The Time has Arrived to do Epic Shit

Larry Santoyo’s parting words to his permaculture students are, “Blame no one, expect nothing, and do something.” And not just anything but, “epic shit.” Clearly, there is some epic shit to be done in the Gulf of Mexico, where blame and expectations are running at epic proportions. While most of us can’t do anything about that epic challenge, we face plenty of epic challenges closer to home.

I’ve been doing some self-assessment of my own skills as I heed Larry’s additional advice of, “reducing your need to earn and reducing your need to spend.” The final exercise in his 6-month course is a Lord of the Flies inspired “Why should we let you live game.” It is not so much a game as a consideration of the skills and knowledge that makes us a resource or an anchor to our own communities. What expertise do each of us possess in the areas of food, water, shelter, energy, communications, security, health services, transportation, art, music—the many facets of society that are essential as we chart a course to our energy future. Do our needs match up with our resources? If I’m not adding value, “Why should you let me live?”

Last week, as I awkwardly straddled the hole I had dug to repair a complicated sprinkler pipe break in my yard, I pondered both of these issues: the seemingly epic proportion of my task—cutting tree roots in a hole with a hand saw, reconfiguring pipes that no longer aligned, splicing controller wire—and assessing the skill sets it would take to make it happen. As you can see from the photo, my fix was not a pretty site. But after the better part of a day and multiple trips to the hardware store, I muddled through—barely able to move the next day from the abuse to my aging body. It was an unexpectedly satisfying experience and a realization that I may have improved my chances of not being voted off the island.


The Oil Drum has contributed greatly to my understanding of needed post-peak skills. Since 2005, The Oil Drum editors, along with its readers, have been a tremendous resource for information, analysis, and ideas about a wide range of topics. This is where I come to satiate my appetite for news, enlightenment, and inspiration. Here, you all have shared your favorite books, history lessons, seasonal cooking, inspirational websites, design ideas, tools for managing research, and even chicken laws and the funniest headline I've ever read.

Tonight let’s build a campfire around the theme of “epic shit.” Let's do some epic sharing. Amazing ideas are taking hold around the world, from tool libraries to yard sharing. We know what needs to be done; what are we waiting for? Share an epic idea, story, organization, person, book, video, podcast, website, or even a tool. Everyone who reads this has something to contribute. It need not be grand it just has to add value, like each of us. I’ll kick things off with my epic weeding tool…the circle hoe…

Circle Hoe Small

Righteous, sister!

My epic piece that I will post soon is an exception to Einstein's relation.
Challenging Einstein is pretty epic, IMO.

What would be really epic is if you did it in cartoon form--for us visual types.

Perhaps when WHT is ready to publish he can contact me to do the illustrations ;-)

But regarding doing some "Epic Shit", some days it seems that just getting out of bed and facing a new day can be an "Epic" enough accomplishment for me. Just keeping on trucking even if it means going against the flow because there just is no other way!

I think the epic crap angle is brilliant in a totally different way.

We have to start getting used to using non-ideal, largely crappy energy sources. These are all crappy because they are governed by the forces of entropy. Examples of this are wind power and photovoltaics. These are both epically crappy sources of energy but perhaps useful if we start thinking in ways that we are not used to or comfortable with.

For wind power, the intermittent and sporadic nature of wind speed follows the laws of maximum entropy almost exactly. We have to face up to this and start designing our systems around that fact. We are used to having concentrated sources of power like oil, but that is just a fluke of nature, and to establish a sustainable approach, we first have to acknowledge that things may longer stay instant on.

Same goes with photovoltaics. Mos PV material is crappy and nowhere near ideal. So its crappy, so what, let's work to figure out how to use that to our advantage. It will never be perfect but if we can get in that crappy frame of mind, we might start gaining some insight which will lead to some new avenues. I used to work on semiconductors and started dipping my toes into it again recently. That's what prompted my first comment on the Einstein relation. The PV material known as amorphous silicon is so crappy that certain standard sold-state semiconductor theories no longer hold, such as the Einstein relation. Actually the theory still holds but you can't plug in numbers the way you would expect.

To top it all off, the academics don't want to work on this stuff because it is all crappy math and physics and it won't lead to any Nobel prizes. No one gets rewarded for investigating how crappy something is.

I would draw a picture, but it would look like crap.

I said to someone the other day, we may just have to get used to intermittent power. I think you are right--design around the perceived impediment.

Well it doesn't have to be so intermittant. They did a study in Germany where they simulated the whole country running on a very large share of renewables and showed that it is very much possible to do so: (yeah, German I know, but they simply are at point where we will not be for another decade or two when it comes to renewables (that is, if we make a dedicated effort))

Well and even if turns out te be more difficult it doesn't have to be a problem. We can come up with a lot of load matching as opposed to the generating matching we do now.

It doesn't really matter when exactly your car charges as long as it's ready by the time you need it. Which usually is the tomorrow morning.
It doesn't really matter when exactly your electric boiler heat's the water.
You can easily switch off the heating or AC for a couple of hours in a well insulated building without noticing. If you use a boiler for storing heat, you have even more decoupling.
If you place a phase change material in you fridge (e.g. water @ 334kj/kg) you can switch it off for a long time. Same goes for a freezer.

I'm sure we can come up with more.

I use the phrase that wind power is predictable in its unpredictability.

I recently did an exhaustive study of several years worth of hourly wind energy output for southern Ontario.

If you look at the curve, the solid line is that what is predicted by the maximum entropy principle. In other words the variation in wind energy output is entirely predictable. This means it will never get any better, but by the same token it will never get any worse. Over the long term, we know precisely how the ebbs and flows in energy output will behave.

Consider another analogy. The situation between a wind farm is analogous to an agricultural farm. We have gotten over the fact that crop farming goes through ebbs and flows, but people freak out when wind does the same thing. Germany has this figured out. Its just like a farm, people! Wake up and smell the crap.

Like a broken record, I'll repeat that we've been living on intermittent electricity for years.....we've been living on intermittent electricity for years....... we've bee........


I think it's not a big deal on the individual level right now while the world's industrial economies are still functioning.

But try telling the people of Pakistan that intermittant power is "Not A Big Deal."

OK, Aardvark, I'll try:

People of Pakistan:

It's NOT A BIG DEAL! It only seems that way because you make it one. You had better get about the business of adapting to the way the world is, and is going to be, instead of blaming and killing each other. Start by telling the US Govt. to get the hell out of your part of the world. They just make things worse. Oh yeah, this thing with India is a stupid waste of time, energy and resources. Better to make peace with your fellow humans.

Hows that?

Funny, ha ha. What Aardvark is referring to is that the people of Pakistan are about to start hanging government leadership because they can't solve the "intermittent power" problem.

In some places its workers have had to repair power lines under police protection because of angry crowds.

Karachi protests over power cuts - BBC

There's is however one problem:
Wind is renewable energy, but renewable energy is not wind. (not just wind)

And even if renewables where just wind, it's not just wind in Ontario, or doesn't America have powerlines? I mean, I'd be plain stupid if Canada didn't distribute it's electricity accross all states, but you'll better start connecting to the US on a big scale if you aren't all ready. There's a fairly large change that the wind is blowing somewhere.

WHT, it's true that PV and wind aren't comparable baseload; but baseload is not really needed for a human society.

The difference in human life quality between an individual having 0 watts and 5 watts may be enormously greater than the difference between an individual having 40,000 watts and 50,000 watts. So a PV panel may be quite valuable; making the difference between radio and cell phone and LED lighting and computing, and squatting isolated in the dark.

Just an offhand remark.

Like I said in my key post down thread, I wanted to design a house that needed little build in power sources.

We know that if you face your windows toward the sun, you can get warmth when you need it and cool when you need it. It is called passive solar design. We know that thick walls, or earth shelter holds heat longer and has a more steady temp-range than something with thin walls and bad design.

There are very low energy designs for cool boxes, storage spaces that use convection to keep foods cool, without the need for the electricty that we have gotten used to using now. We know that we used to have ice houses, and used caves as cold storage. There are methods that you rarely ever see in use in the modern world that are low tech and low outside energy. We can start reusing them so that we can be more independant of the grid.

If we built every new house in america with this mindset, we could change a lot very fast. McMasions might bite the dust, but can we sustain them for much longer?

Teh know how is here now, the willingness is not. We have fooled ourselves into thinking we have to have all the gizmos that we are so used to having, when we don't.

There are methods of building brick wood burning stoves that use very little wood, and either provide lots of heat, or can cook food very well. There are solar ovens for places where wood should not be used, or can't be used as it is scarce.

We have all these bits of information around, knowledge of how to build things and be energy frugal, and we just don't use them. IT is time to change, otherwise we will be forced to change is so radical of a method as we might lose that knowledge, and go into another dark age of mankind. Not something I would want to see happen.

I hear the thunder outside, maybe I'll get the water to top off the new capacity I added yesterday.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I also design tiny homes, under 500 sqft.
One I have drawings of, is a two story home with a balcony on the second floor looking out over the view of whatever garden/yard/forest you have. It is on a foundation of 15' X 15' 1st floor, and a variable sized second floor.

An epic idea whose time really needs to come soon is to forget the hoe, and all the other soil-disrupting tools/techniques, and switch to -- no-till!

Speaking from experience I can tell you that uncompromising no-till techniques are easier, quicker, MUCH less disrupting of the natural, self-renewing fertility of a strong, healthy soil-community, and so on.

Currently I'm using Ruth Stout's, Emilia Hazelip's, et al.'s constant deep mulch approach. And I tell you, I'll never go back to any kind of soil-disrupting, bare-earth cultivation.

Anyone past fifty and feeling it is going to take to this lower-labour, high-productivity, sustained high-fertility, naturally-harmonising (rather than disruptive) approach like a duckling to water.

There are other brilliant new/old techniques now due and overdue for widescale revival/adoption, which I'll just baldly list here, without going into them beyond saying that all are being run effectively by pioneers right now: biochar/terra-preta soil making; agroforestry/edible forests; self-fertile soil husbandry (Fukuoka, Hazelip, Bonfils, et al); chinampa horticulture/aquaculture in swampy land and shallow lake terrain; and on.

There's more to say, but just those few ideas are enough to keep the pioneers/re-pioneers busy for some years yet, especially as determined orthodoxers go on trying to make the now-doomed conventional approach of high-energy-demand, hitech, violent and poisonous industrial-agriculture work, even as it begins its slow (or maybe quite rapid) death-dive.

I have several plants mulched with shreded packing paper, and some bigger plants like trees and bushes mulched with cardboard.

In one bed I trim the weeds off at ground level with a pair of scissors, as pulling them or digging with a hoe distrubs the small scattered food plants.

I have a habit of planting a lot of things in the same space. My wild yard has dozens of plants in any given square foot of ground and over the course of a year they all cycle in and out of their growing and dying, why not the food plants.

When the bush beans are past prime, they get cut off at ground level and leafy greens are planted. Marigolds in my tomatoes, onions in my peppers, potatoes in my cantaloupes.

Soil in most areas of the world was built up without someone coming along and tilling the ground every year, so why did we think that tilling the ground would work better?

What happened way back when, was that someone stopped planting things where they grew already and started trying to grow them where other plants were. Kill other plant, and plant mine there, and I can have a great crop, and so farming shows up on the scene.

If a plant is growing one place, take the seeds and plant them and let the natural order of things tell you if the seed will grow there or not. Look what squirrels do, they plant trees all the time, really they forget where they left a stored seed, but maybe they are planting next generation's food supplies.

Birds do the same thing, and wind as well, and water too. Is there a method to the madness of the system?

Humans have been trying to game the system for so long they have forgotten how to live without trying to bend it to their total will. I bend it, but I don't expect to rule over it and totally control it, not my job, just here to use what is given me and go on about having fun playing games with friends.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

This is lovely, no doubt. . .

But I hate to break it to ya.

Epic happens when the cameras aren't running, no one is paying fees for classes, and self-promotion turns into self-preservation.

Is lying about "I'm making a difference" better than this lie: "there isn't a problem!"

Not to say a change can't be made, but it sure as hell isn't easy.

Reducing your need to earn and reducing your need to spend.

Statements of this sort are beginning to make me feel very defeated. Someone who's living in a million dollar mansion, eating out every night at a four star restaurant, buying new car and furniture every year- yeah, they seriously need to shake that monkey off their back. The very sight of the Aaron Spelling mansion makes me want to vomit.

But what about minimum-wage apartment renters who make up half the population? Everyone knows wages have been flat for twenty years or more. But not rents; nooooo...those suckers go up every year, five to ten percent, year after year after year. Reduce your need to earn? How? A crappy two bedroom apartment is running around a thousand a month in these parts. Just a hint, a mere breath of the words "rent control" and the slum- oops, landlords start screaming armageddon.

What are anyone's suggestions about the anti-self sustaining laws? Nowhere in this country is it legal to raise a pig inside a town limit. I cannot have chickens. I cannot have rabbits. I cannot have honeybees. I cannot have a garden over 10 foot by 10 foot. These are laws we are talking about, criminal convictions at a snitch neighbor's whim. These are not going to change as long as the eternal-prosperity folks are clinging panic-stricken to the last vestiges of their putrifying American Dream. I expect those infernal neighborhood covenants will be the very last thing to go.

I am doing all the loca/perma stuff, like most folk here. There was a poster who mentioned a composting toilet. Flat out illegal here, you'd go to jail for endangering the public health and a $10,000 fine. There was one poster who mentioned having to sneak food plants in amongst her yard plantings. Guerilla gardening!? Us too. It shouldn't have to be that way. It should not be illegal for me to replace a diseased, non-native pine tree with a food producing apple or butternut tree. But it is.

We have spent three years restoring the thick clay subsoil with mass inputs of organic matter. We are installing a drip irrigation setup this year, all manually controlled- no power/wires/batteries needed. I have not, however, been able to locate anywhere the old fashioned kind of outdoor high/low thermometer, the kind with the little metal indicator arms you reset yourself. Apparently low-tech climate recording is 'too yesterday'. Solar food dryer, check. Home pressure canner, check. We still have a car, but it is used so infrequently it has actually sprouted lichen on the north side! We plan to start a worm bin this year. Last year we had a pair of the prettiest frogs move into our tomato patch of all places. A soft lime green on top, with a pastel pink on the sides, never saw ones like it before. They staunchly defended our 'maters from all comers, and we had a great harvest. That's why I don't use herbicide or pesticide. Not only are frogs free, they're really cute too, and they sing!

But in spite of all we do, in spite of all the hard and encouraging work of everyone here, I have this nagging feeling that the Something Epic that needs to be done is to procure for the urbanite and the suburbanite, an inalienable right to produce their own food, a Nutrition Human Rights to fresh vegetables, fresh fruits and to smallstock animal protein; to counteract the NIMBY "eewwww, animals, they smell; eewwww, fruit trees, they make a mess and draw flies, eewwww!" And this Nutrition Rights has to be for RENTERS, not just owners. People riot when they feel they are endangered and without options. If they have a rock-solid legal right to produce for themselves, it gives the needed option, to not be helpless in the face of privation. People who have a broad and practical solution to pour their energies into, and which gives them hope, are far less likely to go rampaging. But I am not a politician or even an activist, and I have no idea if it could achieve the critical mass to become a legal mandate.

I'm quite sure that within a few more years people will start ignoring those laws and then they will stop being enforced. But the economic environment has to worsen a bit more before that happens.

Here's an epic idea: let's modify current mortgage contracts so that during a foreclosure the mortgage holder doesn't lose all the principal and interest they have paid over time. Right now the bank gets everything even if it's just one dollar that is owed to pay off the loan.

The only way people could possibly have accepted this lopsided arrangement in favor of the banks is during an era of abundance like the one we are now leaving.

Perhaps bulldozers might have to be involved a few more times to get the banks' attention, though. The cards are stacked heavily in their favor right now.

Frustrated Owner Bulldozes Home Ahead Of Foreclosure


Just a minor clarification. They bulldozer case is unique. A standard mortgage does NOT allow the bank to keep more than what they are owed (plus selling expenses) after selling a foreclosed property. In the bulldozer case, the bank put a lien on his house to cover what looks like a business loan where the house was used as collateral. The balance due on the business loan was more than the payoff of the mortgage.

PriorityX, thanks for the clarification. I over read into the situation.

They do get to keep all the interest, however, which is a pretty good deal.

Plus, they get to loan people money that, technically, they largely do not have. Banking is a fabulous business — if one is the banker.

But if you have rabbits as pets, then how could anyone protest? I have 3 rabbits (there are no zoning laws against that here). No smell (virtually). No noise, no problems at all. We could breed them and eat them, but we don`t. They are fertilizer providers and PO training bunnies, very useful. They are also pets with names. I can`t see how zoning laws could prevent you from having beloved pets! Ours do live outside but a shed, semi-open, would be good too. If you had a sort of open shed/garage arrangement, how could anyone complain?

The best thing about the rabbits: picking grass from nearby roadsides and giving it to my rabbits to fertilizer from outside our perimeter. And watching them is very peaceful, very zen.......

Couldn`t you fight these laws, saying you need pet rabbits for your peace of mind/psychological fulfillment, etc.?? If necessary, fight all the way to the Supreme Court....I would!!!!Keeping a few rabbits should be NO PROBLEM in a "Free Country"!

I feel your pain Bro.

Unfortunately, I fear that there are a good many sub-/urbanites who would rather pilage others than attempt to provide food for themselves.

I think those laws you refer to limiting livestock and *agriculture* in town limits will start to be ignored fairly shortly after states become financially bankrupt. I can't see it being long until some states like CA, FL and a few others can't afford to pay government workers, cops, prosecutors, etc. and I doubt those folks will work for free. But then what? Unemployment goes even higher, crime rates increase, services dwindle, maintence of public facilities (like roads, water, sewer, etc.) deteriorate, etc..

I just hope some of this starts to happen during Obama's term so he gets some *credit* for it.

Where do you live. I live in North Little Rock Arkansas. And the local laws allow you to have 3 hens, no male chickens per yard. Little Rock has simular laws. I don't have anyplace I could put them, and would have to buy feed for them, which I don't want to do, as that kinda defeats the purpose in my opinion. WE can have rabbits, but again I don't have the vegie matter to feed them.

I would look into seeking the ear of your local area rep,whatever title they have, and speaking about fixing things in your area, and maybe asking around neighbors and or others about getting the zoning changed.

I have rented and asked to owners if they minded me growing things, and didn't have bad results, but I guess I was blessed with good landlords.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Don't know where you live but if it's USA then perhaps a supreme court challenge based on this might succeed:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Surely the Liberty to grow your own food is critical to the sutaining of Life which enables the pursuit of Happiness?

