heroin or smoke crack. We will accomplish this through voluntary self-regulation by all would-be addicts.”

The simile is not that far-fetched. Neurobiologists and psychologists that have studied the problem of addiction have a much more nuanced picture of crime and punishment than do lawmakers or the public. They know what can reduce addiction — supportive community ties and self-respect, among other factors — and what elevates it — punishment, isolation and disgrace – but they have been unable to make that scientific case in public debate without getting shouted down, and so the criminal justice system stereotypes and victimizes addicts.

How the UN plans to discipline unfettered growth addicts is by loving them. Not tough love. Friendly advice kind of love. A forgive but not forget kind of love.

The UN plan continues:

The new Goals and targets will come into effect on 1 January 2016 and will guide the decisions we take over the next fifteen years. All of us will work to implement the Agenda within our own countries and at the regional and global levels. We will at the same time take into account different national realities, including capacities and levels of development, and culture. We will respect national policies and priorities and policy space for economic growth, in particular for developing states, while remaining consistent with relevant international rules and commitments. We acknowledge also the importance of the regional and sub-regional dimensions, regional economic integration and interconnectivity in sustainable development. Regional and sub-regional frameworks can facilitate the effective translation of sustainable development policies into concrete action at national level.

Brewer says:

The frame of national sovereignty conceals the much more nuanced picture of networked financial assets that are coordinated through a nested shell system of corporate structures—enabling things like the tax haven system and cross-cultural propaganda efforts that shape social norms at scales of regional markets.

The Committee on Sustainable Development:

We are committed to ending poverty in all its forms,including extreme poverty, by 2030. All people must enjoy a basic standard of living, including through social protection systems. We are also determined to end hunger and malnutrition and to achieve food security as a matter of priority. We will devote resources to developing rural areas and supporting small farmers, especially women farmers, herders and fishers.

We will seek to build strong economic foundations for all our countries. Sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth is essential for prosperity. This will only be possible if wealth is shared and income inequality is addressed. We will work to build dynamic, sustainable, innovative and people-centred economies, promoting youth employment and women’s economic empowerment, in particular,and decent work for all. We will eradicate forced labour and human trafficking and eliminate all the worst forms of child labour. All countries stand to benefit from having a healthy and well-educated workforce with the knowledge and skills needed for productive and fulfilling work and full participation in society. We will adopt policies which increase productive capacities, productivity and productive employment; financial inclusion; sustainable agriculture, pastoralist and fisheries development; sustainable industrial development; universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy services; sustainable transport systems; and resilient infrastructure.

Lately we have been trying to purge our vocabulary of the word "sustainable" (as offensive to polar bears) in much the way we purged our vocabulary of "rule of thumb" 20 years ago (as offensive to women, even though the origin was a parody, not an actual law, that husbands could beat wives with canes no wider than a thumb).

What we must ask is what we intend to sustain when we speak of sustainability? Is it, as Iowa Congressman Paul Simon famously proclaimed, our God-given right to the American way of life? Is it exponential growth of resource consumption on a finite planet? Is it a sustained rate of whale kill, coal burning, or forest-clearing? What are we talking about sustaining once fossil fuels no longer can give us all those billions of energy slaves?

As one commenter on our post last week said:

The Hansen approach – concentrating on CC [carbon capture] from a 'we obviously want to continue western civilisation, that's not the question' perspective, can be seen as a form of denial.

Joe Brewer, looking at the Sustainable Development Goals, unpacked four foundational weaknesses revealed by their language:

Insight #1: The entire effort rests on a mis-framing of poverty. The SDG documents consistently frame poverty as a disease, which, in contrast to their own promise to eradicate it by 2030, evokes the logic that it should be expected and managed, but cannot go away. When they conceptualize poverty this way, they misunderstand what it is and overlook the essential list of structural causes that must be addressed for any transition to a sustainable world. They fail to say how poverty is created. 

Insight #2: The language obscures “development as usual”. It ignores this topic entirely and fails to articulate that it is based on a particular, specifically neoliberal and corporatist conception of how the world economy does and should work. Also noteworthy, there is no reference to corporations—the most powerful institutions on the planet, whose influence in development spaces has been growing considerably in recent years, including via this process—an omission that prompts suspicion that an unpopular agenda may sneak through under the radar. This has the effect of neutralizing analysis on the core elements of the development model, and any consideration for the role of power politics or financial influence in development outcomes.

Insight #3: The poison pill is growth; specifically undifferentiated, perpetual growth as represented by GDP as a measure of progress. An awareness is acknowledged of the deep problems and contradictions when relying on GDP growth to tackle poverty. It is then deliberately kicked into the long grass and left as the prime operative of economic development. Indeed, the only thing the SDG framework has to offer on this is that it has nothing meaningful to offer; instead it passes this challenge to future generations.

