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Charles Hugh Smith: What Would A Better System Look Like?

Writer, philosopher and long-time contributor to PeakProsperity.com, Charles Hugh Smith, returns to the podcast to explain the new socio-economic model he has just introduced to the world through his new book A Hacker’s Teleology: Sharing the Wealth of Our Shrinking Planet.

The main mission behind Peak Prosperity is to focus on new, more regenerative and sustainable models that will better serve humanity than the old models which are currently falling apart. Charles posits a new way of living that is a) achievable with existing resources and technology, and b) much more equitable and resistant to abuse.

We very much need new alternatives like this at this time. Because, once the system breaks in earnest, our ‘leaders’ will be desperate — and as Jared Diamond wisely observed “Nations in crisis borrow and adapt solutions already devised”. So getting good ideas on the table now, so that they’re available to be adopted when needed, is critical.

The principal idea is we need a new system. Now, it doesn’t have to replace the existing system entirely. It just has to be an effective alternative that people can choose if they so desire to.

In my opinion, it needs to be decentralized, anti-fragile, yet connected with other like-minded people. But right now, we’re having to start from scratch, basically reinventing the wheel. We’re fighting a kludgy, broken, unfair, rigged system every step of the way if we want to create a decentralized community-based economy.

So what would a system be like if we designed it from scratch to actually make it easy to join a community economy? Well, we want a system that’s opt-in and voluntary, not like the one we have now.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Edible Weeds on Farms

Edible Weeds on Farms

A Free E-book

The word “weed” has negative connotations to many people.

As such, some humans go about disturbing the landscape, poisoning and removing what they perceive to be valueless plants, a nuisance, a pest.  In some cases (if not many) these actions are carried out without fully understanding the true value of the said “weed”

But some “weeds” are actually very nourishing and as any experienced forager will know, some “weeds” are culinary delights.  It could be that the roots, leaves, shoots, flowers, seed or fruit of a “weed” that is being treated as worthless is actually edible and nutritious.  On the other hand the “weed” could be playing a valuable roll in the ecological system, one that we just don’t see with the human eye.

Edible weeds, now that sounds a little less negative. Spontaneous vegetables, that sounds even better. Self-growing vegetables, that sounds like a no-brainer!

Thanks to Tusha Yakovleva (and funds from the northeast sustainable agriculture research and education grant) there is an informative and free e-booklet all about edible weeds on farms.  Learn more about the gifts of edible weeds, making a livelihood from weeds, cooking with weeds and much more in this great e-book:

Edible Weeds on Farms: Northeast Farmers Guide To Self-Growing Vegetables


Building Bioregional Food Systems Post-COVID 19: The Northeast Healthy Soil Network & the power of regional food system reform consortium work

COVID-19 has reminded us, perhaps as never before, that we need an overhaul, not only of our health care system, but our food system as well. [1]  As a steady stream of studies and articles point out, a priority of future] food system policy should be to support the emergence of local and regional, diversified, healthy food and farming systems, derived from fertile, carbon-rich soils.

Over the course of 2019, I helped to coordinate a network of food system stakeholders in the Northeast, as a researcher at the Tufts Global Development and Environment Institute.[2] This network, now called the Northeast Healthy Soil Network (NEHSN), held a symposium in late February, right before the coronavirus pandemic put an end to most public gatherings in the US. This growing network of Northeast farmers, farm organizations, food system nonprofits, agricultural research labs and state governments has come together to discuss how we can channel badly needed funds and resources to regenerative farmers in the Northeast region who are promoting biodiversity, holistic livestock management, and other healthy soil management[3] practices on their farms.

The agricultural policy strategies proposed by NEHSN members[4] parallel those of many other farmers across the nation’s various regions. They are aimed at agricultural subsidy reform, proposing that our food system should incentivize not a small handful of specific crops, but rather the production of a wider variety of foods and crops, which would not only feed greater numbers of Americans with affordable, nutritious food, but also engender healthy ecosystem services such as soil erosion prevention, water conservation, watershed cleanup, and biodiversity. An incentive payment system for healthy soil farm management could become the first government-backed fund stream for this healthier system of farming.[5]

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beyond authenticity: the politics of agrarian localism, Part 1

Beyond authenticity: the politics of agrarian localism, Part 1

In this post and the next one I continue exploring the issue of protest, violence, class and the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement I raised in the last one. I engage with some of the responses to the previous post, including one from Peter Gelderloos on Twitter, but rather than being just another iteration of that post and its responses, I’m thinking of these present two posts more as a kind of position statement on the politics underlying my forthcoming book, A Small Farm Future, and its arguments for renewable agrarianism, using the debate about XR as my foil. And also more generally on the kinds of left-wing politics that I espouse, and the kinds I don’t. I’ve found the debate quite stimulating in clarifying all this, so my thanks to everyone who’s participated for that.