Unfortunately, that's from the Declaration of Independence, which is not codified law.

One of my epic opportunities came via eMail last Thursday.


I am working on creating a [well known organization] vision for getting transportation off of oil as quickly as possible. Your document and the oil drum piece are very helpful. I would appreciate a chance to talk with you about creating such a vision.

Add to that my minor contributions to the United Nations "Green Economy Initiative" (still in draft form, which I have reviewed parts of).

Plus more :-)

Best Hopes !


Alan, you've inspired a lot of folks out here. And we're passing it on. My favorite part of the presentations I give are historic photos and maps of the Pacific Electric Rail system SoCal had in the early 1900's. I shared them with someone at the SCAQMD and he used the idea in a presentation he gave at a conference yesterday. A staffer from the San Bernardino Association of Governments gave a peak oil talk just before his, I chimed in with more doomer porn and by the end of the day, a woman from Caltrans said (I'm paraphrasing here), all this talk around land use, transportation, and air quality, is going to have to be completely re-thought. I think that's pretty epic.

Yeah! Go, Alan! Congrats.

That's a little bit of good news.

I look forward to the day that a Class-1 announces that it is ordering a bunch of dual-mode or electric locomotives..

working on creating a [well known organization] vision for getting transportation off of oil as quickly as possible

PV + EV = Freedom from OIL ADDICTION.

95 % of our transportation system is oil based. As long as we continue to fill our tanks every week, the drug pushers will keep on feeding us our drugs and keep on polluting and killing our food supply. The GOM tragedy being the most visible example this week.

EV technology is not perfect, but right now it is good enough to break this addiction, if people are just willing to change an ever so small amount.

I spent over 20k building my latest EV and I would be willing to sell it today for 14k in order to finance my next EV project. Any takers ? Send me an email offline if you are interested.


I am not a great fan of EV's (although I do not oppose them per se).

They promote an energy intensive lifestyle.

Although what you are doing is FAR better than most.


I'm pondering how electric bikes promote an energy intensive lifestyle.

In conversation this afternoon, she said that higher CAFE, PHEVs and EVs were not going
to get the job done.

I supplied her with a far amount of information (much of which flowed from ASPO funding
of MI.

She appeared impressed when I quoted Swiss Rail (SBB), that they move 1/3rd of the
freight tonne-km and 1/6th of the passenger-km for 3% of all transportation energy in
Switzerland and that energy comes from hydroelectric plants (the other 97% from oil).

She needs more time to digest these concepts and ramifications.

Best Hopes,


might use one of those "epic hoes" around onions, but prefer a hula hoe for most general purposes. mulch is even better, but one must be ready at all times to use the gardeners most valuable tool, the human hand. Crab and nut grass are tough customers and if anyone has a virtue for these plants, other than holding the world together, please let me know.

I live a few miles north of the GOM. Just north of the Cody Scarp. Have been following all the activities regarding the disaster for the past month. My recommendation is to bend over and kiss your ass good bye, because this thing is going to be real bad before it's over. Wonder if NIMBY is part of the vocabulary of nature. It ought to be, and we ought to give nature the right too state its case. Wonder if our fellow creatures realize what is happening or about to happen? Wonder if they are sentient? Me thinks they are. I once dropped a gambusia affinis, (mosquito fish), into a tumbler of fine bourbon. It died in 30 seconds. Yup, we gonna survive this thing. Lots of our fellow creatures are goners. Recommendation. Learn to get along on lots less.

Learn to get along on lots less.

I like the way Larry Santoyo puts it, "Reduce your need to earn and reduce your need to spend."

yup, my old papa, use to say, "Its not what you earn. It's what you spend that counts."

But, you know it don't take much to get along if you can just distinguish what you want from what you need. The American psyche has been highjacked. But, Consumer capitalism is beginning to take a hit. Wonder if the marketing infrastructure of the USA were turned loose on the reality of the situation what would happen? They sure as hell have been successful in identifying and stimulating our desires and passions, making us believe in the blank slate theory , and providing and promoting materialism as the best way to success in all our various endeavors. Reckon the descendants of Bernays could convince us to change our ways? Life really is a lot more satisfying without the complexity and so much stuff. Recommendaion: Get yourself some real good hand gardening tools. Find an old person who knows how to use them, so they can demonstrate why their lives have value. Next, find a child to assist you, and everything will be alright.

Speaking of kids, Earthroots Field School is doing some great stuff in Orange County, California.

And for great compost in the O.C. I recommend Aquinaga Green

Better yet, make your own. The biggest thing to come out of having run - and been a student in - a permaculture design course is soil (and water.) Closing the loop on soil by composting your own waste is a huge thing, and right now, when so few do make their own compost, whether with worms, a compost pile or compost tea, there is a ton of raw materials around most of us in the form of our neighbors' 'trash." Grass cutting are a fabulous nitrogen source. Leaves are a great "brown" ingredient.

You can also build soil using layered beds of grass, leaves and other materials if you have them. This is especially good because you don't have the detriment of tilling the soil, which disrupts the microbial community and releases carbon. We can sequester huge amounts of carbon simply by composting and mulching all of our organic waste.


As a survival technique, building your soil is unparalleled, especially, not to be repetitive, because your neighbors aren't. This is a competitive advantage to you. After all, once everyone and their brother realizes they need to grow some or all of their own food, all that organic waste will no longer be waste and it will take much longer to build your soil, so **do it now.**

I've not got our worms going yet, but the compost pile is well underway. Our first solo batch of compost tea starts brewing tomorrow. Planted currants, tomatoes, peppers, Three Sisters garden, etc. today.


I am also making my own compost but needed to get things kick started as we have heavy clay soil here. I made the bin out of scrap lumber--its even uglier than my sprinkler fix so I think I'll spare you the photo. Also have a worm bin and am going to have to expand it this year as they wigglers are actually thriving. Maybe someone can offer some advice on the appropriate ratio of worm tea to water.

We hagve extremely heavy clay soil, too, but I try to keep these three things in mind in all we do here at PRI-De:

- Is it sustainable?

- Could a typical Detroiter do/afford it?

- As a permaculture training site, we want to be as good an example as we can to any who might look in our direction.

Again, we're just getting started, so are nowhere near to being able to meet all those criteria in everything we do, but we'd rather go slowly and do it the closest to permaculture ideals that we can. To deal partly with the clay, the instructor had us do a nine layer lasagna bed on half the space. We're also going to use deep-rooted crops to help break up and add organic content/tilth to the soil over time. Of course, if we compost and mulch the hell out of the space we'll build a nice humus on top of the clay soil, too.

Would I love to till in 12 inches of compost and organic matter, etc., to improve soil tilth? Yes. But what do I do to the microbial community if I do? How can I talk about sustainability if I don't use sustainable methods? How can I talk about climate and use fossil fuels for convenience, or release carbon by tilling?

Again, we're so far from perfect/sustainable right now it's sad, so don't think I'm calling you out because I'm not. I'm just framing how we **try** to think and act.


Forgot to soap box: If it isn't sustainable, there's not much point in doing it. Hard to start from Day One at sustainability, but that's got to be our long-term goal. Taking baby steps in that direction, we bought an push mower! Yes, the whirly-bladed style! It sucks and takes a lot of time, but at least we're not using a motorized contraption, and all the materials are recyclable metal and wood, except for the wheels.


As Larry says, once you choose sustainability, there are no other choices.

Sustainable and Resilient. Sustainability is a moving target over time and place.

So we need to plan for resilience for those times when there are dramatic disruptions in what is currently considered sustainable (e.g. consider Britain 2000 strikes - fuel for tillers gone... ).

(excellent camp fire Debbie - thanks)

Nothing one person can do at this point is sustainable.

Until we end industrial civilization we are kidding ourselves about sustainability. Five billion people will have to leave the earth for humans to live without leaving a trace.

If you want to see what living a sustainable way of life looks like read about the Hadza:

I read nothing epic in these comments. We need to stop focusing on ourselves and look at the multinational corporations that wipe out a lifetime of your recycling with one day of industrial waste. YOu guys are talking about emptying an overflowing bathtub with a spoon and the faucet is still on.

You want epic?

I read nothing epic in these comments.

What a shame, but that's what my brother calls, "a personal problem."

Hey, at least he didn't call us all epic ho's ;-)

But really, I appreciate when someone has fixed their own sprinkler and is using a push mower, but I gotta ask--Why do you folks have lawns at all (or lawns that are big enough that you need sprinklers, or that it's hard to mow because it's so big.)

Lawns are next to cars as being the biggest energy sink (not to mention water sink, pollution source, and waste of time) ever imagined. Historically, they go back to Louis XIV's Versailles excesses--basically, we've all become little Louis's, exerting our insane notion of total and fruitless control over our surroundings by establishing these barren mono-cultures.

While any of us have any lawns (beyond some grass that might grow in a walkway or something), we haven't done shit, epically speaking, in my book, to move away from our epically wasteful and foolish/fuelish ways.

(Full confession, I do have a small lawn, probably about 400 ft ^2 total--on wife's insistence that we keep some bit of "normalcy"--but I'm letting my native garden take over more and more of it every year.

One thing on my "bucket list" is working toward eliminating the world of gas powered leaf blowers. In my San Jose suburb of tract homes about 95% of people maintain green lawns and use the full gamut of gas powered tools maintaining them. There is also an army of lawn service workers that are employed to work the lawns. The worst of the tools employed is the gas powered leaf blower. Their two-cyle motors burn oil and gas in a highly air-polluting fashion. The noise they produce is extrememly annoying. Should we really be using precious gas and oil to blow leaves around? I wrote an anti-leaf blower song and am working on some animation to make a music video. I will release this as anti-leaf blower propaganda. I tell lawn service workers to stop using them. I put up an anti-leafblower sign on my tree near the sidewalk. I've made a bumper sticker; "ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT LEAFBLOWERS". I've tried to enlist local politicians to begin to institute a ban on leaf blowers but none seem interested. How bad will climate change become or how expensive will gasoline have to be before it's poltically incorrect to use leaf blowers?
I've eliminated my grass lawn to natural attrition. Whatever grows naturally with minimal water gets to stay. I've got raised beds for vegetables in the back-yard and this year I put two more beds in the FRONT YARD for vegetables to demonstrate to the neighbors it's OK to not have a green grass lawn.

I use an electric lawn mower as my lawn transitions. No leaf blowers or weed eaters (they leave bits of plastic string EVERYWHERE). I just pull grass up by roots next to sidewalks, curbs, etc. twice a year to keep it neat.


I'm definitely with you on the leaf-blower thing. They are the proof that there is evil in the world.

And they can kick up vast clouds of dust, increasing the level of particulates in the already-heavily-polluted air.

It really kills me to see some idiot (or hapless underling who is forced to do it for a paycheck) blowing into a stiff wind--leaves, trash, dust, grit flying every which way to absolutely no purpose.

I would dearly love to get an ordinance passed against them, but I'm sure the local lawn care industry would rise up in righteous fury against it. Has such an ordinance gotten passed anywhere in the US that anyone knows about?

I agree 100% Christian - I have done pretty much all the things listed in these comments at one time or another. Then I get out in the REAL world a bit and see that 99.9% of the population are not doing any of this, in fact they are all heading straight for the wall at 100mph.

I understand that people commenting here need to feel like they are "doing something" but in truth they are living in deep denial.

Watch this and see what we are up against;

"Renaissance 2.0: Lesson 1 - Revisiting American History - Financial Empire"

That is what we need to be addressing or else things will get real ugly for all, compost and worm tea or not.

Oh! I got an idea lets start a political movement and change the world one vote at a time. Right.

This morning we ate breakfast: fresh eggs from our pastured chickens (12 hens producing several dozen jumbo eggs a week); sausage made by a neighbor; locally produced steel cut oats; buckwheat muffins, grown/baked by a neighbor; goats milk from down the road; coffee, from Kona. This is fairly normal for us. All of this food except the coffee was grown within 15 miles of my home by part time hobby producers, many with additional/fallow land available and the ability to produce much more. Most use minimum amounts of fossil fuels to grow their food. Very little money changes hands.

All of these "peaceful" part time producers have guns and can shoot.

Location, location, location.....

"All of these "peaceful" part time producers have guns and can shoot."

.1% against the other 99.9%.

Sounds like a wondrous future indeed.

How about advocating for a future scenario where it doesn't have to be that way? Oh, that would be stepping outside your comfort zone right?

"Oh, that would be stepping outside your comfort zone right?"

It would be unrealistic, considering our special history. I'm a pacifist, until I'm not.

Walk softly and carry an automatic.

Somebody recently pointed out that it is more "main stream" (that is, there are more people doing it, and doing so openly) to fret about the possibility of an asteroid hitting the earth than to even consider that some other system than capitalism might be worth thinking about.

Picture all the people in more densely populated areas moving out of those areas so that they would have enough land to do what your neighbors do. Problem arises: Not enough land.

If you do not live near 2 and 3 story apartment buildings and houses that have tiny yards you can fail to appreciate just how many people there are.

NY Metro Area - 19 Million
LA Metro Area - 13 Million
Chicago Metro Area - 10 Million
Mumbai Metro Area - 18 Million
Mexico City Metro Area - 22 million

The guys at the top of that pyramid will get themselves off of it, when they have no way to feed themselves. Kings have died in the past, and though the videos are very mind altering for some, it is not new news to me. It is kind of plain to most if they have been looking at the system for a while, not something that you will learn in school.

But that use of the word Federal in the name of a bank makes you think Gov't and it is not. Then again, joe six pack might not worry about being a slave to oil either.

Things are changing and all the money in the world can't grow more oil once it is gone. The whole pile of central banking/owners got started when we starting using Fossil Fuels in the first place, so in reality sooner or later their house of cards will fall.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

"Five billion people will have to leave the earth for humans to live without leaving a trace."

You'll be happy to know the problem has been recognized and the fix is underway:

I know some homeless people that live off the land, is that sustainable enough for you?

We might be doing drops in a bucket, but even a drop has volume.

If we get more people with spoons the flow of the faucet can be out matched, and though it is difficult it can be done.

And nothing in life was said to have been made easy. As I see it from a Christian mindset, once we got kicked out of the garden of eden, we had to learn how to survive off a barren land, and nothing was easy afterwards. The idea in the garden of eden was that no work was needed to eat, and no other work was needed. Eat and be merry, life in a balance. Now out here in the harsh world outside the garden of eden, everything is hard, and will be till the day you die.

Just because spooning the tub out seems impossible, not trying to do so is a defeatist mindset and you might as well go sit in a corner and die, if you have one of those.

For me I will try to make a difference until such time as I can no longer breath, and I can still make a difference for about 3 minutes after stopping to breath, so don't count me gone till you bury me.

It is epic when a seed sprouts. It is epic when the sun shines out of a thunderstorm. It is epic when a child smiles. There are a lot of epic things happening everyday and we are just blind to them happening.

Every little bit helps, even when it is just planting a seed of an idea in the head of someone.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Why are you assuming I am telling you to stop "spooning out the water"? Keep doing it, BUT TURN OFF THE TAP! Actions that do not change anything DO NOT MAKE A DIFFERENCE. They feel good, but they are just triage.

And the more people you have spooning out the mess the more licence it gives the people who control the tap to turn it up more.

I AM ONE OF YOU. Your antagonism and snide remarks about your fear of being "homeless" do nothing for our cause.

And your poetic places are being ravaged by the epic BP as we speak. It is epic when 40,000 barrels of oil bloom in the ocean....

Do you know about this guy?

I apoligize for being snide. And I don't have a fear of being homeless, been there done that, don't really feel I am homeless in the grand scheme of things anyway. Maybe I should for self indenifying purposes say house less, not home less. Under a nice tree is a nice home.

I got your message further down in another one of your posts, sorry for being short and not reading further before posting.

We might not be able to stop the people at the tap control, but collective impacts will stop them later after a while of us spooning the flow.

Voting the poli-ticks out of office won't change the people in power. Going to a less money way of life will limit them your part. But we are still stuck in the mud because as it stands in the USA you can not own land without paying someone taxs on it every year. You have to pay in most cases to renew your ID cards. You have to pay taxes on anything that you buy from a sales tax paying business. So on one hand I'd love to go to a total cash free society, we can't just yet, still the tap dribbles.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

"we are still stuck in the mud"

This reminded me of an old Buddhist metaphor for the struggle toward enlightenment--an elephant trying to get out of a mud pit.

A pretty good approximation of our predicament--the more we move around to get out, the deeper we wallow in our own filth.

Recommendaion: Get yourself some real good hand gardening tools.

Ya could build your own.

My most recent epic endeavor is proposing that the City of Rockville, Maryland convert a money losing golf course into an orchard. See

There is a group here in HB that is close to clearing all the hurdles to convert a utility easement into a community garden. Takes lots of persistence. Good luck.

I was involved in a successful effort last year that started a community garden over a natural gas pipeline (or actually on the right of way, but 15 feet over from the pipe.) The pipeline is the Transco line coming from Texas (or so I'm told) We now have a long skinny community garden. Its very nice, but less than an eighth of an acre. The golf course is 180 acres. Trying to be epic...

Similar to this one?: Right of Way Garden

There is a VERY active urban gardening/farming movement here in Detroit. Our yard is turning into a combination community garden/market garden as we speak.


Good use of vacant land.
But, what happens to the gardens when the local transit agency wants to restore that RR track in the photo to actively running trains, commuter or light rail? Maybe they could be replanted on a berm and kept a little farther from the trackside or at least have a fence between them and the track.

That "W" sign by the way means "whistle" for train engineer to blow the horn at road crossing down the track.

When Wisconsin was considering an Energy Bill this past legislative session, I emailed several legislators (I'm active in Dem politics, so I know several on a first name basis) and suggested that they include a moratorium on new starts of fossil fuel power plants until the manure from 75% of Wisconsin's cows is being converted to methane and turned into electricity.

I would encourage all our correspondents to encourage their legislators to do the same.

I believe this idea literally fits the title of this post....

I once attended a conference that covered this subject and if I recall correctly, the hurdle is that the economics require the farm be adjacent to an existing gas line. And I also seem to think they said that each animal produced 100 lbs of epic manure per day. That sounds high but I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong.

One of my average cows eats 35 lbs. (dry weight) of feed per day. Cows also require about 15 gallons of water per day, more or less, depends on how hot the weather gets. This is based on an average cow body weight of 1500 lbs.

If utilized as fertilizer on cropland it would be more useful as a replacement to NG based fertilizers.

Amen to that. Given the choice, I would always choose food over fuel.

And it is not just cow dung that needs to go back into the soil.

