What Do We Tell Our Children?

Given the converging financial, ecological, and energy situations, I often wonder what we should be telling our children about subjects that are a)over their heads and b)potentially 'R' rated or worse. Verbal navigation between hope and reality is difficult enough for our adult network, let alone the generation of young people growing up under our influence. Below the fold is a letter I wrote to the 7 yr old son of a friend of mine who asked his mom 'When will the oil run out?'.

(Editors Note: A reminder-TOD Campfire is a once per week Saturday pm slot intended to host different content than our regular energy analyses/research/news. The short posts will be about 'big ideas' and uncomfortable questions not easily analyzed with charts or graphs. These essays are not intended to be 'answers' but to offer open-ended questions for this online community to discuss. Please email the editors if you have any appropriate contribution.)

I recently got an email from a friend, who told her son I was an 'oil expert'. He had overheard a conversation about future oil shortages and asked his mom if she would email me - below are his questions and my response back (his mother is a homesteader, and has recently started to home school her 2 children).

When will the oil run out and how old will I (Parker) be when it runs out?

Dear Parker,

What an amazing question for a 7 year old to ask? It’s not a simple answer, but since you asked, here goes…

Your grandparents have grandparents, and those grandparents also had grandparents, and if you imagine this repeated over and over, like 50,000 grandparents of grandparents into the past – that is how long humans have been using energy to live our lives. But for most of that time, we used the energy from just the SUN. The sun gives our planet all kinds of energy that we can use. It gives us warmth and heat from its rays, gives us wind from temperature changes, makes water evaporate which then falls as rain, which can be used for water-power, and all sorts of other uses (like drying your underwear on a clothesline or growing a Big Beef tomato plant in your garden). But since the time of your grandparents grandparents –only about 150 years ago, people started to use fossil fuels like oil and gas. Fossil fuels are just sunlight from a really long time ago that was captured by animals and little organisms and was buried under the earth when they died. Over millions of years, it decayed and turned into a black gooey fuel called oil, which can be made into gasoline and power engines. Gasoline is very cheap – it is about the same price for 1 gallon of gasoline as a gallon of milk. But it is very powerful. One gallon of gasoline (under $2), can do the same amount of physical work as your mom can digging ditches, carrying wood, pushing a wheelbarrow etc. for about 500 hours, which is like working for 10 weeks in a row without stopping. When you look at it like that, oil and gasoline are almost like magic!!

Oil will never ‘run out’. But what will happen, and very soon, is it will become unaffordable for society to produce and pay for. The problem is that people born before you used a lot of the cheaper oil for silly things – things that either weren’t important, or didn’t last too long, like fast car races, wars, and garbage. Most of our society now depends on this cheap oil – food is grown using oil and gas based fertilizers and tractors. It is then packaged in plastics that are made from oil, refrigerated in containers that use gasoline, and transported in trucks all over the world. So oil is very important to how most people live day to day.

During your life, a great many changes will happen to the planet, and to the things we have become used to. I would say it is highly possible that when you turn 16, oil will be too expensive for you to even drive a car. To someone 7 or 17 or even 67, this might sound scary. But that’s only because they are used to it. We will have to figure out ways to live and enjoy our lives without this extra energy–the oil we found in the ground. We used just the sun for thousands of generations before. And you know what? For someone young like yourself, running out of cheap oil might actually be pretty cool. You have an amazing opportunity to be involved in the first ‘sustainability revolution’ on our planet. Sustainability means something that you can do over and over again each year without relying on energy that was stored underground from the ancient past (like oil, or coal). For example, growing pumpkins from the seeds of last years pumpkins and using chicken poop to fertilize them is something sustainable. Even if you don’t have oil, you will still have the sun, the wind, trees and water to provide food, heat and shelter and make things you need. There is still is a lot of oil left – it is just that it will cost a lot of money and other things we need to get it out. And remember, money is only worth something because people agree that it has value – it doesn’t have REAL value, like a chicken or a windmill or water in a barrel. But right now we can exchange it for stuff. In your lifetime that may not always be true.

Parker, you have an amazing advantage! First you are young, and aren’t too dependent yet on oil. But more importantly, your Mom has given you a big head start. Teaching you about the land, and where food comes from, and natural stuff is very important. Living in the country gives you lots of chances to play and learn at the same time. Most kids don’t get that opportunity and when oil becomes real expensive they are going to be scared and confused about things like where food comes from and such – they wouldn’t know the difference between a chicken and an owl (I bet you do.) Try and learn as much as you can about how the natural world works. Because people too are part of the natural world.

So, to answer your question, oil is a great and powerful energy source, but it doesn’t necessarily make people happy. To catch bugs, play with your sister and friends, have a meal with your family, tell stories, make music, go exploring, design an experiment, raise animals, dream and laugh – all these things don’t need any oil at all. So if I were you, I’d be excited that the cheap oil is soon running out. Your generation will make an important mark on the future of our planet – maybe you will help out Parker! – if not, I’m sure you’ll have fun and do great stuff in your own little corner of the world, wherever that may be. My only advice to you is to always be curious about how things work, always be playful and try to see the fun and joy in every situation, and don’t worry about knowing everything or being good at everything –to be good at the things you are good at and like to do is enough– the world will seek you out and put you on a path. Oil is awesome, but we don’t need it. Personally, I would choose a good friend anyday over oil…

Good luck,
P.S. Parker is a really cool name. Cool and strong.

His mom read the letter to him and I got this reply:

This is from Parker:

Thank you for the letter. I like how the sun makes oil in the earth. I learn that we can use the sun as energy by solar panels for our home. I heard that we can use the wind for energy, too, and I know that you can use fossil fuels for gas. I really like legos and I know that the oil is getting expensive so I am trying to find a new way to make oil and plastic.

Love, Parker

This is from Parker's mom:
...Thanks for taking the time to write the letter for Parker..I wish you could have seen his eyes light up as I was reading it to him...

There are over 57 million primary and secondary school children and young adults in America. None (that I know of) are mine, but a 10 year old girl and 9 year old boy in my life are dear to me. Their parents both see and understand the clouds forming on the horizon, yet have chosen to let their kids live normal lives (normal being typical American children in 2009, which I could argue is anything but normal): full 5th grader schedule plus soccer practice, pinewood derby, Wii, cellphones, Facebook accounts, international travel, Pokemon cards, skateboards etc. Neither of these kids have any understanding about where oil comes from, that money is printed, where our food comes from, or any of the broader systems in which their lives are invisibly intertwined. That was certainly the case for me as well (until I was about 36). It is almost as if, in these two instances, that there is an unspoken pact to not discuss these subjects when children are present. Perhaps when they get a bit older.

If you bungle raising your children, I don't think whatever else you do well matters very much. -Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

A child of five would understand this. Send someone to fetch a child of five.
-Groucho Marx

Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time. -Rabbinical saying

Too often we give our children answers to remember rather than problems to solve. -Roger Lewin

I really wonder what to tell our young people about unfolding events - nothing? everything? What impact will the energy/credit fallout have on our education system? What does the future hold for them? College? Post-graduate? How much has cheap oil subsidized the expansion of higher education, and how much will it change in the future? How great is the gap between education and learning? What should we be telling our children about resource depletion, overpopulation, limits to growth, and our energy future? At what age do we start having these conversations? Is the bar for making lifestyle changes to prepare for the future higher or lower for ones children or oneself? Is this example just like everything else, that we have to wait for a crisis before changing our current path? What should we be teaching our young people, the future leaders and citizens of a post peak world? How will we train those in hard sciences to oversee our infrastructure? Do we need to dramatically change how we view education?

As the baby boomers retire their successors Generation X increasingly assume political and managerial power. Yet Gen X seems to be the least PO and GW aware or the most in denial. If they stuff it up for Gen Y, Z et seq then history will judge them harshly. That's if future society is coherent enough to bother with history.

I feel sorry for young children who are going to watch things fall apart as they grow up. That 7 y.o. kid no doubt gets bussed or dropped off to school and his parents imagine he will go right through to university. But it will never happen for many; we may not not be able to bus schoolkids in years to come and there may be little point to university education.

In Australia it beggars belief that vested interests are trying to kill off climate mitigation efforts. Our biggest river is drying while the desert is flooded and firestorms decimate the city fringes. Yet businessjerks don't want the bother of carbon caps or renewable energy targets. Well let's hope these people make it through to old age and get to explain themselves to today's kids.


I was born in 1968, right in the middle Gen X depending on how you measure it. When I grew up, it was the threat of nuclear anhiliation, an interminable cold war, ozone layer depletion, pollution generally as well as a seemingly never ending African famine. Today we have a different set of the same problems but are they all our fault? Why do you expect one generation, born in a single 15 year period, to carry the whole can for the accumulated sins of our foreparents?

I had this argument a few months ago with a leading businessman in town who blasted Gen X and Y for being big spenders. I pointed out to him, that the beneficiaries of that spending were the boomer businesses (of which he was but one) and their superannuant shareholders, that shovelled cheap goods and credit at these generations and encouraged them to buy, buy, buy in order to boost profits and dividends! It was bit rich really to blame one group of people who, through no choice of ther own, were born in a 15 year period that happens to conincide with the rise of commercial television. TV morethan anything else has educated GenX and Y to be uber-consumers and this again was controlled orginally by who?

One of the first mitigating strategies we are going to have to do is quit describing eachother in terms of our consumer-class generational desgnators. They were invented by the bourgeois demographers to divide and separate us into nothing more than consumer units, easy to classify and then sell more stuff to. The perpetuation of this generational divide into every aspect of our lives from voting intentions to our preferences for sex toys, sterotypes each of us and defines our relative place in society. This in turn is reinforced by a powerful media which reflects the only tolerable paradigm of consumption.

If we continue to use these generational labels to assign blame or responsibility, we risk setting up class warfare where the boomers could be described the bourgeois,the Gen Xers as the petty bourgeois and the future generations as the proletariat. Which one are you and which way will you face the wall when the revolution comes?

Well, stated, and I agree with your class analysis.
However, we are not Blank Slates, and conditions do mold and influence who we are.
Coming of age during you're the time period, most of your generation grew up in a casino, and have no knowledge of anything outside the doors of this economic ponzi scheme.
The screams will be loud as many in your generation have reality exposed as you step into the light. I'm not saying all of you, but most.
My stepdaughter was in Bosnia and Afghanistan with the UN, and still cannot accept the economic reality as it is emerging.
Let's not the elite divide us, but find a common ground to use our creative energy intelligently and wisely to deal with the wall we are about to crash into.

I teach a university level course on Ecological Psychology. Believe me, in general, the students are stunningly clueless, and/or are in deep, deep denial. Recently I asked my current class how they are taking the new information that they are learning -- upset? depressed? or? A couple said "depressed," others said "hopeless: what can I, as an individual, possibly do to change this?" and others: "party like it is 1999."

I do present info about "algae to oil" amd the possibility of a Kurzweillian singularity. They seem to latch on to the techno-fix as a solution, and don't wish to see the man behind the curtain.

the students are stunningly clueless, and/or are in deep, deep denial

Personally, I'm trying to stop the labeling of people as "in denial" or "clueless".

These models of other people tend to be short sighted and unhelpful.

Everybody has a set of models running in their heads about how the external world operates.

Of course, for us Peak Oilers the models include Hubbert's curve or Jeff's ELM as well as the basic laws of thermodynamics (entropy & conservation of stuff).

So the outside world and its so-called "reality" looks one way to us.

There are many people who simply don't have these models running in their heads. Not because they are "stupid" or "evil" or what have you, but simply because the foundations for supporting PO or like models have never been implanted into their heads.

These other people have alternate models, like the "Invisible Hand Theory", running in their heads. Why just the other day I heard US President Obama mention "The Hand". Now to me, "The Hand" model appears as a ridiculous Fairy tale because it clashes with the Peak Oil model (or rather because the PO model demonstrates the You-can't See Me Hand Model to be invalid). But for other people, the Inv-Hand model feels very real and very valid. They are not able to yet model the world in alternate ways. To us, it seems like they are "in denial" and "clueless". To them it seems like we PO types are trying to destroy civilization as they know it --and to destroy what few models they have stored inside their heads for explaining the external world and its "reality".

Normally I would agree wholeheartedly with you but recently a psychologist friend of explained how the mechanism of denial works. It's a valid and real phenomenon that is the operating program for humans quite often. I can see in the past how I've been in denial, for instance. There might be places I'm in denial about right now for all I know.


So the best I've come up with is that some people are most definitely in denial, others don't have a model implanted (as you put it) and it's difficult to know which is the case. Only the person themself can tell you and only after they have left the denial phase (if that was what was going on).

Probably the most generous interpretation (no model implanted) is the way to go, as you point out, since the conversation will go much easier and further that way.


I whole heatedly agree with you & your friend that the "Denial model" is alive and running full time in essentially all of us.

When we were little kids, somewhere along the line we realized that life will not continue to infinity and beyond for us as individuals. To cope with this little realization, we invented a bunch of denial programs in our heads that seemed to make the problem go away. And those programs have been churning away in our heads pretty much day in and day out, mostly with good results because they make day to day life possible.

Unfortunately these lying-to-myself programs can expand virally in our heads without us realizing it. We might start convincing ourselves that not only will the "me" continue indefinitely in some way or another, but that civilization as we know it will surely continue indefinitely in some way or another and therefore there is no need to worry our pretty little heads about alternate possibilities.

For some people, you have to start implanting simple models first and see if they take root. Like vegetation trying to take root in soil full of competing weeds, it doesn't always work.

For example, when talking about Peak Oil, you might bring up the model of the glass half full of water. You might say, "We obviously disagree about whether the glass is now half full or half empty, but surely we don't disagree about the notion that the glass will not somehow magically refill itself after the water crosses below the halfway mark. So the real question is how fast is the glass being sucked dry and when should we start worrying about the inevitable outcome?" And then just leave it at that, as a simple model to gnaw away at the other models running in the other person's head.

The "invisible hand" model (i.e., neo-classical/neo-liberal free market economics) is a valid case within a limited subset of a more generalized economic reality, just as Newtonian physics is a valid case within a limited subset of General Relativity. The trouble comes when people try to make the invisible hand model the ruling paradigm to explain and govern everything.

Ahhh stop the labeling.

Another PC step. Soon we will have no words. All will be mush talk.

Please..let us speak as we wish. We can use peer pressure if its there to end the usage of vague terms but 'denialist' seems to me to be a perfect fit.

I also like 'clueless'. Short sweet and to the point.


Of course, we are all clueless in many respects; the smartest of those among us realize the extent a single person is really in the dark in so many areas. For example, how many people understand the effects a severe influenza pandemic would have on our critical infrastructure, which many result in more deaths from lack of sustenance/water than the flu itself. Then how many people who understand the risks associated with a pandemic flu are actually prepared for the oneset of one? Then there are the effects of climate change on our descendents; who is actively mitigating these risks?

These are only two examples, so it behooves us to realize all of us are clueless in many ways.

We certainly have a very hard time really feeling what 'worlds' other than the one we are in will be like. Of course a severe enough pandemic or cascading series thereof (as has happened in some species crash scenarios that have come to pass) does make PO irrelevant. Oopps better tighten up my denial mode.

"Simple is as simple thinks." --Forest Gump's other forgotten saying. :-)

Nice piece. I advise the young people to keep asking "why." Most adults do a very poor job of substantiating their opinions.

I showed my 13yo daughter this last week...
She downloaded it the next day as an aid to a school assignment.

Though she reads copious amounts, no way she's going to delve into a text on PO, unless Artemis Fowl comes to the rescue; or sit through a bunch of talking heads describing real-world images.

Stick figures, cool sound bytes and a humerous edge may be the way to go.

Regards, Matt B

Well, I could see this coming a long time ago so I got a vasectomy back in 95 to make sure I don't need to see any of my children suffer. It's going to be horrible to say the least. Most people don't have any clue about how to produce food or clothing or any of their essential needs. I don't know if humans will go extinct or not but we are sure going to make a huge mess of this planet pretty soon.

Of course people are going to go extinct. All species do. Whether human extinction occurs in a matter of decades, centuries or millenia is the only question. My opinion is that it will happen sooner rather than later, but what do I know?

