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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXVII–The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLXVII

Tulum, Mexico (1986). Photo by author.

The Future Ain’t What It Used to Be

Today’s Contemplation is my brief comment on an article posted on Facebook by Tristan Sykes of Just Collapse.

The article in question (short and concise) is an update of the World3 model used in creating the various scenarios in the 1972 The Limits to Growth study using the most recent empirical data.

While the authors make clear the uncertainty involved in a data’s trendline after it reaches its ‘tipping point’ (although one could argue there exists great uncertainty in any such modelling beyond the present; complex systems with their nonlinear feedback loops and emergent phenomena are impossible to map out with ‘perfect’ accuracy), the interesting — but not surprising — thing to note is that virtually all of these projections exhibit not just shifts of their peaks into the future but ‘higher highs’ followed by temporally-contracted declines (i.e., a quicker ‘collapse’) resulting in ‘lower lows’.

‘Deniers’ will argue this highlights the fallibility of ‘doom-based’ narratives’ and ‘bargainers’ will likely suggest this buys humanity more time to ‘mitigate/manage’ our predicament. But, perhaps, this merely points out how non-linear system-feedback loops behave.

As Donella Meadows argued in Thinking in Systems: A Primer: “…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.”

The delays in these peaks that are projected are looking to allow us to go further into overshoot — providing fodder for those rationalising away our predicament — and most likely result in a ‘correction’ that will most certainly ‘dampen’ adaptive responses as the time to do so will be shorter. Such a situation may also possibly feed into further negative feedback loops as attempted adaptations could be quite maladaptive (as many (most? all?) have been the past few decades given the influence and direction of our societies’ wealth-extractors who are leveraging our predicament at every turn).

While it is indeed difficult to make predictions, especially if they’re about the future, overshoot and collapse remains the predicted ‘conclusion’ of this business-as-usual scenario, despite the uncertainty painted by the authors.

As the saying goes, the future ain’t what it used to be; it seems to be getting worse by the day…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVI–Is it Too Late For Pessimism?

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVI

Knossos, Greece (1993), Photo by author

Is it Too Late For Pessimism?

Today’s ‘contemplation’ has been prompted by a question posed to me by a fellow commenter, puppyg, via an article we were both commenting upon. Taking advantage of a rainy day, I have prepared a rather extensive answer.

Question: Tonight I watched a stunning 12-yr.-old documentary (HOME) on the impact of human enterprise on Earth — the horrific toll on nature, fossil-fuel insanity, ticking food and population time-bombs, climate change, sea-level rise imperilling billions, extinction rates to the sky, all with gorgeous photography (and with an extraordinary array of financial backers). It ended on the notes, “It is too late for pessimism” and “We have ten years to…”, along with beautiful panoramas of our planet and a sampler account of projects that offer solutions and hope.

Finally, there was the invitation to, “Come and join us” at www.ourgoodplanet.org. I went there, but found… “Site cannot be reached”.

So, is it too late for pessimism? What do you think?

Response: The statement that “It is too late to for pessimism” has been attributed to motivational speaker Les Brown and implies that we need optimism rather than pessimism. That we need ‘solutions’ not more talk about the ‘problems’. That if we try hard enough, we can accomplish anything regardless of limitations.

I am not so convinced these motivational thoughts are true or relevant for the challenges humanity is increasingly having to confront due to life on a finite planet. Imagining a ‘better’ world is much, much easier than actually creating one, especially if there are biophysical limits to what can be accomplished or that have been vastly breached — let alone reaching ‘consensus’ on what is ‘better’. The ‘positive’ thoughts such hopeful beliefs can instil may lead people to feel better but they can also lead to inaction or clinging to misleading ‘solutions’; both of which I would argue are occurring to some extent and perhaps holding us back from discussing more appropriate responses that may result in ‘better’ outcomes.

I would suggest there are two other perspectives in viewing our impending dilemmas that need to be considered. First, perhaps what we are facing are not problems that have solutions but predicaments that we cannot avoid and the best we can do is mitigate to a certain extent the consequences of. Second, if these are problems with solutions, it becomes even more problematic if the solutions we pursue are wrong or misguided for our solutions may be painting us further into a corner we cannot extricate ourselves from and then end up as predicaments without solutions.

