Oil and Larkspur--Personal Reactions to a Disruptive Event

We tend to settle into routines. But once in a while extraordinary events disrupt normalcy. We may question assumptions and be open to new information and change. A grief process is common in these times too.

The accident in the Gulf of Mexico is a disruptive event. Here's an essay that puts it into personal perspective for me. In the comments I invite others to do the same.

The Peace of Wild Things

by Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me

and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

I have some good friends in Louisiana. They took their children to the beach last weekend over concern that this may be the last time they would find clean sand in their lifetimes. For the adults, watching shore birds and dolphins was both thrilling and sickening.

Humans can imagine a future that does not yet exist. This can be a blessing and a curse. It is a curse when events spin out of your control and you fear the loss of something precious. It is a blessing when you can plan ahead and change the future by your actions.

Yesterday I walked on our farm and envisioned what it might look like 1, 3, 5 and 20 years from now. It was beautiful.

My imagination is assisted by the stunning places there now, such as the big leaf maple and ash forest on the western edge of the north field near the Marys River. In early May, this forest has an enchanting understory of purple larkspur and cow parsnip--one of the best displays many experienced people have ever seen.

Sometimes I think about (or even witness) the spores of saprophytic fungi that colonize the farm fields and speed the breakdown of organic matter so plants can grow. When I see mounds from ground rodents near the forest edge I smile because I know they bring mycorrhizal spores into ag soils, which dramatically increases the water efficiency of plants and the uptake of often limiting nutrients like phosphorus. Knowing the forest is rich in microhabitats and teaming with critters, I am thrilled by a nearby source of pollinators, ground beetles, spiders, bats and predatory wasps that will make their homes in the shelter of those trees and leaf litter and come onto the fields to do their feeding.

It is functional diversity, and we could estimate some monetary value of pollination, decomposition, or predator-prey regulation services, but part of me wonders if the sense of awe we feel in places like this comes from some genetic understanding. We have a gut reaction that says, "This is right! This is good!"

What do I envision for this farm? A lot, but one line of thought is that it more of it will look like this forest. The banks of the river will be protected so species such as chinook salmon, cut throat trout, spring steelhead, Oregon chub and Pacific lamphrey (all rare and threatened) have a better chance to thrive.

In developing more riparian forest it is easy to see how this will protect the fish. But my mind sees deeper connections that extend back to my friends in Louisiana. You see, my goal is to have this farm weaned from fossil fuel dependency so that we don't feel the pressure, as a society, to go after oil in far flung places so we can grow our food.

Here's how it goes...The forest harbors larkspurs. Larkspurs feed hummingbirds. Hummingbirds also eat crop munching insects. Thus, in the long run, through many, many synergies like this, the farm will become less and less dependent on oil-based inputs like pesticides.

Now isn't that beautiful.

Here are some discussion topics for Campfire.

I am a biologist who can see many, many ways in which our current ways of doing things are unnecessarily dependent upon oil. I also see how the energy gluttony of fossil fuels allowed us to forget about so many important relationships because we had available both the awesome power make huge mistakes and to compensate for them. It would be interesting to hear from others along these lines.

What are some of the ways you see to 'get off the sauce' so to speak that are often unseen by others?

As I have learned more and more about energy, economy and society I see connections to oil and fossil fuels everywhere, as in this one on "Oil and Larkspur" that weren't obvious before.

What surprising connections have you made from the profound to the mundane?

The Wendell Berry poem acknowledges grief and explores a means of coping. Feel free to share the ways you deal with these issues.

I see massive and collective turmoil and despair that is not possible to go around or minimize. We must walk through the fire, down into the dark valley, and into a wrenching space where we grapple with the consequences of the biggest transition in human history. It is not easy to watch a culture die, even if it is a culture of addiction. It is not easy to say goodbye to your hopes and dreams and to realize that the world you knew was just a mirage, its not easy but it has to happen.

When the smoke clears and we realize that we are still alive, and that life is worth living even if it means relinquishing all that we previously held as inviolate, we pickup the pieces and move on. Nature is not that worried about the situation, she'll be here in 500 years when the scars are almost healed, and in 1 million years when the memory is almost gone.

Nature works fine without us.

Better, in fact.

Our machines are impressive only to us. The larger and more complex they are, the more they separate us from the natural world. Technology is at once our strength and our undoing.

Berry laments that he cannot spend more of his time in the timeless space that every other animal so effortlessly inhabits.

and besides, how does Wendell Berry know that herons 'do not tax their lives with forethought of grief'.
Where are the studies which prove this?
Surely he is just projecting his anthropocentric stereotype onto the heron? And is this approach not part of the problem?

This Wendell Berry Guy seems like a decent enough poet, but I'm wondering if he credited the original sources of some of his lines, as about still waters etc. :)

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It seems to be in our nature to assume that we must find ways for us and the species to survive and prosper in the future. It is hubris to think that our extinction will be any more consequential than the thousands of species that we have helped meet their fate.

In the mean time, one of the most worthless and annoying inventions of all time is the leaf blower. And, metaphorically, we spend a lot of time doing just that.

It may be hubris, but it is probably totally normal. I mean, if we didn't care, we probably wouldn't be here now. The will to live is powerful because it has to be.

Think of it this way. If you have a loved one you want them to live. You care about them. Does the universe? No. Does the lack of feelings of the universe change your feelings about the ones you love?

"Think of it this way. If you have a loved one you want them to live. You care about them. Does the universe? No. Does the lack of feelings of the universe change your feelings about the ones you love?"

I understand you are using this as an example but this is creating, or I should say perpetuating the myth that mans relationship with Universe is adversarial.

This IMO is what is fundamentally wrong with our current form of civilization and is nothing more than the underlying basis for the rational we use to become immoral and unethical. We are better than that.