The certain prospects of human suffering and impending extinction are no reason not to have kids. When you make the decision not to have kids, you're extinct already, genetically speaking. Look at it this way: not a single one of your ancestors going back 4 bys to the dawn of life on the Ocean Planet, failed to reproduce. Do you want to let them down by declining to have kids? Maximizing Darwinian fitness is what life's all about. Those of us who are members of large extended families are going to have the best chances of survival. Groups of sons, brothers, uncles, cousins, well armed & kin bonded, are going to have the advantage over lone individuals. Kids will work hard on the farm if motivated by hunger. Have as many kids as possible, is my advice. You may lose a few to infection so having lots of babies may ensure that at least a few survive to give you grandchildren. Life is suffering; so what if you live to see your kids suffer? At least they have a chance to perpetuate your genes. It's better than not giving them the chance to exist at all.

The certain prospects of human suffering and impending extinction are no reason not to have kids.

Hard to know where to start with this comment...

Hilarious isn't it. I must pay more attention to darwinsdog in future.

The certain prospects of human suffering and impending extinction are no reason not to have kids. When you make the decision not to have kids, you're extinct already, genetically speaking. Look at it this way: not a single one of your ancestors going back 4 bys to the dawn of life on the Ocean Planet, failed to reproduce. Do you want to let them down by declining to have kids? Maximizing Darwinian fitness is what life's all about. Those of us who are members of large extended families are going to have the best chances of survival.

Dude, this is just flat-out messed-up.

Why the hell should the agenda of a sentient creature be the same as the mindless "agenda" of its genes?

The failure of conscious logic to override our yeastlike overshoot/dieoff proclivities IS the problem, numbnuts.

Don't have kids then. Doom yourself to genetic oblivion if that's your preference. It's not like I care...

Ha. I just went back to edit out the "numbnuts" and now I can't. The nature of path-dependency and foreclosed options will cause that descriptor to persist.

That you've brainwashed yourself into believing that 'not spawning' constitutes some sort of doom is odd, considering the fact that you make a number of seemingly intelligent observations in other contexts.

And as noted, I intentionally didn't have kids. My genes are insane, and my species is in overshoot. I'd say that having kids out of fear of "genetic oblivion" verges on another kind of child abuse. Then again, it's not like you care...

I agree. Once I was born into my body, how my genes interact with THIS environment is what became relevant - my suites of genes that are predisposed towards social advancement, resource acquisition, mating and having offspring are easily hijacked by modern stimuli and knowledge. In fact, the idea of being a 'cultural father' and influencing what the future generation(s) think about and value (environment, living lightly as opposed to largely, etc.) is far more important to me than leaving a genetic legacy, even though I am swashbucklingly handsome and am seriously good at Scrabble.

All genes are doomed in the long run.

Anyway, I don't think that my, nor your genes give a damn, if we deny them their divine right of further existence. The bloodline won't be cut off simply because one person, or even one species fails to spew its DNA all over the place.
The genes will be thriving as long as life is possible on this planet, and I don't think it matters, if they are yours or mine or anyone elses. Our common ancestors have made sure that neither one, nor one billion reproduction failures will make a difference.
For every individual not reproducing, another one will get a chance to do just that.

No offense, but I really think you are taking this "My genes have to survive!"-notion a little bit too serious.
My genes, your genes, blue jeans ... what does it really matter? The genes are everywhere, turning this lifeless rock in an infinity of void into a world teeming with life. At least for me this is enough.

Maximizing Darwinian fitness is what life's all about.

I've seen "Monty Python's The Meaning of Life", but I can't remember that line.

In an ateleological universe nothing matters. This fact is a given. Another given is that we're all going to die and all species go extinct. It doesn't matter whether our genes persist after our deaths or not. It doesn't matter whether we blow our brains out this very minute or live to a ripe old age. But here I am, I don't necessarily want to die today, altho the day may come when I'm more than ready to let go. So the question is: what am I going to do with my life in the meanwhile. I'm going to do what every other organism has been programmed by the past 4 bys of natural selection to do: replicate my genes in offspring. Those of you who are so concerned about "the good of the species" that you willingly forego reproduction have my blessing. The more of you who don't breed the less competition for resources my kids & grandkids will face. Your noble altruistic concern for the well-being of your fellow "man" is touching. Surrender the future to the kids of us breeders, if it somehow makes you feel morally superior. Future conditions are likely to be sufficiently harsh that the phenotypes built around the genes of simpering quitters won't thrive, anyhow.

Now this stuff is why I pay good money to be on The Oil Drum. What is life all about?

Here is a poll I would like to see us take:

What will be the ultimate fate of the universe?

1. Big Rip
2. Big Crunch
3. Big Bounce
4. Big Freeze
5. Universe is static
6. Other than listed above


"nothing matters"

Wellllll, I guess there's not much more to discuss, then?

Excellent letter to Parker.

My wife and I made the choice to not have kids, and I think if not for that it would be a lot more difficult for us to think clearly about what's coming.

But I'd weigh in for educating them as early as possible, to help prevent unnecessary feelings of loss in the future. For instance, I wish I had not been initially brought up to believe that a friendly God was looking down on me, that the universe was entirely fair, and that I would live forever in fields of cotton candy. When I reconciled the contradictions at age 5 and realized everyone around me was crazy, I suffered a feeling of deep loss for that eternal life and promise of justice and guaranteed eternal happiness, not to mention some alienation to the liars. It was a cruel lie, and it made me feel that the gift of life was relatively diminished and unvaluable. Had I been brought up without the lie, I would have been spared years of dejection. Humans experience perceived loss differently than perceived gain, and compare things in a relative way. It's hard for any real life to live up to a boilerplate fantasy.

And that was over something as dumb as mythology. Keeping the truth of the physical world and complex systems from kids today builds psychological time bombs and prevents them from thinking about ways to survive and be happy in changing times.

My past work is such that I get a constant stream of college grads seeking me out and asking to apprentice for me doing anything I want them to do. Several years ago I tried to bring a few of them up to speed on thermodynamic, geological and evolutionary realities to help them prepare for a changing and relatively resource-constrained future.

I stopped doing it. Although I didn't hit them over the head with it, they were coming to me fresh from college after years of being told they could all be astronauts. Clueing them in that no, you CAN'T all be astronauts not only didn't empower them, but it depressed them. The message society gives to its kids is that the days of miracle and wonder will continue, and that magic doors will open for them. So we prepare them for a specialized life with no real-world skills. And by the time they're out of college it's too late for them to have anything but an abrupt and traumatic change of worldview which usually won't take place.

I'd say that if you're gonna reproduce at all, you should bring your kid up without the lies from the getgo. Have them learn to use tools and read books, and have a self-image that's not 100% dependent on their peer groups. They'll thank you for it, will be happier, and may even survive longer.

Good advice. Should I ever be a father, I will encourage him or her to be the opposite of me in many respects.


brought up to believe that a friendly God was looking down on me, ...realized everyone around me was crazy, .... It was a cruel lie, ....Had I been brought up without the lie, I would have been spared years of dejection. ...And that was over something as dumb as mythology. Keeping the truth of the physical world and complex systems from kids today builds psychological time bombs and prevents them from thinking about ways to survive and be happy in changing times.

The god delusion - it should be a serious crime to raise a child into a "faith". This is the ultimate form of child abuse. As Sam Harris has repeatedly pointed out: how can we expect people to understand the concept of "truth" when the majority of humans believe some kind of mythology to be "true". If we have no concept of truth, then how do we make good decisions?

And not to beat up on those with invisible friends, I think it's hardly surprising that peak oil preparedness is a hard sell, in a nation in which something north of 80% of the populace don't think their physical death will necessarily impact their social lives.

The teaching of delusion to kids is child abuse, and of the most insidious kind. For how hard is it to believe in limitless oil and permanent "growth" if one already deeply believes in much-weirder stuff?

If I'd had a pretty young female teacher take me to her bed when I was 14, I'd probably still smile about it today, but THAT's a felony while brainwashing the little tykes is durn near the law of the land.

I was formerly a science teacher in a Catholic school. Didn't work out but I entertained the kids.

But then what percentage of the universse has to be 'dark' matter and 'dark' energy just for the math we count on to work? Any reason that couldn't have been called 'clear' or 'wholey transparent' instead of 'dark'. Some sort of nomenclature bias in the scientific mind that I have never seen addressed. Call the 'wholey transparent' matter and energy the 'true light' and look where you are. The interconnection of all that is is certainly no more disprovable than provable. Belief in oneness of all is the deepest mystical element of many faiths. That belief is not at odds with science or survival. The problem is naming 'God' and thus making 'God' small enough to wrap our little minds around. Lots of damage comes from that once you grow out of childhood, oh that's right we are all supposed to be 'children of God' Problems, problems, problems.


I was going to add, but you beat me to the thread, that I passed on being a Cub fan (though I had fallen away) to my son, that was probably more abusive than immersion into any faith could have been ;-)

Magic thinking is something all kids do to varying degrees. We are evolved to believe as that we are capable of doing astounding things. For instance a 5 year old survivor of the Hiroshima bomb first thought all the destruction was caused by something he did. It was inconceivable that the decisions by politicians far away that were not wisely made caused what he witnessed. For a child the delusion that far away politicians have power over his life is not that far from believing a god also has that power. I recall as a small child hearing that my father lost his job because a national strike by steel workers meant the Kelvinator factory had to shut down. I wondered if the President is so powerful why didn't he end the strike? Everybody told me he was the world's most powerful person. The complexity of the universe is beyond the ability of most minds of adults let alone those of children. The lack of an obvious connection between our actions and the results we experience leaves us grasping for any explanation and finding that in the supernatural brings comfort to so many minds. "Faith" makes their struggles meaningful and is a better reason for carrying on than just trying to be the one who dies with the most toys. Seeking a reward in heaven by being good to others is what Jesus taught and that too many preachers have taught otherwise is where the child abuse lies. "Faith" can provide a structure for living lives where we accept responsibility for our actions while leaving the results to a higher power.

"To enter the kingdom of heaven one must become as a child", I think that was Jesus, anyway this baby boomer specialises in magical thinking and that little 5 year old kid may have caused all the destruction in Hiroshima for all we know. The Butterfly Effect, very usefull when you know how.


Most of the readers of TOD take on faith that the data and conclusions presented here are the truth without having the means to test or verify any of it. Same for AGW. But a higher faith, that the Earth is worth looking after, is the reason we gather here in the first place.

I am teaching my children to always search for the truth, but be wary of those who claim to have found it.


But a higher faith, that the Earth is worth looking after

That is an interesting POV and one that I can relate to. However, I automatically have a negative reaction to the phrase "higher faith" because it almost always seems to imply the kind of irrational belief systems found in world religions.

But, the idea that "the Earth is worth looking after" is my personal motivation for seeing if I can make even a tiny difference for my (and others) future generations. TOD is one of those places that tries to tease out the truth in it's chosen area - future oil (fossil fuels) supply. I certainly don't take everything I read here on "faith" - which would really be contrary to the purpose of TOD.

However, back to "Earth" and why worry about it? Is this an article of "Faith" to do so? Interesting thought. From my POV, the quest for the answers to the "purpose of life" and "reason for the known universe" are mostly questions that just motivate our curosity - and the search for answers is a joy in itself. We don't need answers until we have more information - and we don't need to substitute some notion of strange supernatual stuff just so we can feel more comfortable about unanswered questions. I wish parents and educators would teach kids that searching for answers is great fun - and we don't need holy spirits as place markers.

For now, it seems to me that we should care about the condition of Earth's biosphere because the quality of that biosphere is what will allow (or deny) our species to survive. It is simply the case that all species try to survive (Mr Darwin had some thoughts about this) and promote their own species for future generations. I'm happy with the idea that providing for the health and happiness of future generations of humans is a "good thing" - it is what we are - it is in our DNA. The only problem is that most humans do not understand that we need to be properly integrated into the Earth's biosphere to insure health and happiness for future generations.


Children can be intellectually exposed to almost anything as long as it is presented in a way that is suitable to their language and comprehension skills and their individual sensitivities and predilections. Nate's letter to Parker is a good example. (And brought a tear to my eyes)

With shrinkage will come devolution of specialization and therefore reduced need of specialized education - smaller and less specialised universities - broader but shallower curricula.

What should we be telling our children about resource depletion, overpopulation, limits to growth, and our energy future? At what age do we start having these conversations?

Why not tell them everything, packaged according to their individual development of language and comprehension. An age criteria cannot be fixed because every individual develops at a different rate, and would possibly develop more evenly if not forced into a system that demands a specific degree of development for a specific age group.

Is this example just like everything else, that we have to wait for a crisis before changing our current path?

It's sorta mechanics, inertia, momentum, F-m*a, I=m*v stuff. We are intrinsically incapable of applying the brakes in due time, hence the number of road accidents; hence the current "all wheels locked, smoking rubber, not effective braking situation".

Do we need to dramatically change how we view education?

YES. Stop teaching survive within the system skills and start teaching survive within Life & Eternity.

( Root out dead religions and teach Applied Metaphysics would be one important area EDIT: See Greenish's "God as a Lie" comment above )


Kids will often let you know when they are ready to learn about something. Like Parker, they will ask you a question. It can catch you off guard, but even at a young age they may be struggling with big ideas. Usually we think of questions like "Where do babies come from?" but obviously that's a breeze compared to what Parker asked.

Kids often pick up adult conversation and process it for a few days before asking a question. You have to be consistent when answering but you do need to keep it simple. Sometimes the kids just want some reassurance that the world (or at least their part of it) is not going to change dramatically. I tell my kids that the world is always changing but it happens so slowly that we don't notice it and that they will have time to change with it.

Prepubescant kids don't think in time frames much longer than a few days so you have to use examples that are in that context i.e peak milk occurring at breakfast time.

Prepubescant kids don't think in time frames much longer than a few days

Sometimes I think our society is being run by prepubescent kids...
Let's hope it's the ones who can wait for two marshmallows


Of course the law of uninended consequences could mess up the whole thing since it is unhealthy to eat one marshmellow and twice as unhealthy to eat two. The impulse driven marshmellow eater that couldn't wait ends up ingesting less bad stuff ;-)

Marketing 101: Pitch to eighth grader. Thast the intellectual level at which most adults operate at.

There will be a need for highly trained engineers and scientists in our future, unless you wish to invoke a rapid collapse back to much simpler times and way fewer people. A lot of infrastructure will remain and will have to serviced, at a minimum. It cannot be done by aging boomers, at least not for many more decades. There's a fair chance that nuclear power will make a comeback and even proceed forward. Any society maintaining or perhaps expanding nuclear technology better had taught and trained their children well. So, while advanced degrees in marketing or business administration or banking, tourism industry might become passe, those in the hard sciences, in agriculture and animal husbandry and in the basics of other disciplines like English had better be supported with whatever our society can muster.

Have you seen the "Crash Course"? It is one thing to think wishfully - yeah, nuclear might come to our rescue. But how are you going to tackle the growing population? Think exponential... (hence the reference to the Crash Course here).

If the limits of this planet is to carry, optimistically, 12 billion people - do we have any plans of how to 'slow down' and bring the population to that limit - by what year? How are we going to do it? Do we have sustenance plan beyond that point? Do we even have a plan forward or is it just to keep multiplying? Remember, with exponential growth - growth happens super fast as time progresses (ie., Each generation is always bigger than the next). You will essentially have too little time to react because population is growing rapidly.

Also recommended is this nice documentary - "What a way to go: Life at the end of the empire". Its actually a poetry :) Someone interviewed in that documentary says something to the effect of this: Homo sapiens are designed for the immediate. The sight / sound of a lion near the bush puts adrenaline into our bloods. If someone tells you there is a lion coming far away, nothing happens to you until _you see it_ to confirm and start believing. Someone tells you "we're peaking oil production" - fine, so what? I don't see it coming, I won't change my state.

Ability to maintain "Status quo" is humanity's biggest drawback.

So get real. The stories you've been told of a glorious future were stories to keep the civilisation going. Jared Diamond's great books are a must read for everyone living in a world made of cotton-candy - I used to live in that world a while ago, but I no longer do.