Given these alternatives there is no simple answer to your question as there are so many complexities and intertwined issues that could be raised and I could certainly respond with a very long essay, which this may end up being. I will try to be relatively concise in my response, although I’m sure to go off on a variety of tangents. It’s taken some time to respond as I wanted to watch the documentary first (and it helps that it’s raining and I can avoid getting to some outdoor work in my gardens; I typically just spend an hour or two first thing in the morning on my computer as I’m enjoying a couple of cups of coffee before moving into my ‘chores’, and then occasionally sit back down for a few moments here and there through the day to give my aging body a bit of a rest from the physical labour of maintaining and expanding our fruit/vegetable gardens and, unfortunately, I am not getting any younger).

While I don’t disagree with the vast majority of the analyses regarding humanity’s dilemmas presented in the documentary, there are some issues in its conclusion that I will elaborate on below. There is certainly much to be pessimistic about given its content, but one could just as easily be optimistic depending on one’s focus and interpretation so let’s try to avoid such ‘emotional’ descriptors for now and focus on what’s ‘real’ as much as I’m loathe to use such a term for what is ‘real’ to one person is not necessarily to another and almost everything is open to debate.

The assertion that humanity has no more than ten years to reverse the trend of runaway global warming (with the release of methane locked in northern permafrost) due to carbon emissions so we have to abandon fossil fuels posthaste seems to have been an ill-advised one to make. The timeline presented has passed so given we have not halted such emissions but seen them expand (see here) as humanity’s energy demands have continued to increase, and outpaced any energy so-called non-carbon emitting sources can provide, one could say it is too late to be pessimistic but also too late to be optimistic; we are in deep trouble as we missed the window of opportunity to correct our behaviour if that assertion is correct.

These type of catastrophic predictions are I believe somewhat problematic as it provides opportunities for critics to highlight faulty assertions when the timeline passes. Could it be runaway global warming will take place sometime in the future due to positive feedback loops? Sure, maybe. Only time will allow us to say for sure, and only in retrospect. More general and probabilistic ‘warnings’ or even various possible scenarios as presented in The Limits to Growth might be better at persuading people to alter behaviour; I don’t know, although it doesn’t appear either approach has been overly effective in slowing our exploitation of fossil fuels or any other finite resource for that matter.

What I do believe, however, is that no one, absolutely no one can predict the future with any accuracy. The significant trends being discussed may possibly continue but life has a way of going sideways sometimes so projecting patterns forward and providing such timelines almost always end up being quite wrong. Complex systems with their nonlinear feedback loops and emergent phenomena can neither be predicted or controlled, and just the tiniest error in underlying assumptions can result in significantly different pathways being followed and eventual outcomes being quite changed from predictions.

After more than an hour and twenty minutes (the vast majority of the film) of laying out the dilemmas humanity faces due to its expansion and overexploitation of limited and finite resources, the documentary presents its ‘solutions’. Many are cherry-picked examples of small scale shifts that ignore the significant countervailing forces and system momentum that limit their widespread application. Some are experimental approaches with little to no chance of adoption due to their economic/resource ‘costs’ with little benefit, if any, in return.

The most problematic one, I would contend, is the idea that fossil fuels can be replaced by ‘alternatives’ that are misleadingly termed ‘renewable’ and, for the most part, business as usual can proceed — especially for so-called ‘advanced’ societies. Sure, some minor tweaks here and there by ‘thinking’ about what is consumed but little else.

This energetic shift ignores the hard biophysical limits that exist on a finite planet and the negative consequences of ‘renewable’ energy production, maintenance, and after-use disposal issues — to say little about the energy storage issues. It’s one thing to suggest we simply transition from fossil fuels to ‘renewables’, it’s quite another to acknowledge the: dependency of such ‘renewables’ on fossil fuels in perpetuity (especially the mining and industrial processes required) and other finite resources (particularly rare-earth minerals); energy storage limits; ecological destruction generated in the construction/storage/disposal processes; intermittency of power produced and thus need for fossil fuel or nuclear backup systems; significantly lower energy-return-on-energy-invested; etc.. ‘Renewables’, in my opinion, are no solution and their use as one is primarily a comforting story that conveniently avoids the difficulties (impossibilities?) of their widespread adoption.

In fact, I find it immensely interesting that the documentary lays out a great argument for our fundamental dilemma, ecological overshoot, and the most probable best ‘solution’, degrowth, but fails to raise either issue at all. Instead it focuses its proposed ‘solutions’ on human ingenuity, creativity, education, and technology — the mainstream ‘answers’ that I would argue are wrong because these tend to be or are significantly dependent upon energy-intensive processes and finite resources (especially the technological ones). And I’m tending to believe these ‘solutions’ are pursued because they promise little disruption, provide hope (which people prefer over despair, even if it’s false hope), and serve to enrich those that control the resources, production processes, and the financial capital that would be required to fund them.

