Infinite growth on a finite planet…
what could possibly go wrong?
The Olduvai trilogy is now available!
Get the entire three book collection
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Here is a pic of educator, journalist, and author Richard Heinberg signing copies of his most recent book: Power. On the bookshelf behind him you can find a copy of my novel, Olduvai, if you zoom in two books to the right of Dmitry Orlov’s The Five Stages of Collapse and next to The Moron’s Guide to Global Collapse.
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Welcome. This blog serves two purposes. The first is to introduce my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (see more below). The second is to highlight daily current events and essays/blogs/analyses/media articles/etc. (see Latest Posts to right) that tie into the book’s various themes: resource depletion, limits to growth, weather anomalies, geopolitical tensions, survival skills, liberty, economic collapse, and others.
Please support the daily updates and continuation of this site by buying the book(s). Note, postings may slow/decrease once spring arrives and the food garden beckons…
The title of the book, Olduvai, is derived from the ‘Olduvai Theory’, proposed by Richard Duncan in 1986. Duncan argues that because of the imminent collapse in cheap and easy-to-access portable energy stores (fossil fuels) humanity is destined to return to a stone-age way of life with the global loss of the electrical power grid in the not-too-distant future. He used the term ‘Olduvai’ to make reference to the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, Africa. This area has been a treasure trove of hominid and pre-hominid fossils made most famous by the multi-generational explorations of the Leakey family.
The book uses ‘current’ events to create a fictional tale that has the perfect storm of crises (i.e. damaged environment, geopolitical tension, dwindling resources-particularly energy, decreasing liberty, and the implosion of a manipulated global financial system). It documents the social and individual impact of stresses that have overwhelmed the complex systems we depend upon.
While set in Canada, the topics and issues impact us all, regardless of location. Basically, the novel attempts to document the collapse of our industrial civilisation at the end of what has been termed the ‘Carbon Age’. Non-fictional events and issues, along with scientific research and theories, are embedded in a tale of loss and discovery.
Although all primary sources of energy are important, the Olduvai theory identifies electricity as the quintessential end-use energy of Industrial Civilization…[A]ccording to the Olduvai schematic, world energy production per capita will decrease…[then] there will be a rash of permanent electrical blackouts worldwide. Consequently the vital…functions—communication, computation, and control—will be lost.
…Mother Nature then solves for us the (apparently) insuperable problem of the Tragedy of the Unmanaged Commons, which the human race seems either incapable or unwilling to solve for itself.
Governments have lost respect. World organizations are ineffective. Neo-tribalism is rampant. The population is over [seven] billion and counting. Global warming and emerging diseases are headlines. The reliability of the electrical power networks is failing. And the instant the power goes out, you are back in the Dark Ages.
Richard Duncan, 2001
World Energy Production, Population Growth, and the Road to Olduvai Gorge
P. Heitmeyer: “A multi character story where the characters converge at the end. Explains how societies can collapse. I was bummed when it ended!”
G.W.M.: “A very enjoyable read that weaves the big issues our society faces, into an entertaining story of how it all may play out. A well rounded cast of characters provide a realistic and entertaining account of the hard decisions that must be met head on. This book is a real page turner so block off some time because once you start it is hard to put it down.“
Blaine: “I’m ‘bout half-way through the first book portion and I’m astonished at the remarkable way in which you’ve weaved the political/economic currents into an easily understood fluid narrative. And deserved applause for that achievement!”
[W]e face the unfolding of interlocking ecological, energy, and economic crises that threaten to unravel the social and political fabric of human communities everywhere…[T]hese seemingly separate crises are in fact manifestations of the dysfunctional global, political, economic, ideological, and ethical system that characterises industrial civilisation in toto…[and] the real threat to civilisation is not from the outside. It is from itself…. [These crises] demonstrate the inevitability of two world events before the end of this century: 1) the end of industrial civilisation as we know it; and 2) the coming of a post-carbon society.
Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, 2010
A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save it
More readers’ thoughts:
C. Wood: “This is an excellent means of conveying an important message. I wish I could convince my family to take this message to heart.“
D. Close: “Excellent book, not only can you not stop reading, it challenges you to really consider our predicament in our unsustainable living arrangements….”
dallasinnyc: “Just finished this and my mind is still racing. Leaves you wanting to read the next book. Conspiracy, science, conflict, real life situations, and humor keep each chapter interesting! The only bad thing is that some of the story may come to pass.“
…[H]umanity has achieved an unsustainable pinnacle of population size and consumption rates, and that the road ahead will be mostly downhill–at least for the next few decades, until humanity has learned to live within Earth’s resource limits…[T]he industrial expansion of the past century or two was mainly due to our rapidly accelerating use of the concentrated energies of cheap fossil fuels, and that as oil, coal and natural gas cease to be cheap and abundant, economic growth will phase into contraction…[T]he imminent decline in extraction rates will be decisive, because global transport is nearly all oil dependent…[T]he shift from growth to contraction will impact every aspect of human existence–financial systems, food systems, global trade–at both the macro and micro levels, threatening even our personal psychological coping mechanisms.
Richard Heinberg, 2010
Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines
Still more from readers:
D. Catlett: “…This book has really opened my eyes to what our future may hold and I can’t wait to see where his next book takes us. Thank you for a great read!!!“
J.R. Phelps: “...Very thought-provoking and though fiction, realities are embedded into the story and you will actually start to wonder about the collapse of the world economy and how not so far off it could be...”
W. Queale, Jr.: “...the book centers on life in Canada, but the issues are easily translated into parallel events that one can fantasize might happen in the U.S., or can lead you to pack the SUV with food, water and survival gear, depending on your perspective on what is happening around the world...”
We live in an infinite growth paradigm which requires growth forever. It’s not that Bernie Madoff was a pyramid scheme…the whole economy is a pyramid scheme, the whole global economy cannot be sustained. It requires infinite growth, but infinite growth collides with finite energy.
The first law of thermodynamics says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. It can only be transferred from one form to another…You have finite energy and you have a financial paradigm which demands infinite growth and we are at a point in human history where the infinite growth paradigm collides with something that is more powerful than money is.
The people who have run the planet to this point and are running the planet now are losing control. What I see is a new paradigm that is as cataclysmic as the asteroid event that killed almost all life on the planet and certainly the dinosaurs. We may be seven billion people by the time anyone sees this interview. All of those people exist, are on this planet only because of oil. That’s it. So it’s axiomatic that if you take the oil away, the population must go away also.
Certain things are inevitable right now. FDIC insolvency I will tell you is coming. Insolvency of the Federal Reserve is coming. The Federal Reserve can go bankrupt. T-Bill defaults. We’re looking at major bankruptcies, starvation, dislocation, all these things are already on the way. Everything is going to breakdown.
Michael Ruppert, 2009
Collapse, Bluemark Productions
C. Sherwin: “Just completed this novel…found it very thought provoking and hard to put down…looking forward to Olduvai II. Although fiction based on truths it contains interesting characters, situations and some humor...”
P. Gray: “Really enjoying it, mainly because it’s one of the few books out there in this genre with a distinctly Canadian orientation...”
Z. Paiss (author of the From Here to There series): “I finished book one last night and loved how it ended. As a long time supporter of community I completely agree that together we are stronger. The belief that we can survive the coming changes on our own is crazy and has never been true. I look forward to reading the next volume…“
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