One of the means I have used to try and imbed actual research and relevant pop culture references is to open each chapter with a quote. Often, these quotes are pertinent to the chapter plot. What follows are the quotes used in the book series to date:
However much we like to think of ourselves as something special in world history, in fact industrial societies are subject to the same principles that caused earlier societies to collapse. If civilization collapses again, it will be from failure to take advantage of the current reprieve, a reprieve both detrimental and essential to our anticipated future.
Joseph Tainter, 1988
The Collapse of Complex Societies
Those past collapses tended to follow somewhat similar courses constituting variations on a theme. Population growth forced people to adopt intensified means of agricultural production…Unsustainable practices led to environmental damage…Consequences for society included food shortages, starvation, wars among too many people fighting for too few resources, and overthrows of governing elites by disillusioned masses. Eventually, population decreased through starvation, war, or disease and society lost some of the political, economic, and cultural complexity that it had developed at its peak.
Jared Diamond, 2005
Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed
Since the 1950s, the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania has been strongly associated with human origins and the Stone-age way-of-life. In this discussion the ‘Olduvai Theory’ is a metaphor. It suggests our impending return to a Stone-age way-of-life.
Richard C. Duncan, 1996
The Olduvai Theory: Sliding Towards a Post-Industrial Stone Age
Delays in feedback loops are critical determinants of system behavior. They are common causes of oscillations…a system just can’t respond to short-term changes when it has long-term delays… A delay in a feedback process is critical relative to rates of change in the stocks that the feedback loop is trying to control. Delays that are too short cause overreaction, ‘chasing your tail,’ oscillations amplified by the jumpiness of the response. Delays that are too long cause damped, sustained or exploding oscillations, depending on how much too long. Overlong delays in a system with a threshold, a danger point, a range past which irreversible damage can occur, cause overshoot and collapse.
Donella H. Meadows, 2008
Thinking in Systems: A Primer
Boiling a frog is a metaphor for the problem we all have perceiving changes that are gradual but cumulatively significant, that may creep up and have devastating consequences: a little increase here, a little there, then later some more. Nothing changes very much and things seem normal. Then one day the accumulation of changes cause the appearance of normality to disappear. Suddenly things have changed a great deal. The world is different, and it has been altered in a manner that may not be pleasant.
Joseph Tainter & Tadeusz W. Patzek, 2012
Drilling Down: The Gulf Oil Debacle and Our Energy Dilemma
Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It’s all around us, even in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when youpay your taxes. The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes, to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison, for your mind. Unfortunately, no one can be ‘told’ what the Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself. (Morpheus opens a container that holds two pills: a blue one, and a red one. He puts one in each hand, and holds them out to Neo.) This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland and I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
Neo pauses for an instant, then reaches for the red pill. He swallows it down with a glass of water, and looks at Morpheus.
Morpheus: Remember, all I’m offering you is the truth: nothing more.
The Matrix, 1999
Warner Bros. Pictures. Written by Andy and Lana Wachowski
The essence of the this-time-is-different syndrome is simple. It is rooted in the firmly held belief that financial crises are things that happen to other people in other countries at other times; crises do not happen to us, here and now. We are doing things better, we are smarter, we have learned from past mistakes. The old rules of valuation no longer apply. Unfortunately, a highly leveraged economy can unwittingly be sitting with its back at the edge of a financial cliff for many years before chance and circumstance provoke a crisis of confidence that pushes it off.
Carmen H. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2008
This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
Bob Lee Swagger: Don’t really like the President much. Didn’t like the one before that much, either.
Colonel Issac Johnson: You like the idea of the President? Living in a free country? Do we allow America to be ruled by thugs?
Bob Lee Swagger: Sure, some years we do.
Paramount Pictures. Screenplay: Jonathan Lemkin; Novel: Stephen Hunter
Those who want to face their responsibilities with a genuine commitment to democracy and freedom—even to decent survival—should recognise the barriers that stand in the way. In violent states these are not concealed. In more democratic societies barriers are more subtle. While methods differ sharply from more brutal to more free societies, the goals are in many ways similar: to ensure the ‘great beast,’ as Alexander Hamilton called the people, does not stray from its proper confines. Controlling the general population has always been a dominant concern of power and privilege…Problems of domestic control become particularly severe when the governing authorities carry out policies that are opposed by the general population. In those cases, the political leadership may…manufacture consent for its murderous policies.
Noam Chomsky, 2003
Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance
…a clear leverage point: growth. Not only population growth, but economic growth. Growth has costs as well as benefits, and we typically don’t count the costs—among which are poverty and hunger, environmental destruction and so on—the whole list of problems we are trying to solve with growth! What is needed is much slower growth, very different kinds of growth, and in some cases no growth or negative growth. The world leaders are correctly fixated on economic growth as the answer to all problems, but they’re pushing with all their might in the wrong direction. …leverage points frequently are not intuitive. Or if they are, we too often use them backward, systematically worsening whatever problems we are trying to solve.
Donella H. Meadows, 2008
Thinking in Systems: A Primer
In a world of modern finance, you don’t have to live in Europe to be touched by what happens in Athens or Madrid, anymore than you needed to own a home in Cleveland to feel the collapse of the subprime mortgage market. Thanks to our integrated global banking system, a financial market accident in one corner of the world now puts everyone at risk. An investment arm of your local bank could be exposed to a French bank, which in turn hold a big position in Greek bonds that are about to go horribly offside. When that happens, the pain ripples from Greece’s bond market, to the French bank, to your regional investment dealer, and eventually your doorstep. Half a world away, you and millions of other depositors have a direct interest in Greek debt, even though none of you personally have invested a penny in Greece.
Jeff Rubin, 2012
The End of Growth
If we have been lied to about mortgages, 401(k)s, stock portfolios, hedge funds, derivatives, insider trading, Ponzi schemes, appraised values, credit ratings, and adjustable rates; if we’ve been lied to by Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, AIG and Citigroup, Bernie Madoff and Standford Financial; if we were lied to about the invasion of Iraq and torture; even about steroids in baseball—then why do so many accept on faith everything we have been sold about energy? Why accept it, especially when the people telling us about energy are the same folks who lied to us about everything else?
Michael Ruppert, 2008
Collapse: Confronting Peak Oil and Money in a Post Peak Oil World
Against the grain should be a way of life
What’s worth the prize is always worth the fight
Every second counts ‘cause there’s no second try
So live like you’ll never live it twice
Don’t take the free ride in your own life
If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
If Today Was Your Last Day, Dark Horse
Sadly, we believe the world will experience overshoot and collapse in global resource use and emissions much the same way as the dot.com bubble–though on a much longer time scale. The growth phase will be welcomed and celebrated, even long after it has moved into unsustainable territory (this we know, because it has already happened). The collapse will arrive very suddenly, much to everyone’s surprise. And once it has lasted for some years, it will become increasingly obvious that the situation before the collapse was totally unsustainable. After more years of decline, few will believe it will ever end. Few will believe that there once more will be abundant energy and sufficient wild fish.