Science and Technology - sorry, there is something fundamentally wrong that needs to be fixed. I think its called the Amygdala - its too primitive, it kept remaining the 'master' of humanity. We need to fix _that_.


But how are you going to tackle the growing population?

There is a saying (I think from some UN agency): "Whatever your cause, it is a lost cause, unless you can control human population growth"

Humans have become the “Dominate Animal” on the planet and are behaving with total disregard for the rest of the biosphere. We are “spoiling our nest”. There are many current books (including the “Dominate Animal”) that clearly document our destruction of the global environment. There is little doubt that issues like PO, GW, species extinction, deforestation, biodiversity loss, etc. are occurring at an unprecedented rate of acceleration because of human activity. We have become the ultimate “invasive species”.

I think most world religions are the primary cause of human overpopulation because they tend to view humans as a special specie with some kind of divine connections to a supernatural world that is denied access by other species. Hence, we need not take too seriously our role in an integrated world with the rest of the biosphere. People are led into these mythological delusions at an age when their brains are incapably of critical thinking – the imprint of this brainwashing is extremely difficult to dislodge.

Next are political entities – nations, states, political parties. They all have a vested interest in growing membership – regardless of environmental impact.

The same goes for corporations.

What do we tell our children? Tell them that the world human population is currently around 6.8 billion and on a trajectory for 9 or 10 billion. Tell them this is insane and will lead to all kinds of suffering – human and otherwise. Tell them that the planet can probably sustain around 2 billion people if they use resources wisely. Tell them to study the natural sciences and categorically reject the idea of “faith” in a supernatural world.

I think most world religions are the primary cause of human overpopulation (...)

Well, I humbly disagree here. Though every religion I've come across so far is a more or less big pile of garbage, whose only points of existence seem to be to give people a reason to argue and fight over utterly unimportant inanities, scotch any form of critical thinking, and foster the bonds within groups of likeminded people, I wouldn't go so far to blame them for our inability to stop breeding before we choke this planet and all other beings to death with our sheer masses.
No, I strongly assume that any other life-form, given the opportunity, would behave no differently and try to multiply as much as possible, no matter what. Yeast in a petri-dish seems to prove my point.
And from an evolutionary point of view this makes a lot of sense, as it is rarely the case that a creature emerges with no counterpart that would, every now and then, create a severe dent in population numbers. So, overshoot is an absolute necessity to compensate for the losses inflicted by predators, diseases, natural disasters and whatever else. Reproducing at replacement levels would soon end in extinction.
Now, homo sapiens, for a short period, was able to overcome the last "predators" that were able to do some serious culling of human population, meaning famine and diseases, thus escaping briefly the ultimately unavoidable catastrophe, and enabling an unprecedented accumulation of human flesh.
So, I'd say the reason for our population problem is not religion, but our genes and to think that mankind can overcome billions of years of evolution deems me ridiculous. Not even the myth of human intelligence will be able to rescue us from ourselves, which leaves me with the conclusion that the only conceivable solution to our predicament is, well, you know it. Death never fails you, and nature knows a lot of ways to lead the reaper to your doorstep.

because they tend to view humans as a special species with some kind of divine connections to a supernatural world that is denied access by other species.

Ever tried to explain to others that every life has the same value, no matter if it's yours, your neighbour's, his dog's or that of the fly you've just swatted without thinking twice? Guess what, you'll earn blank stares and will be called crazy, simply for questioning the unquestionable, the value of a human life, which is of course worth more than that of any other being. Why? Because it is so, no doubt about it. Humans are special, special in their arrogance and their firm believe to be something special.
Staying objective, every life is a life and thus is worth the same, everything or nothing. If you start to say the one is worth more than the other there's no stopping. Human is worth more than animal. White is worth more than black. Smart is worth more than stupid. Tall is worth more than small. The longer your dick, the higher your value; No dick, too bad for you. Each of them is equally arbitrary.
But then, declaring yourself the image of god must make you a lot more valuable than those who did not do so.
If my nose looks exactly like that of god, does that make me more valuable, too?

What do we tell our children?

The truth. Teach them that all life is equal and that a blade of grass is more cherishable than Barbie, G.I. Joe and Pokemon.

Nothing beats nature. Never.

Hi FalloutMonkey,

You make a good argument and it is very hard to deny that "nothing beats nature". Ultimately, we will enter another ice age and then later on there is a pretty good chance that Earth will burn to a crisp. Actually, I enjoyed the wit and perspective of your post so I won't try to rebutt much.

However, (there is always a "however" :-) I stick to my guys about religion being a problem - and I gather that you don't spend much time humbled in prayer.

reason for our population problem is not religion, but our genes and to think that mankind can overcome billions of years of evolution deems me ridiculous. Not even the myth of human intelligence will be able to rescue us from ourselves, which leaves me with the conclusion that the only conceivable solution to our predicament is, well, you know it. Death

You may be right that "human intelligence" cannot "rescue" us from, lets say, extinction (as death will visit us all individually) and maybe further, what we might call premature extinction. It seems to me that some of us would like to imagine that we will be more clever than lemmings in charting our survival. I would assume that many of us are spending time on a website like this to help understand the threats to the survival of our species and to see if we can use our intelligence to improve our odds.

Your conclusions are not very inspirational - you may be right, but pretty pessimistic. I hope that by identifying obstacles to clear thinking - like religion - we can use our intelligence get beyond the most typical species extinction patterns. But, maybe not :-(

It seems to me that some of us would like to imagine that we will be more clever than lemmings in charting our survival.

Maybe we can learn from our fellow beings, the lemmings, how to survive. If we'd sent masses of homo sapiens over a cliff to drown in the sea, there might be a chance to get our overpopulation problem under control. That way we could also pay some reparations to the great and majestic hunters of the sea, the sharks, which we have done so much unjustice, by vilifying them beyond any means and by killing them in numbers that should leave anyone aghast.
Yes, I propose to introduce our very own "Hurling Day".

Anyway, I, too, would like to imagine a way out, to believe that it is not that hopeless for us after all, that we could sustain our way of life sustainably, but then I am too much rooted in reality, so my imagination fails me regularily when I look out of the window and see not a single acre of untouched wilderness.

I would assume that many of us are spending time on a website like this to help understand the threats to the survival of our species and to see if we can use our intelligence to improve our odds.

I don't believe in human intelligence, nor do I think that it would improve our odds to survive. Look where all our gimmickry has brought us. Do you think that more of the same will eventually save us?
Well, I do not. Not, as long as we are what we are; greedy, power hungry hedonists, always looking for more of everything. And I don't see that changing, at least not permanently.

Your conclusions are not very inspirational - you may be right, but pretty pessimistic.

You might call it pessimistic, though I'd say it depends on your point of view. For any animal anywhere, I assume, there could be no more pessimistic prospect than mankind going this path for another one hundred years, because it has to expect that even the most isolated part of this world will be swamped by hordes of ever hungry humans, that it will be displaced or killed in man's strife to keep the hostile Zombie alive, that gives pleasure to a few, while consuming the future and wreaking death and destruction on everything else.
I think, the sooner this whole charade will fall apart the better. Maybe not for us, but then we are only a very small part of this world, and most of the rest will likely profit from our disappearence.

Maybe we can learn from our fellow beings, the lemmings, how to survive

I realized the second after I posted that the lemming thing would come back to bite me - yes, they have a better survival strategy than we do.

the sooner this whole charade will fall apart the better. Maybe not for us, but then we are only a very small part of this world, and most of the rest will likely profit from our disappearence.

When I get to be god and Surpreme Commander, I will order 3/4s of the human population to follow the next lemming migration. The remaining 1/4 will have just one rule: "do no harm".

Fallout Monkey:
"Nothing beats nature. Never". Amen.

Everybody always says 'talk to your kids', but it doesn't mean they will listen or process it according to the way you want. My 10 year old daughter has heard from me about declining oil, fewer 'things', a simpler life. Then she gets on the bus and is in her peer element. It's like I didn't exist and the message goes out the window. I HOPE she's listening when I talk to her about sex....

Have you seen the "Crash Course"?

Thanks for this reference - I just watched the whole thing (takes some time). It was impressive - is there any valid criticism of this presentation? Is he pushing physical gold or such? Are all his facts pretty valid?


The operative word in your comment is "trained". I believe this is the result of both academic credentials and experience. The experience will have to come from the hard lessons of failure when applying old techniques.

New means and ways will have to merge out of old science and then change into a new science. Structural Engineers will need to look into a specific structure, design, constructed method and materials and bring all of that back to a useful state and condition with longevity in mind. This is only one example of engineering disiplines needing to split into a knowledge of the past and a practical means to fulfilling a need, which is just around the courner.

Randy and others commenting above, I have indeed viewed Chris Martenson's Crash Course. In fact, I made it an assignment to both my undergraduate and graduate courses last semester. I suspect global population growth will begin to slow soon, and we should also understand where the population is projected to grow, and not overly focus upon the global numbers. I believe the US population has mainly grown in recent years by immigration, as it has in some European countries. That can be quickly stopped.

Yes, I placed the word "trained" in there for a reason. One can educate a lot of folks in a classroom, but usually training occurs as a one-on-one mentoring exercise, as with graduate students, post-docs or gifted undergraduates one takes under their wing. I've done all three.

Nuclear technology is a good icon for the type of training and professionalism that we dare not lose. It by no means is limited to that field. That is why, as budgets shrink in future, we had better prioritize our resources and not kill too many golden-egg laying geese.

Great post Nate.

We too could see this coming. I am a 35 year-old Australian, married, Generation X Medical Professional male and my wife & I have been changing our way of living for some time already.

  • we run our two small diesels hatchbacks on biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil (and we walk, ride & catch public transport regularly)
  • we are not having children but try to be involved in friends' children's lives
  • we live in a small townhouse which, while expensive, is well designed so we don't need air-conditioning at all
  • we have rainwater tanks, a worm farm & native plants in the garden
  • we don't have much 'stuff' and we think very carefully before we buy anything
  • we are preparing to look after our parents as they age and run out of money
  • we could do a lot more...

    I too am disappointed with our (and others') governments window dressing on climate change, peak oil, et al. I *really* wish that someone would raise the issue of overpopulation but sadly our society relies on the fact that it is a giant pyramid-selling-scheme and no-one dare mention the 'p' word. My plan is to allow everyone to have one child and then subsequent children require a tax (means-tested) to be paid (increasing for subsequent children) - maybe 10% of annual income for the first child. Our short-sighted 'baby-bonus' is going to cost us more in the future.

    Sustainable Growth is an oxymoron in a closed system!

    I have been talking to my friends about this for some time (prior to them popping out three children each...) and they used to laugh at me. I'm sorry that I'll be the one laughing at them in the future...

    We need future generations but I think it is time we start a gradual shrinking of the population... and we all know that that is not going to happen by legislation.


  • nitramluap:

    My wife and I are in a parallel Life, except we are baby boomers. I am watching my freinds with 4 and 5 kids hit a brickwall at lightspeed right now. Not nice.

    43yo male Aussie, married.
    Except I "stumbled" across exponential growth/resource-depletion/etc *after* the three kids were born.
    Oh, well. Such is life!

    Regards, Matt B

    I suspect that antibiotic-resistent bacteria, mutant viruses, and an assortment of famines, natural disasters, wars, etc., will be the "solution" to humankind's population problem. Quite a shame, but I doubt that it is realistic to think that it will end up being any other way.

    Excellent advice Nate, This young man is fortunate to have you as a friend.

    Joseph Campbell has some interesting advice to the young ones. It is captured in this quote.

    "A bit of advice given to a young Native American at the time of his initiation. "As you go the way of life, you will see a great chasm. Jump. It is not as wide as you think."

    Jump. Yes. Thank you for phrasing it that way in the context of advice to children. It's good advice. It's my own advice to myself that I've only has modest sometime-success at. One will go down with the ship if one does not find a lifeboat and launch or jump early enough - that I know. Judging when to jump is impossible. One has to know.

    My 17 year old says there is nothing to do but party on. My 15 year old is reading Homer-Dixon, studying the Zionist takeover of resources - he puts it that way - in the Middle east. My 17 year old is a straight A student , my 15 is a C student - except for music. Peak Oil, resources and dark future is something my ex has specifically asked I *not* bring up. But my boys are bringing it up, so hey.

    Judging when to jump is impossible. The difficulty lies in this paradigm, which cannot admit its own demise. There will never be a "market signal" indicating time to jump. My ex is worried about our boys and their SAT scores. I'm concerned about their integrity. Just as there will never be a "market signal" indicating time to jump, there is no SAT score that says when to jump. That is a a matter of their own integrity and congruence - their own wholeness.

    Jump my boys. And the best I can do for them as a father is to jump first.

    The generational impact of our non-negotiable lifestyle is way past criminal. We have to move from a borrow-from-the-future growth mode to a pay-it-forward decline mode. We will never have more than we have now - therefore NOW is the best time to make changes and rebuild environment. That attitude of mine is shared by what, 1 in 200 others? And they have to be at work to pay the mortgage.

    The turbulent death throes of the current paradigm imploding are unavoidable. How does one isolate one's lifeboat from the vortex? That's what coin of the realm is all about - sucking everyone in.

    This is a big topic and one few adults are equipped to discuss. One that most adults will act to prevent. After all, it's their entitlements that are at risk.

    cfm in Gray, ME

    PS FWIW, all of the big mistakes I've made have been "failure to jump". So this is a lesson dear to my heart.

    My boys are 10 (twins) and they live in two worlds. One is the world my wife and I try to create around them, the one that deals with priorities such as food, water, heat, shelter, and strong social bonds. This contrasts with the messages of society and can be confusing for them. They are at once proud competent beyond their peers and different from their peers which can be difficult at their age (or any).

    Finding the balance can be tough. How much time with videos and computers should we allow? Is the public school system the best place for them? What do we do with all the material crap family and friends send their way, nearly monthly, as a special occasion can always be found?

    I strongly believe that if parents are going to acknowledge these topics they must also do something materially about them. Don't be a hypocrite. Don't say huge changes are coming then ask a child to figure out what to do about them by themselves. Be with them while being different and they will be able to handle it emotionally.

    I met an amazing family recently (both husband and wife have doctorates) who have young kids. One manages the family food garden, the other the pantry. The dialogue about the potential future we had in front of these kids was absolutely honest. We were obviously concerned, but not histrionic. The kids would often chime in with comments that had clarity and edge that the adults avoided. It was almost as if they were telling us "It is okay, we have already gone their in our minds, you can talk about it."

    The family does this all together and the kids think it is a great adventure. Astounding.

    I was with Jason meeting that family and I'll echo what Jason said. The kids were definitely in action, too, and were among the best-adjusted I have met.

    My assumption, too, is that it made a big difference that the parents were steady and calm.

    yup, steady and calm means you only give them the facts. Children seem to learn early the difference between opinion, beliefs, and fact unless you are feeding them the religious stuff. Just give them the facts and encourage them to check them out and apply those facts to life. I've often told my grandchildren of my life growing up in the great depression years and they don't seem to express despair because they see me living a similar life style today. Model the Way! Hopefully they won't forget it.

    Children are the best people to talk to about Peak Oil. At schoolgoing age, grasping that the amount of oil is finite is not hard. Try talking to an economist about that for comparison! Borrowing words from the gameshow, "Are you smarter than a seven year old", try talking to ordinary people about Peak Oil. The best and most receptive response you will get is the throwing of hands in the air, saying "doom is coming".

    Which is why, as an educator, I have stopped trying to talk to adults and focus on the children.

    Rear Admiral Hyman Rickover gave a speech in 1957 talking about the fact that oil production, and in fact all fossil fuel production, is expected to peak and decline, starting in in the early 21st century (coal more toward the middle of the century). In that speech, he talks about our responsibility to our descendants.