I call BS!!!!!!

We are better than that.

I call BS!!!!!! ... perpetuating the myth that mans relationship with Universe is adversarial.

Whether mankind believes itself to be adversarial to Nature is immaterial.

What counts is whether Nature behaves in a manner that is adversarial to mankind's beliefs.

And the answer is yes.

But first of all, what Jason Bradford & tstreet say upthread has to be a fundamental outcome of the laws of evolution just like c^2= a^2 + b^2 has to be a fundamental outcome of the laws of Euclidean geometry.

Assuming there were three basic genotypes in "The Beginning", namely those that had a will to live, those didn't care and those that had a will to die; clearly the latter group got their wish and went extinct very quickly. But then as between the remaining two groups, the genes that had a built in will to live and perpetuate their species also clearly out reproduced and competitively swamped out the don't cares. So what Jason Bradford says: "The will to live is powerful because it has to be." is a fundamental law of evolution.

However, it is not Nature's business to see to it that a species will or desire to survive and continue is fulfilled.

Quite the contrary, almost all species go extinct one way or another. What species is there that has survived from the dawn of time?

Extinction level asteroids are part of "Nature".

From an ecological point of view I can see relationships as being amensal, competitive, symbiotic, parasitic, etc. and they may shift among those over time.

The Earth may giveth or taketh, e.g., Garden of Eden or the movie 2012.

The sun may shine wonderfully on Earth for billions of years, then swell up and consume the planet, then fade away.

And yes, I stick with my point re. Will to Live. Fundamental.




It will all become clear to you if you will just devote a year or two of your spare time to the study of evolution, beginning with Darwin ans finishing up with E.O. Wilson,Richard Dawkins , and Stephen Pinker.

Nature doesn't have values;we create and attach values to nature.

Nature encompasses all of life, yes, but nature is still not alive, and is therefore totally incapable of giving a rats anus about anything.

Words such as adversial are utterly inapplicable to a real understanding of what we are.

I just spent an hour today watching a spider devour an early catepillar alive.Chances are the spider will fall victim to a wasp or a bird within the next week or two, considering the exposed location of its web.

I hate the leaf blower, amoung other lawn care items. I hate the lawn care industry in this country, something we started that should never have gotten any headway. The Landscaping crowd has been playing with them for centuries. When bending nature to fit our neat profiles was in vogue. It takes a note from the monoculture agribusiness of yesteryear and pushes it into what we have now. Just one little weed amoung a lot of other weeds which we should have culled out of our collective actions a long time ago. (yes I am mixing metaphors)

Down with lawns! Up with edible landscaping.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

If you wish to have a farm that requires minimal use of fertilizer, I have two words for you: terra preta.

Terra preta is the recently discovered secret of the aboriginal Amazonians. It covers about 10% of the Amazon and is totally man made. It is so fertile it is mined.

The secret: charcoaling the soil.

Nothing works like it. It requires 17% less watering so previously unusable land can grow crops. Charcoal filters the minerals from rain and air and holds them for microorganisims to use.

I have been charcoaling my soil for several years now. My soil just teems with life.

Read all you can about terra preta. Google it. Implement it.

Hint: Do not use briquets, they are full of petroleum products. You want to use lump charcoal which has all of the water, wood gas and wood oils smouldered off in a fire that smokes but does not flame.

Charcoal filters the minerals from rain

Minerals from rain?

Rain absorbs the minerals that are in the soil and can carry them deeper - its called leaching. If the minerals are too deep in the ground then the plant roots can't reach them.

Rain is not simply H20. Rain has lots of contaminants many of which are minerals that plants can use for growth. The charcoal, as a filter, holds both the water and its minerals and prevents leeching of both to levels beneath plant roots.

This is Biochar and one of the more promising carbon sequestration possibilites because it does not readily break down (as evidenced by the amazon deposits).


Very interesting jayson,
Living just a few miles north of the gulf coast about one mile above the Cody Scarp i have often relied on your and Wendal Barry's approach. As a trained biologist, i too can see the world through Darwin and Odums eyes. It is indeed comforting to walk away and loose oneself in the beauty of nature and just watch the wonders of the natural world. For the first 10 years of my career as a biologist i fought this stuff with all my heart and soul. I was known as someone who would object to clearly destructive activities. I was a zealot for the natural world. I frequently got my teeth knocked out but won a few. I like to think my works were partly, in a very small way, responsible for there not being a cross florida barge canal or a jet port in the everglades among other things too numerous to name. but it takes a toll. I finally had to quit my advocacy for the environment about 30 years ago when i finally figured out that the powers to be could not be defeated, and that the passions and desires of humans were uncontrollable. You only have to loose a natural system once, and these bastards will keep at it until they have bought off the politicians and you are labeled as a nut. I have not been engaged for over 30 years. But if i could detect just a hint of real committed opposition to many of the activities that are destroying the planet i would immediately join up. so all you young TOD'ers and enviromentalist, if you decide to go out and begin to really fight this destruction of the planet and you need a very old man, give me a call. the problem is that most folks do not understand the stakes. And while they see what is going on they just do what Wendall Berry suggests and go into the woods and contemplate their belly button and inventory their toes. This fight will not be won against these bastard by naval gazing. Time to become very intolerant.

The despoilers only have to win once. The preservationists have to win and win again and again and again.

Your story just shows how amazing people like Dave Brower were and Bill McKibben is. I saw him in tears at Copenhagen, he has aged mightily, and yet he keeps coming back before. And he could easily go navel gaze at his house in Vermont.

i knew, David. Knew him via Art Marshall and Margorie Stoneman Douglas. All deceased, but sorely missed. Marjorie fought the good fight up to the age of over a 102 yrs. Damn. Nostalgia, got to go to bed.