Dennis Meadows et al., 2004
Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update
Almost everything in social life is produced by large shocks and jumps, all the while almost everything studied about social life focuses on the ‘normal’, particularly with ‘bell curve’ methods of inference that tell you close to nothing…[since] the bell curve ignores large deviations, cannot handle them, yet make us confident that we have tamed uncertainty.
Nassim Taleb, 2008
The Black Swan
The collapse of the dollar might be a particularly trying catastrophe of its own or occur as part of an even larger collapse of civilization. It might merely mark a turning away from the excesses of paper money or be a milepost on the way to a maelstrom. None of this is inevitable but all of it is possible. Social and financial collapses have happened many times but are easily ignored or forgotten. Yet history does not forget, nor do complex systems refrain from doing what they are wont to do. Complex systems begin on a benign organizing principle and end by absorbing all available energy while destroying the system itself.
James Rickards, 2011
Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis
The primary question is whether we want our future to be shaped by disaster or by design. The set of predicaments and problems that we now face are very different from the conditions of the past 20 years and therefore present a solid challenge to the existing status quo. Those currently wielding power and influence are most likely to defend the status quo, raising the risk that our future will consist more of disaster than design. Further, abrupt changes have the unfortunate tendency of escaping notice by the majority of people, who have been conditioned to expect that the future will resemble the past. This is a perfectly valid assumption for ordinary moments, but it is a liability during extraordinary times.
Chris Martenson, 2011
The Crash Course
At the same time, it’s important to recognise that there is only so much that individuals can do on their own. Some of the disruptions we may be facing would not be of short duration. A few weeks’ worth of stored food and water, though essential, will be of only temporary help. Over longer time frames, our most valuable personal assets will be functioning local communities composed of people who despite their differences, are willing and able to work together to solve problems and maximize opportunities. The maintenance of social cohesion must be our single highest priority in a future of mounting economic and environmental challenges.
Richard Heinberg, 2011
The End of Growth
I may not know what’s right, but I know this can’t be it.
Men Without Hats, 1983
Unsatisfaction, Folk of the 80s (Part III)
OLDUVAI II: EXODUS
[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
The Crisis of Civilization
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
Open your eyes and look within. Are you satisfied with the life you’re living?
We know where we’re going. We know where we’re from.
We’re leaving Babylon. We’re going to our Father land.
Exodus, all right! Movement of Jah people!
Bob Marley, 1977
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are now in operation in cities…for police surveillance purposes. Although the mainstream media regularly cover the use of such technology for ‘drone strikes’ against terrorists in Afghanistan, there is scarce coverage of the domestic use of UAVs for policing purposes.
Such surveillance technologies may soon add aerial eyes and ears to the network of Total Information Awareness now in progress, thereby converting these devices into police informants that monitor our every move, and adding this information to the global network of data stored in a central data bank. In this brave new world, each of us will be under careful scrutiny by an ‘all-seeing’ global eye with the capacity to draw inferences about our future actions—and ‘crimes.’ When this happens, we will have lost our freedom—not to some foreign nation that ‘hates our freedom,’ but to our own devices.
As we advance further and further into a police state, these changes may occur subtly, and we may be inclined to accept each successive change on the path to a totalitarian state. Therefore we must, as citizens of the free world, be willing to draw the line while there is freedom enough left to draw it.
Dr. Elliot D. Cohen, 2012
Censored 2013: Dispatches from the Media Revolution
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
Edward Bernays, 1928
It’s all bullshit; and it’s bad for ya!
George Carlin, Comedian
To make the case for the imminent collapse of global industrial civilization, it is necessary to prove two things. The first is to account for the Earth’s finite endowment of fossil fuels, metal ores, other industrial and agricultural inputs, fresh water and fertile soil, and to demonstrate that many of these resources are either at their all-time peak of production or will soon achieve it. The second is to prove that, as these resources become too scarce to allow the global industrial economy to grow, the result will be collapse rather than a slow and steady deterioration that could continue for centuries without reaching any conclusive, historical endpoint…
In an effort to introduce a helpful taxonomy of collapses, I have defined my five stages of collapse to serve as mental milestones…the proposed taxonomy ties each of the five stages of collapse to the breaching of a specific level of trust, or faith, in the status quo. Although each stage causes physical, observable changes in the environment, these can be gradual, while the mental flip is generally quite swift…
Stage 1: Financial collapse. Faith in ‘business as usual’ is lost…Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out and access to capital is lost.
Stage 2: Commercial collapse. Faith that the ‘market will provide’ is lost…import and retail chains break down and widespread shortages of survival necessities becomes the norm.
Stage 3: Political collapse. Faith in the ‘government will take care of you’ is lost. As…the political establishment loses legitimacy and relevance.
Stage 4: Social collapse. Faith that ‘your people will take care of you’ is lost as local social institutions…run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.
Stage 5: Cultural collapse. Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost….Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources.
Dimitry Orlov, 2013
The Five Stages of Collapse: Survivors’ Toolkit
At the core of modern history lies this remarkable pattern: Over the past five centuries, Anglo-American society has entered a new era—a new turning—every two decades or so. At the start of each turning people change how they feel about themselves, the culture, the nation, and the future. Turnings come in cycles of four. Each cycle spans the length of a long human life, roughly eighty to one hundred years, a unit of time the ancients called the saeculum. Together, the four turnings of the saeculum comprise history’s seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and destruction…
We need to understand that our modern efforts to flatten natural and social cycles often meet with only superficial success. Sometimes all we do is substitute one cycle for another. When we dam a river or industrialize a society, for example, we might eliminate the cycle of floods or wars; then again, we might just ensure that the cycle is both less frequent and more devastating…
Ironically, linear time creates or deepens social cycles by disabling our natural capacity to achieve homeostasis by continual minor readjustment. Instead, readjustments occur in jumps—that is, in more powerful cyclical movements.
An appreciation for history is never more important than at times when a saecular winter is forecast. In the Fourth Turning, we can expect to encounter personal and public choices akin to the harshest ever faced by ancestral generations. We would do well to learn from their experience, viewed through the prism of cyclical time. This will not come easy…And it will require us to admit that our faith in linear progress has often amounted to a Faustian bargain with our children. Faust always ups the ante, and every bet is double or nothing. Through much of the Third Turning, we have managed to postpone the reckoning. But history warns that we can’t defer it beyond the next bend in time.