Despite there being limits to projecting trends into the future with much if any accuracy, there are some patterns to human complex societies that do seem recurrent; at least with all the experiments in them for the past 10 millennia or so. All our complex societies to date have blossomed in complexity, peaked, and then reverted to a far more simple form (what some would call ‘collapse’).

Archaeologist Joseph Tainter argues this is primarily due to the economic phenomenon of diminishing returns on investments in complexity. As problem-solving organisations, complex societies address problems via increasing investments in complexity that are supported via resource surpluses. But resources, being finite in nature, encounter diminishing returns themselves on their procurement; that is, more and more ‘investment’ (in terms of energy, labour, and resources) must be made to increase or sustain them because of our tendency to access and exploit the easiest-to-retrieve and easiest-to-transport ones first, moving one to the harder-to-retrieve and transport ones later. As the resources become more difficult to procure, surpluses begin to shrink and are increasingly needed to meet everyday needs. If surpluses disappear, their lack of availability and support during a time of stress, that might otherwise have been dealt with quite well, can overwhelm a society and lead to its ‘collapse’ (an economic choice by its people to stop supporting its complexities, especially in the sociopolitical realm, and choose a more simple lifestyle due to the cost/benefit ratio dropping significantly).

It may indeed be ‘pessimistic’ to take this thesis and apply it to today’s global, industrial complex society that is almost entirely dependent upon fossil fuels. Combine this idea with the concept of ecological overshoot (which is really at the root of all our dilemmas) and one can’t help but feel despondent.

I have come to believe the only ‘solution’ to these dilemmas is to embrace degrowth as quickly as we can. A return to ‘simpler’ living ways that do not depend on long distance supply chains and are far, far less energy intensive is very likely in the books for us regardless of whether we wish it or not. So, rather than attempt to waste what remaining resources we have in what I would argue are cognitive dissonance-reducing narratives that serve primarily to comfort us and keep us in denial, and would probably be a final blow-off top of finite resource exploitation pushing us completely over the impending cliff, we should dedicate our labour and resources to relocalising the most important things: potable water procurement, food production, and shelter needs. And we need to do it in a way that makes our local communities resilient and minimises (to zero if possible) the necessity of long distance supply chains and finite resources.

The fact that our lifestyle would require significant sacrifices (especially for those of us in so-called ‘advanced’ economies) of the many technological conveniences we currently have and much more manual labour is probably why most people rail against it, either via denial (the first stage of grief) or crafting of more comforting narratives such as transitioning to alternative forms of energy to support our current ways (the third stage of grief, bargaining). What we need is a tipping point of people to move through the grief stages as quickly as possible to the final one, acceptance, and embrace the idea that we need a whole new approach to how we live. And that approach, as far as I can see, is to embrace a more simple living arrangement as soon as possible, especially for ‘advanced’ economies whose relatively small populations consume and depend upon the vast majority of finite resources, and become as self-sufficient as possible (the ideal would be complete self-sufficiency).

Again, this interpretation of our complexities may be viewed as pessimistic by those who would rather cling to the hope of humanity being able to solve our dilemmas. We are a relatively ‘smart’ and ‘creative’ species but all of pre/history would suggest there are hard limits to what we can do. Having constructed an intertwined and global complex society almost exclusively dependent upon a finite resource that has encountered increasing diminishing returns, and having no true replacement that can address some of the knock-on, negative consequences of our burgeoning expansion and exploitation, I would contend we cannot ‘science’ our way out of this. Believing otherwise is, in my opinion, about our predisposition to avoid ‘pain’ and seek ‘pleasure’. We don’t want to confront the difficulties (pain) ahead so we craft narratives that paint a more ‘pleasurable’ outcome and people are far more likely to cling to the ‘optimistic’ story (even if it’s wrong/misleading) than the ‘pessimistic’ one as a result.

Do I know what is going to happen in the future? Absolutely not.

From where I sit ‘collapse’ would seem to be virtually guaranteed sometime in the future. This return to simpler ways of living may be just around the corner or it could be decades/centuries from now; no one knows, certainly not me. And how it all unfolds is anybody’s guess, but when it occurs it may do so relatively quickly especially if our power grids fail and our technologies become virtually useless.