Perhaps it is time to re-engage?
It certainly is true that youth and greed are formidable forces, and the law is mostly on the side of money, and youth wanes -- but there are occasional victories:

NorthernStar Natural Gas, the Houston company that halted its plans to build a $650 million liquefied natural gas terminal on the Columbia River earlier this week, has filed for bankruptcy, according to court documents.

The Chapter 7 bankruptcy filing means the company will probably be liquidated, which means the Bradwood Landing terminal most likely won't be built.

"It's truly dead at this point," said Dan Serres, an activist with the environmental group Columbia Riverkeeper, the terminal's most vocal opponent.

Serres called the company's bankruptcy the end of a "five-year fiasco" and "a shot across the bow of the LNG industry."

I'm not categorically opposed to LNG -- however, to destroy the Columbia River for a project that benefits a few and harms many is simply stupid, yet it was not obviously stupid enough to be immediately dismissed by the regulatory authorities. It took the dedicated efforts of hundreds of people -- young, old, rich, poor, landowners and homeless -- almost six years to defeat this particular emanation of greed (the first thing the company did was to make sure the State could not determine whether there was any "need" for the project, so it clearly didn't have any socially useful purpose, merely the prospect of profit, in the proponents' minds).

Now we can briefly celebrate a "victory" -- knowing full well that we cannot rest on our laurels, and that another attack assuredly will be forthcoming from some unknown direction. Those who care about the place they live in can never really rest assured that it is "safe." Defeatism and despair is the rot and rust that propels corrupting greed.

Thank you TheOilDrum for allowing all this to be hashed out. This is a great place to sort out feelings, try out ideas, fly trial balloons and get ideas for living.

Well, I'm off backpacking in a few days, and after 3 days the mind starts to clear, and after a week if all becomes one sensually embedded blur.

More and more I am forced to pretend.

I have bought locally produced foods for personal consumption and for my business for many years. What I got was much less return than the other 99% of the population that didn't do this. Don't give me any crap about how much better it is. If you are careful you can eat and consume VERY well without shopping local at all...and save serious money. My business definitely suffered from the premium spent. Don't even think of basing a business model on peoples wanting to do the right thing and therefore spend more for something they can get much cheaper somewhere else. Sure they will still occasionally be seen at your establishment but they will primarily shop for bargains elsewhere as money gets tight. PO= Money getting tighter...for ever.

In order to interact with locals in the community you MUST talk about gardening, hybrid cars, solar panels, bikes, etc. Don't even think of mentioning the limitations of these efforts. These endeavors represent the NEW RELIGION. Express any concern for the future and you will get a lecture on gardening, biking, vegetarianism, the prius. We are not facing a problem we are simply at that historic point like where we switched from steam engine to ICE, no big deal, in fact it's exciting because this new move also solves all the environmental issues as a little bonus. Yeah!

Even so called intelligent people can't talk about the realities of the situation. It's just too much...let's just talk about gardens.

IMO we have a huge amount of people who can and will garden...if they weren't so dog damn busy trying to make a buck in order to live. They don't need someone to tell them they should garden, or bike, or make their own stuff. All they need is TIME.

What we need to do and to talk about is how to get time, how to stop paying all these debts and payments and deposits and premiums and other expenses that are in essence legal extortion. Then we will all relax, stop running all around, driving, flying, ten things at once. We can walk, talk, share, visit, relax, nap, make love, it's what most of us want to do anyway, its what we dream of doing once we get the TIME.

All this other talk is bull$h1T because if we don't start talking about whats real and what really effects us and our lives then we don't have a chance of doing all the other stuff discussed around the campfire. We need to stop being victums and stop PRETENDING.

Two things strike me about your comment. The first is the terrible feeling of being surrounded by pretenders. I know that feeling very well, and recall thinking I was in the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers and hadn't been snatched yet but couldn't let on. You have the need to discuss serious topics in a serious way, but are constrained by the fact that people like to feel comfortable, and while in their comfort zone they detest those who knock them out of if.

I am not sure what to do about this. It seems so much a part of human nature. I can get misanthropic sometimes, but them I really people too. Or perhaps there are ways of making it okay to have straight talk? Just not at a party :)

The second bit about TIME is also biting. And it would be interesting to hear from folks who do have time. How so? What about feeling rushed or needing to make more money is about meeting expectations that are rather arbitrary and social? On the other hand, we live in a society where everything is for sale, so money pressure is real.

My family has recently reduced our income by half and so far it is great! More time is indeed much better than more money as long as the basics are covered too.

I don't like anybody very much. Talking with a friend today who is taking a group of oil company geologists and engineers into some of the most pristine country left in the lower 48. The reason for the trip, the oil company wants to drill some oil wells. They can't get in by jeep, or ATV, and it's too far to walk, so my friend is taking them by horseback. Some Tribal Elders are going along, just in case there are serious artifacts, serious as in important to what is left of their culture. That is the only possibility for stopping the drilling. But, then again, I can show you areas where there was lots and lots of important archaeology, all destroyed for progress. Lake Powell, or I-70 for instance. Oh well, what the heck. Most folks think that where I've chosen to spend my life is "...just desert and rocks". No big loss if they want to strip mine it, detonate nukes underneath it, or criss cross it all with pipe and service roads. I like it here, and the desert is as alive as any forest. It makes me sad to watch the assault of progress on this beautiful land that I've loved my whole life. Best from the Fremont

The primitive Id portions of our minds can regulate the “understanding” of the analog world we build in our brains. If things become too unacceptable to the goals and comfort level of the Id, the Id simply rearranges reality until the conflict between its goals and reality no longer exist. The Superego, that portion of our brains evolved for social interaction makes us feel guilty for destroying a nature we imbue with human attributes. For instance, we give the planet a name, Gaia and call it a spirit, but it is not of course. But this allows us to engage the social networks in our minds and feel guilt towards its destruction.