Insight #4: The language is self-contradictory and conflicted on the relationship between nature and the economy. There is a clear and laudable intent to connect development and the environment—indeed, calling themselves the Sustainable Development Goals they could not make a bigger signal about needing development to be sustainable—but then the logic repeatedly demonstrates a confused and contradictory understanding of whether the economy is something linked with or separate from nature; there to dominate or work within. No credible use of the word sustainable would perform this way.

These insights lead to a simple antidote that can heal the SDG process and move us closer to real sustainability—tell the story of poverty creation that reveals systemic and structural causes of “development as usual.”

Brewer’s key point is that poverty is not a disease, something you catch by being born in the wrong place or choosing to be a slacker. Poverty is institutionally created.

The rules of the system are set up to extract wealth from the economy and hoard it in the hands of the few who control the money supply. This is done through unfair trade agreements, regressive tax structures and tax evasion, structural debt relations, land grabs, privatization of public utilities, and other widely used business practices. When the SDG framework conceptualizes poverty as a disease, it misunderstands what it is and overlooks this essential list of structural causes that must be addressed for any transition to a sustainable world.

Part of the problem, Brewer suspects, is that we like to break large, unmanageable problems down into smaller, more manageable pieces. In this case, the UN is putting different issues — rights of women and children, indigenous peoples, unsustainable agriculture, deforestation and desertification, energy costs and climate change — into issue silos, rather than treating them as part of a larger pattern of our human relationship to nature. Brewer says the two competing systems — environment and development –

“are treated as separate and distinct, which artificially divides humans from nature—an untenable position that ignores the foundational knowledge of physics and biology for living systems.”

He points out that mischaracterizing poverty as a disease leads to a complete disconnect when wealthy countries are confronted with the need to scale back or pay reparations –

Those countries that are “less developed” could be reframed as “more pillaged” and those that are “more developed” are countries that have “reaped the benefits of pillage.” – and also when under developing countries are told they should no longer try to imitate the West and think that some day they will be able to consume and hoard on a comparable scale.

What enabled the wealthy nations to pillage was the presence of natural wealth – human, plant and mineral – that could be brought under the sword or cross and systematically extracted. Where now do emerging economies like China, Brazil, India and South Korea turn to find such wealth? How does the aristocracy of the overdeveloped world keep its high-entropy investments secure without finding somewhere new to recharge them?

The UN working group is silent on these points because it has accepted without challenge a Neoliberal world view and ignored the over-consumption, financial destabilization, and enlarging inequality that demands.

Australian rancher Darren Doherty is fond of saying that sustainability is a weak ambition to begin with. “You are treading water. Is that all you want to do, tread water?”

Regeneration is a much more hopeful and ambitious term: Civilization 2.0. The goal is not to sustain high entropy habitation and extend it to 7 billlion or 12 billion people, but to redesign habitation to be low-entropy and biodiverse, letting nature heal, and to gradually bring human numbers down to something that is more (watch out, almost said sustainable) manageable within ecosystemic limits.

A couple years ago the UN Commission on Human Rights issued a report to address the subject of whether provision of minimum food support is a human right. The only practical way that could be achieved without overexploiting all the available arable land, the report said, was by transition to what they termed "eco-agriculture" but was really permaculture – primarily tree-crops and perennial grasses with some aquaculture. As we described here last week, this approach is also much more adaptive and mitigating in the climate change context, as our ancestors discovered several thousand years ago.

We are training ourselves to use "resilience" and "regenerative" in place of "sustainable" wherever possible. We particularly loathe "sustainable living" which always brings images of zombies to our mind. Ultimately nothing sustains, and any attempt to attain that end will fail. If sustainability is treading water, resilience is swimming forward against the current. And actually, once you get the hang of it, the current shifts and flows with you. 

Supply Chains, Population & Community: Conversation with Dmitry Orlov Part II

Off the microphones of Dmitry Orlov, Monsta & RE

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Aired on the Doomstead Diner on August 21, 2014


Discuss this interview at the Podcast Table inside the Diner

In case you missed it, here is the first part of the Interview with Dmitry

Dmitry Orlov Part I

Latest Frostbite Falls Daily Rant Series: Riots in #Ferguson

SNAP to RIOT IN #ferguson,

SNAP to RIOT 2 in #ferguson,

SNAP to RIOT 3: Bring on the National Guard

In this part of the podcast, we discuss with Dmitry the issues of Supply Chains necessary to maintain our current Industrial Civilization, the possible effects of Supply Chain breakdowns, resiliency versus efficiency and how the various nations under the Soviet Union umbrella coped with the collapse of that mega-state.  Other topics include the possibilities for Near Term Human Extinction and principles underlying Sustainable Communities.

Coming soon to Diner Podcasts, a new Frostbite Falls Daily Rant on the 8th Crusade looking at the escalating assymetric warfare being pursued by the ISIS Caliphate in MENA.