William Strauss and Neil Howe, 1997
The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy
All public places now are subject to government cameras: roads, streets, buildings, and who knows where else. The excuse is always the same: They are providing safety for us. But unlike in the private sector, this is not really believable. Government much too often violates our privacy and at the same time is fanatical in protecting its own secrecy.
…Whether surveillance is good or bad really depends on the institutions that use it and what the film is used for. Nothing good can come out of permitting government to film our every move. It strikes me like a scene out of Orwell’s 1984. What I would like to see is the very opposite: citizens who film ever more government activity, a live camera in every government bureaucracy that can be seen by all citizens, a monitor on every bureaucrat that can be watched by every person who pays the bills. This would be a great way for citizens to take back control. We need to protect citizens against government intrusions even as we curb the ability of the government to operate in total secrecy.
Ron Paul, 2011
Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom
I was standing with my paper there, minding my own news.
For everything that someone said, someone else had a different view.
I watched the whole thing there unfold upon my TV screen,
“A new world order is on its way.” Well, pass the popcorn please.
You don’t mean to tell me no one here is going to get hurt,
When there’s folks at home who eat dog food, they can’t afford a shirt.
Sure find out real fast who’s a sitting duck when it’s a…
Mad mad world. Shake your hands and say good luck.
It’s a mad mad world. I cannot believe this stuff.
It’s a mad mad world. Getting madder every day.
Mad, mad world. Get involved and they’ll blow you away.
Sure find out real fast when you’re a sitting duck, that it’s a mad mad world.
More smoke fills up the air, more toxins up the creek.
That’s when the cash it changes hands so we turn the other cheek.
Sure find out real fast just when you’ve had enough when it’s a…
Mad Mad World.
Tom Cochrane, 1992
Mad Mad World, Mad Mad World
I wanna make every woman I see.
I wanna make every woman I see.
Do you know what’s the matter with me?
I’m a heterosexual man. Just a heterosexual man.
I wanna do every woman I know.
I wanna do it to them in their clothes.
I wanna make it with them, don’t you know.
I’m a heterosexual man. It’s just a problem with my glands.
I’m a heterosexual, heterosexual man.
I’m a heterosexual, heterosexual man…
The Odds, 1993
Heterosexual Man, Bedbugs
The efforts of the original members to better our world were based on a ‘father-knows-best’ autocracy similar to the Roman Catholic Church’s paternalistic form of Christianity. Their intent was noble — at first…
Each new measure, viewed on its own, may seem only a slight aberration, but a whole host of changes, as part of an ongoing continuum, constitutes a shift towards total enslavement…
Whether we emerge from this century as an electronic global police state or as free human beings depends on the actions we take right now.
Daniel Estulin, 2009
The Real Story of The Bilderberg Group
George Taylor: I leave the 20th century with no regrets, but—one more thing, if anybody’s listening, that is. Nothing scientific. It’s—purely personal. But seen from out here, everything seems different. Time bends. Space is—boundless. It squashes a man’s ego. I feel lonely. That’s about it. Tell me, though, does man, that marvel of the universe, that glorious paradox who sent me to the stars, still make war against his brother. Keep his neighbor’s children starving?
Cornelius: [reading from the 29th scroll, sixth verse, of Ape Law] ‘Beware the beast man, for he is the Devil’s pawn. Alone among God’s primates, he kills for sport, or lust, or greed. Yea, he will murder his brother to possess his brother’s land. Let him not breed in great numbers, for he will make a desert of his home and yours. Shun him; drive him back into his jungle lair, for he is the harbinger of death.’
Planet of the Apes, 1968
20th Century Fox, Michael Wilson and Rod Serling (script writers)
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
Exponential growth of population, capital, resource use and pollution proceeds on the planet. It is propelled by attempts to solve keenly felt human problems, from unemployment and poverty to the need for status, power, and self-acceptance. Exponential growth can rapidly exceed any fixed limit. If one limit is pushed back, exponential growth will soon run into another.
Because of the feedback from limits, the global economic system is likely to overshoot its sustainable levels. Indeed, for many sources and sinks important to the world economy, overshoot has already occurred. Technology and markets operate only on imperfect information and with delay. Thus they can enhance the economy’s tendency to overshoot….once the population and economy have overshot the physical limits of the earth, there are only two ways back: involuntary collapse caused by escalating shortages and crises, or controlled reduction of the ecological footprint by deliberate social choice.
Limits to Growth, The 30-Year Update, 2002.
Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows
To overshoot means to go too far, to go beyond limits accidentally—without intention. …The three causes of overshoot are always the same, at any scale from personal to planetary. First, there is growth, acceleration, rapid change. Second, there is some form of limit or barrier, beyond which the moving system may not safely go. Third, there is a delay or mistake in the perceptions and responses that strive to keep the system within its limits. These three are necessary and sufficient to produce an overshoot.
…[T]he ecological footprint of global society has overshot the earth’s capacity to provide….The potential consequences of this overshoot are profoundly dangerous. The situation is unique; it confronts humanity with a variety of issues never before experienced by our species on a global scale. We lack the perspectives, the cultural norms, the habits, and the institutions required to cope. And the damage will, in many cases, take centuries or millennia to correct….if a profound correction is not made soon, a crash of some sort is certain. And it will occur in the lifetime of many who are alive today.
Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update, 2002.
Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows
I, I’m driving black on black, just got my license back.
I got this feeling in my veins this train is coming off the track.
I’ll ask polite if the devil needs a ride because the angel on my right ain’t hanging out with me tonight.
I’m driving past your house while you were sneaking out.
I got the car door opened up so you can jump in on the run.
Your mom don’t know that you were missing.
She’d be pissed if she could see the parts of you that I’ve been kissing, screamin’.
No, we’re never gonna quit. Ain’t nothing wrong with it. Just acting like we’re animals.
No, no matter where we go. ‘Cause everybody knows, we’re just a couple of animals…
We were parked out by the tracks. We’re sitting in the back.
And we just started getting busy, when she whispered “what was that?”
The wind, I think ‘cause no one else knows where we are.
And that was when she started screamin’, “That’s my dad outside the car!”
Oh please, the keys, they’re not in the ignition.
Must have wound up on the floor while we were switching our positions.
I guess they knew that she was missing, as I tried to tell her dad it was her mouth that I was kissing, screamin’.
Animals, All the Right Reasons
[The government argues that the] prosecution of whistleblowers is necessary because whistleblowers have aided America’s enemies by informing them of secrets that will harm America. With precious few exceptions, the rest of this nation’s political leadership and media pundits join in this chorus of condemnation of whistleblowing and call for the metaphorical or literal heads of these dastardly whistleblowers.