And I haven’t even delved into the economic aspects of our upside down world. The hundreds of trillions of dollars of leveraged bets and debt bouncing around the Ponzi-type structure of our economic/financial/monetary systems. The fact that most of the ‘growth’ of the past few decades has been built almost entirely on debt which could be viewed as ‘borrowing’ from the future; a future with highly uncertain prospects and certainly less resources to pay back this debt. Or the geopolitical instabilities that seem to be increasing as nation states compete for control over limited and dwindling resources and remaining market share wealth.

I know a lot of people believe they can affect positive change via our political systems but I am not one of them. I have no faith in the systems nor hold the view that citizens have any real agency via the ballot box. Pre/history suggests to me that our sociopolitical systems, that tend to always reflect what the ‘ruling class/elite’ want, are part and parcel of the problem. The ‘elite’ of any society are primarily motivated by a wish to control/expand the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams. Their attempts to solve social problems always put their primary motivation at the forefront. All other concerns are at best secondary/tertiary.

Pessimistic? Maybe, but like most I like to believe I am being ‘realistic’. I spend more and more of my time and energies building resiliency and self-sufficiency into my living arrangements so that as society’s ‘solutions’ to problems falter (and likely make things worse), my family (and hopefully community — but I’m not holding out much hope for my town as its council has been chasing and continues to chase the perpetual growth chalice with increasing fervour it would seem, having increased its population and footprint some 300% in the 25 years I have lived here — growing from 18,000 to almost 50,000 and still going) will be able to weather the coming ‘disruptions’.

I interpret my approach as actually somewhat ‘optimistic’ and focused on what I personally can control because if we are being honest with ourselves, most of what is occurring is well beyond our personal control, and probably even collective control. And if we’re dealing with ‘emotional’ responses to our social and physical environments, the only thing we can control is our reaction. Ultimately we all see what we want to see, we all hear what we want to hear, and we all believe what we want to believe.

Although we like to believe otherwise, ‘facts’ (if we can even agree on what these are) rarely, if ever, play a role. And even though I often phrase my comments/thoughts as definitive assertions, I, like everyone else, really don’t know what the future holds. I can only guess based on the evidence before me and through all the biases I carry with me that impact my interpretation/processing of it. Mine is a story/narrative like any other that serves to try to make sense of an exceedingly complex universe and world. So, don’t necessarily take my word for what is occurring or what might happen in the next few years/decades/centuries but do your own research and evaluation of the evidence.

There is more I could ramble on about but this is already much longer than I intended as I warned might happen.

Here are a handful of useful sites/blogs/books/notes to peruse (presented in alphabetical order of link title):

Mike Stasse’s Damn the Matrix
Alice Friedemann’s Energy Skeptic
Dan Gardner’s Future Babble
Charles Hugh Smith’s Of Two Minds
Gail Tverberg’s Our Finite World
Dr. William Catton Jr.’s Overshoot
Dr. Chris Martenson’s Peak Prosperity
Erik Michaels’ Problems, Predicaments, and Technology
Kurt Cobb’s Resource Insights
Dr. Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies
Dr. Ugo Bardi’s The Seneca Effect
Dr. Donella Meadows’ Thinking in Systems
Cognitive Dissonance’s Two Ice Floes

You can get many more links to resources and sites via my own website: Olduvai.

Futurus Interruptus

Futurus Interruptus

Most of the time, in writing these essays, I try to treat the decline of industrial society with the seriousness that it deserves. Sometimes, though, the plain raw absurdity of our current situation rises to a point that only raucous laughter can address. I ran into another of those points a few days back, while reading an article on Yahoo News sent to me by a longtime reader and commenter—tip of the hat to David By The Lake. The article is by Hasan Chowdhury, and its title is “Humanity is on the brink of major scientific breakthroughs, but nobody seems to care.” You can read it here.

Chowdhury’s article points out that recent news stories about the latest heavily promoted claims of a breakthrough in nuclear fusion research, and the much-hyped announcement by two South Korean researchers that a room-temperature superconductor had been discovered, didn’t get the response the media expected.  By and large, people yawned. To Chowdhury, this is appalling, and he argues that two factors are responsible.  The first is that people in the hard sciences need to be better at publicity. The second is that too many people out there suffer from an irrational fear of progress, and simply need to be convinced that the latest gosh-wow technologies will surely benefit them sometime very soon.

Yeah, that was when I started laughing too.

Let’s start by talking about the two supposed breakthroughs Chowdhury talks about. The first is the claim that yet another team of fusion researchers has achieved net energy gain—the point at which the energy coming out of a fusion reaction is more than the energy put into it…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Future Headline: White House Prepares to Block Out the Sun

In a world full of unimaginable absurdity, we spend a lot of time thinking about the future… and to where all of this insanity leads.