Sea Gypsy Freedom

Off the keyboard of Ray Jason

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Published on The Sea Gypsy Philosopher on April 13, 2014

ray-at-new-transmissionIt was a moment of pure, transcendent bliss. AVENTURA had just cleared some treacherous, shallow reefs south of Jamaica. As I studied my chart, it suddenly dawned on me that now there was nothing but open Caribbean water between my lovely sailboat and a cornucopia of enchanting destinations.
I could select the beautiful and historic walled city of Cartagena. Or perhaps the stunning San Blas islands with their feisty Kuna Indians, who never fell to European conquest. Maybe a visit to the magical Rio Chagres was in order. It is a jungle wonderland where the howler monkeys outnumber the humans. Or possibly I should set my course for the undiscovered jewel of the Caribbean – Bocas del Toro. But then again, maybe I should sail west to the turquoise, fish-lush waters of Belize.
Pondering these exquisite choices reinforced my belief that there is no freer way to live than the sea gypsy path. Since I didn’t want to waste my fresh stash of Jamaican limes, I made myself a tall gin and tonic. Then I retired to the foredeck with my clipboard. Feeling utterly at peace – with the sails pulling and the wind-vane steering – I decided to inventory the many forms of freedom that wandering the Wide Waters bequeaths me.

FREEDOM FROM FRENZY – The usual speed for AVENTURA is around five knots, which is only about twice as fast as someone out walking their dog. This allows me to leisurely observe and enjoy my surroundings. The adjoining world is not reduced to a frenetic blur, it is a panorama to examine and savor. I love the fact that my sailboat is such an organic part of nature. It is enmeshed within its rules and constraints. In the same way that you never see a turtle driving a jet-ski, you never see a boat like mine traveling at 50 knots. This magisterial pace is also vital for someone with a philosophical inclination. That’s because Speed is the arch-enemy of contemplation.
· FREEDOM FROM A BRAVE NEW 1984 WORLD – The two classic dystopian novels of the Twentieth Century proposed very different approaches that governments might use to impose tyranny. In Huxley’s BRAVE NEW WORLD, the authorities used entertainment and drugs to enslave the people so effortlessly that they didn’t even notice their bondage. But in Orwell’s 1984, the rulers used gruesome “boot on the neck” totalitarianism to subdue and neuter the people. They combined a vicious secret police force with an inescapable surveillance grid.
I contend that the evolving, low-grade tyranny that is so evident in the USA combines BOTH of these tactics. The populace is sedated and dumbed-down with a 24/7 kaleidoscope of escapist media that prevents them from noticing the erosion of their freedoms. Simultaneously, the State is militarizing police forces and installing a surveillance dome that is all-pervasive. Orwell would be shocked at how thoroughly the Overlords can monitor the modern citizen. Out here in the sea gypsy world, I am invulnerable to their electro-techno seductions and much less visible to their all-peeping eyes.
· FREEDOM FROM HUMILIATING DEPENDENCY – Self-reliance is mandatory for the ocean sailor. You can’t call a plumber a thousand miles from land. But not only is being able to fix that leaking toilet vital – it is also extremely invigorating. Being a “minor master” of one’s seagoing domicile is deeply empowering in a modern world overflowing with incompetency.
· FREEDOM TO EMBRACE MY WILD, FERAL, ANCESTRAL SELF – The Western techno-industrial paradigm has decimated almost all of the indigenous cultures on our planet. There are only about 85 native tribes still surviving in the deserts, jungles and Arctic snow fields. But even though civilized people view them as savages, they see themselves as self-reliant human animals who can attend to their complete life needs. On the other hand they are amused by our deadly dependencies, and they think of us as domesticated animals – like sheep or cows. By spending much of my time in un-peopled places, I can reconnect with my lost feral self. When I whack open a coconut with my machete and savor my Tarzan Tea or greet the sunrise with a blast from my conch shell or stop my boat in the far ocean to swim in miles-deep water, these are not just symbolic gestures. They are steppingstones along a path to greater freedom and back to the wisdom of the wild.
· FREEDOM FROM THE FEAR OF COLLAPSE – When I first started cruising many years ago, there was no such thing as Peak Oil or derivatives or methane venting. But as our Energy, Economic and Ecological mega-systems have become overwhelmed, the specter of a major societal unraveling is a genuine possibility. Fortunately, a well-equipped ocean-worthy sailboat is probably the best survival module there is. I have discussed this belief thoroughly at my various “Sea Gypsy Tribe” essays that can be easily scrolled down to here on my blog. So when I finish this essay, I will sleep soundly knowing that AVENTURA can handle almost any catastrophe that the world might present to us.
· FREEDOM FROM “WORKER BEE EDUCATION” – The actual goal of state-sponsored, industrial-model education is not to inspire the love of knowledge into students. Instead, it is designed to teach them just enough so that they can operate the machines that are needed to keep the system functioning. The prevailing educational template does not just discourage critical thinking, it suffocates it. That’s because too much careful inquiry would reveal a system that is founded upon injustice and exploitation. But the children that I see around me in the sea gypsy community, who are being home-schooled by their parents, are full of curiosity and creativity. They are learning about Nature and other cultures not from documentaries but from direct contact. The normal inquisitiveness and originality that comes with childhood is not suppressed – it is supported.
· FREEDOM FROM SUPPORTING IMPERIAL GOVERNMENTS – In my ideal world, there are no borders. And as a symbol of that vision, I fly the Earth Flag aboard AVENTURA. It also permits me to show no allegiance to my birth country, the USA, which has become such a malevolent force on the planet. I am not referring to the bulk of its people, who are largely decent, caring humans, but to its political, corporate and military Overlords who wreak havoc and death around the world. And to those foreigners who claim that I SHOULD ridicule the average American because they keep electing such soul-less leaders, I submit that the system is now so corrupted that voting or protesting no longer offer any genuine hope for change.
· FREEDOM FROM AN UN-CULTURE WHERE “OUR STUFF” DEFINES US – Most of my friends suspect that my lifelong simplicity has been involuntary rather than voluntary. They believe that if I had applied myself better I could have been successful and wealthy. But much of it has actually been conscious and deliberate. It began when I first read this sentence by Thoreau: “A man is rich in direct proportion to the number of things that he can live without.” That inspired me to judge the worth of a person not based on their “stuff” but on their non-material qualities such as intelligence, kindness and humor. Such a non-conformist perspective means that I am dramatically out of step with the dominant culture. Fortunately, by living close to Nature in my small boat, I can avoid a disposable un-culture that is addicted to “the latest and greatest.” My sextant could have been used by mariners 200 years ago – and it could be used by future sailors 200 years from now.
· FREEDOM FROM “WORST-CASE EVIL” – It is fairly indisputable that those who control our world are greedy, arrogant, selfish power freaks. But there seem to be credible insiders and whistleblowers who maintain that the people in charge are even beyond hideous – that they are genuinely diabolical and evil. My genuine hope is that this is not the case. But if it is so, what better way to escape their web, than to wander about the seldom visited coasts and the vast ocean expanses of our wild, wet planet.