A close examination of what is going on here, however, points to a very different picture than what officialdom declares. The real target of the NSA’s ubiquitous surveillance isn’t terrorists. The NSA’s target is the entire world’s population and foreign governments; its purpose is dominance and oppressive social control. There are two core facts that make this point. Both of these facts have been studiously and religiously concealed from the public by mainstream media and public officials.
First, the NSA’s universal spying on whole populations predate 9/11 and were not instigated for the purpose of detecting and preventing terrorist incidents….Second, it is simply absurd and dramatically counter-productive to carry out anti-terrorist intelligence by collecting all of the world’s electronic communications.
…They are doing these things because their real purpose is not to detect terrorist incidents. Their real purpose is to control and repress whole populations. That is the only reason why you would collect all there is to know about everyone and everything: because you want to control and manipulate everyone and everything.
The enemy as the U.S. government sees it, in other words, is not al-Qaeda. The enemy is the people. We are the enemy.
Dennis Loo, 2013
We Are the Enemy: Whistleblowers, Journalists, Dissenters, and the People, Daily Censored
We must be alert to the…overwhelming need of the global Elites to reassure their restive, anxious populace that the structure of Elite dominance and wealth is robust, secure, and in the populace’s self-interest.
In actuality, the structure is not in the populace’s self interest, and it is increasingly insecure, brittle, and vulnerable to decay and/or disruption on numerous levels. Much of the vulnerability stems not from the Elite overreach but from the fact that we as a species have reached the carrying capacity of the planet in terms of a high-energy consumption dependency on cheap abundant petroleum for food, transport, water, ‘growth’, etc..
Nonetheless those who control the vast majority of assets, wealth, and tools of persuasion have the most to gain from a continuing belief in the system’s stability. Thus their defence of the system that serves their interests above all else will be fierce and unremitting.
Charles Hugh Smith, 2010
Whatever lies ahead, we know its main dimensions will emerge over the next two decades. The global economy is already so far above sustainable levels that there is very little time left for the fantasy of an infinite globe. We know the adjustment will be a huge task. It will entail a revolution as profound as the agricultural or industrial revolutions.
The set of possible futures includes a great variety of paths. There may be abrupt collapse; it is also possible there may be a smooth transition to sustainability. But the possible futures do not include indefinite growth in physical throughputs. This is not an option on a finite planet. The only real choices are to bring the throughputs that support human activities down to sustainable levels through human choice, human technology, and human organization, or to let nature force the decision through lack of food, energy, or materials, or through an increasingly unhealthy environment.
Donella Meadows, Jorgen Randers, Dennis Meadows, 2002.
Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update
Don’t the hours go shorter as the days go by.
We never get to stop and open our eyes.
One minute you’re waiting for the sky to fall.
The next you’re dazzled by the beauty of it all.
Lovers in a dangerous time. Lovers in a dangerous time.
These fragile bodies of touch and taste.
This fragrant skin. This hair like lace.
Spirits open to a thrust of grace.
Never a breath you can afford to waste.
Lovers in a dangerous time. Lovers in a dangerous time.
When you’re lovers in a dangerous time.
Bruce Cockburn, 1984
Lovers in a Dangerous Time, Stealing Fire
Let me run with you tonight. I’ll take you on a moonlight ride.
There’s someone I used to see but she don’t give a damn for me.
People come, people go. Some grow young, some grow cold.
I woke up in between a memory and a dream.
So let’s get to the point, let’s roll another joint.
Let’s head on down the road, there’s somewhere I gotta go.
And you don’t know how it feels.
You don’t know how it feels to be me.
Tom Petty, 1994
You Don’t Know How It Feels, Wildflowers
In war, State power is pushed to its ultimate, and, under the slogans of ‘Defense’ and ‘emergency,’ it can impose a tyranny on the public such as might be openly resisted in times of peace. War thus provides many benefits to the State, and indeed every modern war has been brought to the warring peoples a permanent legacy of increased State burdens on society…
There have been times when social power has spurted ahead of State power, and when the degree of State encroachment over society has considerably lessened. But always, after a greater or smaller time lag, the State has moved into these new areas, to cripple and confiscate social power once more…
In this century, the human race faces, once again, the virulent reign of the State—of the State now armed with the fruits of man’s creative powers, confiscated and perverted to its own aims. The last few centuries were times when men tried to place constitutional and other limits on the State, as with all other attempts, have failed. Of all the numerous forms that governments have taken over the centuries, of all the concepts and institutions that have been tried, none has succeeded in keeping the State in check.
Murray Rothbard, 2000
Anatomy of the State
…[W]e, the human species are inexorably tightening the two jaws of the vise around our fragile civilization…there are already more human beings alive than the world’s renewable resources can perpetually support. We have built complex societies that therefore depend on rapid use of exhaustible resources. Depletion of resources we don’t know how to do without is reducing this finite planet’s carrying capacity for our species. That is one jaw of the closing vise. The other is the accumulation of harmful substances that are unavoidably created by our life processes. There are so many of us, using so much technology, that these substances accumulate too fast for the global ecosystem to reprocess them; in fact, by overloading the natural reprocessing systems we are even breaking down their already limited capacity to set things right for us. This accumulation of toxic materials also reduces the earth’s carrying capacity.
Man has imagined himself to be more unlike other mammals than he really is, so when human behaviour has shown these same characteristics, various other explanations have been put forth which have obscured the significance of population pressure itself. In the twentieth century, with human numbers enlarged and resource drawdown becoming significant, man went to war. He rioted in the streets. He committed more and more crimes of violence. His political attitudes polarized and he created totalitarian governments, some of which gave license to sadistic tendencies. A generation gap widened and deepened. In spite of earnest efforts by humane activists to inhibit racism and rectify economic inequalities, disparities between people remained and animosities became more virulent. Standards of decency in behavior towards others and expectations of considerate self-restraint were eroded and degraded in many places.
William Catton, Jr., 2000
Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change
The industrial story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It begins in the mid-eighteenth century with coal and the first steam engines, proceeds to a robust second act climaxing in the years before World War I, and moves towards a third act resolution now that we can anticipate with some precision, the depletion of the resources that made the industrial episode possible. As the industrial story ends, the greater saga of mankind will move on into a new episode, the Long Emergency…
The Long Emergency is going to be a tremendous trauma for the human race. It is likely to entail political turbulence every bit as extreme as the economic conditions that prompt it. We will not believe that this is happening to us, that two hundred years of modernity can be brought to its knees by a worldwide power shortage.