“Future Headline Friday” is our satirical take of where the world is going if it remains on its current path. While our satire may be humorous and exaggerated, rest assured that everything we write is based on actual events, news stories, personalities, and pending legislation.

July 14, 2027: White House Prepares to Block Out the Sun

It has been four years since President Biden announced the “possible deployment” of Solar Radiation Modification back in 2023.

Solar Radiation Modification (SRM) is a way to partially block out the sun by flooding the earth’s atmosphere with special particles which reflect the sun’s rays, and therefore mitigate global warming.

The Biden administration approved funding to create the SRM in early 2024; and after more than three years of development, the system is now ready.

The 2023 White House report did state that “Gaps remain in our understanding of how SRM deployments might irreversibly alter the Earth’s climate system.”

However Acting President Kamala Harris says that she now understands everything she needs to know about deploying sun-blocking particles.

“We have to be thinking about what we think about, when we are thinking about the sun, and we think about the heat of the sun,” she recently explained. “That heat gets where it needs to go, and right now that’s the Earth. And that’s why global warming. It’s that basic.”

One reporter asked whether blocking out the sun would damage crop yields and agriculture, acting President Harris snapped back that cows are a major contributor to global warming, and their eradication through the SRM would force better dietary choices.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

A Deep Dive Into the Future

Photo by Denny Müller on Unsplash

Thinking more than a couple of days ahead is not one of humankind’s greatest strengths, especially not beyond the scale and scope of our immediate surroundings. In the rare occasion when thinking of this type does happen, however, it usually takes two directions: the future will either be just like the past, perhaps even better, or an immediate and inevitable catastrophe will remove us all from existence, one day to another of course. Funny, but both visions have equal merit, and are equally true. There is a great caveat though: timescale.

Common wisdom suggests that tomorrow will most probably not be tremendously different from today, unless a sudden disaster hits. Based on this pattern of thinking, reinforced again and again by past experience, and by the myth that we have „defused” so many catastrophes in the past, many of us think that things will go on as usual forever, and human progress will march on inevitably. Indeed, it seems, at least on the short run, the optimists have the upper hand. On the long run, though, we see a thousand potential disasters still waiting to happen from climate change to novel viruses, or from AI to nuclear war… and the list goes on. Is it possible that our world is headed towards a sudden apocalypse after all?

Perhaps one reason why we think only in these two terms is that we often find it hard to reunite our personal perspective with the grand scheme of things, and to think on a much broader scale than our selves…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Our hunter-gatherer future: Climate change, agriculture and uncivilization

Our hunter-gatherer future: Climate change, agriculture and uncivilization


The stable climate of the Holocene made agriculture and civilization possible. The unstable Pleistocene climate made it impossible before then.

Human societies after agriculture were characterized by overshoot and collapse. Climate change frequently drove these collapses.

Business-as-usual estimates indicate that the climate will warm by 3°C-4 °C by 2100 and by as much as 8°–10 °C after that.

Future climate change will return planet Earth to the unstable climatic conditions of the Pleistocene and agriculture will be impossible.

Human society will once again be characterized by hunting and gathering.


For most of human history, about 300,000 years, we lived as hunter gatherers in sustainable, egalitarian communities of a few dozen people. Human life on Earth, and our place within the planet’s biophysical systems, changed dramatically with the Holocene, a geological epoch that began about 12,000 years ago. An unprecedented combination of climate stability and warm temperatures made possible a greater dependence on wild grains in several parts of the world. Over the next several thousand years, this dependence led to agriculture and large-scale state societies. These societies show a common pattern of expansion and collapse. Industrial civilization began a few hundred years ago when fossil fuel propelled the human economy to a new level of size and complexity. This change brought many benefits, but it also gave us the existential crisis of global climate change. Climate models indicate that the Earth could warm by 3°C-4 °C by the year 2100 and eventually by as much as 8 °C or more. This would return the planet to the unstable climate conditions of the Pleistocene when agriculture was impossible. Policies could be enacted to make the transition away from industrial civilization less devastating and improve the prospects of our hunter-gatherer descendants. These include aggressive policies to reduce the long-run extremes of climate change, aggressive population reduction policies, rewilding, and protecting the world’s remaining indigenous cultures.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

How the modern fantasy of an eternal civilization warps our view of technology

How the modern fantasy of an eternal civilization warps our view of technology

What historians call the Golden Age of Greece—which ran from about 500 to 300 BC—spawned the foundational Western philosophers Plato and Aristotle; mathematicians such as Euclid whose geometry is still taught in schools today; classical Greek dramatists such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, whose plays are performed even now; an architecture so grand that it has been imitated in our own time, especially in government buildings; and the practice of democracy, a form of governance that would go into eclipse for over 2,000 years until the American and French revolutions.