There has been an oily shrimp harvest. Granted, it was withheld from market, but who the heck is in charge? We had to wait for a visibly oily harvest? WTH. How many non-visible oily harvests went down the line to market?

Eat Mo Chicken. Maybe steroids are better for you than crude.

As you can see from the photo, my fix was not a pretty site.

I think it's beautiful.


It was an unexpectedly satisfying experience and a realization that I may have improved my chances of not being voted off the island.

Thanks. And the glue is still holding. I'm gradually switching over to drip irrigation. Have found Netafim to be quite good. I will also be installing a water capture system most likely using some kind of water bag.

Bought two haskap berry bushes today, gradually converting half of the front lawn to berry bushes, other half to perennial native flowers. I don't really like grass but can't kill it all off cause of neighbor's property values....sigh. Might try a few ornamental tomato bushes too and ornamental cabbages ;^) Asperagus crowns not up, hope they appear soon, ostrich fern fiddlehead poking noses up. Doing stealth edibles growing among the ornamentals...Trying to decide between a red currant and gooseberries (taste better but vicious thorns).

I took the plunge 3 years ago and mulched out my whole front yard - no grass. It was a bit of an eyesore for a few months, but it was well worth it.

I planted an apricot tree, two apple trees, a pair of hardy kiwi, and some hazelnut bushes.
The rest is a mix of edible ornamentals, perennial herbs such as lavender, salvia and hyssop, and "regular" flowers. I have stepping stones and a bird bath, which add visual interest, but have a practical purpose.

The hardest time in the garden for me is early spring - the dandelions run rampant, and the perennials are only just peeking out. I find a liberal application of dark mulch to be the answer, after collecting the dandelion flowers for wine - looks attractive from the street, controls excess weeds, and gets the thumbs up from the neighbors.

Lots of people stop to look, plus I get birds and butterflies.

I have Pixwell gooseberry - lighter on the thorns, with a fruit that turns from green to pink when ripe. I like blackcurrant too.

The early blooming flowers, like the irises and columbines, are attractive enough to keep things looking good until the edibles start coming up. You only need a few to distract people from the real food plants ;)

I do keep a patch of grass in the back yard, since a flat surface is good for entertaining, and the dog needs a place to run. My neighbor gave me her old push mower, which I couldn't use since she had backed into it with her car, and the handle was bent.

Since the handle was just aluminum, I found out I could straighten it by just jumping on it, on a concrete surface. Real low-tech solution. It works great now.

Addendum : most of my efforts have included training of neighbors. Quite a lot of psychology is involved, particularly when it comes to my beehives.

I was interviewed and videotaped last week by the local news channel for their website. I think that's epic.

How does the kiwi taste? We are thinking of three of them. We're in Saskatchewan, too far north for Pixwell, unfortunately. All the varieties that do well here are viciously thorned. I've been using the the distraction manouvre on the neighbors: for any useful plant, plant a corresponding extreme gaudy floosey of a plant nearby (lots of showy peonies for instance, delphiniums, etc, also giant 12 foot sunflowers ;^). There are also the plants that are both edible and showy: the 12 foot sunflowers and scarlet runner beans, etc.

Actually, the kiwi didn't flower yet - I'm hoping this year. They can take up to 5 years, depending on variety, and I've had them since 2007. Any year now...;)

If you do decide to get them, try and get a 2-year-old+ vine, if available.

I love scarlet runner beans - I use them as a screen on my upstairs deck. Never did ever get an edible bean off them, though....the squirrels eat the flowers.

I have to net all my vegetables, as well as the peaches and cherries, so I keep stuff like that in the back yard. Squirrels, apparently, don't eat apricots or small berries. They will chew off my rose buds if they can reach them. Rats...

Very nice. For those dandelions, there's a very low-lying clover the name of which I am zoning on right now. But clover grows quickly and certain varieties grow back well when cut back. And fixes a heck of a lot of nitrogen, thus building your soil nicely.


Very few dandilions grow in my patches of white clover, but in the edges they still do. If you remember the species let me know.

There are over 300 species so finding the right one without knowing it, is a bit hard.

Clover is edible to humans, I have found it best cooked, but you can eat it raw, if you don't have issues with raw vegies.

I like it sauted more than boiled, but that is just me.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I just watched the '30s film, "Man of Aran" tonight for the first time in about forty years. I always loved it but seeing it tonight really drove home the idea that it was a Pre-Industrial documentary...shot in real time.

Because of my reading at TOD and a few other Peak Oil sites it became quite a different experience than I was really prepared for.

I just watched this 10 minute clip of the film:

Watching them as they retrieved their fishing net gave me goose bumps. I'll have to seek this film out. Thanks.

As we talk old movies, I recently watched, once again, the 1937 film, "Make Way For Tomorrow". This is the movie about which Orsen Wells said, "it would make a stone cry." I saw it years ago and never forgot it....the plot is simple: In the depression era 1930's an elderly couple default on their payments and will soon be homeless. Their hopes that one of their children will take them in as a couple are dashed, and they are seperated at first between 2 of the children, but this proves unsustainable so they move closer and closer to being seperated in their old age for good, never to see each other again.

The last third of the movie involves them getting together for one last day spent as a couple and is among some of the most touching and heartwrenching scenes you will ever see in a film, as they remember the better times before the crash...

I first saw the movie long before the recent financial crash, when NO ONE was predicting such a thing happening to the boomers just as they neared retirement age, and I was younger then...the moview was moving to me then, but is like a ghost risen from the dead, a nearly forgotten American masterpiece about the effects of financial collapse on peoples lives at street level, the problem of the ungrateful child, the generation gap and most importantly about matters of the heart, and how love cannot protect you from lack of money. A masterpiece of film making and story telling.

This movie is on Youtube in 10 segments, and is well worth seeing that way, for free. Just put in the words in the search bar, "Make Way For Tomorrow."


Along the lines of epic sh*t, my wife and I recently installed a composting toilet in our suburban backyard. We freecycled an outhouse from craig's list from a farmer who delivered it as well! It's a fairly simple two-hole operation, #1 for urine and #2 for, well you know. Primary collection is in 5 gallon buckets which are jacked up under each hole. The #2 bucket is emptied into a ventilated 55 gallon plastic drum for long term (at least a year) composting, and #1 bucket is diluted with rainwater for deployment in the garden.

Nice topic Debbie!!!
Been thinking the same for some time, epic shit is what's needed, stuff like clothes lines rather than PC grid-tied BS.
Want to write a campfire post about my square foot solar cooker, but work and stuff is making it slow going.
Have read comments on TOD about the need to disinfect drinking water, and this is a very inexpensive way to heat water up to boiling on a slow sunny afternoon.
Total cost of the cooker is less than $10, and with some scrounging you can build a cooking kit that will:
Cook 20 oz or more of rice in a couple of hours.
Disinfect a quart of water at a pop. That's reportedly enough for daily survival purposes, barely.
Distill liquids including water and alcohol.
It will pressure cook a quart of soybeans in a day (that is quite a feat BTW...)
And it is weatherproof, and with care will outlast you.
And it's made from mostly recycled stuff.
And, with the containers you can even brew a couple of gallons of homemade wine.
Just got a book on cheesemaking, and I suspect this cooker will be able to hold the proper temperatures to do that (will let you know)
I did put some stuff up on it, and I think you can find it at (??) unsure of link, but it's a burning man associated website.
I hope in the next week or two to write this all up and submit it to the Campfire editors, IF I can figure out how to post photos, or can get some help, and if they decide to post it.
On other subjects, reducing our expenses is so important, particularly with a new wave of downsizing coming at us soon. We're gonna all get poorer shortly. My decision in 2002 to sell the car and buy a 100mpg scooter has more than paid off, with low gas costs, and eliminating the need for insurance. I wash clothes in cold water, use a clothesline, pee on my trees and compost pile, live frugally, and thus have been able to on this 2nd day of my 61st year, reduce my work needs to two days a week. Bake my bread in a solar oven, with flour ground from a solar grain grinder, make my own wine and absinthe, and bathe with solar heated water which was one of our best investments ever. Now I have to figure out how to easily re-use dishwater into the garden and for flushing, and lower even more our electric and power use.

Thanks for the campfire post, surely some of us feel it is indeed timely, and this is certainly a VERY innovative group here, with much practical experience.
I look forward to the input from you fabulous folks on how to further disconnect.
Thanks, Craig

Great stuff. Please do write it up and we will get it formatted with pictures and everything.

I see so much good stuff posted on Drumbeat. Wish I had more than just randomly collected the info over the years.

I hear ya.
We need an emergency resource center of sorts.
Will post on the cooker in the next few...thanks for comment, and hope you visit the link and start using the cooker.
Bless you.

Sometime back I INSULATED a small homemade wood burning stove-all of it except the flat top surface-the place you put a pot or frying pan.

I did this TEMPORARILY with baling wire and fiberglass bats, and only did it to see how well it worked in respect to saving firewood.A couple of down and dirty experiments leads me to believe that such a stove could be cheaply manufactured and that it could easily result in fifty percent or more fuel savings when used for cooking.

Life would also be a lot easier for the cook using such a stove in hot weather, as the kitchen would be much cooler.

I increased the cargo capacity of my old pickup truck quite a bit by removing the passengers bucket seat.It takes only one wrench and ten minutes to put it back if I need to take somebody with me someplace.

Our small permanent pool is accessible to fire trucks, which might save somebody's house out here in the boonieswhere there are no hydrants.We quit putting chemicals in it, reasoning that if it is safe to swim in the nearby rivers and lakes, it is certainly safe to swim in our own spring water.

So nowadays when we catch a bunch of bluegill at the lake, we put the excess in the pool and feed them as necessary;when I want FRESH bluegill for supper, I either let the little nieces and nephews catch them with hook and line, or simply scoop them out with a large landing net.

Since we live on a hill, breeding spots are hard for frogs to find near the house and primary gardens, but since they can now use the chemical free pool, we have scads of toads and tree frogs around.

Sheets of salvaged steel roofing and siding which come with baked on paint can be had for very little at scrap yards or for free if you look around.One of these sheets (preferably a red one) which is about three feet across and ten feet long probably wieghs less than twenty pounds.If you lay it out on a grassy or weedy spot where you intend to garden when the weather is hot and sunny,the grass and weeds underneath will be dead in a week.If the soil is loose enough , you can transplant tomatos and so forth into this area without doing any serious tilling or spading , avoiding a lot of hard work.Don't forget your gloves, the edges can inflict a serious cut!

A friend of mine has a chicken coop about forty yards from his back door.When he lets his chickens out in the morning, he simply leaves the the coop door open , it has an ordinary salvaged household lockset and a spring to pull the door closed .He made a simple latch to hold the door open ,and ran a piece of heavy fishing line from the latch along his fence garden -thru staples- to his back door.

The chickens go to roost well before dark of course of thier own violition, and all he has to do for his chickens at the end of the day is tug on the line and listen to the chicken coop door slam shut as night approaches.

We have not yet found it worthwhile to gather pig manure from our penned pigs;it is is much messier and more troublesome than other kinds. But the pen is located on a slight slope and just to the north side of a strip of oakwoods.Any heavy rain carries the runoff from our two to four pigs into this woodlot, and the trees there are growing twice as fast for about sixty or seventy feet immediately below the pen as they are elsewhere in the same woodlot;but of course the primary benefit is that the pigs live in the shade.

A scrapped hig wheel lawn mower makes a great garden cart if you remove the engine and all other parts except the rear wheels and handle bar, and mount a tub or large sturdy box in the place of the engine.You can carry a seventy five to hundred pound load in it FAR easier than you can a wheelbarrow, and it will NEVER turn turtle on you.Mine cost me about seven bucks for the mower and tub at the scrap yard, and took less than an hour to assemble with nothing but a drill, four small bolts and nuts, and a wrench.

God bless your pointy little (intermittent) liberal bashing head.
I'll gladly go with you into the Great Beyond, regardless of your politics.
Thanks amigo.

Thank you , Reno

Actually if you care to read over my comments as a whole, you will have a hard time figuring out why I refer to myself as a conservative.

I hold to many positions that would by most folks reckoning land me square in the middle of the liberal camp,and I have certainly made my displeasure with the republican establishment clear, calling it fascist here as recently as last week.

Being Scots and Irish, I like a good verbal free for all , and am apt to jump in on any side, just to keep the pot boiling.SO CALLED conservatives catch a lot of DESERVED criticism here, but most of my anti liberal tirades are brought on by self righteous liberals out to get in a few partisan licks or to build up thier own percieved self worth by denigrating that of someone else.

It takes two to tango, or to make a baby, unless it's rape.We have a few commenters who somehow seem to belive that every single mistake we have ever made as a society is the sole fault of conservatives.Life ain't that simple.

I am still waiting for someone to ask me just what I mean by conservatism, since I frequently remark that the so called conservative establishment has simply coopted the word for it's own partisan purposes, and is conservative only in certain respects-just as the LIBERAL establishment is actually liberal only in certain respects.The liberal establishment, incidentally, is actually quite conservative in some respects.

The real me?I married a Jewish artist from NYC , hung out with hippies, wore a peace sign on a chain under shoulder length hair,jioned the ACLU, helped organize a teachers union,and indulged in many very unconservative activities for many years.

But I also kept right on reading and learning and doing what most people would rather die than do-thinking.

Eventually a dispassionate consideration of the facts forced me to conclude that while the liberal pov is admirably high minded and quite justiafiable in many respects, it fails in as many others.My evaluation of the ESTABLISHMENT conservative pov is very similar.

I am working on a long essay which might eventually evolve into a book which lays out my view of what enlightened conservatism is, or can be.If I ever finish it, most people will probably be willing to believe it was written by a liberal with some serious reservations about the short comings of his political philosophy, a liberal willing to discuss these shortcomings publicly..

We would all be a lot better off if the words liberal and conservative as they are used in politics these days could be magically banished from the language.

We would all be a lot better off if the words liberal and conservative as they are used in politics these days could be magically banished from the language.

Very good, lets do it right now. They Go Poofy!

I am my own political creature, not something most can label easily.

Anyway, that's a good idea, lets vote on it.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Hi Mac.
Being Canadian, I have always been able to see your viewpoints as distinct from the more rabid right wing types and from "American liberals". The reason for this is that if you were Canadian, most of your viewpoints would identify you as a Red Tory.

From Wikipedia:

Historically, Canadian conservatism has been related to the British Tory tradition, with a distinctive concern for the common good versus individual rights, as mediated through a traditional pre-industrial standard of morality, which have never been as evident in American conservatism. Today, however, Red Tories are often simply characterized as the left wing faction of the contemporary Conservative party, or a Conservative committed to the welfare state and/or liberal social policy. They are usually seen as centrist to centre-left within the Canadian political spectrum.

Red Toryism derives largely from a British Tory and imperialist tradition that maintained the unequal division of wealth and political privilege among social classes can be justified, if members of the privileged class contribute to the common good. Red Tories supported traditional institutions like religion and the monarchy, and maintenance of the social order. Later, this would manifest itself as support for the welfare state. This belief in a common good, as expanded on in Colin Campbell and William Christian's Political Parties and Ideologies in Canada, is at the root of Red Toryism.

It's not a perfect fit (I don't think you're a closet monarchist :~} ), but I think you can see that your opinions would not be out of place under this label(particularly the support of traditional institutions and belief in a common good.) It gives me a touchstone to understand your views.

It should be noted that I don't think there are any Red Tories among the current Conservative Party's representatives (pretty much wiped out when they merged with the Reform Party in 2003), and that some say that the Ontario government of the '70's and '80's under Bill Davis (a Red Tory) was to the left of the current Liberal Ontario Government. Most of the political ground formerly covered by Red Tories is now solely covered by the right wing of the Liberal Party. (Which would probably compel you to vote Liberal if you were Canadian. Ah, the irony...)


There may also be some of the old Canadian Progressive Party philosohpy in OFM. He probably could have happily voted for the Canadian Progressive Conservative party (as I did) prior to its overthrow by the Chicago school economist neo-cons of the Reform Party in the 1990's.

The (Progressive) party arose out of the success of the United Farmers of Ontario in the Ontario elections of 1919, and was an attempt to enlist in the support of the political ideals of the farmers the other "progressive" elements in the country.

(Note: Much debate over the legacy of the old Progressives.)

Is there anything you can't do? Can you make a radio out of a coconut?

Hi Debbie,

Any old countryboy such as yours truly does this kind of things everyday without a second thought-you just never hear much from us as a group because most of us can't read or write, and even fewer of us trust these newfangled computers. ;)

Seriously I am supposed to be afflicted with some sort of personality disorder that makes it almost impossible for me to focus on any one thing for very long.Some psychologist wanted to explain it all to me once,by the hour,but I decided my money and time were better spent elsewhere.

The key to being able to do lots of different things is to never do any one thing longer than it takes to learn to do it reasonably well, and to keep following this pattern until you are old , fat , gray haired and nearly deaf.It also helps if you are not tied down trying to raise a family or trying to get rich.Guys like me can attract a good woman, but when they find out we are not going to conform and do the old 8 -2-5 and put them in a nicer car and a bigger house every few years, they get rid of us.Happened to me twice after tieing the knot, and three times after setting up housekeeping together.

I have taken a job as a helper probably a dozen times in the last forty years simply in order to get some exposure to a new line of work,looking at this experience as getting paid to go to school.

You only need to learn to measure ONCE to become a carpenter;over fifty percent of the carpenters skills carry over to the plumbing or masons trade.If you know the basics of both of these trades, you can learn a third related trade in as little as ten percent of the time that you needed to learn the first two.A intelligent carpenter with an intense desire to learn can become a proficient but not fast sheet rock man in just one week if he is learning by helping an articulate expert. It is also important to realize that in the real world,only ten percent of the skill of the true expert is needed to accomplish most everyday jobs.

If YOU personally want to plumb a new house, you can learn all you need to know to finish the job creditably if perhaps a little slowly by helping a plumber do two or three new houses, if he is your friend and wants to help you move up on the job.You would earn seven to ten dollars an hour as a raw helper around here, maybe fifteen hundred bucks in a month.The following month you could easily save three or four thousand dollars by doing your own plumbing installation-this is perfectly legal here in Va.

Of course someone with limited intellectual horse power might need a couple of years to learn this same job, and still make frequent costly mistakes.