    I suggest that this is a good time to think soberly about our responsibilities to our descendants - those who will ring out the Fossil Fuel Age. Our greatest responsibility, as parents and as citizens, is to give America's youngsters the best possible education. We need the best teachers and enough of them to prepare our young people for a future immeasurably more complex than the present, and calling for ever larger numbers of competent and highly trained men and women. This means that we must not delay building more schools, colleges, and playgrounds. It means that we must reconcile ourselves to continuing higher taxes to build up and maintain at decent salaries a greatly enlarged corps of much better trained teachers, even at the cost of denying ourselves such momentary pleasures as buying a bigger new car, or a TV set, or household gadget. We should find - I believe - that these small self-denials would be far more than offset by the benefits they would buy for tomorrow's America. We might even - if we wanted - give a break to these youngsters by cutting fuel and metal consumption a little here and there so as to provide a safer margin for the necessary adjustments which eventually must be made in a world without fossil fuels.

    I have often thought that if his advice had been heeded, children would have learned about the expected peak and decline in school, at an early age. That way, work could have been started early on regarding how to deal with the expected problem.

    We now need children's books that talk about peak oil, and some thoughts about the world ahead, so that parents who choose to teach their children about the problem have appropriate teaching materials.

    Brilliant Gail. Kids cartoons and animations also. Wht are many childrens animated features so terribly violent and destructive. Come to think of it much of mainstream media entertainment is riddled with the theme "violent destruction will save the day", oh dear, another can of worms.

    We now need children's books that talk about peak oil, and some thoughts about the world ahead, so that parents who choose to teach their children about the problem have appropriate teaching materials.

    And y'know, I can't help thinking that childrens' books are what we need to give to our current adult "experts" in about everything. When reading the letter to Parker, the thought passed through my mind "hey, even an economist might understand that!"

    (EDIT: and in full honesty I've gotta say that when reading the letter back from Parker, I was visualizing a certain ex-president.)

    TOD archives to the rescue:
    DrumBeat: April 8, 2007 top post:
    Life after oil — A children's book review - Graham Oakley’s Henry’s Quest

    Occasionally when I visit my public library, I discover the most unexpected books sitting on the shelves. A few weeks ago, while helping to choose out some picture books, I chanced upon Henry's Quest, a children's book that imagines what life would be like in our world after peak oil.

    My library system does not have that book, but there are 38 copies in California, 307 visible to me worldwide.
    Powell's does not have a copy.
    It's an out of print book so Amazon does not have new copies, there are a few used ranging in price from $4 to $14 (just ordered a used copy).

    It's a lot of fun. But be warned, it portrays a middle-ages like era after a very dark time. It's like Kunstler's "World Made By Hand", but for kids, and the violence is made to look mostly funny and doesn't directly happen to Henry.

    A popular series for older kids, the Lion Boy series, is set in a post-peak oil, global-warming affected future.

    I agree that younger kids see all of this as something of an adventure. We have always done lots of camping, and take an annual vacation to a cabin without electricity or running water (we do drive there, however!), and the kids love it all. We used to have "power outage" nights at home where we would build a fire and read and play cards and have toasted sandwiches by the fire. The kids thought it was a great adventure, and used to beg for the next one.

    As my kids have hit adolescence, however, they are finding it tough being so different from their peers. Why do we have to ride our bikes everywhere? Why can't I have my own computer? Everyone else goes to the mall for recreational shopping. It's very though for us to figure out where to draw lines. One rule of thumb we use is that if doing with less also improves our health and happiness, that's a no-brainer, so we eat fresh local vegetables, growing what we can, and we are preparing the kids that they aren't going to get driver's licenses as early as their friends, because there won't be a car for them to drive, and besides, the statistics are clear that waiting just a couple of years makes a huge difference in their risk of being in a collision.

    i recall reading his biography and this quote as well. I'd recommend it to anyone.

    Appropriate reading materials though would have to be vetted and would never survive committee. You're best bet today is a variation on a Jack and Jill rhyme on Youtube

    This is another great campfire topic.

    This is a very touchy issue. What you say - and how you raise children:

    ...Their parents both see and understand the clouds forming on the horizon, yet have chosen to let their kids live normal lives (normal being typical American children in 2009,...

    What if the parents disagree about what to tell the children? And disagree on how to raise them in this culture?

    Is "let them live 'normal' lives" the same as "raising" children?

    And the parents/ adults control the schools .... school board.

    I suggest you go to a local board meeting and see how it all works.

    A very good letter, Nate.

    The only things I might have added are: 1) Doubt everything, question everything, me included.* 2) In the end, there are two fundamental resources: dirt and brains.

    It's a very real problem. My kids are in their 30s, and already know a lot of the story. But my grandchildren are in their 1s and 2s, and it won't be my job to tell them. What was best about your letter was that it told a lot of the truth without being depressing as hell. But the truth is, it's going to take a mindset that is completely different from what prevails now. It's going to be very difficult even for those that get the benefit of something like your letter.

    * This was in effect what Marx told one of his daughters.

    funny you should say that Dave - people often ask me for financial advice, and I give them the rundown of my view of the world and that 10% per annum annualized equals some natural law is a bill of goods we've been sold, etc. I ALWAYS end with - Don't believe your broker or your banker and not even ME. Do your own digging and research.

    I thought in a letter to a 7 yr old I had only met once he would have been too confused. To a 17 year old I would have ended with a quote exactly like that - "doubt everything, question everything, me included"

    I've said many times here that I view the future as a histogram of possibilities, and I change the weights over time. I happen to have been reasonably correct over the past decade but that doesnt mean my view of the future is the best, and although I am pretty confident about the net energy cliff/ societies inability to pay for long duration renewables en masse. But I have studied political theory and self-deception enough to realize, despite my 'internal' confidence, I might be very wrong, which is a major reason that I want to foster discussions like this on this site, while the signal to noise ratio is still high. Peak oil and resource depletion in general will NOT be a democratic problem (e.g. everyones vote on what is happening and what we should do cannot be weighted equally because the majority of people are knuckleheads), but I hope that scientists, philosophers, lateral thinkers, etc. will collectively paint our choices into their logical corners, and then engage.

    I think you can be pretty upfront with kids about stuff like this. Make it sound like an adventure.

    I think kids are drawn to stories of overcoming adversity, and will be attracted to the idea that they will have challenges to face and they can be heroes getting themselves and their friends through them.

    Two of my favorite books when I was a kid were "Escape from Warsaw" and "The Long Winter". Both are about kids coping with hardship and being brave. The idea of having to do without comforts and needing to learn how to survive is not that scary to kids, IMO (look at all of the "stranded on an island" stories).

    I think kids also understand environmental issues pretty instinctively, and so it might actually be easier to convince them of the finiteness of things. I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to make gardening and especially animal husbandry fun for them (although explaining the animal/meat connection could be difficult).

    One ofmy favourite books to read the kids is the Lorax by Dr Seuss. While not a great example of peak resources, it is a great way to learn the externalities assigned to the environment in the pursuit of industrial production. My wife read this to our six year old last night and he questions everything. The only thing he wanted to know was "What's a Lorax?". Still haven't got an adequate answer for him?

    I was thinking about Shel Silverstein's 'The Giving Tree' with the suspicion that it was designed to be a roundabout way of getting the reader to think about environmental degradation and the impact of how we lean on the world, even if at face value, it seems to be almost sanguine or agnostic on the way the boy 'used' this tree.

    An extremely bittersweet tale.

    Teens might get the hint from Heinlein's 'The Moon is a Harsh Mistress', which has the Lunar Penal colony's revolution for their sovereignty when they accept that their resource base is all being shipped downhill to a hungry Earth. Shows two aspects of the problem, unsustainable use, and over population.

    I tell my kids (told them, as they are now adults in their 20's) that now is a very exciting time to be alive. Mankind is facing his destiny and each of us will show what we are made of.

    Kids need to see the excitement of their parents - excitement with life and learning and the ability of their parents to meet any situation that arises. Anxiety seems to be a part of us. We have to learn to deal with it.

    I used to start vacation trips by telling the kids I hoped something unexpected would happen so we would have a real adventure. We never made motel reservations or knew in the morning where we would be that night. It never presented a problem, in fact we looked for novelty and set up tents in the dark or in the rain or raided canned food for dinner. Life is an adventure until time's up. Engage!

    Recommendations from a TOD'er who actually IS a parent right now:

    1. Camping is fun.
    2. Read all the Little House series/ Laura Ingall Wilder books
    3. Music lessons on a real, not virtual, instrument
    4. Raising a small livestock pet is fun and can become a small business.
    5. American Girl doll books [and movie] circa 1934 [KIT series]
    6. Knitting an ipod holder/purse/hat is fun and can become a small business.
    7. Walking to school with friends is fun.
    8. Growing and preparing potato/tomato/pumpkin etc from seed is fun and can become a small business.
    9. Purchasing 5 fashion items or books at the kids consignment shop is cheaper and more rewarding than purchasing just one at a mall store.
    10. Smoking stinks and alcohol is a drug; but Dancing and Singing feel great and don't cost anything.
    11. Manners matter. And do not speak to strangers. [not a contradiction]
    12. Silver coin collecting is fun.

    I also told my kid someday things will be different. Habits will have to change because there will be less energy to waste. So let's learn not to waste it now so it won't seem as hard to do later.

    I left out two other good ones:

    martial arts

    I like this post, and the discussion. A few thoughts, as a parent, children's educator, and martial artist:

    I have a new 5-month old daughter, so I have been thinking a lot about this question. I like Urbangardener's list--I'd edit/change a couple of points (but I respect other's right to disagree):

    1-9: yes, yes, yes.
    10: Homebrewing/canning/cheese-making is fun. Homebrew is tasty and can become a small business (though not under current laws).
    11: People around the world are basically trustworthy. Talk to strangers--especially if you are lost. If 1 of every 10000 adults is a person who would mistreat children, a child speaking to a stranger has a 9999/10000 chance of picking a good-hearted person. Better if the stranger is a female. If a lost child sits and waits for an adult to approach him/her, the odds shift dramatically.

    addition: Make and keep as many true friends as you can.
    addition: Don't worry too much about figuring out who to blame for whatever problems we are facing. Worry more about how you will deal with them, and try not to make the same mistakes.
    another addition: live simply. Complicated things break easily, and are harder to fix.

    In my case it doesn't matter one whit what I tell my children. They don't believe a damn thing I tell them about the coming energy and environmental crisis.


    Same here,Darwinian.My daughter(nearly 30)gets uppity when I point out a few basic facts about the global outlook.She's got the double degree from UQ but I've got multiple PhDs from the University of Hard Knocks.Doesn't count,mate.

    And my father doesn't believe me.

    This could be another line of discussion. What to do about those close to you who won't pay any attention to this stuff?

    Same here. I'm not always successful doing this, but I've concluded that the only thing to do is love them no matter where they are at.

    Ultimately, they are fully gown adults. They have to make choices and live with the consequences, just like the rest of us. They've dealt with much in their lives already. My father lived through World War II -- he still takes raw eggs, punches a small hole in them and sucks them out raw, this was learned when eggs were precious protein, risking them breaking on the way home to cook them was madness.

    I'm also putting together a small kit that I will ship to them at the appropriate time. Sending it now would likely make no difference and they are liable to give it away, but in 12 months or at most 36 months from now, the kit might be welcomed.

    "The Contents of AAngels Kit" might make for a good Campfire post....;-)

    Perhaps I'll put that on the list...I still have the on-bill-financing post to finish up...actually, I'm going to rev that up again now that a crunch time has passed for me.

    You might like to add this to the kit:



    Yeah what do you do?? I've been having similar problems recently. Infact I'm having trouble getting off the net and actually do something about the whole thing. It's like TOD is doomer food and I'm pretty stuck while watching the world around me fall apart.

    Luckily I don't have any children to brainwash with my pessimism! And I have a "NewAge-believe everything you want" dad who thinks reality is our own creation, limits are imaginary and abundance is a matter of choice. I'm reading Greer's "The Long Descent" now, chapter on "The stories we tell ourselves", a very wide and useful perspective, I'm appreciating now.

    I see in communication I've basically developed a persona of the unbendable pessimist, using every little wedge of difficulty as a reminder things can get harder. I don't often get a chance to fully express my projections on the future, but the story is very simple "Modern life was carried in by vast surpluses of energy released by fossil fuels, and this unsustainable source of energy must end sooner or later, and our expectations must change sooner or later, to create a viable economy within whatever will come next."

    When it comes to advice, I can't predict the future, but the economic turn down to me is one key to a new future. I'd say in the past that debt just makes you fall behind, but it wasn't necessarily true in times of economic expansion. But in contraction, debt is true slavery, limiting your choices by whatever gets you the income to cover your debt. The more people who are in this bind, the more destructive our economy will become as it contracts. We'll reverse every environmental law that binds us. We'll try to keep our government running through vices of gambling and addiction.

    So my vision is freedom from debt as the first step. It's easy for me to say, childless, and debtless, and maybe someday soon, with luck, mortgageless. If my job holds out, I might just have some money to invest someday, and I'd probably as much prefer to give it away, but I'll try to be brave and take some responsibility for this gift, that I can live on a fraction of my earnings.

    I think alot about investment. We're all pretty small, but somehow we have to be smarter about our wealth while it lasts, invest in ways that reduce the burdens of the future whatever that future becomes. I don't think we have the resources to have 100 million little wind turbines or solar panels on every house, even if we make that a priority, it would probably be inefficient compared to larger scaled more cooperative efforts.

    I do believe in stories power to change consciousness, and I hade one vision a few years ago, developed a story around it, used it in a speech contest. I can't tell how useful it is, but it has a cold comfort of responsibility in the end. The world around us is as wonderful as it is because we all as individuals play small parts. I'm lifted by the vision of the gardener most of all, seeing it as an occupation that demands artful attention as well as knowledge. It's ideally working within a natural system and at a level that mistakes can be made and corrected over a lifetime, and taught to the next generation. So it does give me hope!

    Great post Nate,
    I have two kids, a seven yo boy and an almost two yo girl. We have bought a 2 acre block and have chooks, a couple of sheep, some fruit trees and a vegie patch. The kids love the animals and bit by bit, hopefully I am educating my seven year old where our food comes from and how we can grow our own. I live in a reasonably hilly area, but still ride with my son and my daughter in the baby seat most days. It is strange the looks people give you and the excuses that they give as to why they can't ride a bike. Not many people at all ride around my area (yet?).

    Last year I gave a presentation to my sons class on oil. I found it funny that his class seemed to get the concept that you can only get so much oil out of the earth (squeezing an orange provides a useful demonstration)whereas a lot of adults can't. I guess they have not been indoctrinated with the 'dominant narrative' that growth is good yet. For this reason, the more kids know, and the earlier they know it the better with regards to PO, CC and limits to growth etc.

    My son has a tendency to whine when he doesn't get his way, so he is doing a bit of a project at home to compare his life to other countries around the world. I helped him creat a chart to compare how much oil we Aussies use compared to some other nations (results below) and it was a real eye opener for him, that our way of life is so different to many others, yet we take it for granted (or most of us do).

    Country Oil Use per person (bbl/day)
    Afghanistan 0.0002
    Australia 0.0475
    Bosnia 0.0067
    Cambodia 0.0003
    Colombia 0.0055
    Ethiopia 0.0005
    Mexico 0.0208
    Papua New Guinea 0.0051
    Sierra Leone 0.0014
    Sri Lanka 0.0042
    AVERAGE 0.0113

    Wow, can your 7 year old handle all those decimal places? Maybe easier to grasp if multiplied by 365?

    Might be easier to convert to litres/gallons per day and compare it to milk containers or buckets.

    JN2, no he can't, but I put it into a chart on Excel and he got that straight away. I didn't confuse him with units etc, but Australia's consumption as a giant spike compared to those other nations tells a pretty clear picture that my seven year old understands.

    I think the downfall of education in any context is overblown. Kunstler also talked about educational demise in his The Long Emergency book. But as Cuba has demonstrated, they had to increase the number of universities to deal with their challenge in the 90s. They needed more experts in soil and agriculture, as we do surely now. I think therefore it'll be somewhere in between. As people have more important things to do rather than play a Wii or golf and want to eat and have heating or air conditioning, they will want to learn. By doing they help.