The sun had now vacated my longitude in the Caribbean, and so I decided to go below and cook my dinner. But the remembrance of that Thoreau quote about voluntary simplicity, inspired me to dig out my little folder of what I call “road quotes.” I had collected them during my long ago hitch-hiking days on the Asphalt Seas. I freshened up my gin and tonic, and settled in to renew my acquaintance with these memorable quotations. About halfway through them, I came across one that I had forgotten. It is by Albert Camus, and it is so relevant to the subject of this essay that I was both stunned and delighted. Allow me to share it with you:

“The only way to deal with an un-free world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”

Domesteading at Monolithic: Day One

Off the keyboard of Eddie

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Published on SUN4Living on April 8, 2014

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SAMSUNG CSCToday was our first day of what looks to be five pretty full days here at Monolithic Domes. Today we heard from a couple of speakers, including Monolithic’s founder and CEO, David South. It was probably worth the price of admission to listen to David, who is one of those visionary geniuses who has managed to combine his passion with a business that builds exactly the kind of structures that he once dreamed of.

Regardless of whether I ever build a single dome, it’s been good to meet and pick the brain of someone like this guy. He is way ahead of us Diners in many ways, not only having already figured out how to build these extremely functional buildings of his, but also how they can fit into  the paradigm of energy descent as affordable housing for working poor people and retirees with limited means.

He actually already has a community of tiny rental domes here on the company land (where many of his family members and employees also have dome homes), as well as a couple of others in nearby towns. It is a working, functional model that does not depend on government assistance. They operate as residence inns that rent (currently for $125 per week).  It’s an interesting model to me, because it seems like one of the only landlord/tenant arrangements I’ve ever seen that works out to a win/win for both owner and tenants.

Another vision at Monolithic is their Grow Domes, which allow intensive indoor gardening indoors, requiring minimal energy inputs.

It makes me dream of an affordable community of tiny domes and dome fourplexes with access to onsite grow domes where residents can grow their own food in an environment protected from the vicissitudes of climate change. In my view, such a community would have the potential to free people up from the hamster wheel of low wage work and allow them to live with a great deal more resilience and dignity.

The only thing I’ve seen that I can criticize is that domes are constructed using a lot of closed cell polyurethane foam, which requires specialized equipment and chemicals that are noxious during construction, although it appears to be safe enough after it dries and is covered with sprayed on concrete plaster. Of all the building designs I’ve studied, only the Global Earthship rivals the Monolithic dome as a dwelling.

The 1st Diner Convocation

Off the keyboard of RE

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Published on SUN4Living on March 22, 2014

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Bonus Track: Amerikan Hologram

Amerikan Hologram is #18 in the new Frostbite Falls Daily Rant Podcasts on the Doomstead Diner.