Whenever a welding customer asks if I can fix something he has busted , I always use the standard welders reply " I can fix anything, even a broken heart or the crack of dawn.";)

A combination of boredom and curiousity, combined with the opportunity to make or save a fast buck, has driven me to take a total of thirty semester hours over the last five years at the local community college updating my mechanical skills.The local Ford dealer wants three hundred bucks to tune up our old Ranger pickup.This costs me about thirty bucks and takes less than two hours, even though I am a slow, methodical worker when it comes to tuneups.A forty dollar Walmart oil change and check over only costs me about fifteen bucks and takes only a half hour- which is less than the time required to drive to Walmart and back.

I can teach you, personally, to do this job competently on any common vehicle in a single day, hands on.You could learn to do your own specific vehicle in a couple of hours, max.

I have never plugged any company here, but any reader interested in self sufficiency should check out the customer appreciation card offered by AutoZone, if the company operates in your local area;this chain sells a lot of good name brand stuff at unbeatable prices if you buy enough to use the card.Five purchases, on seperate days , each totalling $20 or more, within six months, earns twenty bucks free merchandise, anything in the store..A family or a couple of good friends can pool purchases,as the tracking system uses any given phone number as the key.Since the prices are already very competitive, and sale items are applicable to the card,the savings can be considerable.Anybody looking after his own stuff is apt to need a number of items sold by this company, even if he does not own a car..

At 74 my dad still does a lot of work. He was a small engine repair person as a kid and the skills mounted and mounted. As his son I have only hopes of knowing as much as he has forgotten.

But I've learned to not be afraid of anything that gets broken and how to think around most problems and if I can't figure it out to ask someone who knows how to fix it, to tell me how they'd fix it and then go do it myself from the instructions.

My dad can explain the science behind a lot of his knowledge, being somewhat of an engineering mind. As I have mentioned in other posts, he can do almost anything that has been set before him as a problem. From cooking to fixing the stove, to rebuilding the kitchen from the ground up. he has the skills to build the house again if need be. Electrical and plumbing and foundation work and sewing new curtains.

I plan on learning as much as I can from the best living book I have found on house repair. It pays that we get along very well, and can joke for hours or have serious discussions.

Good advice Mac, more people need to be old country boys and gals than are now.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Whenever a welding customer asks if I can fix something he has busted , I always use the standard welders reply " I can fix anything, even a broken heart or the crack of dawn.";)

And yet, an old firebox of a wood-water boiler style stove or a previously heated 1/2 barrel stainless steel tank do not take well to welding.

So not everything.....

And you're still married? :-)

Here's an epic public toilet from New Zealand:

Public toilets

No one will see real epic shit until they get rid of their cars. THEN and only then, will it all become real. Until then, we're just discussing.

Until then, we're just discussing.

If Larry were to respond to that comment he would say, "Yea, you're right, we should just die." The point is, we don't have to wait for anyone. We know what needs to be done. No one has to give us permission to do something.

In natural systems, organisms don't all get along. We need to stop using perceived impediments as an excuse.

"Blame no one, expect nothing, do something."

We need to stop using perceived impediments as an excuse.

dang right!

Hi nina,

I completely agree with you with the exception that Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV) would be OK in my book.

As long as we are "just discussing" - I wonder how this is most likely to play out over the next 20 years or so? Here are some optional scenarios that come to mind:

1. 20 years from now daily car traffic will look much like it does now. Cars will be smaller, there will be a mix of today's basic car along with more hybrids, fuel cells, NG, and all electric cars. Automobiles will generally be smaller and more energy efficient - regardless of fuel type. Energy will cost a bit more and people will drive a bit less. However, BAU will prevail and there will be no drastic change of lifestyle required to live the "American Dream". Very low probability IMHO.

2. 20 years from now, personal transportation vehicles will be restricted to NEVs and Human Powered Vehicles (HPV). Private vehicles will only be used for local trips and access to public transportation. The bulk of all transportation over 20 miles or so will be via various mass transit and shared rides (like Jitney Buses). Average American lifestyle will undergo fairly significant changes due to devaluation of the consumer status mentality (biggest house, most expensive car, most home electronics, etc), less travel, less food variety, less heating/cooling of dwellings, etc. Life will actually be better due to less pollution, fewer car accidents, less junk food, more local community activities, etc. Not sure of the probability of this.

3. The US looks like a movie set for "Mad Max". Revolt, violent protest, starvation, disease, war, etc result in a big die-off followed by a reorganization based upon the "War Lord" model. Much of this scenario results from the stubborn refusal for most people to give up their cars - especially larger vehicles. There was no pre planning for fuel shortages, little public information about the possibility. Average person just wants to "blame someone" for energy crisis. Angry mobs stand in way of developing rational measures in a useful time-frame. Not sure of this probability either.

I'm sure there are other possible scenarios - the mental exercise is to construct a potential scenario and give it a probability of actually occurring.

The NEB has been conducting a review of drilling operations in the Arctic since BP/Exxon applied to be exempt from Same Season Relief Well Capability. This effort has been temporarily put on hold, while an expanding review of Arctic regulations will now be undertaken. With more than thirty years working with these regulations, including the offshore I have put my name forward to provide support to this initiative. This would a a similar effort to one I made in Colombia between 1998-2000. I look forward to the opportunity to contribute to this new initiative.

Well, I did epic shit for 25+ years - built three houses for us, established two large gardens/orchards, served as foreman of our county grand jury, was VP (unpaid) of a non-profit food trucking company, served on lots of boards, wrote a gardening column for our local paper, had garden seminars at our place, etc.

Now, at 71, I do mundane shit. I got my old '84 Subaru up and running this week. I'm getting the garden and orchard ready. I have the year after next's firewood cut but need to split and stack it. I've made all of our baked goods forever and do all of the canning. Life just keeps flowing on.


Mundane ain't mundane any more. Depending on where you live, lots of folks are looking for your skills. You could teach a canning workshop, a build-a-compost bin workshop, a how to prune an orchard workshop... Wish you were my neighbor.

Hi Debbie,

Actually, few people in my rural area are interested in this sort of stuff. They, like their counterparts in suburban and urban areas, believe in, and have invested themselves, in BAU.

I happen to like speaking and have spoken 4-5 times a year at various seminars for about 20 years. My topics have ranged from endocrine disruptors to GMO crops to athletic field maintenance liability. And, my wife and I have done many seminars at our home.

However, those who were interested are now doing it and the rest don't care. I think one serious mistake that has been made is the approach taken by the self-sufficiency/permaculture/survival group. I've been reading Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip and Dan Heath, ISBN 978-0-385-52875-7. I'm not going to address it here since I have stuff to do outside but I would suggest that people should start with this book before they work on their great plan to change people...and the world.


Returning to work next year as a high school shop teacher. However, instead of carpentry and drafting, I will be teaching metal work in order to improve my own skills. Our class project semester 1 will be a windmill, base support (perm mag motor) and charging system. Semester two will be an electric powered trike which will have batt exchange off the windmill. Because I live in a very windy valley, I hope to perfect the system for transportation around our neighbourhood and property.

The goal is to teach skills, but align future projects to renewables. We might be able to get a local blacksmith to help out as well. It is an epic opportunity to weave energy concerns into practical curriculum. It should be fun for the students as well. We might even build round hoes!!

The JC's in our area are awesome. Their curriculum is changing rapidly in response to the times. The horticulture instructor at OCC took the Permaculture class with me. Lots of good things are in the works.

Your mention of the trike reminded me of this picture I took on Beach Blvd. a few days ago. I don't know which Pizza company he works for but it got my attention and I was glad I had my camera close by.


The horticulture instructor at OCC took the Permaculture class with me. Lots of good things are in the works.

Speaking of which, our epic thing has been to sell everything we had, move from Korea to the US, traverse the nation looking for a place to settle in, choose Detroit, and start up a permaculture training center. We have held our first course, of which I was both administrator and a student, and have a couple projects we are involved in currently in the works. I'm hoping to do another course or two this summer/fall.

We're also working towards making our campus/home an urban Greenstead. We're getting the garden in now using all organic and permaculture-based methods, including no-till, making compost, etc. I'm considering putting in a rocket stove or cob oven in the basement for winter hear.

We've a long way to go, but hope to get there.


great idea for a post, Debbie, and I love the title.

I'm "away from" TOD just now except for peeking in from time to time, dealing with family matters, but "epic shit" is a great working description for what's coming and what our response should be.

In this brief post, I'll just advance the notion that learning to live locally and be more self-reliant isn't the only path. As an alternative, anyone can take a stab at accompishing goals that seems utterly impossible, just by letting go of their fears. Being surrounded by a society which is still in its "comfort zone" can be soporific; perhaps instead of learning to grow potatoes and survive the upcoming game of musical chairs, some of us should spend ourselves in audacious ways, without a safety net; and live and die gloriously and grinning.

So what's the step beyond doing epic shit? That's my own meditation question, and when I find the answer, I'll disappear here entirely.

For now, I say try Audacity. It has a genius and power all its own. I'd suggest we each look for it within ourselves and stretch beyond what we know we can do, far into what we think we probably can't. As individuals who will die in a relatively short timespan whatever we do, we're (generally speaking) amazingly docile on the cusp of converging events which will shape the world forever.

I'd suggest go finding a bit of nature and thinking personally about ways each of us might become a superhero in our own eyes. Most of us haven't come anywhere close to testing our real limits.

cheers and thanks for the post.


Thank you, greenish. I always find your posts encouraging -- and there is always a "reason" for me to hold back, to some extent. I will continue to cultivate my audacity.

Hi Greenish,

Audacity - 1 : the quality or state of being audacious: as a : intrepid boldness b : bold or arrogant disregard of normal restraints [had the audacity to defy his boss].
And, intrepid - characterized by resolute fearlessness, fortitude, and endurance

Homeland Security might take a dim view of this thinking. Today, fearlessly disregarding normal restraints could be very hazardous for one's health.

Advocating non-belief in the religion of the land is an audacious step to help dispel the delusions that fuel human lack of understanding of our place in the biosphere. Such a step will assure this advocate of being marginalized, disregarded and, in some countries, killed.

Audacious behavior may be helpful in the long run - in the short run, martyrdom is a concept to contemplate.

Hi bikedave.

Homeland Security might take a dim view of this thinking. Today, fearlessly disregarding normal restraints could be very hazardous for one's health.

True, I suppose. But that hazard is blown out of proportion by the consensus trance. I think my point is that one's health and safety is not necessarily the paramount or only valid concern. Trying to live in perfect safety is always eventually futile, and often no fun. Live safe, accomplish nothing much, die anyhow.... it's never had that much appeal to me.

I assumed I'd die in my 20's, but it turns out that the monsters hiding under the bed - waiting for those who try stuff - sometimes aren't really there. All that separates you from anything in the human world is distance and careful thought.

Advocating non-belief in the religion of the land is an audacious step to help dispel the delusions that fuel human lack of understanding of our place in the biosphere. Such a step will assure this advocate of being marginalized, disregarded and, in some countries, killed. Audacious behavior may be helpful in the long run - in the short run, martyrdom is a concept to contemplate.

Martyrdom, I think, represents taking oneself seriously to the exclusion of planning, which is perhaps your point. There are many risks I've found worth taking; my point is that it's a shame not to consider them. You wouldn't believe what an american citizen can get done if he or she just shakes off the trance and learns to not treat fear as an absolute.

I'm not recommending audacity for audacity's sake; I wouldn't skydive unless there was a goal to be achieved, sounds scary. Heck, I won't drive without my seatbelt on without a good reason. Or drive period, for that matter. Yet there will be times and situations one can engineer or reasonably foresee in which the possible gains are wildly, disproportionately better for the world than the personal risk entailed, and it's good to have a personal sense of that to carry with you and plan around.

I'm probably expressing it poorly, I'm posting on the run. best.

Hi Greenish,

Actually, I do appreciate your optimism and I was being a tad bit facetious - Homeland Security is topic for another day, but I agree that one should not make life plans based upon its existence.

I have very mixed feelings about individual actions that go beyond doing things a person can appreciate in their own situation. I think bicycles alone could almost save the world. I ride a bike a lot, but I'm not willing to chain myself to the front door of the Motor Vehicle department to protest cars. I am willing to write my elected folks and explain why I think we should have a national speed limit of 40 mph. I suspect the time will come when politicians will be more open to suggestions that seem radical today.

Martyrdom, I think, represents taking oneself seriously to the exclusion of planning, which is perhaps your point.

Yes, that is the point. Bold action accompanied by a very solid plan can be very effective. Otherwise, as you mention, bold actions can be quite senseless.

say, I love bikes. The only thing in the world wrong with them is cars. So take anything I say knowing that I agree with your agenda, as well as darn near everything else I've seen you say.

I think bicycles alone could almost save the world. I ride a bike a lot, but I'm not willing to chain myself to the front door of the Motor Vehicle department to protest cars. I am willing to write my elected folks and explain why I think we should have a national speed limit of 40 mph. I suspect the time will come when politicians will be more open to suggestions that seem radical today.

I wouldn't chain myself to anything unless I had computed the probable consequence cost vs. the probability of success and the size of the gain. I'm not a protester per se, nor have I ever pushed that on anyone as a lifestyle choice. Our society has quite effective error-correction mechanisms to marginalize "wackos". Moreover, unless once can intervene in the legislative process at a much higher level than letter-writing, it's not an efficient use of time IMO, and never will be. I won't hold my breath for the aggregate enlightenment of politicians; the skillset needed to attain the position has no inherent overlap with what the position should rationally require.

I have set small armies of protesters in motion for brief times for targeted goals, but protest is seldom used effectively and is a pretty blunt tool. Audacity without reason is simply one way evolution culls the herd. Rather, I recommend audacity to expand the scope of reasoned, well-considered personal action. For instance, if there was an action which you realized you could take which had a 20% chance of halving the crude spill in the gulf of mexico, and a cost probability of 50% that you'd die horribly, would you take it? On 15 minutes' notice? Obviously that's ridiculously skeletal as a situation, and it presumes you have better knowledge than you'd have, as well as the ability to anticipate with some level of confidence the way the situation would roll out. Still, questions of that sort can be valuable in self-assessment and prioritization, and even self-knowledge.

Yes, that is the point. Bold action accompanied by a very solid plan can be very effective. Otherwise, as you mention, bold actions can be quite senseless.

yep. Indeed, being bold too often just because it "feels like" the thing to do will marginalize a person faster than about anything. Self-righteous wankers seldom come off as anything else.

Indeed, being bold too often just because it "feels like" the thing to do will marginalize a person faster than about anything. Self-righteous wankers seldom come off as anything else.

In the present, the bold are always marginalized, because they are a threat. And through the eyes and safety of history, those who were called self-righteous, we now call right. Elizabeth Cady Stanton comes to mind.

I do not ascribe any of these features to myself. But name calling does not deter what I feel is just action, nor will fear that some might marginalize me or call me a wacko..

Ghandi, King, Stanton, they all "pushed" people into believing what they believe. Would you go back in time and tell THEM not to protest? Or that they should calculate the relative probability of success? Why are you afraid to do the same?

I do not ascribe any of these features to myself. But name calling does not deter what I feel is just action, nor will fear that some might marginalize me or call me a wacko.

Dude, if you think I'm name-calling you're new here. I operate in the phase space where non-wackos generally fear to tread, and believe in selfless bold action. If you do too, I commend you for it, and recommend that you analyze your bold and just actions for their potential to be marginalized.

Do you have any idea how much of a tightrope someone like Gandhi walked, playing brinksmanship with forces which could snuff him like a moth in a candle flame, or lead to anarchy and war? Do you not see the incisive mind behind the highly disciplined and selfless path he chose to walk? It would diminish the man greatly to simply call him "bold and just". He was a machiavellian chessmaster.

Ghandi, King, Stanton, they all "pushed" people into believing what they believe. Would you go back in time and tell THEM not to protest? Or that they should calculate the relative probability of success? Why are you afraid to do the same?

Actually, these people teetered on the razor's edge at particular times and places; with varying degrees of understanding of the huge waves they were trying to surf. We don't remember the names of those who tried the same thing in a slightly different context, for good reason. It's right to honor them, and does you credit. But one of the reasons I honor them is that they knew they were spending their lives on longshots which would probably get them killed.

I think that they all calculated the odds of success, whether they were correct or not; that's the sieve through which those who have a chance at actually succeeding are initially strained: how well their mental models correspond to the real world.

And I'm not afraid to do the same. If those guys were alive, they'd probably ask me to lunch and we'd laugh a fair bit... not least at the notion that they didn't carefully consider each step they took.

Hi Greenish,

As usual, your comment makes good sense. You did, however, touch on one subject that troubles me:

I won't hold my breath for the aggregate enlightenment of politicians; the skill-set needed to attain the position has no inherent overlap with what the position should rationally require.

Please note that I am not saying you are wrong about this - unfortunately, you are probably very right. However, this is really troublesome. For any kind of optimistic, non-violent change to occur before TSHTF, it seems to me that we need to leverage the existing governmental structure and the politicians who make/enforce laws.

I know that some letters I've written have had some small, positive impact. Although 90+ percent have probably been a waste of time. Let's look at a practical example: laws regulating cars. I'm thinking about vehicle/fuel specific taxes, CAFE standards, national speed limits, road construction funding, etc. I think that we can agree that PO and GW issues would benefit by extensive changes to these laws and regulation - changes that would force a dramatic downsizing of personal transportation using the typical private car of today.

So, the question is: besides supporting new candidates, letter/petition writing/supporting, what actions will have the most payoff in terms of changing the laws and regulations related to cars?

Please note that I am not saying you are wrong about this - unfortunately, you are probably very right. However, this is really troublesome. For any kind of optimistic, non-violent change to occur before TSHTF, it seems to me that we need to leverage the existing governmental structure and the politicians who make/enforce laws.

I agree it's troublesome. It's not physically impossible, just like orbiting solar power isn't physically impossible. However, each of these results requires a series of improbable things to occur in an unbroken chain; and the simple math of cumulative probability renders them unreasonable to expect.

Yet as an earth-advocate, activist, machiavellian operative, secret agent, or whatever else one might wish to call me, my life has been about trying to make things better than they would otherwise be; which is fundamentally an optimistic outlook.

What I've found - and you can take it for whatever it's worth - is that power doesn't necessarily reside where it seems to. That is, the apparent structure of power is in many ways illusory (and of course, in some ways not). And that, surprisingly, there are alternate sorts of power and leverage which can be more effective at achieving targeted outcomes.

I know that some letters I've written have had some small, positive impact. Although 90+ percent have probably been a waste of time. Let's look at a practical example: laws regulating cars. I'm thinking about vehicle/fuel specific taxes, CAFE standards, national speed limits, road construction funding, etc.

To be clear, I'm not recommending that nobody write letters. I simply don't consider it an effective use of time by a person who understands things to the degree you do. I look at the odds of success vs. the investment of time, and would prioritize an actual stepwise controlled plan more highly. This is not implied criticism of those who write letters, I'm just offering my perspective.