What most people don’t know is that the ancient Greeks who lived through that era did not think of themselves as being in a golden age. Instead, they thought of their society as a much degraded version of the heroic age that preceded it, an age described in such works as Homer’s Illiad and Odyssey and Hesiod’s Works and DaysHow utterly difficult it is for most people living today to imagine a society whose members believed that the future would only bring further degradation and decline perhaps until civilization itself disappeared. History was to them cyclical with dark and golden ages—golden ages that start out with great vigor and hope and then grind down to dark eras that destroy the progress of the past.

Today, most modern people think of time as linear and history as merely a story of the gradual and now rapid rise of technological, social, political and cultural progress. Since time is linear, the trajectory is always forward and expected to be up. We humans will never again fall prey to the civilization-ending mistakes of the past. Our technology has no equal. Humans have decoupled from the limits nature previously imposed on them…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

You’re Not a Fearmonger. You Have Sentinel Intelligence.

You’re Not a Fearmonger. You Have Sentinel Intelligence.

Some of us are cursed to hear the future.

You’ve probably heard about Helen of Troy. She’s blamed for starting the Trojan War. Not many people remember Cassandra.

She predicted it.

In Aeschylus’s tragedy Agamemnon, you get Cassandra’s full story. In some ways, the Trojan War is really about a bunch of dudes who don’t listen to a woman, and it leads straight to the collapse of their civilization.

In later retellings, they ignore her twice.


Cassandra doesn’t exactly ask for the gift of prophecy. The Greek god Apollo falls in love with her. He puts her under a spell in one of his temples. Then he tells his pet snakes to go lick her ears. When she wakes up, she can hear the future. Apollo tries to seduce Cassandra, but she’s just not that into him. He has a meltdown. Zeus tells him no backsies on divine gifts, so he finds a loophole.

He curses her.

Now when Cassandra hears the future, nobody believes it. If you want to drive someone insane, that’s a good start.

Now get this:

Not only does Cassandra predict the Trojan war, but she also scoops everyone on the Trojan horse. She tries to warn the city that a bunch of Greek soldiers are hiding inside it, waiting to sneak out and unlock the gates after they go to bed. Once again, nobody listens to her. They start calling her names. She tries to smash the horse open with an axe and gets dragged away screaming. A giant wooden horse full of our enemies? What nonsense!

You know the rest.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions

Photo Credit: Getty

Thanks go to Tony Heller, who first collected many of these news clips and posted them on RealClimateScience.


Modern doomsayers have been predicting climate and environmental disaster since the 1960s. They continue to do so today.

None of the apocalyptic predictions with due dates as of today have come true.

What follows is a collection of notably wild predictions from notable people in government and science.

More than merely spotlighting the failed predictions, this collection shows that the makers of failed apocalyptic predictions often are individuals holding respected positions in government and science.

While such predictions have been and continue to be enthusiastically reported by a media eager for sensational headlines, the failures are typically not revisited.

1967: ‘Dire famine by 1975.’

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, November 17, 1967

1969: ‘Everyone will disappear in a cloud of blue steam by 1989.’

Source: New York Times, August 10 1969

1970: Ice age by 2000

Source: Boston Globe, April 16, 1970

1970: ‘America subject to water rationing by 1974 and food rationing by 1980.’

Source: Redlands Daily Facts, October 6, 1970

1971: ‘New Ice Age Coming’

Source: Washington Post, July 9, 1971

1972: New ice age by 2070

Source: NOAA, October 2015

1974: ‘New Ice Age Coming Fast’

Source: The Guardian, January 29, 1974

1974: ‘Another Ice Age?’

Source: TIME, June 24, 1974

1974: Ozone Depletion a ‘Great Peril to Life’

But no such ‘great peril to life’ has been observed as the so-called ‘ozone hole’ remains:


Sources: Headline

NASA Data | Graph

1976: ‘The Cooling’

Source: New York Times Book Review, July 18, 1976

1980: ‘Acid Rain Kills Life in Lakes’

Noblesville Ledger (Noblesville, IN) April 9, 1980

But 10 years later, the US government program formed to study acid rain concluded:

Associated Press, September 6, 1990

1978: ‘No End in Sight’ to 30-Year Cooling Trend

Source: New York Times, January 5, 1978

But according to NASA satellite data there is a slight warming trend since 1979.