The last few rants have been focused on the Kabuki theatre playing out across the pond between Russia and NATO along with, swimming in the other direction, the implosion of the Chinese Credit Market. For tonight I’d like to return home here to the Land of Good & Plenty to look at some of the persistent myths, lies and just plain old BULLSHIT many Amerikans of my generation believe WERE true at some time in the past, even if they do grant they probably aren’t true anymore.

When I talk about my generation I’m talking about Boomers of course, who are crawling all over the web these days like cockroaches since they are retiring by the truckoad and got nothing better to do with their time. Or rather nothing better most of them can afford to do with their time, since only a relatively small minority have fat pensions to supplement Social Security. At the price of gas these days, Motoring around in an RV to visit the grandkids between stops at golf courses isn’t happening so much anymore. If they are fortunate to own an RV, it’s likely sitting in a trailer park in Yuma with the A/C on full all day while they do their cruising around the Blogosphere complaining about how Amerika has gone down the toilet and how great it was in the Old Days. To be fair, it’s not just the Boomers, it’s also the real Oldster population of Silent Generation folks who were kids during WWII doing this sort of bullshit complaining…

For the rest, listen to the Podcast!

In a bit over a week from now, after a couple of years jawboning collapse on the Doomstead Diner, the Knights of the Round Table on the Diner are finally going to meet up IRL down in Texas.  “In Real Life” is the meaning of that acronym for people who don’t frequent Cyberspace that much, in contrast to the In Virtual Life you pursue as an Internet Junkie, where often people have Identities and Personalities not precisely like their IRL ones.

Whether you pursue an Anon paradigm or not, the way in which you react to people and discuss your ideas is generally a good deal different IVL as opposed to IRL.  People tend to be more Strident about their beliefs IVL, social niceties are not as commonly kept to IVL as IRL.  Usually IRL you pursue a Politeness paradigm, you don’t INTENTIONALLY try to piss people off for instance.  What this means though also IRL is that often people do not discuss the things most BUGGING them or most crucial to their World View, because they don’t want to deal with the CONFLICT that comes from that IRL.

So, IRL the general paradigm is “Don’t Discuss Religion, Politics or Sex“, because all of these topics tend to get the emotions running hot, particularly if the people chatting them up have diametrically opposed viewpoints, which in a “Multi-Cultural” society they often do.  It is of course highly unlikely you can get a “civil” discussion going about Sex IRL between a Fundy Christian, a Fundy Muslim and a Gay Rights Activist.  In fact you generally do not get such civil discussions going even IVL over the Net, but at least it cannot break out into Fisfights in Cyberspace.  Nor can anybody pull a GUN on you over the net either! LOL. You get what we on the diner call “Napalm Contests”, otherwise known as Flame Wars.  As intense as these things often can become,  you still are in relative SAFETY to pitch out your opinions over the net, and the worst that happens generally speaking is if you make too much of a nuisance of yourself on somebody else’s website you get banned, or if it is your own website you ban the person making such a nuisance of themself.  I make the effort not to Ban anyone, but that is not to say I do not make life difficult for nuisance creators of this sort, I most certainly do that.  In fact I have developed a whole bevvy of means to make life difficult for Trolls and Napalm Artists without Banning them. 🙂

Anyhow, with that general knowledge in mind here, over time on a website such as the Diner, people of Like Minds do come together, in our case discussing AT LENGTH just WTF to do about a Collapsing Civilization we all see occurring around us on a basically Daily Basis?  How do YOU personally deal with this now, what PLANS have you made for the day TSHTF?  Will those plans WORK, and if so, for how long?  The flaws in everybody’s plans are discussed at length as well, then ideas get pitched out how to fix those flaws.  In our case, we developed a Construct called SUN, for Sustaining Universal Needs as the IVL idea for handling the many problems we already see evident here, and as a result gave birth to a new website and Nonprofit 501c3 company to further develop these ideas IRL.  This all occurred with none of the principals involved EVER meeting each other IRL, up until NOW.  It is remarkable we got even THIS far here, given the fact that in all the discussions NEGATIVE WAVES always crop up as various Diners chip in their 2 cents on why the whole idea is bullshit and can’t work.

Not only our local Diners will occassionally remark it is useless to try to prepare for a Collapsing Civilization, we constantly get even more depressing input from our friends over at Nature Bats Last, where it is not just Civilization Collapse they consider inevitable now, it is Near Term Human Extinction,  along with probably every other living organism above the level of the Tardigrades.  In the face of so much Negativity, it’s not always easy to keep Spirits Up amongst the Heliopaths, our nomeclature for the Diners who are involved in turning SUN from a cyber-idea into reality.  We do Soldier On though regardless, as in the words of Illuminati Scumbag Winston Churchill

If you find yourself going through Hell, KEEP GOING!