The age of fossil fuels is about to end. There is no replacement for them at hand. These facts are poorly understood by the global population preoccupied with the thrum of daily life, but tragically, too, by all the educated classes…who continue to be by far the greatest squanderers of fossil fuels. It is extremely important for us to understand what is about to happen to us because it will have earth-shaking repercussions for the way we live, the way the world is ordered, and on whether the very precious cargo of human culture can move safely into the future.
The world oil production peak represents an unprecedented economic crisis that will wreak havoc on national economies, topple governments, alter national boundaries, provoke military strife, and challenge the continuation of civilized life. At peak, the human race will have generated a population that cannot survive on less than the amount of oil generated at peak—and after peak, the supply of oil will decline remorselessly. As that occurs, complex social and market systems will be stressed to the breaking point, obliviating the possibility of a smooth ride down from the peak phenomenon.
James Howard Kunstler, 2005
The Long Emergency
Unlike past Dark Ages, the options today are limited in terms of the various paths for system recovery. In the previous Dark Ages period, the world system was not as globalized and encompassing, and the system could expand in terms of the search for natural resources and labor, thereby enabling previously degraded and exploited areas to recover. At this stage of the globalization process, planet Earth is fully encompassed, and thus if ecological collapse (Dark Age) occurs there are few replacement areas for system expansion. Besides this, the level of connectivity of the world system in terms of production and reproduction processes means that the collapse will be felt globally, unlike previous Dark Ages in which not all the peripheral areas were impacted by the collapse.
Sing Chew, 2007.
The Recurring Dark Ages: Ecological Stress, Climate Change, and System Transformation
The possibility of a global environmental crisis is looming on the horizon. Excessive consumption, economic growth, and population explosion project a scenario of an ecological crisis of globally proportions. This prognosis has been compounded further with the anticipation of two more destabilizing conditions: global warming and pandemic diseases. When global warming and pandemic diseases are added to the mix of an already precarious situation of resource depletion and ecological destruction, it further heightens the debate of the impending system crisis.
Sing C. Chew, 2008
Ecological Futures: What History Can Teach Us
All around me are familiar faces. Worn out places, worn out faces.
Bright and early for their daily races. Going nowhere, going nowhere.
Their tears are fillin’ up their glasses. No expression, no expression.
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow. No tomorrow, no tomorrow.
And I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad.
The dreams in which I’m dyin’ are the best I’ve ever had.
I find it hard to tell you’ cause I find it hard to take.
When people run in circles, it’s a very, very mad world.
Tears for Fears, 1987
Mad World, The Hurting
George: [brandishing rifle] Don’t try to follow us. I’m pretty handy with this.
Dr. Zaius: Of that, I’m sure. All my life I’ve awaited your coming and dreaded it. Like death itself.
George: Why? I’ve terrified you from the first, Doctor. I still do. You’re afraid of me and you hate me. Why?
Dr. Zaius: Because you’re a man! And you’re right. I have always known about man. From the evidence, I believe his wisdom must walk hand in hand with his idiocy. His emotions must rule his brain. He must be a war-like creature who gives battle to everything around him. Even himself.
George: What evidence? There were no weapons in that cave.
Dr. Zaius: The Forbidden Zone was once a paradise. Your breed made a desert of it ages ago.
George: It still doesn’t give me the why. A planet where apes evolved from men? There’s got to be an answer.
Dr. Zaius: [with surprisingly genuine sympathy] Don’t look for it, Taylor! You may not—like, what you’ll find. George Taylor: [riding down the beach in the last scene] Oh my God. I’m back. I’m home. All the time, it was— We finally really did it. [falls to his knees screaming] YOU MANIACS! YOU BLEW IT UP! OH, DAMN YOU! GODDAMN YOU ALL TO HELL! (camera pans to reveal the half-destroyed Statue of Liberty sticking out of the sand)
Planet of the Apes, 1968
20th Century Fox, Michael Wilson and Rod Serling (script writers)
Here we stand like an Adam and Eve. Waterfall. The Garden of Eden. Two fools in love, beautiful and strong. The birds in the tree are smiling upon them.
From the age of the dinosaurs cars have run on gasoline.
Where, where have they gone? Now, it’s nothing but flowers.
There was a factory, now there are mountains and rivers.
We caught a rattlesnake, now we’ve got something for dinner.
There was a shopping mall, now it’s all covered with flowers.
If this was paradise, I wish I had a lawnmower…
Once there were parking lots, now it’s a peaceful oasis.
This was a Pizza Hut, now it’s all covered in daisies.
I miss the honky tonks, Dairy Queens, and 7-Elevens.
And as things fell apart nobody paid much attention…
Nothing but Flowers, 1988
Talking Heads, Naked
I stand before this faceless crowd and I wonder why I bother.
So much controlled by so few. Stumbling from one disaster to another.
I’ve heard it all so many times before; it’s all a dream to me now.
A dream to me now.
And if we’re lost, then we are lost together.
Yeah if we’re lost, then we are lost together.
In the silence of this whispered night, I listen only to your breath.
And that second of a shooting star, somehow it all make sense.
And I want all the world to know, that your love’s all I need.
All that I need.
Blue Rodeo, 1992
Lost Together, Lost Together
OLDUVAI III: CATACLYSM
It is clear that every civilization undergoes a process of historical change. We can see that a civilization comes into existence, passes through a long experience, and eventually goes out of existence…
Beyond recognizing that civilizations begin and end, historians are fairly well agreed that, after they begin, they flourish and grow for a while, that eventually they reach a peak of power and prosperity, and that they weaken and decay before their final end.
The Stage of Decay is a period of acute economic depression, declining standards of living, civil wars between the various vested interests, and growing illiteracy. The society grows weaker and weaker. Vain efforts are made to stop the wastage through legislation. But the decline continues. The religious, intellectual, social, and political levels of the society begin to lose allegiance of the masses of the people on a large scale. This period of decay may last for a long time but eventually the civilization can no longer defend itself.
Carroll Quigley, 1961
The Evolution of Civilizations
History gives no precedent for the collapse of industrial (electromagnetic) civilization, but the consequences of the policy of exponential brinkmanship are clear.
The overshoot and collapse of industrial civilization was assured once humanity became dependent on the rapid exploitation of nonrenewable resources on a finite planet. Moreover our insatiable appetite for electric power has accelerated the collapse and steepened the decline.
Richard Duncan, 2005
Olduvai Theory: Energy, Population, and Industrial Civilization
And when you lose control, you’ll reap the harvest you have sown.
And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone.
And it’s too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around.
So have a good drown, as you go down, all alone, dragged down by the stone.
I gotta admit that I’m a little bit confused.
Sometimes it seems to me as if I’m just being used.
Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise.