I think that we can agree that PO and GW issues would benefit by extensive changes to these laws and regulation - changes that would force a dramatic downsizing of personal transportation using the typical private car of today.

I'd love to see those laws, and I wish you luck there. I've gotten laws passed, amended, have written them and seen them become the law of the land; have done it with international treaties, etc. In my case it wasn't by writing letters; that would have been a darn tough way to go about it, and I'm basically too lazy to use a method with an unnecessarily high chance of failure.

So saying, even when writing and introducing them directly, laws are like sandcastles below the high tide line. It's not my preferred operating space, takes frenetic energy to keep the castles from turning into featureless lumps as time goes by. And you can't really make laws that don't reflect what most people already want to do.

So, the question is: besides supporting new candidates, letter/petition writing/supporting, what actions will have the most payoff in terms of changing the laws and regulations related to cars?

I don't know that the laws and regulations will be what does it. A deflationary depression, perhaps, and a change in the global paradigm of exporting oil. Gas rationing by availability. Perhaps one could organize coordinated runs on the banks if they were so inclined; wouldn't be all that difficult. Then again, I don't plan or endorse that at the moment, just spitballing, it's good to think out all the likely consequences before one pushes the domino, and there's a lot of connectivity at that level of things.

The time of the bicycle will come sooner than people think, but probably for the original reason: that it beats walking.

I'd suggest we each look for it within ourselves and stretch beyond what we know we can do, far into what we think we probably can't.

I see it as doing something every day that scares me. Thanks for checking in; you are an inspiration to many of us.

Hey, back atcha, you inspire me.

Funny if I've inspired anyone, since only a couple people have any idea who I am or whether I have any substance at all. If I ever got into telling tall stories it would be apparent that I could only be one person, and then I wouldn't have the luxury of posting halfassed stuff in relative anonymity, which I only do, or ever will do, on TOD.

There is something special going on here, among the commenters to TOD, that I haven't exactly seen elsewhere, and it fascinates me.

I figure you spoke to much as I have an idea who you are, but I'll stay mute. The internet of yesteryear had a saying that if you were careful you could create anybody you wanted out of the things you said and posted. Several people on these pages have spoken to me on the phone, over the years and know my voice, but none have met me in person. Though my webpage at blogspot has a picture up, it could be fake, save for the fact that if you hunted me down you'd find people that know me in person online as well. But back in the day, you could easily create a totally fake person all online, which says that you can still do it. And totally real people can be totally invisible in the same way. The wonders of being able to converse in such a media. We should use this gift while we can, in the years ahead we might not have an internet to talk to people on the otherside of the world at our finger tips.

Have fun greenish.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed world.

Hi Greenish,

I would like to take this opportunity to say that you and a couple of dozen others others, including Bicycle Dave, Debbie,Nate, Fmaygar,Ghung,Aangel,Alan from Big Easy,Darwinian, in particular all seem like old friends;and dozens of others give me plenty to think about.

As a group,you have accomplished something epic indeed;you have learned to think-TO REALLY THINK- for yourselves.

This ability is in my estimation one of the rarest of all human abilities, and is not common even among such distinguished groups of people as university faculties.

By thinking for ones self I mean that the individual can accurately seperate verifiable facts, facts of the physical sort, from subjective facts of the intellectual and emotional sort.

Having made this distinction, the individual can and does then form his own judgement , without relying on the subjective facts and opinions of others, as to the real nature of the world we inhabit and what is possible , or not possible, within that world.

Only then does he or she add his or her value judgements into the intellectual recipe.

A person of this kind can see what is possible, and NOT thru a glass darkly;and can bring his or her will power into play EFFECTIVELY.

I'd agree, and the folks I feel affection and respect toward seem to overlap heavily with your list. Besides my being a fan of yours, of course. I'm not all that easy to impress, but a number of folks here have managed it, and continue to...

a tip of my hat to the lot of you.

Hi Mac,

accurately seperate verifiable facts, facts of the physical sort, from subjective facts of the intellectual and emotional sort.

Words to live by. And, you are certainly in my list of folks that I listen to carefully.

In business it's sometimes called setting a BHAG — Big Hairy Audacious Goal

I like it.

And I think everyone should pursue at least one. Why let the warlords have all the fun?

Gardening and bicycling are cool, but we're under imminent attack by the most diabolical fiends the world has ever known. The attack of the people in the mirror. They have devised our multifarious converging dooms with efficiency which would would make Sauron look like an amateur. This is being met with isolationism and pacifism.

I once knew an animal which would violently attack its image in the mirror. This is the textbook definition of being clueless. But I've begun to wonder if he wasn't onto something.

I've got a bicycle and a garden, water catchment, etc. I know which neighbors to eat first. But what's coming will be bigger than all the past challenges to our species and its cohorts, and deserving of commensurate desperate heroism. And the thing about desperate heroism is that it can be more heroic and less desperate if planned for a bit in advance.

I'm just saying...

But I've begun to wonder if he wasn't onto something.


I've been a shadow reader of TOD since 2002, when I got hip to all kind of scary things going on. Since then my partner & I have been working towards our goal of doing as much as we can for ourselves as possible. It's been a long and interesting road, but our farm Seven Trees is some epic shit.

Most of the food we eat comes from our 1.25 acre place. Beef, pork, chicken, eggs, fruit, veggies, cider, honey, etc.

We both sold bigger pieces of land and a house in a major city to get here, and we both are lucky to have good jobs for now to help us finalize things. We have settled in to a wonderful comunity with neighbors to die for, and they don't even all share our religion or politics.

In some ways we still take advantage of the status quo (sushi, single malt scotch), but we work to take care of ourselves, and have gotten a lot of other people doing likewise.


Lots of epic information on your website. Thanks.

Glad you like it. Always a learning experience, and it's fun to share with other people. Our goal is to see how much food we can comfortably grow on our small place, and so far so good.

We're also interested in how our ancestors did things and how those skills might apply to our efforts.


With care you can farm fish for your own sushi, and make your own single malt scotch. It might not be big batches, but with a lot of things you can make do with lesser things that are just as good.

Just a bit more planning, and I'll be able to grow bananas on the moon. (it is not as far fetched as it sounds, though it is part of a story of mine that is fiction,) we could do it today, if we had the willingness to do so.

Best wishes for your continued success.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed future.

Thanks for the props!

We're trying to balance what we can do with what is fun & rewarding to do. There's a point where you just have to stop and chill, no matter if Rome is burning or not.

I have a fish pond/rainwater catchment/cistern overflow design in mind to take advantage of our topography and weather patterns.


I've been a shadow reader of TOD since 2002, when I got hip to all kind of scary things going on.

Must of been some other TOD:
Registered through: GAIA Host Collective, LLC
Created on: 27-Jul-05

Here's something epic for you.

Let's get 20 Gigawatts of nameplate wind capacity in the state of Iowa in the US, and 20GW in Ireland in the EU. Each place has a little under 5GW average electrical load. What are we going to do with the wind you ask? Well, 15GW of peak nameplate wind to ammonia plants (using off-the-shelf water electrolysis and haber-bosch ammonia synthesis), with a little bit of process control magic to make the electrolysis a *dispatchable load*, we can now use all that wind energy, and provide more energy than both places use. This will make all the ammonia used in the state of Iowa for fertilizer, turning Ethanol into a truly green fuel.

And speaking of Ethanol, we can all do something Epic by filling up our cars with E-40 or E-50. My unmodified 2001 toyota prius runs fine on up to about 60% ethanol. It also runs on straight E-85 but the check engine light comes on. We know where Ethanol comes from, it has problems, but those can be fixed, and I will happily give tours of on-farm ethanol production. Deepwater drilling is going to cause more unexpected blow-outs, and deaths, and disasters. You can't give a tour of a wellhead under a mile of water.

Last week, as I awkwardly straddled the hole I had dug to repair a complicated sprinkler pipe break in my yard, I pondered both of these issues: the seemingly epic proportion of my task—cutting tree roots in a hole with a hand saw, reconfiguring pipes that no longer aligned, splicing controller wire—and assessing the skill sets it would take to make it happen. As you can see from the photo, my fix was not a pretty site [sic]. But after the better part of a day and multiple trips to the hardware store, I muddled through—barely able to move the next day from the abuse to my aging body.

How interesting that "permaculture" consists of plastic piping, trips to the hardware store, and a source of electricity. Now that's sustainable.

Sounds like "epic" same-old to me.

How interesting that "permaculture" consists of plastic piping, trips to the hardware store, and a source of electricity. Now that's sustainable.

Yeah, and we all know that solar and wind aren't viable as energy sources either because under the current paradigm the necessary infrastructure can't yet be produced using these very energy sources. Furthermore It won't work because because anything that doesn't allow us to continue BAU in 24/7 mode is just not worth exploring.

Here's an idea mikeb, why don't you figure out a way to grow bamboo piping or make plastic pipe out of plants or carbon nano fibres. Start working on making or recycling wires and small electric motors, learn how to make wind generators. Get involved in your community to create a distribution system based on pedal powered transport tricycles for the pipes, motors etc...

But you know you won't because people like you much prefer to criticize rather than actually get out of your own comfort zone and do something, anything at all.

People like you are the epitome of "Epic" same-old. Why don't you try extracting your head, from where the sun don't shine once a while, you never know, you might actually see things a little differently and you might even be able to smell the roses too...

Wow, that aggressive response smells like cognitive dissonance.

I agree with Mike, and I wish you would talk to me about getting out of a comfort zone. But personalities are irrelevant.

As I said in another post, and I feel it is the same thing that Mike was touching on, is that the products that you are using are the products of industrialization, and industrialization is the problem. It is not the TYPE of industrialization we need to change. Going from oil to solar is still net waste so it is still unsustainable. But all these timid changes, like planting a garden, are a hope that things will pretty much continue as normal.

The changes most are suggesting here are superficial at best and at worst they, for instance, they take a huge agricultural wasteland and just spread it out into peoples back yards. Nothing has changed if that is the change you make.

You want epic, the Hadza are living it:

Can you live that epicly? Can you just live without a leader? Can you live without the technology, without all the knowledge? CAn you live without agriculture?

Mike is only seeing more clearly to the end of things, that backyard gardens will change nothing, and it sounds like Mike wants to get the real work done, cutting to the source of the problem.

Doing something might be the worst thing we could do. Doing nothing, like the Hadza do nothing, seems like the only viable option.

Wow, that aggressive response smells like cognitive dissonance.

Agressive is when you bomb other people! As for cognitive dissonance all I have to do is walk down the block and look at how my neighbors are living, hint they aren't growing vegetables or working on drip irrigation systems as far as I can tell. They are driving their SUVs to the supermarket as if that were going to last forever.

Mike is only seeing more clearly to the end of things, that backyard gardens will change nothing, and it sounds like Mike wants to get the real work done, cutting to the source of the problem.

What exactly would that real work be? And how is he planning on getting it done?
Let me know and maybe I will pitch in.

Doing something might be the worst thing we could do. Doing nothing, like the Hadza do nothing, seems like the only viable option.

Well I guess we could just all commit suicide too. Following your and Mike's logic it sounds to me like you are saying it is better not to try to change anything. Should we just continue with BAU, living in McMansions and driving SUVs to the supermarket? At least then, when THSHTF, we absolutely won't be able to do anything at all.

FMagyar, you asked in response to Christian Bonanno's remarks,

"Well I guess we could just all commit suicide too. Following your and Mike's logic it sounds to me like you are saying it is better not to try to change anything. Should we just continue with BAU, living in McMansions and driving SUVs to the supermarket? At least then, when THSHTF, we absolutely won't be able to do anything at all."

This is what I have been trying to tell you guys for the last 2 years! For many who have somehow grafted their aesthetic/philosophical ideas onto the peak oil root, the debate IS NOT about energy AT ALL.

I want to credit Christian for at least being honest in his statement of belief, and recommend that everyone go to the link he provided about the Hadza tribe for a clear picture of what he is discussing: It is sometimes called "neo-primitivism", "environmental anarchism", or "radical green" philosophy, the belief that you must go back to the days even before agriculture, even before animal husbandry and cities, ALL THE WAY BACK, or it is not an acceptable solution.

For the radical greens, the debate is not about oil, and to the question you asked of him the answer MUST be a resounding yes, anything that will salvage culture as we know it would be considered a terrible thing, because it would only lead to the continuation of all the things we take as something worth defending (i.e., farming, animal husbandry, which increases population, which leads to cities, which leads to literacy and art and culture and technology and on and on...all of these are regarded by radical greens or "neo-primitivists" as things you don't want to save, that must be dismantled, and peak oil for the first time (they seem to believe) gives them the glimmer of hope that society/culture in any sense that we can recognise it MUST BE ENDED.

What is so ironic beyond imagination is that many of these neo-primitivists spread their message on THE INTERNET! In a world where many people still crave computers and internet access, the lucky ones in the world who have it spread dreams of hunting with poison darts and living a life lying beside the campfire under open skies!

It makes me think of a great line I recently heard in the PBS special, "Earth Days" when an activist from the 1960's, now an old man, said "we wanted nothing to do with technology, low technology was better, and no technology added was best...except in our drugs and hi-fi, where we wanted the most technology we could get!" :-)

As much as I differ with the philosophical position of Christian Bonanno's ideas, (it is really just a variation on radical ascetism, where the dream is to punish the body, and let deprivation purify the soul, think of Saint Jerome, who took the goal one step further and strove to arrive at a state of pure "soul" with no body (commiting suicide, but making a bit of a show of it)...and what radical green would not dream of that same thing, because a pure soul with no body does not consume, does not cause any environmental damage). Radical green is really a variation on radical Christian mysticism, i.e., the body is dirty, consumption and lust for earthly anything is dirty, and the body must be punished, i.e., atonement must be made for the sins of our farming/industrial/technological trail of sins...variation on the theme, Adam was a clean dude until he took up farming!

Christopher is right, astoundingly, in the core of what he says...these little backyard gardening attempts and home brew bicycle movements may give great pleasure to the one practicing (and really that is what matters) them but will make NO DIFFERENCE in regard to sustainability...the United States is already declining as consumer of oil in percent of world consumption, and will continue to do so...any real difference will be made in whether we decide the poorest nations on earth deserve to live any better than they now do...when we confront that problem and state our position clearly in full view of the world, THAT will be audacious.

Do we accept that we are willing to say to the poorest people on earth, sick and malnourished starving people that we are sorry, but they are to be left in their hell for the foreseeable future because the richest nations in the world simply cannot allow them to consume and possibly damage the environment? Are we audacious enough to make that statement? Are we audacious enough to try to hold the suffering poor in a state of neo-primitivism? Are we audacious enough to tell China, India and the third world how they MUST live, how they MUST reduce consumption and return to a neo-primitivist lifestyle, and are we audacious enough to try to enforce our enlightened view on them"?

THAT would be audacious shit...


Are we audacious enough to tell China, India and the third world how they MUST live, how they MUST reduce consumption and return to a neo-primitivist lifestyle, and are we audacious enough to try to enforce our enlightened view on them"?

Umm, I think we're getting closer and closer to heading in that direction.

And how soon do you think it will be before anyone who suggests that BAU is bad will be considered an "Enemy Belligerent"? Even now it is considered pretty unpatriotic to suggest that bombing people back into the stone age so we can take their natural resources to maintain our non negotiable lifestyles might be unethical...

S.3081 - Enemy Belligerent, Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010

A bill to provide for the interrogation and detention of enemy belligerents who commit hostile acts against the United States, to establish certain limitations on the prosecution of such belligerents for such acts, and for other purposes.

Sponsors Senator John McCain and Joe Leiberman

No I don't think we will accept holding the suffering poor in a state of neo-primitivism?
We will do the right thing and bomb them back into a state of pre-neo-primitivism.
Either that or we will just permanently put them out of their current misery for good.

The way things are going in this country we may yet wish we could time travel back to live under the benevolent auspices of Hitler's Nazism.

(2) FINAL DETERMINATION- As soon as possible after receipt of a preliminary determination of status with respect to a high-value detainee under paragraph (1), the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General shall jointly submit to the President and to the appropriate committees of Congress a final determination whether or not the detainee is an unprivileged enemy belligerent for purposes of this Act. In the event of a disagreement between the Secretary of Defense and the Attorney General, the President shall make the final determination.

That's one helluva of a slippery slope there.

Hey ThatsITImount,


My philosophy is not "the belief that you must go back to the days even before agriculture, even before animal husbandry and cities, ALL THE WAY BACK, or it is not an acceptable solution."

What I am saying is that unless you live that way, calling anything "sustainable" is a delusion.

I am also not an aesthetic. I am a Buddhist. It sounds like you might know the difference. I am not an adherent of self mortification. There is no self to mortify. :^) It is, however, a balance between compassion and self interest. At what lengths do I go to feel comfortable? To survive? Humanity has invented a million tools for comfort and survival without a moments though to how it effects others.

The use of the internet is akin to throwing a wrench into the gears of a machine. Nonviolence, non-involvement is great, but if I see a man about to shoot another person, what is my action? Am I more concerned for my self and afraid that if I commit a violent act my kamma will be screwed?

I do not want to force a way of life on anyone. I am just bringing out our true nature. We will return to that true nature like it or not. The fixes most here talk about are technological, or physical (body) fixes, but this is a matter, really, of mental conditioning. We do not NEED to live the way we do, we WANT to live the way we do. I speak from my own insight and awareness.

Culture will exist, but this culture is unsustainable.

I know the goal, and it is a difficult goal, but I am not going to hide the true goal from myself by pretending I am doing all that is needed.

Christian Bonanno, you said,

"I am also not an aesthetic. I am a Buddhist. It sounds like you might know the difference. I am not an adherent of self mortification. There is no self to mortify. :^)"

Oh my goodness, and I thought I was delving into the mystic, but I concede that I am still rooted in the physical world for now, as long as my my heart beats and my belly hungers!

As to Buddhist religion, to the outsider (I am not Buddhist, but I have read and studied in so far as my "outsider" status will allow me),to me it is one of the most aesthetically conscious of religions!

There is no rule that I am aware of that says a Buddhist cannot be an aesthetic, in fact it seems just the opposite, that the Buddhist faith has explored both aestheticism, and the practice of the ascetic art of self denial in a way that few religions have...not to dismiss the very, very deep sense of these facets in Judism and Christianity (and many Christians dismiss these deep aspects of the faith now that most are prosperous and allow the advertizers to determine what is aesthetically most pleasing).