I’ve written the posts in the form of thirty-three numbered ‘theses’ or assertions, sixteen in this post and seventeen in the next one (to be published in a couple of days) which encapsulate my thinking. I’ve tried to keep to the main themes I want to explore, which means with apologies I don’t respond to many interesting points and criticisms that people raised regarding my previous post. I don’t consider myself to be any great shakes as a social or political theorist (though see Point 9 below), and I’ve somewhat lost interest in it in recent years, but in these posts I try to work out a position with respect to some of it – apologies for the abstractions involved.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Not All Dogs Are Suited For Survival: 5 Suggestions to Help You Choose

Not All Dogs Are Suited For Survival: 5 Suggestions to Help You Choose

Are you thinking of adding a new canine member to your family? If what you are really looking for is a survival dog, there are a few things you need to seriously consider. Some dogs are more well suited to be just companions, while others are better suited to be protectors. What a prepper really needs is a combination of both.

Canines have been around for thousands of years. They have stuck with us for decades, through wars and natural disasters. They have proven to us that they are true companions and assets.

Which canine breed is most suited for the role of survival dog? Could there be more than one? In a world with over 100 dog breeds, this question may be very tricky to answer and research.

Together we have created a list of the five best dog breeds for preppers. We have not only selected our five best survival dogs, but we have also detailed our reasons for choosing them to help you decide which dog is best for you!

What makes a good prepper dog breed?

When it comes to selecting an excellent prepper breed; there are a few things you need to consider:

  • Do you have land and/or animals that need protection?
  • Do you require personal protection?
  • Do you require a companion as well as a guardian?

Prepper dogs should confidently protect your land, animals, and especially your family. Protection breeds should have the following traits and abilities:

  • Alert dogs, in which they bark or signal to you that there is a threat nearby.
  • Physical intimidation; a larger breed is more intimidating to intruders or threats than a smaller breed. Larger and physically daunting breeds are taken more seriously
  • Man-stoppers; these breeds can physically fight or restrain potential threats by force

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Collapse Is A Process, Not An Event

Look, I’m a systems guy.  I think in systems terms.  You should as well.


Because we’re entering a period of time when the major systems that have supported humanity are going to fail.

Or, put more accurately: they are already failing.

As just one example, our monetary system delivers outsized gains to the already stupendously-wealthy while piling up massive debts on the backs of we citizens, both born and yet-to-be-born.  The US Federal Reserve is the unelected and unaccountable body that is most responsible for have made America’s billionaires nearly $1 trillion ‘richer’ since the pandemic hit.

These next three Fed-related data points are, in a word, obscene.

The first shows that the US Federal Reserve now “owns” more US federal debt than all foreign central banks. The second shows how billionaires are getting grotesquely wealthier from the Fed’s “rescue’” efforts. And the last shows how the Fed’s record-low interest policy has resulted in an explosion in federal debt:



This is obscene (and infuriating!) to anyone who cares about the future.  Leaving aside the morality issues for a moment, we can at least conclude that the behaviors and values on display are thoroughly unsustainable.

Eventually spending more money than you have ends in ruin.

Speaking of spending what you don’t have, a similar story can be told about ecological overshoot and humanity’s extractive practices —  it’s akin to spending both the entirety of the interest income as well as some principal each year from our environmental trust fund.

There aren’t many resources that one can point to which aren’t in some serious form of either concerning decline or depletion, or both.  Already thousands, if not millions, of people in the American West are considering relocating because of the ever-present danger of disruptive if not life-threatening fires:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How To Naturally Prepare Your Body For Cold & Flu Season in 4 Easy Steps

How To Naturally Prepare Your Body For Cold & Flu Season in 4 Easy Steps

This year, cold and flu season could present all kinds of different issues with preparing your body to fight off illness. But these suggestions could help you naturally fortify your immune system even with everything else that’s going on.