    As such the concept of high tuition may be supplanted at first with neighbours helping neighbours then starting teaching to wider audiences. Eventually schools will be more numberous not less, such that the need to know will be more, not less. I don't know what will happen to tuition or what that will mean later.

    So learn how to learn. I decided to act last fall. As an adult student in pre-university courses trying to make an entry, if I can get a couple of years of engineering under my belt, why wouldn't I feel I can help? Hopefully I'll be done before of any drastic challenges. The imperitive of knowing will be the glue that binds a society.

    If your job, life, and situation are all going to change anyway, don't wait.

    As for kids, they love dirt and gardens, so I can't see it as much of a burden since they haven't lost anything.


    An "onion and doorknob" school in every vacant shopping plaza.

    sure thing. maybe a seed exchange and passive solar wood box tutorial. Then off to the wind turbine machine shop and/or bike repair.

    I think we're more industrious that we give ourselves credit for.

    speaking of vacant shopping plaza's I was thinking more and more of gardening. Dimitri Orlov on energybulletin recently had a piece where he suggested we grow food locally rather than truck it in every 5 days, and just truck in the soil once a year.

    works for me

    Very well done. After I had 2 boys, I got snipped, back in the 80's we talked replacement. Limits to growth etc. The boys grew up heating with wood, pigs and chickens, large gardens. For quite a few years an outhouse. They grew up with chores. Those chores were not meaningless they directly contributed to how we lived. They knew that. Very good times, many killer memories. Both are off living in cities, doing their thing. Both have checked, somewhat on the sly, that if it gets bad can they hightail it here . They have found people who love them, probably the greatest gift a father can see.

    And, of course they are all welcome here and actually prepped for somewhat. Both couples have a keen eye, different but keen and I don't see either of them reproducing. That may change if it does hit and we are all here.

    Now I ended up divorced, kind of a surprise, so I ended up a single parent with 2 boys. That was when we really learned to work as a team. Oldest son became a remarkable cook, younger son became mr fixit if I wasn't around.

    Then all heck broke loose, I met another single parent, she had 2 girls. Long story short, I ended up with what older son affectionately calls NYSW, a new young sexy wife, and 2 step daughters. Boy I did not realize how easy it was to raise boys, until I had girls to. Think Brady Bunch. Older stepdaughter is a doll shortly after we all got together they had a shadow your father day at school, and then they had to write as essay. Well I took her to a mountain top to work on some broadcast equipment. Bread and cheese lunch looking way down on the ocean. She talks about it to this day. She got an A. Older son and she are the very best of friends.

    Now here's a debate for you and I do not mean to sound unkind. Younger step-daughter could never get over leaving her father, even though he was the one that left, it was constant blame and anger. I could never even come close to being a replacement. In fact I had no authority over her at all. My role was to pay the bills she ran up. Not a one of us could control her. When she was alone at the house she went through every ones things, stole money etc. It was just horrible for everyone. And yes my new wife and I fought about her. She lost her license to drive and we all hated having her home, she drove the electric bill to heights I had never seen as well as the telephone bill.
    She turned 18 and left, moved close to her father, and got pregnant 3 months later.

    She's on the dole, we can't support what she does, she's considered an adult. She has gotten pregnant twice since then, I think she just wants to increase the check she gets. No fathers show up at all. Thankfully someone at state level helped and she has only one child, my grankid. She is seriously obese, 300 if not 350, when she sleeps here it's like having a beached whale on the futon.

    Thankfully I don't see any drugs etc in it. I'm not blowing my own horn but this was a real supportive family, even when we came together, my sons dealing with my new wife were just great. It just seemed like she was just out of our control, or any ones.

    So yah, those that are least fit to reproduce do, because they get a check. and I'm living this. The smart ones, are not. It tugs at my heart.


    Don in Maine


    Your comments about the step-daughter who rebelled are almost exactly the same as with my own daughter.

    We raised her the best we could. Everything was fine until she finished college and went to work in a big city. She stayed a bit with my wife's step sister and was introduced by that step-sister to extreme feminism.
    Including banner carrying marches and the whole thing.

    I said at the time,"I didn't raise my daughter correctly for her to be taken over by a ugly witch of a sister-in-law and ruined.".(this sister in law had divorced my best friend).

    From that time on it steadily became worse. For females who become feminists the father seems to be the first and most convenient target.

    She married,had a child, divorced, become very much overweight, cursed both me and my wife, used the welfare system,trashed everything she could, killed my pet dog, wallowed in self-pity and finally refused to let me ever speak to or see my only grandchild ever again.

    She threw my son out of her dwelling. She did the same to my wife. She would get in my face and scream obscenities at me.

    She is now living with another man, unmarried, and lost her ability to be hired on anywhere as a schoolteacher,ever. She turned into a petty thief. She has been in a lot of trouble with law enforcement agencies. A federal marshal was involved.

    What did I do wrong? What did society do to my daughter?
    Mostly college I think where she promptly forgot her upbringing and started that walk on the wildside. The walk that is slowly leading her to an early grave.

    She lives off the welfare system still. She is a master at this. She is angry at the world. She abuses everyone who would help her.
    It cost me large sums of money to keep her from being charged and prosecuted for crimes in the past. Monies I had to return to those she stole from. She was never abused in any way in her childhood.

    Airdale-just to let you know your not alone on this issue,been there and know the pain

    Worlds of pain is the phrase that comes to mind. My deepest sympathies.

    But don't assume that this is the natural result of feminism or college. Most of the women I know are both feminist and college educated and do not share anything like this profile.

    I think these things are deep mysteries, but the fact is that people are always free to construct their own hells and dwell in them.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughtful letter. One of the best parts was this:

    We used just the sun for thousands of generations before. And you know what? For someone young like yourself, running out of cheap oil might actually be pretty cool. You have an amazing opportunity to be involved in the first ‘sustainability revolution’ on our planet.

    As I see it there are two ways to go down the far side of the peak(s), kicking and screaming or looking for the opportunities. I see no value in kicking and screaming except bloody fingernails and a sore throat.

    There are always opportunities on the frontier.

    Also, I have tried to tell my kids the best truth for their age and comprehension. That is always a challenge and as a parent I'd say you scored pretty well in your letter.

    "I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe
    But at least I'm enjoying the ride...
    " -The Grateful Dead

    The answer for my own little nephew is:

    "There's between 100 and 150 years of oil left and then it'll be too expensive to get it out of the ground. There won't be enough left for everybody anyway.

    That's why we are looking for alternative sources of energy. So you will always be able to turn on a light switch and get light."

    (He doesn't need to know that we're here in the 'States outnumbered 17 to 1 for that oil and that people outside our borders already used to paying a lot more for oil.)

    "There's between 100 and 150 years of oil left"

    Really? I don't think ANYONE is predicting that much - not the most optimistic (CERA,IEA,EIA)

    or do you just mean little tiny pockets here and there in inaccessible locations that would cost too much to get out of the ground? Because everything I see points to (effective) peak now, with at present rates of use another 30 years tops before we are effectively out (other than those aformentioned
    inaccessible pockets).
    if we really have as much oil left as you say, I sure am wasting my time studying and worrying about peak oil and it's ramifications...

    The key in your statement is "at present rates." Crude oil production will not continue at the present rate until dropping off a sheer cliff when the last drop is extracted. The rate of production will generally follow a bell curve with a long decline on the falling edge. There should be about 100 years of declining crude oil production remaining. If one includes development of tar sands, oil shale and synfuel from coal, the time will be increased.

    I say use the media!

    Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Children For The Apocalypse?

    Wonderfull. I recently spent 2 weeks full time, little sleep playing Fallout 3. Best game ever. I had successfully gone cold turkey from computer games about 4 years ago, but this one was a real winner, a fix not to be missed. It does teach life skills in a bizzarre sort of way.

    What a response from Parker:

    I know that the oil is getting expensive so I am trying to find a new way to make oil and plastic

    I'd be interested to know what, exactly, a seven year old is trying, in order to make cheap oil and plastic. But, more worryingly (though he is only seven, so maybe his attitude will change) is that he appears to be prepared to try anything to keep the status quo going. My word, but he has grown up fast and is acting just like the adults already!

    I expect that civilization will experience a gradual energy decline, followed by a period lasting on the order of centuries that resembles the "dark ages", and perhaps eventually a new Enlightenment.

    My wife and I have one child, a 4-year old. He belongs only to himself and the future. What that means is that he doesn't belong to us. Our job is to serve him and those who come after him. The best thing we can send into the future with him is the knowledge humans have acquired. I hope that there will be some that keep this knowledge alive until people are ready for it again, much like monks kept the classics alive during the "dark ages". Of course, if our son would rather be a musician or an athlete, that is his to decide as well.

    In the present, we do what we can to be prepared where we are at, and I hope that he will learn practical skills from us as we learn them ourselves. I am trained as a scientist, and I also have ability to do most aspects of home improvement, including solar installation. My wife is a good gardener, and we are developing Permaculture-ish landscape fed with greywater, rain catchments, and (sadly) some fossil water.

    We often tell our son that "we live in the desert, so we don't waste water". Some day, rules like this will probably become an explicit part of our moral code. Too bad they are not universally held now.


    I'm answering without reading any of the comments, so if I am repetitive, I apologize.

    Kids are little lie detectors. When we lie to them, they know it. When we cover the lie with more lies and false sincerity to convince the child there is nothing to worry about, all we have done is diminish the child's self-trust. They knew you were lying, but you convinced them otherwise. They will trust their intuition less in the future.

    As a father, former child and educator I say tell the truth. The whole truth is not always necessary (the role of the Fed, BuCheney intentionally preventing action on climate and conservation, etc., e.g.) nor useful, and "lies" intended to create wonder, creativity and awe (the man in the moon, Santa Claus) have their place. But when it comes to the real world and real events in a child's life, withholding info too often leads to confusion, doubt, lack of trust and self-blame for the child. Of course, age is important and the style and extent of the message should be tailored, but not watered down or misrepresented.

    What is required in an environment of truth is support. This means emotional support, of course, but also a continued openness from the parent to continue to answer questions that come up. This also means not leaving it up to the child to come to you. Even young children have already learned to keep some things to themselves, whether for privacy, embarrassment, or other reason. We need to try to pay attention and approach them if we sense they might have things weighing on their mind.

    Equally important is encouraging them to take control of their circumstance. That is, empower them. Just making them aware is really not enough to make them feel they can do something to protect them and theirs. This is the shortcoming I see in your note. You did this, but vaguely, and in a very future-oriented way. Kids under about 12 are still very much concrete, cause and effect thinkers. You might have made suggestions for action, such as conservation activities, a worm farm, forming groups with other kids, whatever. You, of course, know more of the child's life than I do.

    As regards education, it is well-known that most people learn best by doing. Education needs to get out of the schools and into the real world. Apprenticeships, skill-based education, applying learning in the real world. Nothing wrong with book learning, but perhaps - this is off the top of my head - something like 3 hours of classroom and 3 hours of practicum per day might be a way to go. Or, home/community schooling, perhaps via the internet. This takes much less time - around half - than going to school. Less than half when you eliminate travel.

    And why shouldn't the major issues of the day be part of education?

    My 2c.


    Agree wholeheartedly. Children should be told the truth - the little ones to start with.

    We as parents have tried our best to be truthful. "Yes the medicine tastes bad, but you've got to take it". "Yes it's going to hurt a bit". "Yes all of us are going to die one day", etc etc.

    When my first one was small and we were living in Singapore, he used to make a big fuss every morning when I left for work. But I never slipped away without him knowing. He made a fuss for a few weeks, but must have realized later that this man does come back as he promised he would.

    We try to bring them up on the basis of some principles. Respect for all humans regardless of their economic status or their religion or language they speak, that we should consume as little as we need, to recycle and reuse, to tell the truth even if it has unpleasant consequences, etc etc. That makes things harder and easier.

    My kids now trust me so much, that it is moving sometimes. They have a huge amount of concern for me. The other day, I slipped and fell and my big boy (8) came running and kept asking "Are you okay?" "Did you hurt yourself". He was genuinely worried if I had hurt myself.

    Children are a delight to have around. I wish we left a better world for them.


    "How Do You Know That?"

    s_yajaman says above,
    "Children should be told the truth - the little ones to start with."

    Yes, but who's truth? In the string above much has been called myth. Of course, desire can be seen as a form of myth. It can be said that we all desire a certain type of world with certain attributes. The problem is that my perfected mythical heaven of a world may be a world that you consider to be pure hell. There are always psalms on TOD to a return to the primitive days of subsistance farming. Millions of people in the world spent all the effort they could muster to get away from such a life. If it was so appealing, why would they have done so, and in villages around the world, still continue to struggle with all of their might to get away from the crushing boredom and lack of mental and aesthetic variety that the farm life provides. Do you think your children will not ask you about this?

    I was a child of the 1970's. I grew up with the myth of immediate catastrophe. When I was 14 years old the first energy crisis hit, and then the second when I was 20 years old. By then the U.S. had been in a horrific recession for some 6 years, and still had 4 more years of hard recession, double digit unemployment, double digit interest rates and double digit inflation rates to go, ALL AT THE SAME TIME. By the time I was high school graduating age, the writing was on the wall.

    The American economy was essentially finished, the age of growth and opportunity was over. This I was taught. This I believed. Immediate catastrophe was the myth of my time. That myth destroyed many more lives than will ever be known. I knew many of my generation who skipped college (what good would it do, the economy was over...), and refused to plan and invest in the financial system (what IDIOT would buy stock and other investment!), and drug abuse and alcohol abuse was rampant. By the early 1980's the world was changing fast.

    Many could not make the adjustment, so ingrained in them was the cult of doom. I have seen many cases where the young wives looked out at a now growing economy and tried to persuade their husbands to get back in school, invest for the future and live a better life, but the men couldn't do it, so the wives left them for the city and for richer men, men with a more modern mindset. This is not an academic discussion, what we tell our young will have REAL EFFECTS on the quality of their lives. From what I have heard here on this string, we would be best off to "tell" them nothing.

    It is fascinating in a very sad way that after years, decades even, of so called progressive "liberal" minded ideas on child rearing, we still state the issue as though we were living in 1900: "What do you tell the kids?"

    Let's try this for a change: "What do we ASK the kids?", and "What do we SHOW the kids?"

    Do not tell the kids where oil comes from, ask them, "Where do you think it comes from?" Ask them "Where do you think electricity for the lights come from?" Ask them "Have you ever wondered how far away it comes from...have you ever wondered how they get it here to our house?"

    Ask the kids "How much oil do YOU think is left and how long will it last?" Ask them "How can you know something like that?" Ask them "Where does it come from?" Ask them "Even if there is a lot, how much of our money can we send there to get it without running out of money even before we run out of oil?"

    Again, ask them the most important question: "How can we know that?" An old teacher taught me in junior high school the one lesson that I have never forgotten, a habit that I cannot shake: He said "When anyone, no matter who, tells you THEY KNOW something, ask "How can you know that?"

    I have no children, but I cannot let that stop me from giving a warning: Be very careful if you choose to tell a child, or more than one, that you KNOW something is going to happen, or is absolutely certain not to happen. You are then taking responsibility for that prediction, and the child will remember it for years into the future, and possibly even plan his or her life around it. YOU HAD BETTER BE RIGHT. If the child were to ask "How can you know that for certain?", can you give a foolproof answer? Would it not be better to help them learn, help them take ownership of the tools of learning, so that the "knowledge", such as it can be in an uncertain world, is more correctly their knowledge?

    Equally important is to SHOW them. When I was 10 years old, my father took onto a General Motors Diesel locomotive while it sat running. He showed me the fuel tanks, HUGE fuel tanks, and we listened as the engineer pulled the engines up to full operating speed to move the train some distance down the track in the yard. My father could have preached about the great power of fossil fuels, and about the great volume of fuel needed to produce that massive power, but that one demonstation of the power, the consumption, and also the beauty and artistry of the engineering involved has stayed with me my whole life. My first trip to an actual electric power plant was even more awe inspiring.

    Education is about showing, about asking, about helping the student THINK, and letting them think of ways to think. Telling is just propaganda.


    Yes, but who's truth?