Source: DrRoySpencer.com

1988: James Hansen forecasts increase regional drought in 1990s

Futures That Work

Futures That Work

Among the most curious features of the current predicament of industrial society is that so much of it was set out in great detail so many decades ago. Just at the moment I’m not thinking of the extensive literature on resource depletion that started appearing in the 1950s, which set out in painstaking detail the mess we’re in right now. I’m thinking of those writers who explored the decline and fall of past civilizations, in the vain hope that ours might manage to avoid making all the usual mistakes.  In particular, I’m thinking of Arnold Toynbee.

Toynbee’s all but forgotten these days, but three quarters of a century ago his was a name to conjure with. His gargantuan 12-volume work A Study of History set out to trace the histories of all known civilizations and, from that data set, determine the factors that drove the rise and fall of human societies. One- and two-volume abridgements leaving out most of the supporting data were widely available back in the day—my parents, who were not exactly highbrow East Coast intellectuals, had a copy on a bookshelf in the family room when my age was still in single digits. Plenty of academic historians denounced Toynbee, but a great many people read his work and saw the value in it.

Those days are of course long past, but there’s an interesting twist to the disappearance of his ideas from the collective dialogue of our time. Those ideas weren’t rejected because they turned out to be wrong. They were rejected because Toynbee was right.

To summarize an immense body of erudite historical analysis far too briefly, Toynbee argued that new human societies emerge when a human society is faced with a challenge it can’t meet using its previous habits of thought and action…

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

Micro utopias for an inclusive future

When Gijsbert Huijink, a Dutch national living in Banyoles, in the Catalan province of Girona, set out to install solar panels in his home he stumbled upon a legal labyrinth that criminalized energy self-consumption. “If I wanted to connect to the grid to recharge my batteries and supply my excess, I had to pay a fortune,” Gijsbert Huijink said in an interview.1 Huijink then hatched a plan to exact sweet collective revenge: he founded Som Energia,2 Spain’s first power cooperative. With the help of his wife, his university students, and some friends, Gijsbert laid the foundations to effect a change in the Spanish energy market. Som Energia has since grown from an initial 150 contracts in 2010 to 125,589 in March 2021,3 and it is currently the fastest growing energy cooperative in Europe. Hundreds of city governments have hired its services and dozens of new energy cooperatives are replicating the model.

Som Energia has a characteristic that sets it apart from most environmentalist efforts. It is not a project that merely reacts: it proposes. It does not focus on protesting, but on action. It does not stop at defending certain ideals, but puts those ideals into practice. It goes beyond criticizing an economic model based on fossil fuels: it sets a new model in motion. It does not just denounce the injustice of certain regulations, but goes on to experiment with new forms of democracy. It does not focus on the individual: it aims for sustainability with community and networked solutions.

Som Energia was one of the thirty-two initiatives that participated in the first edition of the Transformative Cities People’s Choice Award and the Atlas of Utopias, the unique coopetition4 launched by the Transnational Institute (TNI) in 2018. Having completed a total of three editions,5 it perfectly embodies the spirit that infuses all those initiatives…

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Is the Future Already Written?

Image credit: Emile Guillemot

Generally speaking the future is impossible to tell. The story of us could take many different paths branching into ever different versions of its current self. There are an infinite number futures, which we shape and select every day, every hour, every minute with our conscious decisions, our actions and deeds. We make our choices based on free will and select the right or wrong path ahead of us based on morals and ethics.

The bad news is, that this is only a myth, incompatible with the laws of physics.

Living in an illusion

Having self-consciousness comes with certain limitations and a good deal of illusions to help us disregard those limits. Through what appears to be a cause and effect relationship however— like having a desire to eat an apple, then grabbing one from the kitchen table — it makes us believe that it is us who are making conscious decisions resulting in deliberate action.

The hard truth is that there is neither ‘you’ or ‘I’, ‘us’ or ‘them’ in this story, nor there was a ‘conscious decision’ in the first place. There is no need for those. We’ve lived without these concepts for many millennia just fine, so do our fellow animal companions we share this planet with. Pronouns are mere artifacts of our language accidentally ‘invented’ together with the story of an ‘independent self’. One, which is free to decide what to do, where to go, whom to talk to. One, which has a free will to do so. The problem is that this idea is fully incompatible with the laws of nature and physics — and thus can safely be called an illusion.

Sorry to disappoint you, but you neither have free will — and as you will see — nor a separate independent self.