Having to plan for COVID around cold and flu season has certainly given us more to be concerned about in the coming months. Now is the best time to begin preparing your body to fight off illness.

In The Coronavirus Handbook, author Tess Pennington outlined some necessary points to keep your immune system as strong as possible during the time of year when you are most susceptible to illness.

It is important to emphasize that herbs cannot cure a highly contagious virus, but they can certainly help boost your immunity. Turning toward natural remedies now will give you the knowledge and skills you need to keep your family well during flu season and in the event of a pandemic flu. 

When you begin feeling that your body is run down, it is time to start actively working to boost the immune system. By doing so, you are fighting off the infection before it overtakes your body, thus, significantly reducing being prone to colds and flu. You can help give your body the edge this winter by trying the following:

  • Herbal tinctures are natural medicines that help with a variety of ailments. You can stimulate your immune system function to help shorten the physical and mental recovery periods of illnesses.
  • Herbal teas that boost and even fortify your immune system during cold and flu season. Finding teas that have bioactive ingredients like echinacea, yarrow, lemon balm, elderberry, and marshmallow help you feel better naturally! Drinking any warm liquid calm our nerves, lower our stress levels, and decrease blood pressure as warmth itself is associated with comfort. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“The Focus is ‘Enough’ Rather Than ‘More’”

“The Focus is ‘Enough’ Rather Than ‘More’”

The mainstream economics notion that unfettered growth accompanied by greater consumption and productivity benefits society is false, argues Rob Dietz, Program Director at the Post Carbon Institute. In an interview with getAbstract, he shares his vision of a new economic way forward.

“The Focus is ‘Enough’ Rather Than ‘More’”

getAbstract: In a nutshell, could you give us a short definition of “steady-state economics”?

Rob Dietz: You can think of steady-state economics as a sustainable alternative to mainstream or neoclassical economics, which assumes perpetual growth of production and consumption. So steady-state economics is the study and practice of how to maintain an economy with a stable level of resource consumption and a stable population. Such an economy keeps material and energy use within ecological limits, and the unsustainable (and unrealistic) goal of continuously increasing income and consumption is replaced by the goal of improving quality of life for all. In short, the focus is enough rather than more.

Why do you think adopting a steady-state economic model is the only way to promote widespread prosperity and resource sustainability for future generations? 

I’m not sure it’s the “only” way, but it’s our best bet at this pivotal point in history. Let’s start by establishing working definitions of the terms “widespread prosperity” and “resource sustainability.” Widespread prosperity means that everyone is able to meet his or her basic needs for physical health and sustenance, plus some standard of comfort. No one lives in poverty, and daily life offers opportunities for fulfillment and enjoyment beyond toil just to stay alive.

Related Summary in getAbstract’s Library

Image of: Enough Is Enough

Enough Is Enough

This provocative book challenges many beliefs about the value of unfettered economic growth.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Political Economy of Deep Decarbonization: Tradable Energy Quotas for Energy Descent Futures


This paper reviews and analyses a decarbonization policy called the Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs) system developed by David Fleming. The TEQs system involves rationing fossil fuel energy use for a nation on the basis of either a contracting carbon emission budget or scarce fuel availability, or both simultaneously, distributing budgets equitably amongst energy-users. Entitlements can be traded to incentivize demand reduction and to maximize efficient use of the limited entitlements. We situate this analysis in the context of Joseph Tainter’s theory about the development and collapse of complex societies. Tainter argues that societies become more socio-politically and technologically ‘complex’ as they solve the problems they face and that such complexification drives increased energy use. For a society to sustain itself, therefore, it must secure the energy needed to solve the range of societal problems that emerge. However, what if, as a result of deep decarbonization, there is less energy available in the future not more? We argue that TEQs offers a practical means of managing energy descent futures. The policy can facilitate controlled reduction of socio-political complexity via processes of ‘voluntary simplification’ (the result being ‘degrowth’ or controlled contraction at the scale of the physical economy).

1. Introduction

In this paper we offer a new analysis of the policy of Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs), developed by David Fleming [1]. The TEQs system involves rationing fossil fuel energy use for a nation on the basis of either a contracting carbon emission budget or scarce fuel availability, or both simultaneously, distributing budgets equitably amongst energy-users. The goal is to equitably meet climate change mitigation targets [2] and/or fossil energy depletion realities [3,4] within a nationally-agreed and cooperative framework, in a manner ‘green growth’ strategies seem unable to achieve [5].