    This is a pointless, almost argumentative question (not that that was your intention). The parents' truth, of course. Who else's? And when dealing with others' kids, it's the same answer: how do we share anything but our truth? That might well mean a truth that says listen to everyone - or no one.

    I knew many of my generation who skipped college (what good would it do, the economy was over...), and refused to plan and invest in the financial system (what IDIOT would buy stock and other investment!), and drug abuse and alcohol abuse was rampant.

    What you are describing has nothing to do with the topic, really. The problem you describe didn't come out of being told someone's truth, it came out of taking that truth and failing to respond intelligently to it. How is it the fault of truth that people responded irresponsibly to it? Part of what you teach is - if the truth is deemed negative - how to turn that into a positive situation.

    If you say to a child, "The world is ending! Run, run!" or "The world is ending! Party, party!" then the fault is yours. If you tell them "The world is ending, so our task is to help build a better one," then you are doing the best you can, no? If you do that and they still take the party option, that is their choice and still has nothing to do with the issue of *whether and what* to tell them. More importantly, if they choose either of those two options and you sit idly by, then you've only yourself to blame.

    As for showing and asking - modeling and facilitating rather than didactic methods - those, too, are obvious. And I agree with you.


    "This is a pointless, almost argumentative question.."

    I'm sorry, I thought this was 'Contradictions'..
    No, this is Arguments, Contradictions is just down the hall..

    "Whose Truth?" Is a completely useful question for this issue.. I am very much in the 'trust but verify' camp on this one. For this parent, my 'parent's truth' IS to be very careful at challenging truisms.

    My 5 year old daughter comes home with all the familiar 'truths' of childhood pouring out of her mouth, 'Boy Colors and Girl Colors', 'Bad Guys have to be Killed' .. etc etc.. one of the most difficult things I am working on with her is to learn how to test and be critical in hearing the nested assumptions that are both stated and demonstrated around her from day to day.. including my own. Thank God there's no TV in the house.. but the bogus messages are coming in just the same. (To her credit, at bedtime last night when she was ready for her book, I said 'Please wait, honey, I really have to finish writing this' (a TOD post, of course).. and she said "No you don't have to, you just want to." Where do the kids GET this stuff!?)

    At this stage in her development, critical thinking skills are a seed that's germinating, and will flower if the education is allowed to proceed with out salting her (assaulting?) with too much of my wife's and my own distress over where we fear it might be all heading. She will be learning about what makes the car run, what keeps the furnace hot (and I held her up to feel the 123 degree F air coming out of the Solar Hot Air panel the other day, too..) how we try to consume wisely and sparingly, and why.. but as Roger said, learning about someone's dire predictions and traumatized calculus is not necessarily going to help her learn how to think.. how to keep tying a proper knot while the T-rex is quickly bearing down on her. For now, I'll just be teaching her the whip-bowline, and play games that let us experiment with 'clear thinking under pressure', and other games that allow us to deal with or relieve mental pressure. How to communicate and be really connected with people. What to eat, where our food comes from, how our bodies work, how to grow and find food.. the essentials.


    Hey Bob,

    I think I covered your rejoinder here:

    That might well mean a truth that says listen to everyone - or no one.

    We can only offer *our* truth, but what that truth might be is very individualized and relative. That's why I offered as wide a range, above, as is possible. But at the end of the day, I can only offer *my* truth, even if it is hijacked from some other source.

    IOW, I believe we agree. But the asking of the question is moot as there is only one answer.


    My coming of age was Reaganism. Carter was a loser. All that hippie negative stuff got lost on me as I was too young in the 70s. Somehow however I lost the meaning of life when just assuming that business or engineering and getting into the rat race would be the answer to my problems. Education and work was a solution of sorts allowing having a family but I always went back to my spirtual search out of dissillusion with the seeming senselessness of the business paradigm on a personal level. Strangely I never connected this all with PO, envronmental stuff (except nutritional ideas). So for me leftwing and rightwing ideas were not separate. I was spiritual-religious, morally conservative and green ideas were simply personal nutrition, conservational, love of nature.

    The hippie drop-out end of the world phenomenon rejected the BAU as materialistic from their parents generation and then turned mostly on a dime to become hypocritical yuppies, selling greenwashing types of things, called lifestyle products, etc.

    I don't see how a young person growing up under resource depletion nowadays can react except to constantly learn to learn and adjust to a constantly changing environment flexibly. If we have false alarms with PO for several years they might find that their newly adopted subsistence or alt-energy lifestyle bcomes relatively unprofitable or unpopular in their peer group for the time being. I told my kids about PO and just like with me their ideas change over time(last several years) to being less one of fear and shock to taking it as it comes day by day, year for year. Being very intelligent and curious they learn languages, music, art, sciences, sports(martial arts) and read a lot. Cognitive dissonance is useful. There are too many ideas which we live with that if taken to there logical end just don't jive with one another. Learning history, philosophy, practical skills, etc. reveals to us where our assumptions are all wrong or shows new connections we had not expected. Our kids will teach us sooner than we know as the world is changing too fast and we are already too old to make the difference. They will pull together the disparate strings of knowledge to make a go of it in the new reality at the pace it really happens. If I were jumping down from a high energy superficial materialistic lifestyle perhaps this would all have been a big adjustment lifestyle wise and I would have had to make big explanations to my wife and kids as to why we were dropping out to our doomstead in themountains with all my doomer survivalist cult friends(or alternatively in leftwing Transition Town) but I just keep riding my bike in the greenest European City and eating my salads and being a fiscal conservative and valuing education and my family. So the golden rule remains the measure. How do we conserve and direct our energies and finances and emotions in a moderate way and train our kids to practice a balanced wholesome life. I like the idea that 3% of the land in Russia produces most of the food in Russia. Private gardens in the cities where we live. Integration of our normal lives into a new paradigm slowly and sensibly as in Cuba was attempted, etc. Slow change not radical. Japanese attitude was always one of many small steps to improve things and the group consensus whereas in the west loner geniuses had some answer. Revolution or evolution?

    Here is what I mean. When my father-in-law died, my son asked me what happened. i said that he died - his heart stopped beating and he will not get up and he won't talk etc. We are going to cremate him and thats the last we will see of him. He asked if I would die and I said that everyone who is born has to die. Me, his mother, he himself one day. He was 3 then. He seemed to take it in his stride.

    "Is there a God"? I tell that that there is no evidence for a God. No one I know has seen or experienced God. But if they still want to believe in God they are free to.

    "Why are some people fair and some people dark?" I just tell them that some people have more melanin than others depending on which part of the world they live. People near the equator typically are darker than people living in the extreme north and south because they need the melanin to protect their skins from the sun's rays.

    If we know something to be true (death is about an irrefutable truth as they come) then we should not lie about it. That's what I meant by the little truths (vs. little white/black lies).

    For the more complex questions, I tell them that they need to grow up and experience the world a bit more before we can try and answer them.

    I understand that bringing up children is a huge responsibility and brings some very deep ethical questions into being. How much should we influence them? At what point does it stop being influence and inculcating the "right" values and start becoming brainwashing. One needs to think but you cannot think too much.

    Yes and I try to follow the Socratic method as much as possible. And get them to do rather than just read words. Too often words are confused with knowledge.


    "I tell that that there is no evidence for a God. No one I know has seen or experienced God. But if they still want to believe in God they are free to."

    And yet it would be only fair that the you show them one great example:


    I first heard of Dr. Schweitzer when I was about 14 years old as the punch line of a joke on the old TV show M*A*S*H when the character Hawkeye says to Frank Burns "not exactly Albert Schweitzer are you?"

    Who is this Albert Schweitzer anyway, I thought, so I began to look in the encyclepedia, read and learn. Most people think of Dr. Schweitzer as simply a doctor and a humanitarian, but his great mind and soul goes far beyond that. The Wikipedia article gives a general overview of his life and work, but one will find the true revealations of his Christian driven mind and soul by reading his own thinking about civilization, God and Christ, the role of the European nations and their descendents in history (including the U.S. of course).

    Schweitzer is one of the few great examples of a man of extreme reason and intellect driven by faith who also went the distance and lived the faith. His thinking is more appropriate and inclusive for the peak oil age than all the current peak oil thinkers put together. That is no insult to the peak oil thinkers, but simply a comment on the great work, mind and man that was Dr. Schweitzer. Even in the more liberally inclusive 1970's I backed into his work by accident. Now for a trivia question that cannot be answered, but we can sadly guess the answer to at least with some approximate accuracy: How many high school children today have ever heard of Dr. Albert Schweitzer? I wonder how many college students have?

    Such is our crisis.


    And yet it would be only fair that the you show them one great example:

    Why? And is every other religion to get equal time? Is the child supposed to spend their entire life just studying the various religions "to be fair?"

    This idea of the religious that *their* religion deserves equal time is damned arrogant. What the poster above said was already the simplest, fairest stance he could have offered: I'm not religious, but you can be if you want.


    Actually the reply had a bias

    "Is there a God"? I tell that that there is no evidence for a God.

    'There is no evidence for God nor is there any evidence for no God,' might leave the field a little more level.

    Evidence for "The Unity of Everything" can be realised by various methods which could be seen as analogous to the way early scientists (Ernest Rutherford) bombarded tungsten crystals with alpha particles and deduced the structure of the atom from the deflection patterns. PLEASE DON'T ASK, the rabbit hole goes on forever.

    We don't doubt the existance of atoms, but have we ever seen one.

    It is not a big step to go from "unity of everything" to "God".

    God also could be interpreted as "The Inner Voice of The Silence", which is very real. The problem is not with the concept of God but with religions brainwashing people with rigid literal interpretations of scipture instead of teaching pathwork so that individuals can find "God" in their own way.

    Funny, no sad, religions are supossed to "bind together" the people into a community (from the latin root ligare - to bind together: Yoga's Sanscrit root also means "to bind together"). Once we get several religions in close proximity they often have the opposite effect, tearing communities and nations apart.

    That all comes down to an elite controlling the masses, the way mystery Giga-Banksters control the world. From here we could go on to talk about amygdila's, .............

    'God' I assume to be the interface accessible on a human level. Like I said up thread some, the naming part seems to quite diminish the concept. Kind of like the way it was done back when, the high priest says the name once a year in the holy of holies. Manage it on my own scale without the organizational overhead myself.

    I live in India and looking back our curriculum was quite inclusive and extensive. We learnt about Dr.Schweitzer in school. We also studied about American history and the War of Independence (I still remember a marvellous poem about Paul Revere's midnight ride - through Boston and Lexington?). We studied the history of all the major religions while in school.

    We have IMHO a couple of pretty good examples from our side of the world itself - Siddhartha Gautama a.k.a the Buddha who got enlightenment from his own effort and recommended the Middle Path (Buddhism is an agnostic religion) and M.K. Gandhi (who of course is being consigned to the rubbish bins of history by our right wing party here) who was deeply religious and moral. You should read his "My Experiments with Truth".

    I have a problem with organized religion - I have seen it do more harm than good.


    "The Primeval Forest" by Albert Schweitzer, 1931: read it & weep for all that's been lost.

    Make it your mission to not allow the politicians to increase population in your community, your city, your state, your country, or your world. Make that the number one item on the todo list. If that problem can't be fixed, everything else is futile.

    Make it your mission to not allow the politicians to increase consumption in your community, your city, your state, your country, or your world. Make that the number one item on the to-do list. If that problem can't be fixed, everything else is futile.

    Really, this is the main problem in every community of those likely to be using computers on this website. Yes, global population must come down dramatically. But each person should look first at what is the greatest threat their own community represents. Jumping to problem that are not as relevant can easily turn into an excuse to not face the hardest and most important issues you and your neighbors face. And if you can't conjure up the gumption to suggest that your family, friends and neighbors cut back on such trivialities as junk they don't need and trips they don't need to take, you really have no standing to ask people on the other side of the world to reconsider choices as personal as when to or not to have unprotected sex that may lead to a new member of the family.

    On the main theme of the thread, I have tried to do both, and at the college level it is much easier to have a conversation about peak oil than about global warming. The latter has been so politicalized by the idiot right that it is virtually impossible to have to start a conversation about it with being accused of pushing a political position. PO on the other hand has the virtue of being essentially unheard of by most undergrads, so they don't have any place to put it politically. When I made it the focus of a class, I only had one student balk at it for political reasons.

    Make it your mission to not allow the politicians to increase population in your community, your city, your state, your country, or your world.

    Good luck with that. People run for local offices to further the interests of the growth machine. Their logic is quite exquisite: more people, more demand for land, higher land values, free money.

    Thus, because the city is a growth machine, it draws a special sort of person into its politics. These people -- whether acting on their own or on behalf of the constituency which financed their rise to power -- tend to be businessmen and, among businessmen, the more parochial sort. Typically, they come to politics not to save or destroy the environment, not to repress or liberate the blacks, not to eliminate civil liberties or enhance them. They may end up doing any or all of these things once they have achieved access to authority, perhaps as an inadvertent consequence of making decisions in other realms. But these types of symbolic positions are derived from the fact of having power -- they are typically not the dynamics which bring people to power in the first place. Thus, people often become "involved" in government, especially in the local party structure and fund raising, for reasons of land business and related processes of resource distribution. Some are "statesmen" who think in terms of the growth of the whole community rather than that of a more narrow geographical delimitation. But they are there to wheel and deal to affect resource distribution through local government


    On someone's recommendation here, I started watching Colonial House. Fascinating. Might be a good way to introduce kids to how life might look in the future.

    (Great letter, btw, Nate.)

    Maharishi was a Vedic scholar. He was apolitical. When I paraphrase him it is understood that his reference point was always the Veda. He said everything we can imagine is possible and everything we cannot imagine is also possible. He said we are obliged to invent FAR BETTER TECHNLOLOGY, so in that vein I urge the following: A brand new science for batteries. Oil is the fuel for really crappy machines from an engineer's point of view. Electric muscle machines; cars, trucks, airplanes, heavy equipment, etc, given an adequate battery, will effortlessly kill fuel burning machines in the marketplace. This is a certainty and therefore the battery needs to be pursued but not merely an improved one but one which is 20X better while costing half of the best available now. The mere appearance of that battery will immediately inspire another even more fundamentally important technology in the form of a new material. The massive new market for powerful electric motors for muscle machines creates the glaring need for inexpensive high performance electric motors. The superconducting material which WILL be found holds a frightening potential for change borne of machine evolution. I believe the sheer wall of inertia represented by the fuel burning machines is what protects the United States' status quo militarily. Just as it is prohibitively expensive to engage in manufacturing cars as we know them, specifically due to their crappiness, which is itself borne of their absurd complexity and problematic character, it is similarly extraordinarlily difficult and expensive to engineer and build the most advance military hardware on earth. We of course own that hardware and it will be leapfrogged quickly and easily by nations with less money and lesser scientific and engineering experience than us. This is my backwards way of explaining why we, the US, has not done the science and technology which would be good enought to make a full size American car travel 500 or a 1000 miles on a single charge in an inexpensive battery. The expense and extreme difficulty of engineering high tech muscle machinery is our security moat. Introduce the battery and superconductors and innovation will cascade like never before in human history and nobody can predict who will have the upper hand from one year to the next and then from one month to the next. No nationaly security for years until some group or other gains the upper hand somehow. Nevertheless we must do this. The Asians will certainly do it in any case. We may as well be on record as the ones who did. I think the dangers are outweighed by the advantages and it's moot anyway because we will not be allowed to bore the universe much longer. We are not in charge and nature is clearly pressing for more fun and adventure.

    Our daughters currently are 17 and 14. From early on we embraced learning and creativity as key, explicit values. To that end we have tried to catalyze, nourish, and model learning, significantly following and encouraging their interests. We've had no taboo topics, and we've refrained from forcing topics on them, too.

    With learning and creativity values as polestars that they internalized early, public schooling for them (and us) has been a breeze. Our older daughter recently was accepted, early admission to a fancy US university of her choice. Her sister lives the same values with equal academic and social success so far.