Religion engages the Superego, the evolved social behaviors that allows us to live as cohesive groups and makes us feel guilt towards the antisocial behavior of the Id. Religion demands adherence to the dictates of our social brains, the golden rule, while denouncing the viciousness and greed of the Id. For the religious, the analog world is thrown in the trash as God creates and is in control of everything. For this obedience, the Id is thrown the bone of everlasting life within the pearly gates of heaven or the accompaniment of 21 virgins.

The Id is firmly in control and is carving up the planet to survive. This will be temporary. I am always reminded of the Hutus, their Ids running wild, hacking to death all of those Superego Tutsi spiritualists praying for salvation in a church in Rwanda. Not only is nature, imbued with human characteristics not safe, humans are not safe either.

My personal experience is that using CSAs, gardening myself, and being in a community garden has been worth every minute and every dollar. I have found that the food that I have eaten is superior to food purchased at super markets, including the local health food store, safeway, and whole foods.

I have saved serious money by putting in my three hours a week in the community garden. But that might just be a reflection of where I live, which is on the coast of Northern California, far from any big, inexpensive super markets.

It all depends.

My first thought was "I wish I had more people around who were interested in at least "pretending." "

But no, that's not true. The "pretending" I do see around me every day just maintains complacency for both pretenders and unawares alike.

"I wish I had more people around [me] who were interested in at least "pretending."

We all pretend.

What else is the alternative option?

Sit around every day moping about the fact that we're each going to die?

(Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you shall die.)

The people looking for extra time, are likely spending to much money on things that they never needed in the first place.

Time is there, everyone has 24 hours in each day. If you are spending time taking care of what you have, and spending time to get more of what you want, maybe you are doing the wrong thing. Maybe you should want less and learn to live with less and understand what you need to have more of, rather than what you want more of to make life a happy place.

I guess I learned a long time ago that I liked being outside in fresh air a lot more than in front of a TV. Though I do spend a lot of time online, you'll find that a lot of that time is when it is rainy out, or it is night out. I didn't spend a lot of time at work trying to get more bucks to go and spend on things.

I can get by living in a house that is under 900 SqFt, and If I had to build a new one, it'd be under 600 sq Ft if not smaller. The one I am living in was big enough for 4 people to have room for everyone, because a big part of our time was spent outside.

Everytime I see a big house I think about how many people I'd fit into it, and wonder if they would let 2 or more families fit into the thing.

Someone took my American Dream and changed it. Mine was to ahve a small house and a lot of land. Now it it a Large house and a little land.

When did we change that whole midset from a farm to a castle? Where do I get to place blame, who wants to stand forward and take up the issue?

We spend all the time wasting it, thinking on how we can have things better then the next guy in line. We spend time paying off credit cards that we should have been taught were a bad idea to get stuck with in the first place. Nice to have when you can't afford something you need, but don't abuse them.

When did being a kid mean you got an allowance? Long ago you did chores and got an allowance, or was it long ago you did your chores and go fed? I guess americans have had it to easy for to long and now can't deal with the lack of anything.

Reality is that we have all been living high off the hog for so long that few of us know any better than that. Few of us even know what it is like to eat hog feet and beans for supper.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, even if it means eating head cheese and ham hocks more often.

Finding peace in the beauty and wonder of nature is a sacred thing, if anything can be said to be.

Yet I think now is the time to make these visits rarely; to instead walk toward the flames to protect nature, to burn ourselves out being worthy of what we have already received. I don't want to cope philosophically with mass extinctions, or find a comfort level with the way my species is acting. Intolerable stress is entirely appropriate to the situation, and I've made it part of what I am.

For the future does exist, probabilistically. Time is a direction, not a flow; and it is the undefined "present" which is human illusion; the peephole shadowshow through which we interact with the broader block-time reality we exist in.

As a personal comment, I think that there's something to be said for focusing on the destruction just now, and leaving the wild places to themselves.

"I think that there's something to be said for focusing on the destruction just now, and leaving the wild places to themselves."

The wild is gone. I've backpacked into Thorofare Creek on the Yellowstone Plateau, the most remote place in the lower 48, in distance from any road, (less that 10 people get there a year, sometimes), and we still have human influence.
Resource and wilderness poor planet currently.

Yes, you're right of course, but some places are less impacted than others, which is presumably why you trek there, and I used to.

For those who do engage to try making a differenct, being able to recharge one's spiritual batteries can be important. Old Ed Abbey recommended being a half-hearted conservationist and outliving the bastards, but as much as I enjoyed his books, I think outliving the bastards should not be the goal at this point.

My statement was a personal one from my point of view, I'm glad you're able to find ways to relieve burnout.


You seem to have a clear sense of where and how to fight. I wish I had that clarity.

I am intelligent, educated, and have the time to engage. But I see so much insanity I do not know where to begin to help. It's not just the environment and peak oil that the majority does not get. It's everything. Our ponzi financials, our brittle complexity, our corporate politics, our idiotic religions, our military waste, and our ignorance of history, physics and ecology. Pretty much everything of any significance is not healthy.

Was wondering if I might contact you for a few tips on where and how one's energy might be best applied?

Certainly you may contact me... and so may anyone else, my email address can be found by clicking on my user name.

As you can tell, my message is more-or-less that

- one person definitely CAN make a difference
- most people don't make a difference even if they do try
- my qualifications derive from doing things wrong and learning what works and what doesn't over 35 years of somewhat audacious behavior and reflection
- some situations can be permanently changed for the better with a good plan, even with little resources and few people. Other's can't at any price, even with a lot of people. Being able to analyze which are which is important, and it's not that easy to do, but it can be learned.
- most commonly-help beliefs about how effective activism works don't work very well
- having a lot of people involved is not always the best idea

So saying, this doesn't mean I have crystal clarity on what to do next; I must make that choice just as you must. Anyone who isn't daunted by the upcoming bottleneck just doesn't understand the situation. However, I have reasonable confidence that I can set reasonably large goals and accomplish them, unless I die or something.