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Can Changing Habits for Self-Reliance and Resilience help society avoid the worst of unfortunate futures?

Our release of chapter 25 from RetroSuburbia: the downshifter’s guide to a resilient future as a free downloadable pdf is another small gesture to spread positive messages in a time of pandemic. This is especially so for all those locked down in Melbourne, the geographic focus of the book and our further efforts to stimulate a wider a retrosuburban response in the wake of the pandemic. While our primary appeal is to people already voting with their feet to retrofit their own lives, not having these strategies recognised, let alone debated, in the mainstream media continues to act as a break on their wider adoption. Even the much-vaunted capacities of social media to allow communities of interest to share and adapt their activities are increasingly constrained by corporate and other powerful interests’ ability to manage and manipulate the proliferation of content through social media platforms.

A lesser recognised constraint is the dearth of academic investigation of options for more radical behaviour change. It is still true that most ideas to change society get a good working over in academia and policy think tanks before they surface in the mainstream media. For example, mainstream media discussion of the concept of “degrowth” is recent and introductory, even if the academic discourse and activism in this field has been intense for nearly twenty years.

Permaculture was unusual in the way it burst into public consciousness after very little exploration in academia. Research and investigation into the logic behind permaculture strategies has always been sparse, but in recent years we are starting to see increasing recognition that permaculture (including retrosuburbia) is more than a fringe green lifestyle choice. Degrowth in the Suburbs: A Radical Urban Imaginary is the first academic book to recognise the critical nature of retrosuburbia and kindred strategies in dealing with the Limits to Growth crisis.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Famines as Military Weapons: Is Europe in Danger?

Famines as Military Weapons: Is Europe in Danger?

 A Dutch girl photographed at the time of the “hongerwinter”, the famine that hit The Netherlands in 1945, during WW2. 

In the West, we tend to think of famines as events of the remote past that will never return, a view typified by Steven Pinker in his 2011 book The Better Angels of our Nature.” This attitude is often accompanied by sneers at Paul Ehrlich who, in 1968, had predicted extensive worldwide famines that were soon to occur. Even when famines are discussed as a real possibility, they are seen as affecting only those remote countries where hordes of dark-skinned or slant-eyed people already live in near-starvation conditions.

We forgot how close in time was an age in which hunger was a fact of life and famines a common occurrence. The last important famine in Europe was in the Netherlands in 1946 — that was less than a hundred years ago, not in the Middle Ages. Our lack of historical memory is the reason why we see books such as “One Billion Americans” by Matthew Yglesias, where the author happily neglects the problems involved with supplying food and energy to a U.S. population three times larger than it is nowadays.

The real problem with assessing the possibility of future famines is that they are often man-made, that is actively created by human actions. Starving an enemy is a time-honored strategy that works beautifully. We have a detailed report of how it was put into practice by the Romans at the time of the Siege of Jerusalem of 70 AD, but it is surely much older than that. In recent times, the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, threatened Iran in 2018 by saying that they must listen to the U.S. ‘If They Want Their People to Eat.’  Clearly, the temptation to starve another country into submission never completely disappeared and it may returning.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



Massive Lines Form Outside Virginia Food Bank As Demand Hits One Million Meals Per Month

The economic recovery has stalled, and in some cases, reversed. The $600 unemployment benefits that Americans received following the virus pandemic that crashed the economy in March-April expired on July 31, which means a fiscal cliff has been underway for 44 days (as of Sept. 14).

Millions of people are still out of work, their emergency savings wiped out, and insurmountable debts are increasing. As former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen warned in August, Congress’ inability to pass another round of stimulus checks could weigh on the economic recovery.

Readers may recall about a quarter of all personal income is derived from the government – so when a lapse in stimulus checks extends for well over one month – that could lead to new consumer stress.

In Richmond, Virginia, about 125 miles south of Washington, D.C., a food bank has been shelling out more than one million meals per month as the metro area battles deep economic scarring sustained by the virus-induced recession.

Kim Hill, the Chesterfield Food Bank CEO, told ABC 8News, “a lot of Chesterfield residents are showing up to get food would be an understatement — they’ve been averaging over a million meals a month.”