    The grrls have grown up as listeners and active participants in myriad conversations with friends and among ourselves about a wide range of bottleneck-future issues: exponential growth, global peak oil production, North American peak natural gas production, global warming, agriculture, pollution, environmental issues, etc. Energy issues actually became a frequent topic (a kind of obsessive interest for me) in the late nineties. The grrls have grown up with their own seasonal gardens, livestock, and commercial fishing. So their home learning has been pretty organic, literally and figuratively. They follow current events, and during the Obama election they became politically active.

    Their mom and I wrestle with trade-offs associated with consumption-implicated life choices on the spectrum from ascetic to simple to taking advantage of higher-throughput opportunities, and as the grrls have grown, they have joined the conversations. We skip considerable consumption excess by US standards -- but we still make choices like flying to Spain (where, at the grrls' instigation, we are now) to live for the school year and learn Spanish. As parents, our frugal life-style has favored autonomy over security, and striven for self-reliance at the level of daily maintenance. As the grrls have grown, we've wrestled with major trade-offs together as a family.

    I share this above as theory-in-use. If a more dismal scenario unfolds and the choices are "move, adapt, or die," the first two of these options for them should be more realistic, I hope. If a rosy scenario unfolds, they'll be well-situated to enjoy it, I hope. Regardless, I also hope they continue to grow in their ability to enjoy their part in the unfolding.

    My policy-related recommendation? More emphasis on "learning" and "shared learning," and less emphasis on "education." Education is not necessarily antithetical to learning, but it too often kills learning (check drop-out rates) and blinds us to reality. I think this partly is a matter of cultural emphasis. I'm also not too keen on religious "faith," which seems to me profoundly anti-learning in important respects. Let me see more science.

    Are Humans Smarter Than Yeast?

    A Blatant bit of self promotion, but I think that "ScienceWiz Energy" is a great introduction to the concept of the future of energy for elementary age children.

    Very interesting and challenging topic, and you crafted your letter to Parker beautifully. Thank you for bringing this topic up. I am a pediatrician and am writing an article on children and the environment in the next century, so this discussion is timely, and the comments here are good food for thought as to what I should say and write in the "what is to be done" part of my manuscript. Many of the comments so far have been very insightful, and moving also.

    Here are a few of my own thoughts:

    Have kids: They will add more purpose to your life. How many is up to you because there are many complex factors that determine the answer, but be rational and base your decision on reality, not on theology. Having 'proxy' kids, like nephews and nieces, or god-children, may be one way of fulfilling your life without adding overall to the population.

    Listen to their questions and answers. Perhaps more than whatever the question or answer is, is that you really attend to what the child is saying. Kids grasp more than you think. Give them the respect due to them as a fellow citizen, as well as your child.

    Their questions will dictate what they want to know. When you answer, tell them the truth as you know it, always. Life will be very difficult at times and children need to know that, from at least one source, what is told to them is the truth, is something they have a reasonable expectation that they can hang their hat on. Sometimes you don't know the truth, or the question is one that cannot be answered in that manner. Be honest about this to your child. While there may well be black clouds on the horizon, there is also likely to be some blue sky. Emphasize the sunny side, but don't deny trouble. Also, if you don't know the answer, take this as an opportunity to work with your child to find the answer. Both of you will learn in knowledge, and also in information-acquiring skills that, at least for your kid, will be novel and useful to have.

    Above all, don't deny our predicament. Accept it yourself. If you deny, what you tell your kid isn't going to be worth much. For TOD readers this is probably a no-brainer, but it is likely one of the key problems we face: denial. I know we have a lot on our plate at present, but peak oil, climate change, resource depletion, biocapacity deficits, are all real and pressing problems. Putting our head in the sand does nothing.

    Respect your child. He/she is likely able to comprehend more than you think, especially if you provide your argument, (information, teaching) in a way that is clear and simple. 'Because' is a cop out. Sometimes you need to use it, but do so sparingly.

    Push them. Challenge them. Give them responsibility. Give them confidence in themselves. Support them morally, psychologically, emotionally, financially (if you can and don't be ridiculous about it); be there--across the table or at the end of a phone, or wherever, but be there, they really need you.

    Get them into group activities: sports, arts, whatever. This breeds friendship and they also learn that cooperation with others usually works out better than doing it all by themselves.

    Teach them about nature, about ecosystems, about ecosystem services, about gardening, about limits and about conservation. We have been grossly negligent in our education system with respect to almost any aspect of nature, apart from how man can use it to his advantage. WE need to teach kids about nature (in its broadest sense), for the benefit of nature, not man.

    One can go on forever. If only we could.



    Dspady said:
    "tell them the truth as you know it, always. "Relating to when your kids ask for an answer.

    But there is more to it than that.

    Well my experience has not worked out to well in regards to the truth.

    Problem was that while I stressed the truth the media,culture,my wife and relatives were teaching them that lying was acceptable and usually expected.

    Doesn't take long for them to get clued in that lying is really in vogue and the way all things work.

    To this day I can tell in an instant when my son is lying. Just from his body language.

    Here is my wife's families creed:
    "Never say your wrong.If caught in a lie keep on lying. Never , never say your wrong or say your sorry."

    Her brother was caught counterfeiting US Postal money orders. He put my address on them. I got a visit from some angry guys in government. He trashed 3 marriages and walked away from 3 very disturbed children.

    Mt father in law is on his fourth wife. Left his 3rd in a nursying home to die as he went away to romance his upcoming bride to be. He was fired from an executive position for stealing.

    I learned all this later after marriage. They still are liars.My wife was given the task of answering the phone as a teenager to block all the incoming bill collector's calls. To lie to them.

    Truth. Hard to get a handle on when thats what has taken us to where we are now. Tell the truth and you get bashed most often. Tell the truth at work and your job can be on the line. Mgmt runs on lies.

    Society teaches this song about truth. We all know that.

    Preachers lie. Teachers lie. Presidents lie. Merchants lie. News reporters lie. Who tells the truth then?

    It starts small and grows. My wife would ask "ok..who drank all the milk in this gallon container?" Children knew to say "I didn't" meaning they left three drops in the container,just so they could say they didn't drink ALL of it. I kid you not.

    So you never, never, never ask a question you know the answer to and give them the chance to lie.Your just paving the ground for a lie. A little bitty lie,,then bigger and bigger through life until its ingrained and as soon as they say the lie then immediately put it out of their mind that they said that.

    Here is another example of how is starts.

    Your wife and kids are in the mall shopping. You are in the car or home. She buys something that is really not necessary and knows I will say something so what does she say to the kids with her?
    "Now please don't mention this to your dad. He will get angry.Its a secret between us."

    She just taught her children how to lie to their father. She just OKed lying.

    I guess I live in this different world than some here. To me your screwed even before you start.

    I think that's why we have to start to tell the truth. How much of the credibility of our government, at all levels and pretty much all countries, suffers because we are not told the truth. We can't stop the government from lying, but if we at least try to get our kids into the habit of not doing so, then maybe over time they'll grow up and become honest leaders. I am certainly not naive enough to think that we will never lie, but we don't need to make a cult of lying, and make it seem like if you don't lie you are a loser. How many countries in the world are in trouble today because we have made it 'honorable' to cheat and lie and deceive and steal and get away with it, and if you are obviously honest and moral and fair and decent you are somehow made out to be weird.

    We need to have children we are proud of, because of who and what they are as citizens and leaders you would want to have and be proud of having in your own family and community. It doesn't matter about the future for this. We needed kids like this 200 years ago, 100 years ago, 20 years ago, today, and tomorrow.


    hmm. this family saga is starting to make sense vis a vis your daughter's reaction. some unsolicited advice?

    Angry daughters do not fall from the sky. From your own description, her mother is dishonest and from a narcissistic even sociopathic family and may have some of these defensive characteristics still. Can you imagine being raised by -and having to trust- a narcissitic sociopath who has authority and power over you? The attraction of feminism is personal empowerment. [The meme of feminism is reject the existing patriachal system, which unfortunately you -as father authority- unwittingly do represent in the scenario.]

    Your wife may not be able to admit anything to you or your daughter about her inadequacies as a mother. It might work out well for you if you attempted to make separate amends to your daughter for any perceived injuries. She perhaps expects you would do so if only to see your granddaughter again. But do it instead to restore your relationship as a father. It will surprise her because in her heart she wants reconciliation and cannot admit it [because, again, anger is empowering].

    Raised by a dishonest and damaged mother, your daughter also was screwed 'even before she started' as you say. Because you recognized this much, you seem to be the one parent who is most capable of reconciling...

    There is risk of rejection. Humility is the key. One cannot predict her reaction until one tries. I wish you both healing and tenderness.


    We here your pain.

    Truth is, the world is filled with messed up people,
    filled with messed up families,
    filled with messed up towns,
    filled with messed up nations.

    Those who are fortunate enough to live far away from the maddening mess don't know what they're missing.

    There was an excellent Disney cartoon featuring Goofy that was posted on TOD some time ago. Unfortunately the link has been removed from youtube because of copyright violations. It was a vintage cartoon, round late 40's early '50s. It described a story of a town expanding and how goods were moved around and one day the well runs dry. Goofy then begins inventing all kinds of whacko contraptions to get around and each one having a little foible about it that ends in some injury to Goofy. It was really excellent and to the point of resource depletion and how difficult it is to replace our existing infrastructures.

    Anyway, childrens books, cartoons, the same mediums we use today to communicate to kids...would work really well. Peal oil, resource depletion and the like needs to be worked into our culture. Taught in our elementary schools. Required curriculum for our high schoolers.

    I get the feeling from being around kids that peak oil might be a thing to be embraced. What child likes the idea of a cubicle job waiting for him/her? What child wouldn't like to drink out of a stream? What child likes cars (except for toy ones of course)? Children would rather run over and play with neighbor's kids, coming and going and exploring at will on foot than being driven by their parents. Children want to ride horses. Children love to do things by hand (those popsicle-stick knitting projects, do-it-yourself stick fishing poles, etc.) Sitting still for 6 hours a day in school might not be possible anymore as school funding gets cut....what child wouldn't be thrilled at the prospect of more time for running around outside? Parents will be home anyway, no job and no money, the kids will be the beneficiaries as they get a chance to learn practical skills and the parents get a chance to teach instead of fretting about test scores.

    Grown-ups will also probably embrace the new way life slows down and leaves room for chatting. No car? Oh well, no one else has one anyway so nevermind....No food except a few sweet potatoes? Well, tomorrow is another day so let's share. No new clothes? Well, the ones you are wearing will do for now at least.

    Life has been one long cometition for me (I'm 43 and grewup in the NY suburbs, went to "good" college after MUCHO pressure applied for whole childhood, then on to teaching job but I've kind of (haha) "droppped out" by doing everything on a part-time basis now so I have more time). I really sort of envy kids who will come after, who despite hardships will find life as people who are much much older than me have described it....

    I think we humans never really adapted well to the FF lifestyle: we found obesity, debt, pollution, terrible anxiety about competing, bad food filled with additives and plastic chemicsal residues, climate change, Prozac, ritalin, incinerators, etc. on this side of our FF fence. Is anyone happy with the outcome? So going back will probably be more "natural" for us. It will suit us well and it will particularly suit kids, who will sing and play outside freely again (this is what they really love most), while in the background Mother Nature makes a comeback (already construction way down, cars driving way down, things being manufactured and sold way down).

    I think someday people will just feel sorry for the generations including mine that suffered as they mindlessly consumed the world..........although it could be argued that we used the FF up so quickly subconsciously as a kind of noble sacrifice so that humans could get back to enjoying their green-blue planet nice and slow again.....

    In many ways (certainly not in every way) I think that our current circumstances are a gift to my children. They've come right now into a world where they matter very much - and their participation in our family work matters, not in abstract "get straight As and a good college education" sense, but in ways that help provide warmth and food and security to us. They get a good dose of responsiblity very early on - and the chance to make meaning in their lives.

    My sense (and my memory of my childhood - I'm 36, firmly Gen X) is that one of the things that cheap energy has done is deprive children (and adults) of the power to feel that their work and their actions matter, except in negative or perhaps subcultural ways. That is, most of the work we do, most of our life's actions simply don't do anything very valuable. This, I think, leads us to a rush of meaning making - in adolescence, often adherence to subcultures, in adulthood obsession with popular culture, because it is here we are told to find our identity.

    I don't claim that my parenting will be perfect - in 15 years, I may well be here with the older parents acknowledging the limitation of my parenting model. But as a parent, what I give my kids is the gift of knowing that their contributions are essential - that the wood they haul keeps us warm, that the food they grow and pick feed us, that the relations they help build in our community help sustain us. That the things they fix and protect and do without preserve us. They live a life that is filled with meaning. I don't know that I can do much more than that for them, besides showing them the ropes of making one's way with very little.

    As such, we talk about peak oil (and climate change, and population, and the economy), but not nearly as much as we talk about our shared goals and about how we will manage changes. We talk a lot about our ecology - both locally and on the world scale. We talk a lot about the value of learning at every level - mostly because what you have in your head is the one thing no one can take from you. But while we answer questions as they come, we don't spend a lot of time educating our kids on the details of peak oil - they'll learn these things as we go, we answer questions as honestly as we can, but our goal is a life that is restorative, joyous, secure, hopeful - no matter what happens. Even if some miracle technology were to suddenly appear, say, from aliens above, it wouldn't matter - we live as we do because it is the right life. And thus, peak oil gets what I think is the appropriate weight for this point in their lives (my boys are 9, 7, 5 and 3, although my 9 year old has some developmental delays, and so 7 is probably developmentally my oldest) - it is one of the many reasons we do what we do, one of the many thing we face in the future, one of the many things Mom writes and speaks about, and that
    Dad teaches about. They understand the concept by the time they are 5, but we spend our time on the whole ecological and life aspect of this, and less on single causes.


    I am pushing a book about the Great Depression, "We had everything but money." I would highly recommend it for older children thinking about post-high school options as a "What If" guide to the future. What if our future is very much like what is described in the first person accounts in this book? What if we never get back to the economy that we used to have? What choices would you want to make regarding education, careers, etc.?

    How about saying,
    "I'm sorry. It seemed like a good idea at the time."

    At the time coal seemed like a better idea than wood.
    At the time oil seemed like a better idea than coal.
    At the time steam engines seemed like a better idea than horses and sails.
    At the time internal combustion seemed like a better idea than steam.
    At the time railroads seemed like a better idea than dirt trails and canals.
    At the time automobiles seemed like a better idea than railroads.
    At the time fast jets seemed like a better idea than long slow train rides.
    At the time refrigeration seemed like a better idea than saving last winter's ice.
    At the time doing what cost less seemed like a good idea.
    At the time having the most toys seemed like a good idea.
    At the time nuclear power didn't seem like a good idea.
    At the time solar energy didn't seem like a good idea.
    At the time wind power didn't seem like a good idea.
    I'm sorry. Leaving something for the future didn't seem like a good idea.

    Nice list. Of course the nukes that we did build are going to leave things for many, many future generations to come. Another sweet little part of our legacy to our progeny.

    Much AGW was pretty much "baked in the pie" before we even realized what was going to happen.

    So, here's an interesting question: If a sign had been posted over each of the oil, NG and coal fields that read "Danger! Do not extract and burn!", would anyone have taken any notice?

    Danger! Do not extract

    Plenty of people believe that about Uranium and fission reactors. The un-met promise of fission is a powerful argument that fission as an energy source is a bad plan to continue with.

    We should remember that as long as we are still at the stage of questioning how to educate our children then we haven't yet been confronted with reality consequences that in the end are the onky real "teachers" of overshoot and will be the real catalysts to transform our culture. To the 7 year old I would tell the truth but also remind him to be watchful for reality events that either confirm or discount the story......for in the end we are still only in the story stage, still being driven by our ideology of wanting to save our species and our planet. As noble as this is it will do little to transform and educate the majority of our fellow humans. Realtime consequences are what will tranform us, education is of limited use until real time consequences bring the truth of overshoot into sharp focus. Until then we carry on....

    Yes, nothing brings you round more than a slap in the face with a wet fish-or a collision on the freeway with an empty oil rig.

    Wonderful article, and excellent response to the question, Nate. Thank you.

    Just two comments -

    "Children are our most valuable natural resource. -Herbert Hoover"
    Sorry Herbert, but my children are NOT anyone's "resources".