We know that the Siddhārtha Gautama, the supreme Buddha delved into the world of the radical ascetic as a path to enlightenment, and nearly died of starvation, then abandoned this path.

Instead the Buddha determined the philosophy of the eight fold path of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.

Of course, what we are arguing about at TOD is what is the correct definition of "right" in the right fold paths...what car is "right" or is any car "right"? What house is right...(we seem to accept that at least some humble abode is "right" :-). What food is "right", and what is the "right" path for how it reaches us, how it tastes, what has been done to grow it? What is the "right" way to heat our homes (again, most accept to some degree the "rightness" of heating our humble abodes, at least in northern climes!)

We know the Buddha practiced the path of the ascetic, but abandoned it as the true path to enlightenment. On the day he accepted the milk and rice from Sujata the village girl, he instead took the path of, as you say, "balance".

There is no one who doubts that all cultures are at least somewhat out of balance, and the modern industrial powers have moved to the point of being deeply and fundamentally out of balance. It is a constant job for those who think deeply, practice the concentration on what is called the "eight fold path" to attempt to put their culture back into balance (whether they call it this or by another name). ALL cultures are mortal, but what is the right path, to abondon ones culture and all it has made us in our thought and philosophy, or to attempt to improve it, to bring it back into right balance (even though we may fail), one step at a time (the solar house, the home gardens, the efficient cars, are all more valuable as source of example than they are for the purpose of what they can produce).

But back to the aesthetic, yes, one can surely be a Buddhist and an aesthetic thinker at the same time, I would think it is almost a requirement. One can be a Christian and an aesthetic thinker at the same time, I would think it is almost a requirement! One can be an atheist and an aesthetic thinker at the same time, but for me that would be much harder...but that is just me. :-)

The "right path", the balance, the concentration called for in Buddhism makes us think of the world around, us, not only the food for the body but the holistic aspect of the food for the soul, the "right" feel of homes, cups, clothes, gardens (imagine the radical environmentalist looking at a Buddhist courtyard garden, beautifully sculptured but sitting in the sun, providing no food...I can hear it now "tear that thing out and put a fruit tree and some vegetables in there...all that effort and it produces no food?" But of course it produces food for the soul, which can be more important than food for the body...("Man does not live by bread alone" said Christ)

Aesthetics, what I call "elegant design" is about where the materials come from, what the object is made of, what use will it be put to, how can it be made more elegant, cleaner, more efficient, more valuable for both the body and soul, and how will it be disposed of if it must be disposed Bhudda I accept the rice and milk, I accept the balance of what we must do as we are in our body, but hope to achieve a better balance (the eight fold path is a great place to start...ask ourselves, do we REALLY concentrate on how we are conducting ourselves, and what is "right" in my mind in each of the eightfold paths? But to Buddha's point, all human effort is temporary, like sand painting, is done because we are human, because we must do, we must try, we must BE what we are and try to BECOME (transcendance). I am not the self today I was yesterday, we are all BECOMING. Humans are not called human things, we call ourselves human BEINGS. We must BE human, and nature and the greater order of existence will take care of the rest.

Buddha would teach us, did teach us, ALL SUSTAINABILITY IS A DELUSION FOR ALL HUMANS. Existentialism would teach us, YES, BUT WHAT THE HELL DO YOU DO IN THE MEANTIME?" :-) Great fun discussion, thanks!


(imagine the radical environmentalist looking at a Buddhist courtyard garden, beautifully sculptured but sitting in the sun, providing no food...I can hear it now "tear that thing out and put a fruit tree and some vegetables in there...all that effort and it produces no food?" But of course it produces food for the soul, which can be more important than food for the body...("Man does not live by bread alone" said Christ)

People always seem to quote that part but forget the next part.

but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

It is that the bible is a great sound bite treasury, take one thing out of the context of the whole and you can play games with people's minds, and it is even done by people who shouldn't be doing it.

My chaos garden, with a lot of this or that in the non-food nature, is a better place to study the mindfulness of where we are in the universe. If I had room I'd have several sand dunes laid out and stone mountains to look at, when gazing into the depths of nowhere.

You forgot the one about putting God(christ) first and then everything will be right with you.

What gets me is that in general people on TOD don't like talking about Christians in a positive fashion, except a few, but most talk about them in a negative light. When they really get to know some of us, they'd realize some of us, wish things weren't as screwed up as they are, and we understand about Peak Oil and collapse and other things just like the rest of TOD does.

I guess following some of Martin Luther's teachings about the way the bible was supposed to be understood, doesn't make me a normal person. When a baptist might say if you aren't a baptist you aren't saved, and a catholic says the same thing, and a lutheran says there are christians everywhere. (all this generally speaking). The only person who knows who is going to be saved is God, only he knows the hearts of men.

But I just thought, I'd throw in another mindset into your discussion.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

My problem with the lot of religions is that the "next life" is more important than the present. What the OilDrum should be about is the present, its problems, and what must be done to resolve them if anything. I have a difficult time believing there may be an afterlife for anyone after watching a troop of perfectly designed military ants conducting a raid on a neighboring anthill to collect their eggs and take them back home to be raised as slaves. So quintessentially human an activity, they are so good at it, and willingly sacrifice their lives at least as bravely as any soldier. What makes us think we're any more special in the perceptions of any possible "creator" being (which I've concluded cannot exist). Study the Japanese honeybee's defence against the asian predator wasp. They ALL KNOW that the wasp is more temperature sensitive than themselves, and dies at about 45 degC whereas they can survive to 47.5 degC. A raiding wasp scout is surrounded with an angry buzzing ball of defenders all laying their warm bellies against the raider heating it up until it dies, and of course smothering many of their own. No human activity is more well-planned, well-executed, elegant or self-sacrificing. Again, What makes us think

RC: Enjoyed your comment - lots of interesting thoughts. Too bad that Aestheticism is at odds with rationalism, otherwise, I kind of like the concept - Wiki:

Irrationalism and aestheticism were philosophical movements which formed as a cultural reaction against positivism in the early 20th century. These perspectives opposed or deemphasized the importance of the rationality of human beings. Instead, they concentrated on the experience of one's own existence. Part of the movements involved claims that science was inferior to intuition. In this project, art was given an especially high place, as it was considered the gateway to the noumenon. The movement was not widely accepted by the public, as the social system generally limited access of the art to the elite.

Len: I very much agree with you:

problem with the lot of religions is that the "next life" is more important than the present

I have had more than one evangelical christian tell me that they were not at all interested in longer term environmental issues as the rapture is not that far away and the condition of the environment is irrelevant:

...and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.

In my early catholic training I was taught that this life is simply "a valley of tears" where we are tested to determine our reward or punishment in the afterlife - we were instructed that a miserable valley would just give us a better test and potentially a better seat in the heavenly bleachers.

"To you do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears." The expression hearkens to Psalm 23's reference to the valley of the shadow of death: the phrase implies that the wickedness of the world makes it dark and reprieve comes only from divine salvation.

Salvation, a "lord in the air" - these are the delusional concepts that dull the minds of people and makes it so hard for them to understand how we might use our evolved intellect to bring our species into balance with the rest of the biosphere. And, just maybe, give our grandchildren the opportunity to enjoy the opportunity for health and happiness that has allowed us to sit around and dream up crazy beliefs like Pastafarianism:

I can understand where you both are coming from. I guess as a Christian Lutheran I was taught that we don't know when the end of the world is going to happen and we can't just live willy nilly, waiting to be pulled out of our own messes. I Trust God to be there for me, but know that I can't just do anything I like and get away with not trying to help others. I shouldn't waste what I was given, just because I might be in heaven in the morning.

I pray that other christians see that they live in the world also and can't just pilage it and expect to get away from their bad behavoir. No one will listen to them if they treat animals and their environment badly, You two are an example of what I am talking about.

Jesus said that the Father knows when a bird falls from the sky, I trust he also knows whent he wasp dies, or the ant dies as well. Some of my first lessions were watching ants. I don't see humans as being apart from the world they live in, and have never thought God did either.

Nice talking to you both.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

"I have had more than one evangelical christian tell me that they were not at all interested in longer term environmental issues as the rapture is not that far away and the condition of the environment is irrelevant:"

Jeez, Dave, it occurs to me that we are all active participants in this self-fullfilling prophecy, willing or not.

Nothing is sustainable. The Sun will swell up and destroy our planet eventually. Use of the term "sustainable" has to have an implied time period to be useful.

Oil-based civilization is not sustainable even for the next 50 years. But human industrial civilization certainly can be sustained for that period (as long as we do not create AIs or nanotech goo that wipes us out). We have other ways to get energy. Our living standards will go down for a while. But we do not need to go back to a hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

We will return to our true nature? I think we never left it.

The neo-primitivists will remain a small fringe group. Very very few of them will even embrace their own advice. I consider them irrelevant for the future.

I think you are right that some of them derive their ideas from a strain of thought that goes back to a Christian view of us the fallen and sinful. I do not expect their ideas to get any traction in Japan or China or South Korea. Too many parts of the world do not have that religious meme in their cultural background.

As for gardens: Yes, not going to make a big difference at the macro level. But some people posting here really are getting a large fraction of their food from their gardening efforts. Well, good for them, but irrelevant to those of us who live in places where that's not practical.

I will offer more widely practical advice: Spend in ways that'll cut future costs and future energy needs. That can be as simple as installing CFLs or as fancy (and expensive) as building a house that has extremely low energy needs and from materials and design that'll not need much maintenance for decades to come.

I'm trying to live 5 years into my future. I'm trying to rstrict myself in ways that I expect will become necessity for me 5 years hence. I'm assuming industrial civlization isn't going to collapse because I lack the resources to prepare for that collapse. I'm planning for a deep depression since I think I can handle that.

No, by doing nothing I mean not continuing BAU, but really doing nothing. Maintaining is doing, I propose not maintaining any BAU. Engineering our survival is doing something. I propose that dieing when we die is doing nothing. Doing nothing is VERY DIFFICULT because it mean going against your conditioning.

But it is possible that bringing on collapse sooner might be an advantage to the ecosystem.

The "real work" is ending industrialization.

I had a friend who went to a sustainable coffee roaster here in Raleigh called Larry's Beans.

They are doing a lot. But I asked how the beans get shipped and in actuality it is a net loss for the environment. So it is not sustainable, but it will last longer. We are only enabling a failed system for longer, maybe saving the ecosystem for a bit longer so we do not end up actually seeing the damage we cause

Not to mention, most people are working at unsustainable, very unsustainable jobs, to afford the coffee beans that he sells. And since they are more expensive they have to work longer and harder. And I could go on how coffee provides no nutrients yet consumes, even in fair trade organic farms, a lot of fossil fuels.

Capitalism is not a friend to the environment.

We are part of the environment. We are just another species undergoing selective pressures. Just as we are exerting selective pressures so selective pressures act on us. Natural selection continues unabated.

Can you live without the technology, without all the knowledge?

They don't live without knowledge, they have great knowledge and their technical skills are things that we have lost, with the use of a zippo, and guns, and etc etc.

Knowledge of as many ediable plants, and most of the places I could find ediible animals in about a mile square area from where I live is something have honed over the years. I try to know as much about the living world around me as possible.

My yard is not just a set bit of rows for plants, but a vast network of edible plants and non-edibles in a haphazard growth.

I have the skills to be dropped most places in the world and survive longer than your average joe six pack, though you might not know that just from looking at me.

I always like reading the stories they write about tribes and peoples that live the old ways. Modern man places too many star stickers on knowing useless information. Where is london, if I am never going to go there, why do I need to know? What is Blank Star in the spotlight doing this week at 3 am via the twitter post? Why do I need to know?

Do I need to know if the three leaflet plant is the poison one, or the edible one? Is that red berry the edible fresh kind, or the bitter nasty if not cooked kind? If I have a sore tummy which leaf will fix me right up. If this is a new plant I have never tasted, what does this or that taste mean to it's possible use, and how much to eat, how much to pick and how to find the plant again in a guide.

These things I have learned from childhood, learning mostly by trail and error and observation, though I do hunt down books on the subjects. I've self taught most of my fire making skills.

I'll admit, I did wonder at why Debbie had a pipe underground system. But I could have gotten most of the needed fix it supplies from one of our sheds, and been able to gauge the needed connection with a tape measure and a drawing. But not everyone has those resources on hand.

I am trying to make my living system designs as low tech sustainable as possible and still have some of the comforts most people are used too.

But if need be, I could sleep outside under the cedars, in a snow storm, and live off the land.

What we might want to do is get rid of the word sustainable because really ntohign is sustainable in the world. Everything fluxs and changes, and molds itself into something new each day. Nothing is the same from year to year, it just seems that way to our limited minds.

We all end up dead, there is none of us going to sustain our lives past 120 years, unless a lot of things change, even if we could, we'd not look like ourselves at 30, therefore our looks are not sustainable either.

We need to be working for a better future, and fussing at each other about the little things that are different in our opinions about our differences is not a good method of going forward. Gather 50 people together and you have to learn to handle the different opinions and wants and needs, so that the whole group can go forward, you have to have someone that can guide you when you stray off the mark, but not a person that is a leader of the group.

That example of the Hadza, the line of people into the forest on the night point was a single file line, Who was the point man? Was he the leader? or the Guide?

I am not a leader of men, I migth be a guide, and have been such in the past. But if no one listens to me, then am I just a follower, or a none person?

In the future we can all go our own way, but alone, most will not survive, in the end, anyone still alive, will either form up into groups, or they will all die out. Be mindful that if we can't be guided now while things are in a relative peaceful time, when it gets rough nothing will get better.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

Since we can't support our current population density if we follow your concept of epic change then I guess I'm wondering if you see the necessity of a huge die-off.

As for plastic drip tubes and other products of civilization: If they'll last a long time then why not buy them now while civilization still exists? Why not use diesel power to drill down to make a water well? Why not use fossil fuels to help build a house that'll last far longer than the civilization that helped make it possible?

Getting out of a comfort zone: Why not use what resources we still have to create comfort zones that'll last longer than oil supplies?

Going from oil to solar is still net waste so it is still unsustainable.

Interesting position.

Its wrong, but still interesting.

Photons is how the oil came to be. Photons is what heats the planet, causes plants to grow (that becomes food). The 'net waste' from a human use position would be how many photons are needed to accomplish the human goal.

Using passive solar to heat your buildings, active solar to heat your water and converting photons into heat+electrical wattage via PV is "still net waste" per your wrong position and yet these are the LEAST 'wasteful' of the photons for human use.

Mike is only seeing more clearly

Naw, Mike got a good snark on - how is a plastic irrigation system "permiculture" in the true sense?

to the end of things, that backyard gardens will change nothing

You are full of wrong today.

Backyard gardens do effect change. I don't have to visit a 'store' for the herbs and produce the backyard garden makes. That is 'change'. And the 4 ton of spent brewers grain I worked in prevented that 4 ton being commercially landfilled. (I filled in land with it. Get it? filled in land. Land filled!)

I agree. I have read nothing in these comments that suggests epic.

I have a feeling TOD is turning into a harbor for Magical Thinking. That somehow we can fix all our problems with some sort of technology, old or new.

Listen peeps, any form of agriculture that can feed a population of 6.8 billion people is not sustainable.

Epic shifts will happens TO us.

I have a feeling TOD is turning into a harbor for Magical Thinking. That somehow we can fix all our problems with some sort of technology, old or new.

You aren't reading the same TOD that I am!

I find most people here have a pretty good grasp of the fact that technology can not help us maintain the status quo. That doesn't mean we shouldn't use the resources that we have to make changes where we can. I think the Campfire is intended as a place for a somewhat more informal brain storming session.

TOD is about reality and necessary paradigm change. However none of us will be able to run before we walk. Criticizing someone for making even small changes because they are using already available plastic pipe to do something other than using it for irrigating their lush green lawn doesn't seem particularly helpful to me...

So go right ahead and do nothing. That includes not driving to the supermarket to buy your groceries. If you do it right you might last about two months before you starve.

So go right ahead and do nothing. That includes not driving to the supermarket to buy your groceries. If you do it right you might last about two months before you starve.

This "do something or die" attitude is pretty juvenile. It substitutes an emotional challenge for an intellectual justification.

People get stressed when they feel they are not in control, but performing activity can bring back a sense of control, even if the activity is irrelevant. Behaviourists call this a "displacement activity". If you believe that civilisation is headed for collapse, tinkering at the edges is really akin to rearranging the chairs.

If you believe that civilisation is headed for collapse, tinkering at the edges is really akin to rearranging the chairs.

Yes, I actually do believe that *THIS* civilization is indeed headed for collapse for the simple reason that that which can not continue, won't!

Having said that I don't believe that there will no longer be *ANY* civilization. As for tinkering around the edges before this one completely collapses, it might allow some people to make the transition to a new paradigm.

Since you use the Titanic analogy of rearranging the chairs, some people did exactly that, but a few did manage to get on the limited number of life boats and survive.

The life boats were there and they were built with the same know how and energy resources as the Titanic itself. Yes, the Titanic sank, so those that got on the lifeboats didn't save it but they weren't exactly part of the chair rearranging committee either.

I'm sure they weren't happy to see the ship go down, they might even have had a sense that getting in the lifeboat sure wasn't going to save the ship but at least they didn't just sit around saying "oh well, ship's going down, that's it, why bother saving myself or anyone else." So let's not bother getting into the lifeboat because we know for a fact that we won't be able to build a new one while we are out at sea.

Hmmm, you are simplifying my thoughts.

It is not that I wish to die, or I am irrelevant about my death. But at what length do I sacrifice the future for my survival? To what length do I go to keep myself alive by the sacrifice of other? Do you understand the ecological damage all the lithium mining is doing to the Bolvioans?

It is akin to jumping into the life boat and throwing someone off so the boat will stay afloat with my added weight.

I am speaking about balancing self interest with compassion. There were many people who gave up their life on the titanic so that others could survive in the lifeboat (earth).

Your sacrifice, any amount, is great, and I am not belittling it by any means. I do not wish any of you to stop what you are doing. But it is not enough.

For the last 500 years, mining has caused irreversible environmental damage to Bolivian land and communities. Mines continue to use chemicals—including cyanide—to refine ore, discharging hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic sludge into rivers every year.

Your Do you understand the ecological damage all the lithium mining is doing to the Bolvioans? is so far off the mark as to be embarassing even for your critics, as myself. 1) The Bolivians are simply evaluating the mining of Lithium at now, mining is presently done in Chile. 2) Evaporating brine and collecting the precipitate is not exactly the same process as a cyanide heap leach for copper etc. Your reference article makes no distinction.

Your obfuscation, willingness to lie to "make a point" is simply hurting our cause. Educate yourself, then restrict yourself to truth.