Image: Sweet Dome Alabama  is the Monolithic Dome home of Beverly and Kenneth Garcia in New Hope, Alabama.Anyhow, after a couple of years of discussion of the problems, we are going to meet up in Texas at the “Toothstead” to begin with, which is the ongoing project of a retreat location one of the Heliopaths, Eddie the Dentist is constantly working on to develop its self-sufficiency in terms of food and energy production.  After a couple of days of celebration there, 5 of us are heading over to Monolithic Domes in Italy, TX to participate in a 5 Day “Crash Course” in how to construct Ferrocement Domes, which are probably the sturdiest structure you could ever build and also come in a relatively low prices per square foot of usable interior living.  Useful for everything from Domiciles to Grow House and storage units, and pretty easy to erect anywhere without a massive amount of heavy equipment, though of course if you are spraying Shotcrete you do need access to some higher tech equipment.  Which is why if you are going to get such things built, NOW is the time to build them rather than AFTER TSHTF, when doing so will be a whole lot more difficult.

As part of this group Adventure, we are going to be recording much of what goes on and presenting the material on our Collapse Cafe and Podcast pages as Vidcasts and Podcasts, and we also hope to bring live discussion on as well for the duration of the Convocation, courtesy of such marvelous technological Gimmickry currently available like Livestream, Google Hangouts and GoToMeeting.  Here on the Diner, we will be Announcing these Live Broadcasts during the week inside the Diner in the Convocation thread that this article is linked to.  If you wish to join with us in discussion about the various topics and problems currently Ongoing and very likely to get a whole lot worse in the not-to-distant future, stay tuned to the thread and look for the Links that will bring you into them.  You’ll need a working Webcam and Mic of course, and may need to download some Client software or Plugins also.  The Geeks on the Diner will be available to assist you in this if you are a technological Luddite. 🙂

SAMSUNG CSCFor me, this is a very exciting adventure, though every time I leave the Last Great Frontier for an excursion to the Lower 48 nowadays it makes me nervous.  Any given day the ATMs could lock up; any given day a “Terrorist Attack” or “False Flag” could go down instigating Martial Law, the Airlines could be grounded and I would not be able to make it back to my Perch here in Alaska, which I still consider to be among the best places left on Earth to be when it all goes to Hell in a Handbasket.  A risk worth taking though, and you can’t stop living or let your fears get the better of you in a situation like this.  For myself also, even if it did occur I could not make it back here, I know I have my Fellow Heliopaths in the Lower 48 who will give me a bit better location to park my butt before I head for the Great Beyond than a FEMA Death Camp.

I look forward to meeting IRL my IVL Heliopath friends from the Diner, WHD, Lucid Dreams, Gypsy Mama, Eddie the Dentista and Haniel the Tech Wizard who picked up the Ball from my friend Peter in Ocean Falls who set up the Diner software and who now keeps it running and relatively free from too many glitches or sabotage by the NSA.

The Doomstead Diner and the SUN website continue to grow and develop here, we have in the works coming also Moodle Education Software for bringing yourself up to speed on means and methods for better securing yourself for the hard times to come, and we hope to soon also begin the process of transferring these ideas into IRL communities, sprinkled all around the FSoA, and the rest of the Globe as well.  We will be engaging in Demonstration Projects IRL in Texas, South Carolina and Minnesota to begin with, and we welcome inquiries into setting up Demos wherever you are located also.  You can contact us on the SUN website to find out more about that.

Following the Convocation in TX beginning next week, at the end of May on the Memorial Day Weekend, Diners intend to be present as well at the Age of Limits Conference held at the 4 Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in Pennsylvania.  We hope to be able to bring you more Vidcasts and Podcasts from there as well, with interviews and discussions with some of your favorite Doomer Pundits like Gail Tverberg of Our Finite World, John Michael Greer of the Archdruid Report, Dmitry Orlov of Club Orlov and Albert Bates from The Farm in TN, along with many other who will be attending this conference.

Coming through the rest of the week here leading up to the Convocation will be more Blogs from the other Heliopaths, with their thoughts on the coming Collapse as well as their perspectives on what it takes to transform IVL life IDEAS like SUN into IRL Communities that can make it possible to bridge to the Future in a BETTER TOMORROW, not a worse one or none at all.  Check in on the Diner Blog this week to read more about that.

After that, I hope to see some of you via the Magic of the Internet while we proceed to Burn that Hotel Down in Italy TX.  We are an Amerikan Band of Doomers, and we will Party Down here as we walk into the waning days of Industrial Civilization.  It’s not too late to join us there either, contact us on the Diner and we will give you all the specifics.


(at least IVL, anyhow)


Reality Check

Off the keyboard of Urban Scout

Published on Urban Scout on March 3, 2013

LOLZ. Living with Contradictions

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(Note: Urban Scout wanted me to title this post “Man vs. Wild vs. Rewilding”, but I no longer let him call the shots around here!)