    "I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. -Harry S Truman"
    Good advice on the surface, but tell that to the hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you murderous son of a bitch.

    Unfortunately, Presidents have tended not to be the deepest wells of wisdom.

    How many Americans and Japanese would have died if the US had invaded the Japanese home islands instead of using the atomic bomb? And how much longer would it have taken for Japan to recover from the war?

    Gentlemen, a more useless conversation you could not possibly have. May I suggest you leave it to the dust bins of history? Proving negatives and all that...


    No kids, so this isn't a direct challenge of mine. Of course, we're all in this together, so it is still my problem in a more indirect sense.

    I would be feeling guilty when looking at people younger than I, except:

    For the the fact that while I walk to and from work every day, I see all of these teenagers zooming by in their cars.

    For the fact that I see all of these elementary school kids riding a bus for a shorter distance than I walked to school.

    For the fact that I saw younger people driving big, fast, expensive cars to big, expensive, suburban homes all those years I took the bus home from work to my modest in-city home.

    For the fact that in all the years that my wife taught piano at home, we would try to insulate and weatherize and bundle up and turn down the thermostat in the winter, then kids would come to lessons in the middle of winter wearing T-shirts, and demand that the thermostat be turned up to 74.

    For the fact that for years we have tried to grow as much of our own produce as we could, and cooked our own meals at home, while observing brats by the hundreds whining and throwing tantrums if they didn't get their daily fix at the golden arches.

    If we are going to start handing out guilt awards, I am not at all convinced that all of them should go to me and my generation and none to the younger generation. There is actually plenty of guilt for everyone, including me, in spite of the above.

    A final thought: IMHO, the issue is less "what you tell them", and more "what you do". We should all know by now that "do as I say, not as I do" just doesn't cut it. The way you live your life is the strongest and most powerful teaching tool there is. If you want to make a positive difference for the next generation - whether it is your own children or those in your community - then be a model. Whether or not they choose to pay any attention and learn from that model is up to them.

    A final thought: IMHO, the issue is less "what you tell them", and more "what you do".

    There was an interesting bit in Freakonomics about this. IIRC, what correlated best with student achievement were things parents were, i.e. what kind of people, vs. what they did wrt the child.

    Well correlated, e.g., lots of books in the home.

    Poorly correlated: parents read to the child.

    When you think about it, it makes sense. The first indicates the parents read and encourage reading. I.e., they set an example. The second is a passive activity for the child. It does not exercise the brain anywhere near as well as reading for yourself does.

    So, once again we come to "be the change you want to see," or whatever that saying is.


    All these comments and not a single mention of die-off. People, if all you have to tell kids is we're going to have to live like Amish again, that's easy. Telling them they have a 5/6th of a chance of perishing in the great die-off is not going to go over well, at least if it's not tempered by some kind of divine salvation tacked on.

    Yes, that is the elephant in the room.

    Perhaps I'm in denial (see my above comment) but currently I think that here in the West, with proper and timely organization, we don't have to lose large numbers of us (I'm leaving alone whether that would be better for the long term survival of the species). We produce prodigious amounts of food, much of it goes to waste, we can stop eating animal protein and we can direct our energies (literally and figuratively) to growing food.

    I'm not so hopeful for other parts of the planet.

    What Do We Tell Our Children?

    Tell them that there's work to be done and that they'd better get busy if they don't want their dad's boot up their ass.

    As a parent of a soon-to-be ten year old boy, I am teaching him what I can.

    When he is annoyed with helping me pot up plants in the greenhouse, I grab his attention by asking him this: If this one plant was all there was to eat, what would you do? And when he scoffs at that, I remind him that in many places in the world, boys his age don't even have plants to eat. So in the quiet time that follows as he thinks that through, I ready myself for the inevitable: Well, then, what do they eat? He asked. And I told him the bald truth-nothing. They starve and die. I remind him that some day there may not be grocery stores with lots of food, and that's why his Mom is working at gardening, and that is why I am trying to teach him this. Because one day "Knowing how to grow food and save it, may save your life"

    Yes it was an interesting afternoon in a hot greenhouse, potting up tomatoes....but I do make a point to bring up things as the opportunity presents itself from time to time. I have repeatedly offered to teach my sister, and my nieces, how to properly and safely can, dehydrate, pickle, etc, and they are all "too busy" to make time in the season. I have only been into gardening and canning just over a decade, and have a very long ways to go, figuring out gardening up here in Alaska. It's going to be a very rough ride ahead up here, and I am genuinely uneasy about the future.

    All I can do is attempt to pass along what I can, teach as I am able those who want to learn, and hope for the best.

    Irony of ironies-my spouse is employed in the oil patch up north ;)

    A friend of mine has been pressing me to buy these set of books for my family. Not sure if anyone here has hear of Uncle Eric. The titles to the curriculum is intriguing:


    Uncle Eric Talks About Personal, Career and Financial Security
    Whatever Happened to Penny Candy
    Whatever happened to Justice
    Are You Liberal? Conservative? or Confused?
    Ancient Rome: How It Affects You Today
    Evaluating Books: What Would Thomas Jefferson Think About This
    The Money Mystery: The Hidden Force Affecting Your Career, Business and Investments
    The Clipper Ship Strategy: For Success in Your Career, Business and Investments
    The Thousand Year War in the Mideast: How It Affects You Today
    World War I: The Rest of the Story and How It Affects You Today
    World War II: The Rest of the Story & How It Affects You Today

    This piece of beautiful writing has been copied from here... hope I am not infringing in any way...

    Blog : Restoring Mayberry
    Link : http://restoringmayberry.blogspot.com/2008/12/moment-of-darkness.html

    Almost vibrating with excitement, my four-year-old carefully carried ornaments to the pine sapling in our living room last night, cradling each one like they were diamonds. We have decked our halls with literal holly from our land, bought a Christmas goose, and are planning a quiet and intimate family Christmas here in rural Ireland.

    Holiday cheer, though, struggles against the long winter darkness in this place – we are less than a thousand miles from the Arctic Circle, and today there will be seven hours of dull daylight -- and this year, more than most, it also struggles against the world news.

    “Papa, Father Christmas lives at the North Pole!” my daughter announced with the confidence of a four-year-old.

    Yes he does, I said, wanting her to experience this magic while she can. What is the North Pole like?

    “Well, it is covered with ice and ... snow ... all white and cold ...and …”

    But by the time she stops believing in a few years, I think to myself, it might not be. The 2007 ice shocked everyone, shrinking so much that the sea drew near the Pole. That year the IPCC had predicted a new ocean there by 2070. Two months later a new projection said 2030. Two months later they said five years. I'm already talking about Santa Claus; what else should I pretend?

    What animals would Santa see at the North Pole? I ask.

    “Well,” she begins, “there are polar bears, and seals, and ...”

    Perhaps not for long. The polar bears eat the seals that eat the fish that eat the plankton, and the plankton are dying – 73 percent down since 1960. Half the plankton – almost half the animal mass of the Arctic – have disappeared since the Simpsons’ first episode. Maybe it’s because the oceans are growing warmer, maybe because they are getting more acid, maybe it's the plastic and chemicals we've poured into the oceans in my short lifetime. We just don't know.

    Reality intrudes into other arenas of childhood. I consider showing her Bugs Bunny cartoons with the Tasmanian Devil, and think: the real one is almost extinct. I introduced her to clips of Groucho Marx as Rufus T. Firefly, and she asked, “What is a firefly?”

    Fireflies, I explained, are little bugs back where Papa grew up in America, and they light up the night ...

    Except not any more. They flickered yellow-green across the grass in my Missouri hometown – you could find your way in the dark by their light. I went back there last year and the nights were black – only a few flickers, and then deep in the Ozark woods.

    We put together her jigsaw puzzles of the continents, and I am surprised to see Asia depicted, accurately, without Lake Aral. My childhood maps of Asia are now wrong – that massive lake, the fourth-largest in the world, disappeared in a few decades. Her map of Africa does not show Lake Chad, either – maybe the toymakers are thinking ahead.

    We live a strange life, those of us who follow closely the breaking of the world. We look at our kitchens and offices and bus stops and see products of petroleum-powered machines on the other side of the world, transported here in petroleum engines. We flick past the mainstream media every morning and go straight to BBC Science, the Oil Drum and Energy Bulletin, scroll through the allied blogs and listen to podcasts on the bus – all while working regular jobs, paying mortgages and caring for children and elderly, each week filled with the burning usual.

    In my case, I am also a father, and I want my daughter to have a decent life in a strange time. I am in my 30s now, but I knew five of my great-grandparents, all born in the 19th century, and my daughter, if she is lucky, may live to see the 22nd. Her life might span humanity's most important decades, and before she is even an adult, the world could grow much more difficult – energy shortages, food shortages, economic collapses and a Malthusian crush. I want her to be able to realize what is happening, and not to be bewildered by a domino line of solitary unthinkables –you can't drink the water here, the power went out, it's not safe there anymore.

    As a journalist, I know this is how the mainstream media usually show the world. Civil unrest broke out. Congressional leaders said. Troops encountered heavy fire. Our history books show us where we came from in the same tedious way – Black Tuesday followed by the Smoot-Hawley Tarriff followed by the CCC followed by Lend-Lease. In both cases, the story told is the story of federal policies, generals and brokers, far removed from the details of life, from the millions of activists who pushed change through, and from the ebb and flow of resources that drove the national engines.

    As news events unfold in her life, I don't want her to accept them as a string of disconnected troubles – I want her to see that the price spike in oil is connected to the food riots in Haiti, that the plastic wrapper on the celery is tied to the Texas-sized floating garbage patch in the Pacific.

    And – while no father wishes grief for his daughter – I want her to be able to grieve for the vanished pieces of our world, not because it is fun or useful, but because it is the right thing to do. Older people are sometimes shocked at what is no longer common knowledge – to high school graduates today, the world before September 11 or Google is as remote and theoretical as Vietnam was to me, or as Pearl Harbour was to my parents. I’m not sure how I feel about the disappearance of two of the world’s largest lakes from the jigsaw puzzle – I want her to learn, when she is older, that they used to be there.

    At the same time, I don’t want her to be overtaken by grief. At a peak oil conference in Cork last year I met a man who had journeyed there from Australia on behalf of his teenaged son. His son, Tasman McKee, learned about peak oil in 2005, read the works of the most dire peak oil prophets, joined list-serves that pore over details of a coming die-off, and he became more and more convinced that nothing lay before him but a desperate and despairing future. After a year of this, he vanished, and only after reading his computer files did his parents learn of his obsession. His body was found on a remote mountain two months after his suicide.

    I have been getting back in touch with old friends from environmental campaigns, and many have also fallen off the map. Few went as far as Tasman, or as far as a church pastor and Green activist I knew who killed himself a few years ago. But many feel defeated. They had warned of peak oil, climate change and economic collapse for decades – now, some say, it’s started. It’s too late.

    I want to spare my daughter this. I want to instill, to whatever extent a father can, the high and driving Spirit, the sanguine craving to restore. Of course it is too late to change everything, and always has been. Everything is too big. But each of us can do something where we are, and there are millions of us.

    We could look at the world's troubles and sink into grief, as we could when a fire sweeps through a forest or a flood wipes away a city. But forests and populations generally come back, sometimes better. We can mourn for the already extinct species, lakes and forests as we mourn our dead, but as long as we remain alive we are greater than grief. Nature will return, and with our help can return in time for our species to appreciate.

    And for most of the world, it is not too late. Just a few years ago peak oil and climate change were obscure ideas, and they rapidly spread until they broke into the mainstream. We are trying to return to a simpler life, and so are millions of others – the largest movement ever, happening in every part of the world. I want her to know that we are not trying to turn the tide, for tides are natural. What is happening to the world was done by men, and will be undone. I want her to know, as Tasman McKee did not, that she is not alone.

    So I try to teach her, in small and playful ways, how the outside world works, and the basic skills she might need someday. The lullabies I sing to her are old folk songs, because unlike pop songs today, they are meant to be sung by ordinary people together, and we might need such things again. When we pick weeds for soup I tell her what little I know of the plants that can be eaten and plants to avoid. I am proud that, when she was only two and was stung by a nettle, she immediately found the nearest dock-leaf in the grass and rubbed it on the sting – she had absorbed that one heals the other.

    She loves animals as much as any child, and we talk in detail about where they live, what makes them mammals or birds or bugs, what they eat and what they do for us and each other. For now, it is just a game, but over time, perhaps, she will make connections.

    She knows, in recited pieces of theory at least, how to cook, how to make yogurt and sourdough starter, how to compost. In time, I want her to learn how to ride and bridle, speak different languages, hunt, be sceptical, think logically and organize people. I can’t completely predict what she will face, nor can I plan her life, but I can show her a beginning.

    But right now she is four, and is waiting for Santa. She patiently takes a single treat out of her Advent calendar each day, she helps make supper and she will fall asleep listening for reindeer hooves on the roof. Christmas is at this time of year for a reason, and not because we know when Jesus was born. It is just after the weakest day and the longest night, when the world prepares to be born again, when we take our first steps away from the darkness and ready ourselves for the arduous season ahead.

    Fossil fuels are just sunlight from a really long time ago that was captured by animals and little organisms and was buried under the earth when they died. Over millions of years, it decayed and turned into a black gooey fuel called oil, which can be made into gasoline and power engines

    Why would you tell a child such blatant lies? If we werent fed these lies our whole lives, we wouldnt be in the situation we are in. We'd understand a LOT more about Samuel Warren Carey's expanding earth and how abiotic oil is formed. Entire new avenues of physics would have opened up leading to advanced new technologies that tap right into the earth's core. We'd be able to do things unimaginable in this world that is currently trapped in a cage of lies.

    If you're going to feed that fossil crap to children they are better off believing in the tooth fairy. Science based on deception and corruption will only lead us down the road to extinction. We need to unlearn so much of what we've learned... Children need to start out early learning the WSM (wave structure of matter).


    Use of "/sarcasm" would help the rest of us children to understand that you are just jesting with us. Right?

    It's not WSM BTW, but rather MSM ...

    The Magical Structure of Materialism


    You sound like a child. You make jokes and expect to be handheld and coddled. No one is going to present paradigm-changing information to you on a silver platter. Here's a thought: instead of making stupid jokes, you could actually try reading about the things I mentioned. But I guess the corporate media has you trained too well.

    P.S. to Parker: In your life you will encounter charismatic people speaking with 100% confidence about a fact you were taught to think the opposite of. Always be curious about their motives and their facts and at first chance do whatever research you can to get to the truth. Some of these people will be correct - the vast majority will be whackos guilty of deception. Remember, the best liars don't realize they are lying.

    If we weren't fed [all] these lies our whole lives, we wouldn't be in the situation we are in. We'd understand a LOT more about Samuel Warren Carey's expanding earth and how abiotic oil is formed.

    Entire new avenues of physics would have opened up [to us,] leading to advanced new technologies that tap right into the earth's core.

    We'd be able to do things unimaginable in this world that is currently trapped in a cage of lies.

    Sorry there Icon,

    I honestly thought you were speaking with tongue in cheek.
    I didn't realize you actually believe in abiotic oil and the creamy donut nougat at the center of the Earth.

    I wish you were correct and all the rest of us are wrong.
    That would certainly be a paradigm shift.
    Good luck with your theories.

    I'm afraid I remain stuck in that cage of lies about how energy is not created out of nothingness.

    Sincerely yours,
    --stepped back guy who can't get out of his thermodyanmics entropy cage

    p.s. Left click on cage to escape from it

    I think alas Parker might grow up with the belief that EVERYONE in the world can switch as if by magic from oil to renewable energy, and at worse might become highly naive in what is likely to become a dog eats dog, mad max style world (it is to a degree of course already). It might have been wiser, without giving Parker nightmares to add that there are a lot of people who will refuse to accept change and will dislike those who try to break away from the accepted views of the present/past, and might think it is easier to take things for themselves (steal) to continue in their inertia ways. So Parker might want to consider self defense classes when he gets a bit older. It also might be worth while teaching Parker about ancient world history - Vikings, Pre Saxon world, or folk stories that kind of thing.