If I don’t stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?
Pink Floyd, 1977
It is a fact, however, that oil is finite and that there is a peak oil. Since this study is mainly focused on understanding cause-effect relations following such a peak oil situation, it is not necessary to specify a precise point in time…
[We look] into a special possible peak oil scenario in which a so-called ‘tipping point’ is exceeded where linear developments become chaotic and finally result in a worst-case scenario in terms of security policy. For example, if the global economy shrinks for an indeterminate period of time, a chain reaction that might destabalise the global economic system is imaginable…In the short term, the global economy would respond proportionately to the decline in oil supply…In the medium term, the global economic system and all market-oriented economies would collapse…
An oil supply conversion will not be possible to an equal extent in all the world regions before peak oil occurs. It is likely that a large number of countries will not be able to make the necessary investments in good time and to the required extent…In complex systems, an energy withdrawal will not necessarily lead to proportional reduction in complexity alone but, in extreme cases, to a collapse.
Peak Oil: Security Policy Implications of Scarce Resources, 2010
Bundeswehr Transformative Centre Future Analysis Branch
The money changers had control of Medieval England’s money supply and at this time were generally known as goldsmiths. Paper money started out and this was simply a receipt you would get after depositing gold with a goldsmith, in their safe rooms or vaults. This paper started being traded as it was far more convenient than carrying round a lot of heavy gold and silver coins. Over time, to simplify the process, the receipts were made to the bearer, rather than to the individual depositor, making it readily transferable without the need for a signature. This, also, broke the tie to any identifiable deposit of gold.
Eventually the goldsmiths recognized that only a fraction of depositors ever came in and demanded their gold at any one time, so they found out how they could cheat on the system. They started to issue more receipts than they had gold to back those receipts and no one would be any the wiser. They would loan out these receipts which were not backed by the gold they had in their depositories and collect interest on them. This was the birth of the system we know today as Fractional Reserve Banking, and like this system of today this meant the goldsmiths were able to make astronomical amounts of money by loaning out, what was essentially fraudulent receipts, as they were for gold the goldsmiths didn’t even possess. As they gradually got more confident they would loan out up to 10 times the amount they had in their deposits.
Andrew Hitchcock, 2006
History of the Money Changers
Once the footprint has grown past the sustainable level, as it already has, it must eventually come down—either through a managed process…or through the work of nature. There is no question about whether growth in the ecological footprint will stop; the only questions are when and by what means.
Population growth will essentially cease, either because the birth rates fall further, or because death rates begin to rise—or both. Industrial growth will essentially cease, either because investment rates fall, or depreciation begins to rise—or both. If we anticipate these trends, we may exert some rational control over them, selecting the best of the options available to us. If we ignore them, then the natural systems will choose an outcome without regard to human welfare.
Birth and death rates, investments and depreciation rates will be balanced by human choice or by feedback from overstressed earthly sources and sinks. The exponential growth curves will slow, bend, and either level off or decline. The condition of human society and the planet at that point could be disastrous.
Donna Meadows, Jorgen Rangers, Dennis Meadows, 2002
Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update
Head high, protest line, “Freedom” scribbled on your sign.
Headline, New York Times,
Standing on the edge of a revolution.
Hey, hey, just obey. Your secret’s safe with the NSA.
In God we trust or the CIA?
Standing on the edge of a revolution.
Yeah, we’re standing on the edge of a revolution.
Revolution, revolution, revolution.
No, we won’t give up, we won’t go away,
‘Cause we’re not about to live in this mass delusion.
No, we don’t wanna hear another word you say,
‘Cause we know they’re all depending on mass confusion.
No, we can’t turn back, we can’t turn away,
‘Cause it’s time we all relied on the last solution.
No, we won’t lay down and accept this fate,
‘Cause we’re standing on the edge of a revolution.
Edge of a Revolution, No Fixed Address
[S]ecular cycles—demographic-social-political oscillations of very long periods (centuries long)—are the rule rather than the exception in large agrarian states and empires…[and] can only be understood as a result of the interaction between several interlinked variables—economic (including demography), social structure (particularly, how the elites interact with the producing population and the state), and the political (state stability or collapse)…
The amount of resources needed for subsistence increases linearly with population, while the total product grows slower than linearly as a result of the law of diminishing returns. As a result, at a certain critical population density, which we have defined as the carrying capacity, the curves intersect…
[P]opulation growth leads to rural misery, urban migration, falling real wages, and an increased frequency of food riots and wage protests. After a certain lag time, the negative effects of population expansion begins to affect the elites, who become riven by increasing rivalry and factionalism. Another consequence of rapid population growth is the expansion of youth cohorts. This segment of the population is particularly impacted by the lack of employment opportunities. Finally, growing economic inequality, elite competition, and popular discontent fuel ideological conflicts.
Turchin, P., and S.A. Nefedov, 2009
Secular Cycles, Princeton University Press
Historically, there have been two major kinds of legalized counterfeiting. One is government paper money…Government paper, as pernicious as it may be, is a relatively straightforward form of counterfeiting…Far more difficult to grasp, however, and therefore far more insidious, are the nature and consequences of “fractional-reserve banking,” a more subtle and modern form of counterfeiting. It is not difficult to see the consequences of a society awash in a flood of new paper money; but it is far more difficult to envision the results of an expansion of intangible bank credit.
Ludwig von Mises, 1994
The Case Against the Fed
Although we talk about money on a daily basis and most of us work hard for it, few stop to reflect on what money actually is and what it means. Even people working in the world of finance often do not comprehend what money is all about. The fact that money is created out of thin air and in the form of credit is quite difficult to understand. This important little secret is not taught at most schools and is actually only understood by a confined group of financial insiders. This is not necessarily a bad thing. According to Henry Ford, the famous car manufacturer, a revolution would break out before dawn if people got wind of how our money system really works.
Willem Middelkoop, 2014
The Big Reset: War on Gold and the Financial Endgame
The history of human civilization is, in large measure, a story of the human quest for control. After thousands of years of civilization, we think that we control the environment in which we live. We begin to think that we control the natural world. We might even fool ourselves into thinking that we control human nature. Modern society is built on the assumption of control. Yet, as the terror of the New York blackout shows, chaos all too easily bursts forth, reminding us how flimsy the illusion of control really is.
The root cause of much of the chaos that besets us is complexity, sheer complexity. From complex webs of interactions, chaos emerges. It is complexity that leads to unexpected problems, that turns order into chaos. As much as anything, the New York blackout, like most accidents and breakdowns, was a result of complexity. The power system did have backups and safeguards built in. But no one had anticipated that the network could suffer a cascade of failures of the kind that occurred. Nor could anyone anticipate the mayhem that would ensue when power failed on such a large scale for such a long period. This does not mean that the planners were incompetent; there are just so many possible ways that the system could behave, it is not possible to anticipate and plan for all contingencies.