“You roll down that window, and you see the tears in that person’s eyes who never thought they would need the help of a food bank,” Hill said. “It breaks your heart.”

She said the volume of people her food bank is feeding is more than triple the levels versus last year. With increased demand, Hill said more volunteers are needed to handle the greater volumes.

“The life at the food bank here, we think it has changed forever,” Hill said. “Hunger should not exist in our country. We are one of the richest countries in the world, we need to be able to take care of our own people.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Food Shortages to Reduce the Population Brought to you by the COVID Triumvirate

This is a photo of the food line beside the Brooklyn Bridge approach in New York City that prevailed between 1930 and 1935. Never before in history have Americans had to cue in line for food since this orchestrated pandemic by Gates, Fauci, and Klaus Schwab of the World Economic Forum. Food prices are also rising because of this dynamic trio because they have deliberately shut down food production. Farmers have been unable to get their food to market because of the lockdowns and social distancing.

Today, there are food lines once again because of this dynamic trio, the COVID Triumvirate, composed of Gates, Fauci, & Schwab. Food lines have appeared around the country from Miami to New York City. Farmers were already being pushed into bankruptcies in 2019. That is only getting worse because this COVID Triumvirate also wants to end meat production to reduce CO2 (the World Economic Forum is pushing hard to end meat production).

The Overlooked Necessity of Self Care

The Overlooked Necessity of Self Care

Self-care is not selfish, or indulgent. It’s necessary especially as the stress compounds. Follow these tips to giving yourself a little bit of TLC.

During times of crisis, stress, and uncertainty, we tend to forget that we should be taking care of ourselves too. Putting your kids, spouse, and pets welfare before yourself is common, but we all need to take the time to make sure we are mentally prepared to care for others.

Self-care is not selfish, or indulgent. It’s necessary especially as the stress compounds. It’s hard to take care of others if we cannot even take care of ourselves.  Because of that, we’ve compiled a few easy ways that you can take care of yourself as things in life continue to progress.

1. Slow Down – This may seem crazy, and impossible. But it’s not. Instead of getting up late after hitting the snooze button and feeling rushed to get the kids to school, the bus, or start your day, get on a slower schedule. Wake up at the same time and go to bed at the same time every night. I am in before 8:30 pm, my kids o to bed at 8 pm and that doesn’t change even in the summer when it’s still light out at 8. Doing this will give yourself extra alone time. I like my alone time in the morning, so I get up at 4:45 am when the alarm (which is classical music) goes off. This time before everyone gets up is used to just center myself and get ready mentally for my day. I love grabbing a cup of coffee, my blanket, and enjoying both in the cool and quiet before the house wakes up.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

You don’t have to live like this—review of Kate Soper’s Post-Growth Living

You don’t have to live like this—review of Kate Soper’s Post-Growth Living

In her new book, Post-Growth Living: For an Alternative Hedonism, Kate Soper calls for a vision of the good life not reliant on endless economic growth and points us to the ways in which our current patterns of living are not only environmentally harmful, but also make us miserable. A provocative and necessary book, Nick Taylor writes, that provides us with the means to rethink consumption, work and sustainable prosperity without losing sight of what makes us feel good. (This blog also appeared on the PERC website.)

CC-BY-NC 2.0 :: Pete/Flickr

What kind of changes will the Covid-19 pandemic bring about over the long-term? While this question is on the minds of many, for those who study and work towards making our societies and economies more sustainable it brings particular concerns. Global emissions have seen a record-breaking drop during the pandemic, but not enough to slow the overall trend in atmospheric CO2 concentration, which reached its highest ever level in May, and not even enough to bring us close to meeting the 1.5C global warming target. How we respond to and attempt to recover from the deepest recession on record in a way that is not simply about restoring GDP growth is a question that should involve us all.

For critics, the pandemic has made an easy but misleading target of the post-growth or degrowth movement. They falsely equate the social and economic devastation wrought by coronavirus with the planned, long-term downscaling of society’s throughput (the materials and energy a society metabolises) that degrowth advocates argue for. Sceptics of ‘growth as prosperity’ do not want a recession, or, as is looking increasingly likely, a depression. Indeed at their most compelling, arguments for moving beyond growth as an overarching economic, social and political goal draw on the promise that a sustainable society can and should be a better, more equal and more prosperous society.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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