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Collapse: a Decadal Scenario

Collapse: a Decadal Scenario

The “Nineties”

Three generations after the collapse, most folks are illiterate and animistic.  They gaze in wonder at the vast ruins of dead and decaying cities:  “Who built these places?  How did they do it?  Where did they go?  We hear stories, but truly, they must be gods.”

Food and energy remain scarce in 2090, but with reduced threat of armed conflict, communities are finally able to settle peacefully in agricultural lands around the world.  With scavenged materials they build self-sufficient towns, villages, and hamlets near waterways and important crossroads.

Settlements are resource limited, and socially cautious, averaging 150 people – “Dunbar’s number”.  For survival requires reliable families, dependable friends, and trustworthy neighbors.  These bonds minimize conflict and allow consensus to guide group action.

With careful and intensive community management, healthy soils slowly return.  Cover crop, rotation, fallow, and herd grazing practices are strictly followed.  Old cultivars when found are highly prized, while new ones are developed and exchanged with other regional growers.

Forest and woodlot management is rigorously enforced and culturally defined and imprinted.  The “woods” are a valued resource, heavily guarded and protected to insure future energy supplies, provide construction material, and create habitat for remaining biodiversity.

Communities are proud of their forests and woodlots, land and soil, seeds and crops.  They are proud of their people who with determination and against all odds, survived the “dark passage” of war and brutal hardship.  And they are proud of their strong children who will replace them in the home, shop, and field.  And so they hold yearly spring rituals to encourage good growth, summer celebrations to bring good weather, and fall festivals to show thanks for a good harvest.

Farmers and craftsmen from these communities provide surplus grain and goods to hub cities – some with several thousand citizens – all dependent on the productivity of rural agriculture…

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The Techno-Fix Won’t Save Us

Editor’s Note: Unquestioned beliefs are the real authorities of any culture, and one of the central authorities in the dominant, globalizing culture is that technological progress is an unmitigated good. We call this “the lie of the techno-fix.”

The lie of the techno-fix is extremely convincing, with good reason. The propaganda promoting this idea is incessant and nearly subliminal, with billions of dollars pouring out of non-profit offices, New York PR firms, and Hollywood production companies annually to inculcate young people into the cult of technology. In policy, technology is rarely (if ever) subjected to any democratic controls; if it can be profitably made, it will be. And damn the consequences. There is money to be made.

Critics of technology and the techno-elite, such as Lewis Mumford, Rachel Carson, Langdon Winner, Derrick Jensen, and many others, have spoken out for decades on these issues. Technological “development,” they warn us, is perhaps better understood as technological “escalation,” since modern industrial technologies typically represent a war on the planet and the poor.

In this article, Helena Norberg-Hodge asks us to consider what values are important to us: progress, or well-being? Breakneck speed, or balance? She articulates a vision of technology as subordinate to ecology and non-human and human communities alike based on her experiences in the remote Himalayan region of Ladakh.

The most recent topic explored by the thinkers and activists who make up the Great Transition Network was “Technology and the Future”. As writer after writer posted their thoughts, it was heartening to see that almost all recognize that technology cannot provide real solutions to the many crises we face. I was also happy that Professor William Robinson, author of a number of books on the global economy, highlighted the clear connection between computer technologies and the further entrenchment of globalization today.

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Is the Future Predetermined?

QUESTION: Mr. Armstrong; it is easy to see why the government wanted Socrates. You said Monday would be the low then a bounce and that is what unfolds. You forecast so many markets and you get it to the day. Others claim this is the guy who called 2008 so buy his latest forecast resting on a single forecast. Your track record is far beyond anyone ever. How can you do this? Is the future predetermined?


Many people have written in to ask the same question, for example: “I had begun settling on the position (with relative comfort) that while technicals provide insights into the market, its the market makers that manipulate conditions to the point of driving it in one direction or the other – unless of course, there’s a significant fundamental reason for the market to be guided by the invisible hand.
However, after experiencing Socrates and learning more about your approach, I find it challenging (mentally) to accept that there isn’t a pre-designed aspect guiding markets the way they roll.”

Others have asked: “Does Socrates foresee the birth and emergence of great teachers to come who have the capacity of overcoming the Deep State and bringing the world back into an economic balance?” Then there are questions such as: “Because Socrates was created by you, does it carry an inherent bias on economic theories about the world that it generates 1000 reports on a day for? Is it not impossible to truly be conscious and to accurately see the global economic landscape without having a fundamental empathy (being truly human to know what human nature is).”

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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