Dear Reality Television Casting Directors,

I have received enough e-mails and phone calls from you over the years that I thought I should just write this form letter so that I could point you to my thoughts, rather than have to explain them every time. For everyone else reading this, to gain a reference for this letter, take a look at the this sampling of typical realityTV show casting e-mails I receive on a regular basis:

Hi Peter,

My name is Lauren Kalb and I am a casting director for a new extreme survival series on a major cable network. We are looking for elite survival experts who will face situations that require intense, split-second decision-making and instinctual, laser-sharp response. It’s not enough to be a weekend warrior – this series requires experience, ingenuity, and determination. Stripped of even the most basic of necessities, participants will rely only upon their bare hands to survive. Seeking men and women, 20’s – 40’s, who are highly skilled survival experts with legitimate training and experience.

Thanks so much!

Lauren Kalb, Casting Director

Hi Peter,

I had the pleasure of finally becoming acquainted with your blog today. I’ll admit, I have a man crush! You’re a one of a kind and I’m fascinated with your journey. I’m a TV producer and I’m currently researching rewilder and eco-pioneer communities.

If you’d ever have any interest in exploring the world of television to bring your message to a larger audience,
please contact me.

Best regards,

Hello! Seems like a pretty cool business! I want to go, but wouldn’t last a day. I am a TV producer at Crybaby Media always looking for new shows to bring to air. Currently we are looking for another way into survival camps. I know much has been done on this world (so your are probably tired of these emails), but do you have a new angle with new big characters that you think HAS to be on television? Looking for anything and everything but love your world of SURVIVAL.

We’d like to hear your ideas and unique approach.

First, I just want to say that I am flattered that you have found my site and think I look interesting enough to get thrown into the mix of potentials for reality television stardom. I would be lying if I said I was completely turned off to the idea of becoming the Snookie of rewilding. There was even a time when I went out of my way to create a few audition tapes. That time is past.

I feel that my days of writing under the guise of “Urban Scout” gave you (and many other people) a false perception of my identity. Producers, Creatives, and Casting Directors like you, come to this site, read Urban Scout’s words and think that I would be a great foil type character full of piss and vinegar, ready to stir shit up and “speak my mind”. I’m smart and articulate and sometimes I get carried away. But I’m not the guy you think I am. I’m not actually Urban Scout. I’m not really, as my old signature used to jokingly say, “…nasty, brutish, and short.”

I’m Peter Bauer. I’m a pretty nice guy. I worry about what people think of me. I worry that my internet past as Urban Scout burned too many bridges and that I’ll never atone for my youthful brashness. I lose sleep over it. I’m a sincere teacher, with integrity. I run a little non-profit called Rewild Portland, and I do not want to tarnish our reputation the way I tarnished my own during my twenties. As I’ve grown older I have gained too much self-respect to go on a reality show where people do things like this:

Cody Lundin, Les Stroud, and Ray Mears are at the top of my list of awesome survival show leads. I like to watch Survivorman because it’s the most “real” of the “reality” shows. I like how ray Ray Mears is more of a documentary style show, that actually demonstrates ancestral technology. Dual survivor is okay, because Cody Lundin is awesome and makes the show worthwhile. Overall though, I am put off by the way these shows use nature for its “shock value”. i.e. Bear Grylls eating a living fish, Bear Grylls squeezing the water out of elephant shit into his mouth, and Bear Grylls drinking his own piss. I have a hard time imagining how these shows can connect people to nature, or even make people want to live closer to nature, when they seem to focus more on grossing people out.

I am not an expert the way they are. At best, I’m the guy who would get voted off Survivor Island mid-season. I don’t really practice survival skills. I am a project coordinator first, and a teacher-practitioner second. I spend more time community organizing and building a culture of rewilding than I do playing in the woods. The time I do spend in the woods is not pushing the edge of survival, but working to create a lasting impact of resilient culture. I’m a nerdy artist who makes baskets and teaches children. I’m sorry, but I’m not the star you thought I might be.

In closing, let me say that I would love to bring the world of rewilding to a wider audience. It’s what I spend most of my time doing. However, I don’t think that this is possible through reality television. I could be wrong. The thing is, I don’t want to waste your time, and I don’t want to waste my own. I can’t think of a way to make this work. How about instead of asking me if I have any bright ideas, you present some to me? Perhaps my readership could come up with some ideas? Thank you for taking an interest in my work. Perhaps in the future we’ll come up with the best idea ever for a rewilding reality television show, that will inspire more people to start rewilding!

Until then,

Peter Michael Bauer

Knarf plays the Doomer Blues

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Quote from: UnhingedBecauseLucid on March 18, 2019 [...]

CleanTechnicaSupport CleanTechnica’s work via dona [...]

QuoteThe FACT that the current incredibly STUPID e [...]

Quote from: K-Dog on February 24, 2020, 06:23:52 P [...]

I wonder how much these coins have been debased? [...]

Precious tip of the day.....Buy silver NOW  She [...]