Deck chairs of the day were made out of wood, wood floats, give me some rope and a lot of deck chairs and I have my own lifeboat.

Thinking outside the box is needed. We have ourselves in this box and we think that it's a cubical construct of x Size because we are inside it and that is all we see. What we don't know is what is outside the box we are in. In my way of thinking, I understand I am in a box, now I must accept the fact that I can not see what is outside the box, but if I panic I will not help myself when I do get out of my box. So I remain calm and wait for the box to open on it's own, or If I am waiting to long I start prying at the edges.

We have this big puzzle and we see the picture and we see all the scattered pieces, When we finally put the puzzle together like the picture says it is supposed to look like, we discover, that the other side is another picture totally different than the one we have been working on.

It's like Yoga and martial arts, so many styles that the body can do, but no time to learn them all. So many things we have barely scratched the surface of, like cancer cures, and limb replacements, and brain injuries, and how one person can think one way and another person another way, but they have the same brain, DNA has what master code, is there a prefect human DNA code?

Are we going to lose all we have gained so far in our knowledge base when this civilization collapses?

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I walk to the grocery store.


I walk to the grocery store too. But when I go and buy a couple of 20 lb turkeys I drive (less than once a month). I also drive to get to a different store to buy large bags of bulk items. I do that twice a year. Sometimes I walk to work. I've even started walking to the dentist. Today I walked to Kinkos and bought a mouse.

I deal with homeless people and the nearly homeless folks as well. The ones that have been on the street the longest and seem to be adapted to living out of a bag on their back are few and far between, but they are out there. And there are a lot of the housed that have experience of living in a homeless world, and feel able to survive without the comforts of home. Most people I deal with have very little control over most of the things affecting their lives the greatest. I see the stresses some of them feel and see the outcomes of them.

I have lived out of my car for months on end, not having the money to move it much. I've had weeks living in the wild places because it was better than living homeless in a city. I did have a choice I could have gone to a house to live in, but wanted to be free of the bits of the world I didn't like at the time. I did not resort to crime, and was not mean to people. I haven't lived with no escape route, but I have been able to live off the land a lot better than most people that I see homeless these days.

Cities aren't the best places to be if you have to be homeless, not a lot of free food growing in most yards( the need for grass lawns is a waste in my opinion of space).

Like the Hadza in the story above, I tend to sleep when I get tired and am up when I want to be.

Maybe we need to teach our kids how to survive in the wilds for 6 months alone as part of growing up, then later in life they won't be so stressed out all the time.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future, with less stress worked into the planning.

Nah, I will keep the supermarkets because I am forced to need them. You see, being poor most of my life has not given me the opportunities to own land and there is not enough food available on community farms. I do see the supermarkets as a field though, as if I am foraging. And a forager would not assume he could eat something in a can.

But what I do or do not do is irrelevant to the truth. These small changes have nothing to do with sustainability. Maybe we should call them pre-sustainable, or semi-sustainable.

I am afraid that the goal is being simplified, which is why I push.

I like the terms pre-sustainable and semi-sustainable, they give a feel for what we know to be steps on the right path, but not to the goal yet.

Step one, realize you need a sustainable living method.

Step two, prepare for living a sustainable life, by letting go of habits, and wants, and knowing your needs.

Step three, reminding yourself that you can get by on only your needs, looking over the ones you have listed and seeing where you can trim.

Step four, finding ways to get what you need, within the world you live in, and looking for sustainable pieces to the puzzle.

Step five, begin to meeting the lifestyle changes by the methods you have been working on toward the goal of final sustainability.

Step six, helping others to get into the program.

It's late in my day, so these steps might be zuffy or sickly-logical(giggle) but the point is that every trip is started with a first step.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I have a feeling TOD is turning into a harbor for Magical Thinking. That somehow we can fix all our problems with some sort of technology, old or new.

Listen peeps, any form of agriculture that can feed a population of 6.8 billion people is not sustainable.

Epic shifts will happens TO us.

Sir, may I ask if you have any experience with agriculture?

There is no magical thinking here, there is 50 year old technology capable of feeding at least 10 billion people consisting of wind turbines, water electrolysis, the Haber-Bosch process, and corn ethanol plants.

I can also show you intensively managed, sustainable, organic, integrated livestock and crop operations in Iowa that are quite capable of producing food at a 10 billion population scale. To distributed that food, we can use electrified rail lines, or modify diesel engines to run on Ammonia as was done by the Belgians in world war II.

If you must maintain that sustainable agriculture cannot feed the world, then you are absolutely correct that epic shifts will happen TO you. Now please get out of our way while those of us with vision and hope are making those epic changes.

It matters not which one you choose, but Lead, Follow, or get the hell out of the way.

There are farms are capable of feeding 10 billion? Why aren't they? What is stopping you? Oh, I know what it is, industrialization, something which it cannot compete. Take your hoe out of the ground and use it to dig up the infrastructure of industrialization.

This is the magical thinking I was speaking of. All of what you said is in your imagination. What is stopping the fruition of your imagination? Find that and get at it. We already know a different way is possible.

But even with these farms that can "feed 10 billion", you are assuming that the population will stay at 10 billion. And that none of those 10 billion will want to open an unsustainable farm.

I am not saying not to do these things, but when we talk about also ending industrialization there is a silence that tells me the real work is yet to be even imagined.

There are ways to grow plants that would feed everyone, but it is akin to selection of the best plants for the area you live in, and encouraging them to grow, in a choatic garden like setting. it is a blend of things that we have learned over time and a blend of species that you haven't seen in the past. We have done something like it in our mismatched ways ever since we started moving people and plants with ships.

In example there are several species of plants I can name off the top of my head that are not native to North America. Cucumis sativus, and Cucumis melo, several species of Pueraria (mostly kudzu species, that can breed amoung themselves). Things like the watermelon that are so prized in the culture of the American south, are not native here.

Then again Europe and else where has coffee, potatoes, tomatoes, amoung other plants.

All this was man changing the way the world was set up when he found it. Now since it is already done, why not use that gift.

Sustainable growing, is not the same as sustainable argiculture. Tearing up the ground to the point that the ground looses its structure or it's flora and fauna building block organisms, is not sustainable.

But we could feed everyone. But I guess it is magical thinking that people would be willing to change to something without a power base, without greed and without crime. Where people are more willing to work with each other and keep the common goal of everyone gets to eat, and have water.

I don't doubt people won't think my ideas would be any good. I do tend to agree with the Hadza, why worry about dying, why do humans worry as much as they do? I have to keep reminding fellow christians that christ taught that we were not supposed to worry about things, but pray and let go. But if you don't believe in Jesus, do you worry? Why not take a page out of the Hadza book and not worry about life tomorrow.

The guy in the story only lasted for 2 weeks, and I am not sure in my present health I would be able to last that long, but when I was younger, I would have loved to have hung around for a lot longer than two weeks.

Maybe the Hadza will catch a break and not die out completely the world as we know it is not going to continue as it is now for much longer. But hasn't that been true almost all our history, besides for the peoples like the Hadza who don't follow the clocks. Haven't big cultures changed and died out, no more greeks, no more romans, Giza is a plain and no one knows how they did what they did, the Maya are no more, even the vikings aren't much more than a few stray sayings and names.

Change is afoot, and we should be willing to be part of the change, and able to float in the tide of change as it impacts the beaches we are camped out on. Everyone able to swim and got their bug out bags attached to a floating bouy?

BioWebScape designs for better fed and housed future.

Humankind is on a spaceship with a defined destination. The spaceship has no lifeboats.
A relative few on board now know and understand that there has been a miscalculation of the amount of resources required to reach it's goal. The point of no return was crossed a long time ago.

The amount of people on board has grown to an unsustainable level. Some very hard choices need to be made by EVERYONE on board.
Yet there is a small pocket of people who have cut down on their consumption and recycle their waste. They feel very good about themselves and proselytize.

Apart from using resources, the large population on board is polluting the air, degrading the water supply and clearing fauna and flora to make way for more people. Engineers gave upgraded the engines they are now faster and more efficient and they pollute less but for every step forward the growing population of the ship cause two steps to be taken back.

The ship's population feels that people come first, that human life must be preserved at all cost and set the engineers to find a solution.
But...............the scientists know there is one problem but one and only one solution.

For some to survive and that some is way below the original carrying capacity of the ship, nine out of every ten persons on board must "go away"........immediately.
For every minute that that hard decision is not made less and less will survive until there is no point discussing it.

The spaceship has probably reached the point where discussion do not mean a damn thing. It's either real action by all on board or simply eat drink and be merry, for humankind is unable to grasp the enormity of the problem and the even greater enormity of the solution.

I have a feeling TOD is turning into a harbor for Magical Thinking. That somehow we can fix all our problems with some sort of technology, old or new.

Well "do something" and show how this is true. You have almost 5 years of data - so show us how this is true.

Be sure to note how EE Stor, BlackLight Hydinos, 2 man arial gondolas and other magical topics are mentions all the time and how promotors of the technofix like theantidoomer are writing key posts on a monthy basis.

Listen peeps, any form of agriculture that can feed a population of 6.8 billion people is not sustainable.

A case might be able to be made for nightsoil/biochar methods feeding vegans assuming you believe ANY agriculture is sustainable.

Shit happens.
Epic shit is, like, really huge shit.
And it is happening.

From an evolutionary point of view.
The population is built up and then it is stressed(mass death) and the population is built up from the remnants.
Iterate endlessly.
Except if you are perfect. For instance a shark or an amoeba.

We have an opportunity to try Design rather than Evolution. (Why are anti-evolutionists opposed to designer babies?)

From the planets point of view.
The planet is an extension of my body. (Where do you think I get my oxygen?)
Therefore I am a part of this planet.
You are a part of the planet.
We are components of an organism.
Are our deaths apoptosis or necrosis?

I plead special dispensation from the process on the grounds that I am perfect like the shark. (Or the amoeba).

(Why are anti-evolutionists opposed to designer babies?)

That's simple, because god would never do anything as unnatural as designing babies!

Oh, wait...

Fred, that is a "keeper" line - hope you don't mind if I recycle it!

I am not an anti-evolutionist, and I am not opposed to designer babies. We pick our mates by design, and then we get pot luck as a result.

Only in some cases do we get an almost certain result. Two Red Heads produce red hair kids. My second wife was a red head, best wife I have had, her first husband was a red head, their two kids are red heads, They both have a tatoo of something with the date of their mother's death on it. They both have the traits of their parents, as well as their own likes and dislikes, I can see a lot of her in them.

God designs babies all the time. I say he even designed evolution as we know it today, and as we don't know it yet.

Humans in all their wisdom and knowledge aren't always as smart as they like to think they are. After all if we were as smart as we think we are, why are we in the fix we are now?

I figure we are given the smarts to work ourselves further into the hole, or ask for help to get out of it, or figure out how to teach ourselves how to get out of it. We don't have many choices.

Nothing I have said negates me being a Christian. But I am sure some people would think my ideas a little odd.

Some of my friends at times in the past confused me for a guru of sorts, and twice today I have been called an angel, I am neither. Just someone that prayed for wisdom a long time ago and figures he is a fool.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I figure we are given the smarts to work ourselves further into the hole,

CEO, friend, we are given a big brain to rationalise our stupidity.

Sometimes it takes huge effort.

Yeah we do that too, the quote you took was one of three simple examples of where we are.

Modern man seems to be more stupid than others in the past, or maybe that is because we see more of our actions faster than only hearing gossip on the back fence, once a week. Now we can see the stupid people tricks on youtube 20 seconds after they happen, and have people study them for decades and write papers about them.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

I started on the epic sh*t several years ago. Some of you may recognize that I am a small oil producer. That is just the tip of the iceberg.

My now ex-wife and I started a sustainability group in our local community in 2006. We became a Chapter of the Oklahoma Sustainability Network in 2007. I joined the Board of OSN later that year and am now President. Since I became President, we have added two more Chapters, and now stand at 11 total.

In the local group, our efforts resulted in a farmers market offshoot, now a separate organization, with only local growers. At the end of last year, we had a weekly traffic count there of about 400 buyers. We have had numerous recycling events and have generally grown in a small community. A lot more awareness, but not epic yet.

At the State level, we have reached the epic level. Our efforts in organizing a coalition to work with the state regulators resulted in a now functioning Demand Side Management program - not like Vermont's, but they had a 20+ year head start on us. We sorked with a coalition to bring the Buy Fresh, Buy Local program to three areas of the State, and the local markets, and growere base, are expanding. We are currently working on a program to push for implementation of up tto date building codes, hoping for uniform codes across the State, but that program is just getting started. We have an annual public Conference, this year it is June 11 and 12 in Edmond, just north of Oklahoma City.

We have been involved in water programs across the State, and are working on internal organizational issues to make our efforts more effective. Some involve planning and some involve demonstration, but all are effective.

And, virtually all of that work is done by volunteers or covered by specific grants - no overhead burden. Organizing volunteers to promote sustainability is, however, challenging. Everyone wants to work on their own personal efforts, and rightfully so. I have found that if we can coordinate our efforts, we become more effective and have a voice better heard across a wider area.

I have tried, along with the Colorado Alliance for Sustainability, to engage other organizations in other States, but that is a very frustrating effort. Hopefully, we can form some bonds and make some progress in working for a national voice as well.

Oh yeah, and my ex and I built a highly efficient house with a local water source to back up the rural water supply. I don't have that anymore though.

Debbie, I admire your intent and will. But reducing your need to earn and reducing your need to spend is another word for conservation, so your intentful and willful conservation is someone else's unexpected revenue loss and job loss. This will serve to accelerate collapse. This is either a good or a bad thing depending on how you look at it, but it is the way it will work.

To try something truly epic, try understanding collapse as you might understand death.
Yale's 26 part free online course on death.

Someone else can get along conserving more and spending less as well. My anecdotal, totally unscientific observations of people doing just that during the last few years is that in general, it makes them happier. One couple went through alternating layoffs and job searches. By the end, they went from two full time jobs to one that pays less than either used to make. One of them quit looking for work and is staying home with their kids, running a frugal household and volunteering in the community. They are amazed to find that they like it better this way.

710, I have a question:

If my neighbor is fat must I also have to be fat?

This seems to be the gist of what you've said; moreover by getting skinny I am performing a disservice to mankind?

If I can jump in, I do not think that is what was meant and your logic is screwy.

If you eat less, there will be more supply of food and it will be cheaper, which could cause someone else to become fatter.

It is a problem with conservation (Jevons Paradox). Unless everyone conserves nothing will change. The less oil I use the cheaper it becomes for others, thereby lower the cost deterrent.

Forcing others to use less oil, by law or by sabotage, will do more than just limiting my personal consumption.

I wonder how many here would support an $8/Gallon gas tax...

Christian, although your thoughts are well taken and thank you I also see a backside to the situation that I find plausible.

If I eat less then you are absolutely correct that food already in production may indeed become cheaper/less profitable for the producers. But ultimately less food will come into production.

So perhaps I don't have to be as fat as my neighbor, and my actions will specifically enable me to do as Debbie has suggested, "Reduce your need to earn and reduce your need to spend."

AND you might start a general trend--people might start thinking that it is hip to consume less, and that could do an end-run around old Jevons.

Taxing resources as a way of reducing consumption is inefficient and leads to hardship the lower on the socio-trophic chain you are. Rationing is about as fair as you can get when it comes to resource allocation (yes it is open to abuse) and means the basic needs of almost everyone will be met.

Insightful. In that it points out the scientific and compartmentalized thinking that is akin to magic. And the inherent complexity and the impossibility to control life without incurring some debt.

And thanks for the lectures link. I think that not enough people are dieing before they die.

That's going to happen anyways - we can't just go on buying crap at the rate we have been buying it because we are afraid of what will happen if we stop.


You inadvertently hit on the solution. The human species abuses money (wealth) by allowing it to be concentrated in the hands of a small fraction of society. Every dollar removed from the BAU system weakens that system.

I find it ironic that we are trying to legislate the size of the "too big to fail banks" when all the public needs to do is stop using them.

Revenue and job loss forces people to reevaluate their lifestyles. Better to do it now than later when TSHTF. We are doing them a huge favor.

We feed the beast with our dollars. We can kill it by starving it. Cash out your investments, keep as little money as possible in your checking account, use a small local bank for your checking account, pay off all debt, stop using credit cards, buy locally, invest in books that teach skills, purchase tools and supplies, either grow and raise your own food or buy it from local suppliers. Continually look for ways to pull your dollars away from the government and the "elite".

I would argue the financial impact on the BAU system caused by the lifestyle changes being advocated here are equally as important as the reduction in demand for resources.

On a side note. I once tried to convince my local school board to save a huge sum of money by letting local citizens volunteer to monitor study halls so the teachers could be freed up to teach one more additional class. The response I got was as if I had farted in church;) We have an opportunity for epic change in our school systems by inviting the public to volunteer in all areas at their local schools. Will it be a bit messy at first as we learn what works and what does not, sure it will. But the positive impact on school budgets, discipline, and quality of education will be enormous.

Every dollar removed from the [general] BAU system weakens that system ... [when it is instead] concentrated in[to] the hands of a small [elite] fraction of society.


That is a powerful insight. Thanks.

Perhaps it can be expanded on?

Consider the idea that every dollar spent is a vote.
Every dollar that can be, but is not spent is a potential vote.

An engineer with a dollar in hand will probably spend it wisely.

But in the case of a financial systems manipulator, with many billions of unspent dollars in hand, how wisely or unwisely will he wield that power?

(As for the public school situation, you obviously don't understand what the union members want: less work and more money. Standing around in the hallway pretending to be a hall monitor is a much easier way to earn one's next buck than having to do lesson plans and trying to drill knowledge into the heads of a bunch of ADHD sexting kiddies. You were trying to take the last easy dollar out of the teachers' fists. No wonder they opposed you.)

step back,

Thank you.

I purposely left out the U word as I was afraid it might hijack this thread;)

It is clear that reducing consumption will reduce the need for production which will reduce incomes. On the other hand, if there is a widespread commitment to reducing consumption then less consumption will be necessary which means there will be less need for the level of incomes that will be generated in the first place.

Certainly, people should be disabused of the absurd notion that a significant reduction in consumption won't have an impact on the GDP and incomes of the whole society.

But it seems to me that this is the point of lower consumption.

If we continue on our current course of consumption, we will have collapse. Perhaps we will have collapse anyway.

Whether or not we end up with collapse by reducing consumption depends on what is mean by collapse. Perhaps there is an alternative where there is a managed path to lowered consumption without collapse in the sense that the whole economic system crashes in an out of control state of mass poverty, starvation, and dieoff.