I'm fine with giving ad-hoc advice. I'm currently running a fever for some weeks and my mental acuity is down; then again, that's the only time people ever see me here, since when I'm better I focus on actual work.

I may try to more rigorously lay out some general principles of campaign analysis; it seems improbable to me that I'll come up with something that isn't widely known already... except that it doesn't seem to be.

anyhow, feel free to drop a note. best.

Maybe not my place to horn in on a personal conversation, but Gary Snyder (Beat poet, sort of) is famous for showing the way:

Find your place on the planet. Dig in, and take responsibility from there.
Gary Snyder

I don't think it matters too much what we do, as long as we do something that is connected in a positive way to the place we are when we do it. If everyone did that, we wouldn't be flailing around in Afghanistan, and global corporations wouldn't break apart communities for the profit of distant shareholders. And the world would look more like a forest, and less like a strip mall.

There are far, far too few people who stand up and fight. Most I know who are even modestly aware simply talk a lot, go for plenty of hikes, and shop a bit more consciously.

The few I do know who actively work (sometimes successfully) to stop the damage become damaged themselves. Burnout comes quick when you take on the weight of the world without others stepping in to carry the load. I go through cycles of burnout and then begin again with feverish work.

Some of us are better at it than others, and I have tremendous admiration and awe for those who stick with it all their lives.

I take a existential view to resistance. I'm out in the street on a regular basis (last Friday did some street theatre), organize events, work with established (although many assume BAU) groups, such as Transition, work on cold water fisheries, both politically and hands on habitat improvement, etc. I have been gassed on three continents.
But I don't get attached to results, and it makes one more effective, I believe.

The time is getting late-----

That is interesting. You manage your expectations so you care enough to act but not too much to become devastated by lack of immediate or regular success.

Probably few people can do what you do!

I've been active all my life, and one must be able to do that, or burn out happens quickly.
It is really hard to get someone to publicly make a stand.
It is quite liberating when one gets beyond that.
And victories do come. We stopped Ward Valley from being a nuclear dump site---
a first against impossible odds.


The few I do know who actively work (sometimes successfully) to stop the damage become damaged themselves. Burnout comes quick when you take on the weight of the world without others stepping in to carry the load. I go through cycles of burnout and then begin again with feverish work.

I think you may have a hint that I'm a poster child for this sort of burnout, and am paying for it physically now.

Then again, it's has been liberating in a way to consider oneself expendable, since we all ultimately must be. I am so thankful that I rededicated my time and energy as I did, rather than taking a more conventional path. Of all the harrowing escapes I've had, that one is retroactively the scariest. I almost blew it.

I began my no-self-mercy career in 1975 and expected to be many times dead before now. I've seen many good people burn out, others die; and very few who are still at it from those years.

The reality is that if you have a short-term project, others step up. But over the long run - decades plus - an activist is often on his or her own and will go through dozens of support structures which work for awhile and then must be rebuilt. Younger folks insist on making the same mistakes on their own, so there's little forward momentum. It's a lonely road, particularly since one doesn't expect it to be. (I'm talking about goal-oriented steering of things; if a plan is vague enough people will step in).

I'm almost certainly well into my last decade now, and most who have known me since '75 are surprised I've lasted this long; I was collapsing of exhaustion in a life-threatening way by the first half of the '80's. Yet while I'm a cautionary tale in that regard, I know for a fact that the earth is better off for my having existed, which is a tough dang standard to hold oneself to. But even working from within what was often Frodo-level burnout, I've probably still laughed more than my share, and will turn 60 this November presumably. And I can wholeheartedly recommend such a career to anyone, and the price be damned.

What may still be done by a disabled old eco-Jedi is an open question; but it's one I'll keep asking. Because, really, I was disabled already when I did most of my best stuff. Being young and healthy is not nearly as important as knowing what you're doing.

Best of luck, Jason, you're one of the good ones. Hang in.

If every reader of TOD stopped using any fossil fuels at all it wouldn't save the planet from Global Climate Change. If BP and Exxon and all the leaders of the world's country's and religions would level with the people of earth perhaps something could change. But even here on TOD, fracking is presented as mostly harmless - even if the process of the burning of the fuel isn't. BP is defended as being not so bad. Etc. Etc. So if TOD can't make that step how will the politicians and other leaders, and if they won't how will "the people" even know. The people of the US especially need to understand that the vast reserves of undersea oil won't extend BAU very long at all. Global Climate Change however once in positive feedback will change BAU for centuries.

TOD could stand up for the truth that we need to get off all fossil fuels even if we leave plenty in the ground. We need to not trust more technology but move back to a way of life that is as simple as we can make it, starting now. Let the economy crash if it must, seems like it is doing that anyway.

The planet will evolve something different after we have extincted most of the current species and maybe ourselves.

I don't know, go buy some shrimp while you can and cry a river of tears, maybe it will dissolve some of the oil. Sorry, I enjoy nature just as I always have done, peak oil or not. Might as well. BAU for a few more years trumps what is and that is not too bad for nature, nature doesn't care, came back from the Permian extinction eh? It will be too bad for humans, we care about living while we commit mass suicide.

It is pretty easy to imagine what the ash forest will look like - it will be dead. I point out the ashes to my son and tell him to remember what wonderful wood it was. The ones that are still alive around here are in very bad shape - I had to take the swing down from the old one in the yard, and it won't be long until I have to take the tree down too.