Scientists have unlocked the power of gold atoms b [...]

Quote from: azozeo on August 14, 2019, 10:41:33 AM [...]

Quote from: Nearingsfault on March 27, 2020, 05:03 [...]

Quote from: RE on March 27, 2020, 04:47:17 AMLast [...]

Last time I checked just a couple of days ago, the [...]

Alternate Perspectives

  • Two Ice Floes
  • Jumping Jack Flash
  • From Filmers to Farmers

Lies, Damn Lies and Coronavirus Statistics By Cognitive Dissonance     “Never believe anything in po [...]

The Decline and Fall of Civil Society Chapter One By Cognitive Dissonance     From my perspective at [...]

Missing In Action By Cognitive Dissonance     As a very young pup, whenever I was overdue and not ho [...]

Politicians’ Privilege By Cognitive Dissonance     Imagine for a moment you work for a small or medi [...]

Shaking the August Stick By Cognitive Dissonance     Sometime towards the end of the third or fourth [...]

Event Update For 2020-03-27 [...]

Event Update For 2020-03-26 [...]

Event Update For 2020-03-25 [...]

Event Update For 2020-03-24 [...]

Event Update For 2020-03-23 [...]

With fusion energy perpetually 20 years away we now also perpetually have [fill in the blank] years [...]

My mea culpa for having inadvertently neglected FF2F for so long, and an update on the upcoming post [...]

NYC plans to undertake the swindle of the civilisation by suing the companies that have enabled it t [...]

MbS, the personification of the age-old pre-revolutionary scenario in which an expiring regime attem [...]

Daily Doom Photo



  • Peak Surfer
  • SUN
  • Transition Voice

The Great Pause Week One"A pod of dolphins rose and dove, then in pairs leaped high in the air, or walked on water with [...]

The Great Pause"While we can never fully go back, with enough people trying, something approaching normalcy wi [...]

We Need a Manhattan Project for the Climate"We could call the IPCC reports our modern Einstein letters. They are arriving to the Resolute [...]

Sorry, climate change is not about water"What can be effective is producing real-world changes in the short time remaining."We are [...]

Bernie Goes to Cuba: Regenerative Media"I am less disappointed in the news media these days than I am angry at it."after Raúl Cor [...]

The folks at Windward have been doing great work at living sustainably for many years now.  Part of [...]

 The Daily SUN☼ Building a Better Tomorrow by Sustaining Universal Needs April 3, 2017 Powering Down [...]

Off the keyboard of Bob Montgomery Follow us on Twitter @doomstead666 Friend us on Facebook Publishe [...]

Visit SUN on Facebook Here [...]

What extinction crisis? Believe it or not, there are still climate science deniers out there. And th [...]

My new book, Abolish Oil Now, will talk about why the climate movement has failed and what we can do [...]

A new climate protest movement out of the UK has taken Europe by storm and made governments sit down [...]

The success of Apollo 11 flipped the American public from skeptics to fans. The climate movement nee [...]

Today's movement to abolish fossil fuels can learn from two different paths that the British an [...]

Top Commentariats

  • Our Finite World
  • Economic Undertow

Grocery truck hijacked? Can I confirm if this is real? [...]

This is at the end of the replies, but I shall repost in the next series. It is by a Korean infectio [...]

In reply to CTG. A big part of the cost of all production is the taxes governments require on the oi [...]

In reply to Gail Tverberg. You can always do an open post just for comments. [...]

In reply to CTG. Cease all unconventional production, problem solved. [...]

China's confirmed cases have flattened since last week and remained that way. Is that because t [...]

The oil is $20+ dollars b/c nobody is buying it because everyone is inside, not driving, not using p [...]

Hi Steve, I read your blog for 7 years and I your posts always give me great intellectual pleasure o [...]

I think your conception that everyone is having sex with everyone else in America is describing anot [...]

It's nice to see a post up and yes we do need to take this seriously, but honestly I think it w [...]

RE Economics

Going Cashless

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Simplifying the Final Countdown

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Bond Market Collapse and the Banning of Cash

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Do Central Bankers Recognize there is NO GROWTH?

Discuss this article @ the ECONOMICS TABLE inside the...

Singularity of the Dollar

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Kurrency Kollapse: To Print or Not To Print?

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Of Heat Sinks & Debt Sinks: A Thermodynamic View of Money

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Merry Doomy Christmas

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Peak Customers: The Final Liquidation Sale

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Collapse Fiction

Useful Links

Technical Journals

This study aimed to assess the interrelationship among extreme natural events and their impacts on e [...]

Rural livelihoods in most developing countries are threatened by climate-related risks such as droug [...]

The weather and climate conditions contributing to the energy and water availability during the suga [...]

A straightforward mechanism based on properties of the moist adiabat is proposed to construe the obs [...]

In the present study, the ability of the Advanced Weather Research and Forecasting numerical model ( [...]