Perhaps there is a middle way.

We don't have to worry about any of the above, however, because our society will choose the collapse that comes with out of control consumption leading to energy, resource deprivation, and out of control global heating.

Go Debbie! Excellent post, by the way.

I'm just sitting here by the bay, breeding those beets and trying to be the change that I want to see in the world.

Lately, I've been teaching, mentoring and encouraging people to garden in small urban spaces. Previously, I was just the crazy woman with beets flowering in what used to be a narrow strip of ragged- ass front lawn.

I'm alternately know as the crazy cat lady (yeesh...I only have 3 cats) or the crazy bee lady. At least, those are the only two things people will call me to my face ;))

I also sell honey in the neighborhood, and invite folks to bring the kids to come see the bees, and to learn about them. Only way for kids to get over fear of things is to understand them.

This years project for our yard and garden is to not use city water to water things when the dry spells happen. Last year this area got an all time record of over 83 inches of rain, one city in Arkansas got 100 inches of rain, almost triple the rainfall. But we didn't grow much last year, besides the things that I've been letting grow in the yard as edible landscaping/lawns.

I have been updating my design skills, and my plant databases so that I can go forward with my BioWebScape design project. It blends bio-intense growing methods, with the plants that each climate region could grow be they native or grown in other parts of the world that shares the same climate. Or plants whose ranges overlap the target areas climate. It also uses the world wide web of the internet to gather people and ideas that can be shared via networking. I was trained once as a Landscape Architect, though I haven't used the training much more than for my own uses. I also wanted to design housing into the food part of the process.

Growing a garden and feeding your family is one thing, but if your house requires loads of outside imputs you will end up wasting the saved energy of grwoing your own food. My goal is to design something that is as totally off the grid as possible, but also does not need a lot of high end tech to supply power to the system. If collapse were to happen faster than we think, repairs should be able to be made with hand tools and replacements not require you to have a chemistry degree. But I don't want to go back to sod huts with dirt floors.

Another project on a personal level is reducing my use of water from the tap, things I can get by with if I were in a place where I only a little bit of water to deal with life. Practicing for the end of tap water from the city.

Instead of a shower, a washcloth and a basin of water. Using as few plates and cups and sliverware as possible. It has become an inside joke at the dinner table, my parents will set out a fork, spoon and knife for most meals, and I try to get by only use one of the three, having clean dishes to put back.

We will in the next week or so be up to 450 gallons of rainwater storage in the yard, using the runoff from the house roof. We don't have guttering, so the collection is done with open buckets and milk crates with bags in them, and a few other plastic containers. I have 14 milkcrates with bags in them alone. If I don't use the water in one, I can stack an empty one on top for the next bit of rain flow.

I'd want to in my designs be able to live totally off of rainwater, so that I could not have to worry about bad ground water, or the lack of city water, or the ability to drill or dig a water well. Not everywhere in the world can you do this, but here where I am you can.

I've always thought that if I change, even if my little bit of change does not affect the whole very much, it is still worth doing. A penny saved is a penny you have for later. Waste not want not. What you have make it last.

Not totally epic, but it's in the right direction.

BioWebScape designs for a better fed and housed future.

It always strikes me how we have problems that are each other's solutions standing right next to each other all the time.

Boulevard trees are always under-watered, and meanwhile, the occasional streams that we call streets flow right past them whenever it rains, overtaxing sewage systems and flushing all sorts of nasty stuff from the streets into our water ways.

Why not mandate concave boulevard strips with opening to let the rainwater in?

Has any city done this?

The system you describe is known as bioretention, and is getting written into stormwater design criteria all over the US these days. I am even more frustrated by curb and gutter than you are, especially when I see it going into new developments that didn't have to be that way.

I usually enjoy the Campfire posts, and am enjoying this one, mainly during a rain shower that has given me an excuse to take a break from the garden.

As usual, there are always those that jump in and do a good job of pointing out the ultimate futility of trying to live more sustainably, reduce our dependence on non-renewable resources, or just eat "closer to home". I have to wonder about these folks. Are they just trying to project their frustration or inaction onto others?

News flash, y'all: Life itself is ultimately futile and unsustainable. So f'ing what? I'm going to sustain this as long as I can:


We started this newest garden this spring and invited our new neighbors to join in. It's coming along well. We're growing most of the usual stuff and it has improved the sense of community in our little valley some. It is 115' x 65', enough to grow a lot of food for our small group. The pond to the right provides our irrigation via a small solar pump. All of the fencing materials are salvaged/recycled from a nearby farm that fell to development (now bankrupt). The soil is rich sandy loam over 15 inches deep and will be continuously ammended with the usual mulches, compost and manure.

I don't consider this "Epic Shit", and don't worry about larger questions of long term sustainability or if I'm somehow "stealing from poor kids on the other side of the planet". I'm just making the most of my circumstances like everyone else. Around here, it represents BAU for a lot of folks. So have fun during your trip to the supermarket and enjoy your low EROEI food. I don't consider your choices less valid.

For myself, it is not a projection. Does it have to be? Can't it just be a truth that many people fear talking about?

And for me it is a call to action. Action against the companies and governments that are destroying human and all life. It is a call to action save the future for my nephews and your kids.

It is as if there is a snake in a room that keeps biting you and you think the best course of action is to just keep administering anti-venom instead of killing the snake.

"I'm just making the most of my circumstances like everyone else." can justify Coca Cola's actions as well as yours. So what makes you different? How is that an Epic Shift?

I NEVER said that "life is futile". I love life which is why I wish to do more than whittle around the edges.

And I do not believe that life is unsustainable. Life how we are living it, life on your farm, that is unsustainable for a planet of 7 billion.

And again, I am not condemning what you are doing. I am saying it is not enough.

So what's your plan, Christian?

I know what mine is. I've reduced my consumption and carbon footprint much more than most folks. Doing my best to not support BAU. Eating/growing locally as much as possible. Driving much less. Local banking, kept to a minimum. Bartering, reusing, salvaging/recycling/scrounging. I've been threatened and shunned because I speak out and write letters to the editor regarding overpopulation, reducing growth and energy use, etc. I've been branded a malcontent and outlier by some.

I suppose I could commit suicide, as Fred suggested (and maybe take a few others with me). Yeah, that'll fix it.

Humanity is screwed. Tell me something I didn't figure out years ago.

My plan is everything that you are doing (more, I will brag) and ending industrial civilization. If you do not consider, or support, doing away with industrial production everything else you do is pointless.

And please end the suicide stuff. I am alive and I love it. I see alive things and I love them and I hope to save them. You admit, however, that you see no hope when you say humanity is screwed. (?) Why do you need to plan for that? THAT sounds hopeless.

I DO NOT BELIEVE HUMANITY IS SCREWED. I am looking for the best action.

P.S. My nephew killed himself at 13 because he had Bipolar and they diagnosed him as ADD and gave him the wrong drugs. So please, you are throwing suicide around with the wrong person.

We've had this conversation many times on TOD.

Most agree that the current human population is unsustainable.

Despite this, population is increasing globally.

The total population of humans needs to decrease fairly quickly because we are in an overshoot situation and all of the resources we rely upon have peaked or will soon. The climate is changing, the environment is suffering, our ability to produce enough food is being compromised, and there is good evidence that these processes are excelerating.

I've seen good arguments for a sustainable population level from 100 million to 3 billion. Whatever the number is, it's a significant reduction. Who of us will volunteer to check out of Planet Earth early? Who will volunteer to be childless? Will this process be voluntary (hence, comments regarding suicide, actual or genetic) or enforced by law, natural events, war, starvation, disease?

You have postulated that we need to deindustrialize. This will mean that the current systems that support our current population; physical/agricultural/political/economic will need to undergo fundamental change. Drastic reductions in transportation of goods and people. Less fish caught, processed, frozen, transported. Less grain produced. More people involved in growing food, closer to home, with less fuel and fertilizer, will be required. All of our "toys" will have to go. Energy utilization drops radically. Waste eliminated. Global cooperation will be of paramount importance (under what leadership?).

Time is running out. So what's the plan?

This dieoff will occur. We won't be in control. Humanity (as we know it) is screwed.

"You admit, however, that you see no hope when you say humanity is screwed. (?) Why do you need to plan for that? THAT sounds hopeless."

Ha! Hope.....another great debate. I do what I do because I don't know what else to do, and because, like most, I have that crazy idea that some will have a chance if they make the right choices and are very lucky. I do have hope that some will come out the other side of this thing, and that their get will be the better for it.

Silly me!

CB = Hothgar and OilCEO. 'nuf said...let it go.


I am not condemning what you are doing. I am saying it is not enough.

The problem, CB, is that 'enough' just ain't gonna happen. We are likely past peak oil and well into overshoot of carrying capacity on many fronts. A solution for 7 billion people would be a complete transformation of all social/political/financial/industrial/agricultural/etc. systems in all of the countries of the world and it would have to happen very soon.

We are headed for a massive unplanned energy descent with a longage of people and a shortage resources. This is happening at the same time that climate change is starting to bear down and several of the world's ecosystems are collapsing. For the most part we all know that what we are doing is not going to be enough. But since every little bit helps:

“Blame no one, expect nothing, and do something.”

Ghung - Not saying all these things are futile just that they should not be put forth as any kind of solution. I have been doing all of what you are doing and then some, 40 years ago in the Santa Cruz hills. Yes it is great and if that is what people are inclined to do then thats great too. But it is not even a flea speck of a solution yet it gets trotted out here on a regular basis as if it is. The vast majority of the population CAN NOT do what you are doing and they shouldn't even consider it either.

Now if and when we get down to a million people or so then we can talk but what I and others are saying is that if we start on the road to die off it will get so ugly that your garden will become irrelevant. If we do not manage collapse in some fashion, take back control of our future, then what kind of hoe you have is a joke.

Something epic would be to break the silence and talk about what is real.

"Not saying all these things are futile just that they should not be put forth as any kind of solution."

There is no solution. Things will have to run their course.

"Something epic would be to break the silence and talk about what is real."

I've rarely been "silent". What should one say? "We, humanity, are in some 'epic shit' and the only way to fix it is for 90% of you to die,,,, quickly." Kunstler, et. al. seem to be doing a pretty good job of that (and I've been known to say exactly that, in polite company. Wasn't well recieved).

With apologies to Kunstler: History and reality will take humanity out behind some "woodshed of the global soul" and beat the crap out of us all. Even then, most likely won't get it. They'll pray instead.

The rain stopped. I have onions to plant. C-Ya ;->'s probably because I am entering the 2nd half of my life rather than the approach of PO but I find myself discussing Gardening more than Clubbing with my old friends...

That's an Epic change IMO! ;o)


I have read through every comment and am reflecting on what seems like two divergent groups who came to the campfire. One group brought a piece of kindling to throw on the fire to draw us toward the warmth and glow. The other group brought a piece of green wood and threw it on and made the fire smoke forcing others to step away. Some folks are drawn to the glow and others to the smoke. Nature is not harmonious and we should not expect humans to be either.

Thanks to all who added value and demonstrated the beauty of a shared experience. Time to watch my garden grow.

Thanks for the warm glow, DC!

Debbie Cook,

Your analogy is good on the divergent camps writing (and sometimes even thinking) here, and it is what makes The Oil Drum so addictive!

Because we start talking about oil, or energy or water or soil or whatever, but we find soon enough that this is not REALLY what we are talking about is it?

At the deeper level we are talking about philosophy and aesthetics, that is to say, we are asking both ourselves and others what kind of world do we REALLY want, what kind of world do we really feel is closer to the ideal, closer in some way or many ways to the way a human should live, the way a culture should live....and can the world outside of our bodies be expected to provide that "ideal" future. The sense of how we view the world now and how we view it as it should be is of great importance to the position we take.

The question of whether the world can provide the existence we visualize is essentially a technical/economic problem. The question of why or whether we should want the world we visualize is essentailly a moral/philosophical/aesthetic problem, and it is hard to get the two to meet! The discussion of energy and sustainable environment bring these questions right up in our faces and make us often very adament in our defense of our views, because we are dealing with something here that goes to the very soul of a person and the soul of a culture. So what is the advantage of discussing these things if the two camps cannot come to agreement? Because, and I don't want to sound elitist here, but because we are some of the few in the larger nation and world actually seriously attempting to address these questions at all!

Reflecting on why we want what we want, and how that can be changed or addressed in a better way, and how much we must pay regard to the potential limiting factors (other living things, the amount of raw material, water, soil, etc.) are critical questions someone must keep asking century after century. Folks at TOD have apparently volunteered to help out with keeking these questions at least on the table.



I think it might be a tad more complicated than that although there is indeed fire - and brimstone, tons and tons of brimstone - and smoke. Seems like among the groups are gobacks who glorify the past for utopian reasons, or who feel that we'll go back whether we like it or not. Others rebel against that, inasmuch as it seems hardly likely we could support anything approaching the present population in such a manner. We also hear at least echoes of the group who would give up and turn the world back to the beasts, plants, and microbes to preserve 'beauty' in a context where it wouldn't matter a jot, with nothing capable of perceiving it, much less enjoying it. Oh, and let's not forget the hyper-engineer Soviet-style planner types who insist that everything has to be solved, and right this minute, and in a manner that can last unchanged for all of time, no intermediate steps allowed. So from this mishmash it seemed to follow, for example, that a trip to the hardware store is a deadly sin - against who or what, I can't even guess.

Lurking behind a good deal of all this seems to be a meme of an immutable (though the actual number seems disputed) God-given Gaia-Goddess-given "carrying capacity" existing independently of how one might go about the process of "carrying". For some this number could apparently never exceed the tiny population (one per square mile on good land?) who could live an essentially non-human existence as top-predator wild beasts.

A major problem is that “reducing your need to earn and reducing your need to spend” can not possibly be indefinitely scalable; sooner or later you'd drop below basal metabolism, and long before then you'd give up everything worth living for. But since it's not scalable, exponential population growth always wins out over it in the end. Along with that, we already seem to be far beyond that mystical "carrying capacity". This seems to imply continued use of 'exosomatic' energy beyond the meager amount that could be drawn forever from highly finicky wild photosynthetic plants. That would imply continuing to make solar panels, or wind turbines, or nuclear reactors (or electric trains), but the earth is finite so we can't have infinite quantities of such things, so obviously it's impossible.

Anyway, we seem to wind up with - as we had all along - a complex tangle of warring and often at least quasi-religious, if not outright religious, ideologies only marginally in contact with any physical reality actually in play. Many of those - such as "be fruitful and multiply", i.e. make as many babies as possible - or "shaman-doctor, do everything possible", which was fine when very little was in fact possible - unfortunately became utterly entrenched over millennia of circumstances different from the present.

And where all this takes us ... I dunno ... back to that thing about avoiding making of predictions if they're to be about the future.

"exponential population growth always wins out"

And that, of course, in somebody's mom's old phrase, "works till it doesn't."

So are you above all semi-, pseudo-, or crypto- religious notions? Or do you admit to some?

Can we really have a discussion that is free of all delusions?

We put ourgreenselves on the fire and the stench wreaks to heaven.

Hi Paul,

Your characterization of the worldviews, predictions, and prescriptions/proscriptions expressed herein do appear to have some validity. However, it also seems that you recognize that most humans on the planet will experience some difficulty in carrying forth - "we already seem to be far beyond that mystical "carrying capacity". And your conclusion is "And where all this takes us ... I dunno ".

So, does this mean that we should all just ignore the evidence of an impending visit by the four horsemen? I admit to having a pretty pessimistic outlook regarding "predictions if they're to be about the future." But, it seems that there are some potential scenarios whereby the human inhabitants of the our planet might be able to mitigate the worst consequences for some of us alive today and certainly for future generations. Admitting that the probability numbers are not very encouraging - but, do you favor not making any effort at all?

Even Christian Bonanno says "I DO NOT BELIEVE HUMANITY IS SCREWED. I am looking for the best action." Is there some action that you are advocating? And, I'm not trying to stir up a rhetorical debate - I really wonder if you think there is a potential scenario for mitigating the worse consequences of PO/GW and environmental damage? Are you looking for a "best action"?

Several years of worrying, stuck in the city. Took some action in the last couple of months.

1) Joined the local Transition Town movement - yes it's Utopian and so on, but I think that's probably the right attitude since despair is probably the alternative. Plus it brings together the horror of BOTH peak oil and climate change (which seems more rare than you'd expect - many people seem to be either PO OR climate). The level of awareness is just appalling, so I hope I can help generate some interest and spread some information. Trying to convince the wife to move out of the city where I can really start to get set up.

Luckily I grew up in the country with parents that gardened, captured rainwater, canned, kept chickens, ducks and rabbits, made maple syrup, cut wood and lumber, sewed and a thousand other useful things. My sister and I regarded them as eccentric hobbies at the time, but now I'm extremely grateful for the exposure.

2) Taking woodworking at a local community college with the intent of making furniture.

3) Committed to getting a motorcycle license this summer and dumping the old car. In winter, I'll take transit to work.

Not epic yet, but at least I'm starting to move...

There is often an argument that an extreme change in lifestyle which includes conservation, less consumption, and self sufficiency will make no difference in the long run. There are simply too many others who will not change.

Here's a thought. let's look at how the math would work if times get rough, really rough. Take a community of 10,000 people, only 10 of which have made the complete leap to a lifestyle that is as close to self sufficiency as possible. Those 10 people each teach 10 people the basics they need to survive. Then the newly educated 100 people each teach 10 people the basics they need to survive. Then those newly educated 1,000 people each teach 10 people the basics they need to survive. Wow, 10,000 people educated in just 3 levels!

This is a bit simplistic, but I think I've made my point. I would argue these 10 out of 10,000 people are our most valuable asset for the future. They can make a difference!

This is why "talking the talk" is in fact as important as--and perhaps more than--"walking the walk."

Here's what I've been up to (note the news show did not mention the house's passive solar features, though they are ready apparent in the video segment in the upper right);

Living Off the Land - Gannett News (affiliate WUSA9 Washington, DC)

And we added chickens last year as well.

Epic crap. Love the phrase. And sticking with the crap theme. Humanure is well worth doing. The compost it makes is the best you will ever see. All your food turns into back into fertilizer.


More epic crap. Photovoltaics. I got a quote from an installer and a 1.2 KW system will cost about 10K of which only $800 is out of my pocket. 92% of the cost is subsidized. Where the heck does all the other money come from? Tax credits etc. Somehow, it seems wrong to accept all this free government money, even though I know that our fossil fuel industry is directly and indirectly subsidized as well.

And yes I am going to put the system in.