There are not many days when I can block out the knowledge of what is happening and enjoy the beauty. The signs are just too obvious - the species that are missing and the ones that should not be here. It appears that at least a couple of bats survived in the barn this winter, but the bees are gone from the catalpa outside the back door. I wonder if it was colony collapse or the giant Asian hornets that got them, or if they simply moved on? The woods are being overrun with autumn olive, and there are large patches of Japanese knotweed not more than a few miles from here. The dogs and horses spend much of the summer on antibiotics for Lyme disease, and I must always wear bug repellent. I take the risk anyway - today I transplanted several oak, black locust and walnut seedlings up into the woods.

It is not safe for any creature in this new world, including man. Perhaps that's appropriate.

You live outside of a city it seems. What worries me about urbanization is that fewer and fewer people are witnessing these signs. They don't know what is happening and without visceral awareness are less likely to do anything about it.

I don't think most of the people who live near me see it either, but what's worse is that few would think that it matters much to their own futures.

I guess I should not complain - things are still very much alive around here (eastern Pennsylvania), and we still have rain so far. I just have to remember that this is not the planet I grew up on, and I have to try to adjust to the different fauna. And be happy that there is some still.

the fauna appears to be different here too; weather sure is. cooler, wet springs. last year was the weirdest weather i have ever experienced. no significant dry periods all summer. i'm in the midwest -in micro climate that is about zone 5-6.

re bees/wasps.
a couple of hours ago as i put up the chickens for the nite i noted no wasp nests- other than the numerous sizable old ones. less & less 3 yrs. now. i have seen only one nest this year- one wasp there. these are red wasps. i have seen some bald faced hornets this year, & some bees.

I too have noticed the lack of the introduced European Honey Bee in my environment (Marin).
I was hiking through sage in full bloom, and only the native bees were on the flowers.
In the past, Honey bees would have dominated.

I live betweeen Jason and Todd; I've never seen this many bees, except maybe when we had 5 hives.
Wasp nests under the chairs on my deck, too.

I saw a lot last year-- who knows? Not seeing many on my adventures in Sonoma either.

If there were enough native pollinators I would not worry much about the honey bees, but I wonder if there are after so many years being out-competed.

i checked more closely for wasp nest tonite. i found one- very small with one, maybe 2 wasps on it. nearby are half dozen + of old nests as big as your fist.

Moved to Corvallis last year. You probably haven't seen my wife around the hospital for a while and that's why.

This is like the bummer thread.

I saw 2 pairs of ducks the other day. They landed in a monoculture barren field of a 'species' that didn't even exist 2 generations ago. Made me feel bad.

My grandpa saw the skies black, here, with 100's of thousands of ducks.

They call it 'extinction of experience'.

Folks now get excited to see deer and raccoons.

Rat species.

A few generations ago it was wolves and grizzly bears...

All the big oaks up in my (former) corner of Marin are dying of sudden oak death.

Should I sell all my oil shares Monday?

Losing the oaks would just be devastating.

So I did a bit of googling on Sudden Oak Death before I went to bed - I had not paid enough attention to it previously (probably avoiding thinking about it). It was the first thing I thought about this morning too. Now I will look at the oaks differently - always with a sense of dread mixed in with the reverence.

All is not lost, just most of it. This isn't time to retreat but redouble efforts in spite of that reality. Spent the day yesterday teaching the farmscale production of biochar, which I use heavily in my "food forest"-- and as the climate changes under my feet those failing trees come down and I cut them up, put them back in the ground and plant the next climatic zone trees(in my case Koa, or breadfruit, one could do worse) on their remains. Pleased to report that the effort was hardly a seminar but people with saws, shovels, and lugging wood, who will then go home and implement the technique. It's dirty, it's hardly eco-fabulous, there's no grant money involved, nor do I get to wear a badge or am granted a title, but knowing at the end of the day I've taken 100 square feet of soil and have given it a shot at being sustainable for 500 human generations isn't a trivial thing. I think there's a lot of hope out there yet, but little of it is going to end up on camera, because there's to much work to be done to waste any time taking photos. Here on the Island trees are a matter of life and death. If we lose the tree canopy, we're nothing short of dead meat.

So I'd say bust out a saw, get those dead ones down and figure out what needs to be planted. Something will grow there, likely in a forest a 100 miles to the south is a tree chomping at the bit to try, but they can only run so fast.

There's a LOT of bad info on the web about how to make charcoal on a small farm for ag/soil improvement use, and I mean a lot. E-mail me if you want the trick.

Thanks, but the soil on our rocky hill here in PA is very productive - it was never farmed for long and that was a very long time ago. And there are many other trees besides oaks and ash, but there were a lot of both. The oaks in particular are a pillar of the local ecosystem, and their acorns support a lot of wildlife. There is walnut, maple and hickory, along with catalpa, sassafras and basswood (something seems to be wrong with the basswood too though).

Unfortunately the woods were logged off some time ago and they mostly just left poplar. Black locust grows well here, and I will be focusing on moving that back up onto the hill. Planting seedlings around here is very frustrating as the deer seem to preferentially eat whatever I plant, regardless of what it is or how much other stuff is around it.

Today however I am going to try to get a beech planted in the back yard - I've been separating some runners the last couple of years and it looks like a couple might be ready to move. I've wanted one of those in the yard for a long time but they're tough to move.

Planting seedlings around here is very frustrating as the deer seem to preferentially eat whatever I plant, regardless of what it is or how much other stuff is around it.

I’ve come to think that the only good deer is one in my freezer. It is a constant battle to keep them from destroying my trees and crops. I’ve resorted to putting a circle of fencing around my small trees with two t-posts, or electrical fence posts for the smaller seedlings. Plantskyd has some effectiveness, but you must apply it all the time and that is expensive. I’m going to talk to my local butcher to see if I can get some blood to make my own version. Have you ever been to Oikos Tree Crops website? They often have internet only special sales that are great if you’re a landowner who wants to plant a lot of trees.