David G. Green, 2014
Of Ants and Men: The Unexpected Side-Effects of Complexity in Society
King Arthur: I order you to be quiet!
Old woman: Order, eh, who does he think he is?
King Arthur: I am your king.
Old woman: Well, I didn’t vote for you.
King Arthur: You don’t vote for kings.
Old woman: Well, how’d you become king then?
King Arthur: The lady of the lake, her arm clad in the purest, shimmering samite held aloft Excalibur from the bosom of the water signifying by divine providence that I, Arthur, was to carry Excalibur. That is why I am your king.
Dennis: Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
King Arthur: Be quiet.
Dennis: I mean, you can’t expect to wield supreme executive power just ‘cause some watery tart threw a sword at you.
King Arthur: Shut up.
Dennis: I mean, if I went around saying I was an emperor just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me they’d put me away.
Monty Python and the Holy Grail, 1975
Story by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin
In 1882 Thomas Edison brought electricity and affordable lighting to the world. In 1893 historian Henry Adams theorized that electric power would drive industrial civilization into overshoot and collapse. In 1949 M. King Hubbert published an agrarian-to-industrial-to-agrarian (A-I-A) scenario. In 1963 Fred Hoyle forewarned that overpopulation would cause “our cries of agony.” In 1971 Roberto Vacca foresaw “a new dark age” and used New York City as his example.
In 1971 the standard run of Jay Forrester’s world model showed that growth “is not the path to the future.” In 2012 three eminent scientists—Dennis Meadows, Walter Youngquist, and Colin Campbell—basically agree: “Chaos looms as the growing population faces a future of less.”
…Several industrial nations are already over the cliff. Ultimately the world’s population will peak and decline.
Richard Duncan, 2013
The Olduvai Theory: Heading into the Gorge
V: And the truth is…there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? You designed it, wanted it foolproof. You said every television in London! Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object…to think and speak as you saw fit…you now have censors and surveillance coercing your conformity…and soliciting submission. Cameras. We need cameras.
How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Certainly there are those who are more responsible than others. And they will be held accountable. But again, truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty…you need only look into a mirror.
I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired…to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you. And in your panic, you turned to the now High Chancellor Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace…and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.
V for Vendetta, 2005
Warner Brothers. Written by Andy and Lana Wachowski.
[T]he fall of civilizations takes place through a process I’ve termed catabolic collapse. This unfolds from the inevitable mismatch between the maintenance costs of capital—that is, how much economic activity has to be put into maintaining all of the stuff that civilizations create and collect as their history proceeds—and the resource base needed to meet the maintenance costs of capital. Since capital tends to increase steadily over time, but resources are always subject to natural limits, every civilization sooner or later finds itself with more capital than it can maintain, and that tips it into maintenance crisis: basically, a loss of capital, usually made worse by conflict over who gets to keep how much of their existing shares…
If the civilization relies on nonrenewable resources…the depletion of those resources triggers a downward spiral—catabolic collapse—in which each round of crisis is followed, not by recovery, but by a brief reprieve before the declining resource base forces another maintenance crisis…and there’s good reason to believe we’re already seeing the early stages of it in modern industrial civilization.
John Michael Greer, 2012
The Trajectory of Empires
No matter whether our future brings disintegration, renewal, or something in between, we can be sure that the road in front of us won’t be straight and that our grandchildren’s world will look starkly different than ours today…We in the West, anesthetized by materialism and egged on by a self-satisfied intelligentsia, may have convinced ourselves that our way of life is the apex of political and economic achievement and that, within its bosom, we can sustain some kind of endless plateau of hedonistic satisfaction.
…in the past half century Western societies have been astonishingly creative, adaptive, and prosperous. But they’ve also been astonishingly lucky…This luck has given us ample room for denial–so far…
Luck can’t last forever. In coming decades, oil is almost certain to become far scarcer, Earth’s climate will likely become warmer and its weather more unstable…
When we deny our problems, we can’t possibly choose our future. Sometimes neglected problems do fix themselves, but we can’t expect such an outcome with many of the problems—like global warming—we’re facing now.
Thomas Homer-Dixon, 2006
The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization
Survival is as much a mental attitude as physical endurance and knowledge. Think of survival skills as a pyramid, built on the foundation of that will to survive. People with it have survived even though they did everything against the rule book. With a little knowledge they could have made their lot much easier. So the next layer of the pyramid is knowledge. It breeds confidence and dispels fear.
The third layer must be training, that does not just mean trying something once but mastering skills and maintaining them. In doing so, you will be keeping your body in training, too.
To top the pyramid, add your kit. Proper equipment and provisions are common sense, but the survivor does not necessarily know what conditions to equip for. That is where your survival tin will make a tremendous difference to your chances. To the instinct for survival, which you can further develop, add knowledge, training and kit and you will be ready for anything.
John Wiseman, 2009
SAS Survival Handbook
Whenever the economic life of a nation becomes precarious, the central government is forced to assume additional responsibilities for the general welfare. It must work out elaborate plans for dealing with a critical situation; it must impose ever greater restrictions upon the activities of its subjects; and if, as is very likely, worsening economic conditions result in political unrest, or open rebellion, the central government must intervene to preserve public order and its own authority. More and more power is thus concentrated in the hands of the executives and their bureaucratic managers. But the nature of power is such that even those who have not sought it, but have had it forced upon them, tend to acquire a taste for more.
Aldous Huxley, 1931
Brave New World Revisited
There are no safeguards on human nature. We’re wired to overreach. Look at history, all the countries that ever ruled the world. Portugal with this big, massive navy. All they got now are salt cod and cheap condos. The Brits. Now they’re just sitting on their dank, little island fussing over their suits. No one’s stopping and thinking, hey, we’re doing pretty well. We got France. We’ve got Poland. We’ve got big, Swiss bank accounts. You know what? Let’s not invade Russia in the winter. Let’s go home. Let’s pop a beer. And, let’s live off the interest.
Eddie Morra, 2011
Limitless. Written by Leslie Dixon (screenplay) and Alan Glynn (novel).
Now, I ain’t much of a poet but I know somebody once told me to seize the moment and don’t squander it, ’cause you never know when it all could be over tomorrow.
So I keep conjuring, sometimes I wonder where these thoughts spawn from.
(Yeah, pondering’ll do you wonders, no wonder you’re losing your mind the way it wanders.) …
’Cause I need an interventionist to intervene between me and this monster and save me from myself and all this conflict, ’cause the very thing that I love’s killing me and I can’t conquer it.
