Ed. note: The post below is a transcription of Post Carbon Fellow Stephanie Mills’ remarks at the 50 year anniversary of the publication of the Whole Earth Catalog.

Gratitude to Mother Earth, ground of being. Gratitude to Stewart and Ryan and their colleagues for realizing this event.  Gratitude to Stephanie Feldstein for her partnership tonight.

The image was taken this summer in a stand of old growth White Pine saved in 1973 from the chainsaws by a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens. The flowers are Bunchberry and Canada Mayflower. Gratitude to all those beings.

Stewart, master of compressed utterance, asked for five minutes on the last and next half-centuries: More than a tweet, less than a tome.

Fifty years is an eyeblink.  Yet despite many good faith efforts at every level to prevent waste and ruin, the growth of industrial civilization has ravaged the Earth, depleting soil, water, and biodiversity, contaminating oceans and the atmosphere.

In 1968 Paul and Anne Ehrlich dropped The Population Bomb.  There were about 3.5 billion of us then, over seven billion now.  Contraceptive means improved, while political calculation, cultural conservatism and patriarchy hampered their widespread adoption.

Sixties temblors of revolutionary change cracked a few foundations. In 1972 from the Club of Rome we got a world systems model forecasting industrial civilization’s inescapable limits to growth. In 1974, Congress heard of M. King Hubbert’s curve mapping the limits to oil production, the end times for a petroleum-driven global infrastructure. Big business as usual has continued. Critical thresholds have been crossed.  A late-breaking discussion of degrowth is underway but yet to reach a wide audience.

A half-century ago we thought about living more responsibly. “Access to tools” enlivened possibilities of household, homestead, village, and neighborhood self-reliance. There was hope of stalling the Apocalypse Juggernaut.  There still may be.

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