No, I had not heard of it, but I will be sure to check it out now - thanks!

Our livestock guardian dog tends to keep the deer away from the house area, but when I put things out in the woods they get after them. I've never been a hunting fan, but I do love venison. I see them as a food source for future times when money gets tight - I suppose I better learn how to field dress one soon.

Counted 78 deer in my pasture last night. We've got lots of them because, deer hunters don't deer hunt anymore. They just like to get cammoed up, climb on the ATV with a 30 pack of beer, and put around the hills while they get drunk. Kind of an outdoor homosexual fashion show with beer for big old fat.....guys. Most of them are too fat to walk an honest 100 yards, BOFFs is what I call them. Not complimentary. Nothing wrong with being a homosexual big old fat deer hunter, if they'd just hunt deer and leave the beer for when they're at home in front of the big screen watching nascar wrecks. My opinion only. Anyhow, the deer do get into everything. I let them have their share of my orchard. Mostly, they just eat off the tender parts in the late fall and don't bother them much in the springtime. Now and then I'll loose a young tree to antler rubbing. I'll plant another. As for my garden, I've found the only protection comes from corral panels, six feet tall, and 16 feet in length. They're expensive, but, they'll save a lot of grief from the deer; they're not willing to jump them, although I'd imagine they could. I think they're afraid they get inside, they'll not be able to get out, no room for momentum for the 6 foot jump. Best from the Fremont

Plenty of hunters around here. Spotlighters too. That's why we don't hunt them on our place. We want the deer to be the ones putting around, fat and happy. (Don't think any are homosexual though.)

WTSHTF (as during deer season), they know where to come. Seven in the front pasture this morning.

Bricks and chicken wire, and more rocks and chicken wire.

To set out a tree in places where animals will eat it or eat at it. Plant a tree. Build a mound of soil around it in the shape of a reverse moot, but first put down a layer of cardboard then the soil piled on the edges. Then a fence of chicken wire or one inch hardware clothe whichever you have up to at least 5 feet tall with rocks or bricks as an anchor around the edges, If you can curl some of the wire's edges outward you have something to sit the rocks on.

Then put another layer about a foot out from that It does not have to be as tall, but needs to be anchored. What you will be doing is preventing several years worth of damage to the new tree.

If you can plany wormwood around a place you are going to plant trees, say a small plot of land, plant a double row of wormwood around the tree plot. Deer will try to eat the woodward and gag a bit and not go there thinking it is all wormwood.

Two methods of stopping deer from eating your trees.

If the deer are eating your trees plant other feeding plants for them and harvest the deer as often as you can, legal limits being what they are in your area.

Part of nature you have to fight against, other parts of it you have to just kill off to get what you want done, done. Privets are a part of nature, but if you have them in the wild you kill them where you see them, the same with pythons and kudzu.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Rent out hunting to some city people and let them harvest the deer. We do that- about 0,1 deer per acre-year, and we get free meat in the bargain.

It's a puzzle to me that more people don't eat more deer. Haven't we been doing that for all of our existence?

Re all the doom and gloom here. Don't forget the young people, to whom "politically impossible" is a disease of the older generation. The young people I talk with every now and then see that us grown-ups are ruining their world and they are mad about it.

Here;s hope for a rapid die-off of "politically impossible"-- along with more deer feasts- in which the deer are the eaten, not the eaters.

I went for an early morning drive a week ago. There were deer standing around out behind the house, a herd of elk on the nearby airstrip, a grizzly bear and a caribou along the main rail line, a herd of mountain sheep and a few mountain goats by the side of the road. Not bad viewing for a two-hour drive.

You just have to pick your spot. The Canadian Rockies is mine.

The emerald ash borer is coming in from all sides of my south central Illinois county, so I’ve been preemptively removing all of the small ash trees, the largest being twenty five feet, from my property. The largest trees will stay until I see that they are being affected by the borer. There are only two very large ash trees on my property, one being about sixty feet plus feet high, but they have a propensity to seed themselves everywhere. I’m planting mostly fast growing English oak/Bur oak hybrids from Oikos tree crops to replace the ash. Since my large trees are all varieties of hickory, oak, black cherry, and walnut, I won’t be much difference in the quality. I’ve also planted paw paw, persimmon, pecan, and serviceberry to increase the diversity of my woods, along with an array of shade loving native plants.

Thanks for this thread Jason and everything else you have done.

Sure do miss the Reality Report. Never saw an official note that it was over for good. Any chance you will be back with new shows?

I listen to a lot of very good podcasts but the Reality Report was and still is the best.

Thanks for listening and appreciating that show. I loved it and learned so much doing it.

Not sure if it will be back. Not in the same form, as I no longer live there anymore so no longer associate with that radio station.

Perhaps as a podcast only?

I'm still not sure exactly why but this particular event has effected me very deeply on a personal level. I feel very much as if I have lost a family member in some violent unexpected accident. I'm still not quite sure how I will move forward, I know I must go through a phase of mourning.

For the time being I have been going to my local beach and done some diving. Yesterday was an absolutely picture perfect South Florida day. The seas were flat and we had probably 70 to 80 ft. visibility even close to shore.

In my mind I kept superimposing an oil slick over this idyllic scene. To say I'm angry would be an understatement. I'm also unhappy with myself because even though my personal foot print compared to the average person is quite small, I know that I'm still a part of the problem. So when I still see people gassing up their oversized pickups and SUVs without any indication that they have even the remotest idea of the ecological devastation going on in the GOM right now, it really makes me feel very angry and alone and hopeless.