…I’m just friends with the monster that’s under my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.
You’re trying to save me, stop holding your breath.
And you think I’m crazy, yeah, you think I’m crazy.
The Monster, The Marshal Mathers LP 2
The ability to predict when a system will ‘collapse’ is possible if it is understood when the underlying, foundational resources will exhaust themselves…The best that can be said…is that entropy decreases as the system moves towards its natural limit. The system becomes more likely to collapse, but it is impossible to say exactly when…the larger the resource base, the larger the overshoot and the more postponed the collapse…
[G]rowth can continue for far longer than seems possible to somebody who recognizes the systems’ eventual unsustainability and foresees limitation and collapse…The strongest statement that can be made is that as growth continues, the likelihood of system limitation and collapse increases. For the individual, the growth dynamic can prove so overwhelming that the possibility of collapse begins to seem unlikely and remote as naysayers are continually proven wrong…[However,] the actual likelihood of collapse grows ever larger, while for those under its thrall, the possibility of collapse grows ever more distant. When the system eventually collapses, it does so suddenly, dramatically, and unexpectedly.
Corey Lofdahl, 2003
On the Confounding of Overshoot and Collapse Predictions by Economic Dynamics
Agent Smith: I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals.
Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move into an area and multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area.
There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus.
Human beings are a disease, a cancer to this planet. You are a plague.
The Matrix, 1999
Paramount Pictures. Written by Andy and Lana Wachowski.
Preparation is the key…this includes developing a Survival Mentality, storing food and having a water source, having weapons with lots of ammunition and conducting training exercises…You must have strength through numbers. If you don’t you’re doomed to failure surviving any disaster. Regardless of how much money you have to store food and equip your Neighborhood Protection Plan, there is no way you can protect you family from everything. Learn to cooperate and work together as a group.
Jack Lawson, 2012
A Failure of Civility
Our economy and way of life is dependent on cheap oil. In many ways, cheap oil is responsible for our prosperity. Since oil provides about 40% of the world’s energy, a peak in global oil production will be a turning point in human history. Oil and natural gas literally transport, heat and feed our country…
Some say that market forces will take care of the Peak Oil problem. They argue that as we approach or pass the peak of production the price of oil will increase and the alternatives will become more competitive.
But no available alternative is anywhere near ready to replace oil in the volumes we use it today…
Replacing this resource in a relatively short time is not only an incredible challenge, but also imperative to the survival of our way of life…
Reaching a peak in oil production has the potential to destroy our economy and cause great social and political unrest.
And the carbon released using fossil fuels is contributing to dramatic changes in the earth’s climate.
U.S. Congressman Tom Udall, 2005
Understanding the Peak Oil Theory, U.S. House of Representatives Hearing
All the interesting systems (e.g. transportation, healthcare, power generation) are inherently and unavoidably hazardous by their own nature….
Overt catastrophic failure occurs when small, apparently innocuous failures join to create opportunity for a systemic accident….
The complexity of these systems makes it impossible for them to run without multiple flaws being present…
Complex systems possess potential for catastrophic failure. Human practitioners are nearly always in close physical and temporal proximity to these potential failures—disaster can occur at any time and in nearly any place. The potential for catastrophic outcome is a hallmark of complex systems. It is impossible to eliminate the potential for such catastrophic failure; the potential for such failure is always present by the system’s own nature.
Richard I. Cook, 2000
How Complex Systems Fail
…[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
Whether…[we will be able to] maintain a high-energy industrial civilization indefinitely…or whether we shall continue as at present until a succession of crises develop—overpopulation, exhaustion of resources and eventual decline—depends largely upon whether a serious cultural lag can be overcome. In view of the rapidity with which the transition to our present state has occurred it is not surprising that such a cultural lag should exist, and that we should continue to react to the fundamentally simple physical, chemical, and biological needs of our social complex with the sacred-cow behavior patterns of our agrarian and pre-scientific past. However, it is up to our ability to eliminate this lag and to evolve a culture more nearly in conformity with the limitations imposed upon us by the basic properties of matter and energy that the future of our civilization largely depends.
Marion King Hubbert, 1949
Energy from Fossil Fuels
A global population of 7.2 billion here in 2015 is projected to expand to 9 or even 10 billion by 2050, requiring vast additional amounts of food, fresh water, and mineral resources. At some point within the next ten years, global oil supplies will very likely peak, which means the cheap energy that has propelled the global economy over the past 100 years will be gone forever.
For every one calorie of food you eat, ten calories of (rapidly depleting) fossil fuels are stealthily expended in producing it. The majority of the nutrients in the world’s agricultural soils have been so horribly degraded by industrial farming practices, that our farmlands now need a continuous supply of chemical fertilizers just so plants can still grow. But these modern fertilizers are made from depleting fossil fuels, creating the obvious long-term predicament: How will we grow more food for more people with less energy?
Chris Martenson and Adam Taggart, 2015
Prosper: How to Prepare for the Future and Create a World Worth Inheriting
Now you won’t even let me talk to you, we got some air to clear.
We’d probably only agree on one thing anyway, that’s what the hell is happening here?
Fingers and toes, fingers and toes, forty things we share.
Forty-one if you include the fact that we don’t care.
See when it starts to fall apart man, it really falls apart. Like boots or hearts oh when they start, they really fall apart.
Well, fall apart.
Tragically Hip, 1989
Boots or Hearts, Up to Here
…[O]nce you recognize that most of the worst problems the world faces have a common cause and that time is running out to solve them, you have an emergency.
…The common cause of all our crises today is our use of fossil fuels. Just as addictive drugs alter the metabolism of the human body in ways that create dependency and make it difficult to give them up, fossil fuels have profoundly altered the metabolism of economies and society. As a result, the systems of production and distribution we have now, and the types of relationship we have with other people, including those within our own families, will be changed out of all recognition as the energy drug is withdrawn. The withdrawal period will be particularly painful in countries that fail to ensure that they have a decent supply of renewable energy methadone available to them. Cold turkey will mean that many people die. If we think of Pompeii, if we leave it too late before we rush towards a new type of civilization, we will have to leave behind all of our high-tech, high-energy tools, and we may not survive without them.
Richard Douthwaite, 2011
Fleeing Vesuvius: Overcoming the Risks of Economic and Environmental Collapse
In the silence of this whispered night, I listen only to your breath.
And in that second of a shooting star, somehow it all makes sense.
And I want all the world to know, that your love’s all I need. All that I need.
And if we’re lost, then we are lost together.
Yea if we’re lost, then we are lost together.
Blue Rodeo, 1992
Lost Together, Lost Together