The last few days I have been watching parents waiting to pick up their kids from school, sitting in their vehicles, idling their engines, running their air conditioners in a long line around the block at a private school, near my home. I really have had to fight my desire to break their windows and grab them by the neck and start choking them. No, I wouldn't actually do that, because I know that is not an effective method of dealing with this, but it is how I feel!

As I'm sitting here writing these lines it occurred to me that I can use my graphic arts talents and make myself a large sign the says something like: "Please turn off your engines in respect for the all the sea life that is being killed by the Oil Spill in the Gulf..."

However I strongly suspect that the school guards will not allow me to stand in front of that school.
Though I won't really know until I try it, will I?

I'm heading to the beach again today... Monday will be a new week!

My best wishes to all the good people here, who actually get it, you all know who you are!
It helps me to deal with all this knowing there are a least a few out there who do, THANKS!

Hey FMaygar, I have had identical experiences, and reactions. But, as I said above, while those parents may have no clue, a lot of their kids do;- "get it" real fast. And so the parents die off, and the kids take over, and suddenly "impossible" becomes imperative.

Of course, may not be fast enough.

Joke from Teller's autobiography - overheard in faculty lounge after a lot of Bomb Project scientists had been lured to Chicago after the war- " God save us from the enemy without and the Hungarians within".

" God save us from the enemy without and the Hungarians within".

LOL! You bet. You have to watch those damn Hungarians!

Revelation 11:18 (New International Version)

18The nations were angry; and your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your saints and those who reverence your name,
both small and great—
and FOR DESTROYING THOSE WHO DESTROY THE EARTH." Bible writers were eviromentalist.

Bible writers environmentalists?

Maybe, but in their version, God does the judging, and in my opinion, human lifespans are too short and too unpredictable to wait around for God. Yes, the Earth recovered from the Permian extinction and the Cretaceous bolide, and in time will recover from the recent GOM disaster and all the rest. But not in my lifetime, or my children's lifetimes.

I am heartened and re-invigorated every day to read the Oil Drum and see that people are finding ways to make things work better -- usually in small ways, sometimes bigger. I hear Eeyore's anguish that he wasted his money and wasted his time by trying to be good and useful and local; I feel that way sometimes.

But at the end of the day, I sleep better knowing that I care about the place and the people where I live, and at least some of them care about me. I'm not waiting around for God -- s/he will do whatever s/he wants, and I will be judged (or not). I believe in using local resources in some kind of reasonable manner, but the triangle trade of weapons, drugs, and oil that is destroying the world is caused by humans, not by God, and can be stopped by humans.

Friday I spent a marvelous day working in my garden. No one else around, birds overhead, no lawn mowers or chain saws ruining the peace and quiet. Today it is snowing so I sit inside reading about the end of the world. Tomorrow I must go out and earn some more useless money and deal with the incessant human world of people trying to make a buck off each other.

I have no children (thank god!). Could see this coming years ago. I have a wife and two dogs I quite fond of. I hate to see them suffer.

This will not end well for this planet. Soon the oceans will be dead and humans will fire off their horrible weaponry. Its what we are hard wired to do. We will fight like caged animals. We will poison the air and the land as well as the water.

I think the planet will eventually recover but it will take a very long time. At least I hope so.

I laughed at the title, I live on Larkspur lane. When I have said that word around here, no one seems able to spell it correctly and even more of them don't know it is a flower. How far we have gone from the country life, and this knowledge was fading over 30 years ago, when I started having to tell people what a Larkspur was, so the degradation is not something new.

For the last decade I have used mostly rainwater to water my garden plants, at times I have run out of rainwater, while other times we have run out of storage room due to high rainfall.

We use a lot of reuse, recycle, reducing efforts, more as we go along. We Share my parent's van with others( though my dad does all the driving) taking them shopping and to doctor visits, we reduce the number of overall trips, getting done what can be on each one. The health of the people involved can't handle bike riding, even the lesser impact bikes, and public transit doesn't go the places needed.

We are trying to grow more of our food needs on our city lot. I am experimenting with garin growing, even though I'd not be able to grow all our needs within the semiforest I have here.

Last year the Black walnut crop was less than a handful, while the year before was about a 5 gallon bucket of nuts. Barring bad weather or squrriels we are inline for a big harvest this year. Even some pecans, on a young tree.

I would hope to have more land in the coming years, but barring that, I have to grow more on the land I do have.

Helping others get a better fed and housed future is my only other input into the whole scheme of things.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

A tale of Two Brothers:

My older brother and I returned to the family farm at the same time. He seemed to be in a hurry to build his house and had a son living with him, so we built his place first. I lived in the woods in an RV for several years. His house was complete in less than a year. Mine isn't really finished yet, though quite livable after ten years. His home dominates a hill. Mine is "of" the hill. His home has 400 amp service. Mine,,,,none but what the sun provides and an occasional generator boost.

He doesn't understand why I have let the steepest parts of my pastures return to nature. His creek banks are well groomed with a weed eater, mine overgrown with jewel weed, tag alder, and many other native plants. He mows religiously. I only mow what is absolutly required to carve out a little space for a garden and pastures. He also doesn't understand how I can sit quietly for hours, "doing nothing, wasting time". It occurs to me that he doesn't understand much. He doesn't have the time. He does have more money. Somtimes I think I could use more money,,,,,,,or would the money use me?

I think he has more respect in the community. He's known as a hard worker.

He asked me the other day; "Where have all the deer gone?"

Ha......not telling!

How to get off the sauce?

Here's a simple step that is 100% discretionary: choose recreation which requires few or no fossil fuels. (Duh.) It is hard to believe, but for tens of thousands of years human beings managed to have fun without sitting in toys with internal combustion engines.

""for tens of thousands of years human beings managed to have fun without sitting in toys with internal combustion engines.""

O Yeah!!

It's called SEX !!

The Martian.