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The Importance Of A Resilient Life

The Importance Of A Resilient Life

In the end, it will mean all the difference

My business partner Adam and I recently met with a successful business owner whose career began on Wall Street. The kind of guy who should be rooting for the system, because it has treated him well.

Instead, he was quite nervous about the sustainability of the status quo. “Starting in August,” he said, “Maybe it was the Amazon catching fire, maybe it was the negative interest rates – I don’t know for certain what the trigger was – but something has snapped.”

I agree. Because I feel it, too.

As do so many others. And not just those who regularly read PeakProsperity.com. Increasingly, even ‘mainstream’ voices are stating to report a profound sense that something really isn’t right. That — from the economy to geopolitics to the natural world — things are swiftly worsening.

Public perception is beginning to shift from complacency to fear. Countries are fast rejecting globalization in favor of nationalization. The holes in our ecosystem — vanishing birds, insects, amphibians and fish stocks — are becoming frighteningly obvious. The threats to life as we’re accustomed to it are becoming more visible while accelerating in both magnitude and frequency.

I expounded on the danger of this in my recent report It’s the Pace of Change That Kills You. Negative developments can spark their own vicious cycle. The more components of a system that fail, the more at risk the remaining components become.

That report was published just two weeks ago. Since then the world’s largest oil refinery was attacked by hostile forces and knocked out of commission, throwing the future integrity of the global oil market into question. Scientists just announced that North America has lost 29% of its total bird population (a drop of -3 billion) in the past half century.

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

What Is Earth For?

What Is Earth For?

“The care of the Earth is our most ancient and most worthy, and after all our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it and foster its renewal is our only hope.” – Wendell Berry

Author Wallace Stegner once said every book should try to answer an anguished question, an instruction that I took to heart at a tender age. For over thirty years, I’ve tried to answer a number of anguished questions in my writing, photography, and activism, ranging over the fields of archaeology, history, conservation, the radical center, regenerative agriculture, resilience, and climate change. Although the questions were often daunting and suffused with urgency, in my answers I tried to be creative, hopeful and, above all, a good storyteller. It’s my nature to see the glass as half-full, even if the glass is large and intimidating! 

Slowly, a general anguished question began to reveal itself over the years, linking my various concerns and creative efforts: what is land for? Why do we do what we do to land, including its plants and animals? Why do we treat it so poorly at times and yet magnificently at others? Why are we so obsessed with its beauty and bounty and yet so harmful and destructive to its health? We are possessive of land and possessed by it, but we are also deeply conflicted about what land is for – Food? Wilderness? Mining? Inspiration? Recreation? This anguished question lies at the heart of The Sun. In my story, a young doctor inherits a large, beautiful property and must decide: what is the ranch for? Oil-and-gas? Houses? Cattle? Fish? Wolves? A casino? A spiritual retreat? Complicating things, there’s a dead body and a mystery to solve as well!

Hurricane Katrina

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

Pulling the plug on fossil fuel production subsidies

Pulling the plug on fossil fuel production subsidies

How long would the fossil fuel economy last if we took it off life support?

Or to state the question more narrowly and less provocatively, what would happen if we removed existing subsidies to fossil fuel production?

Some fossil fuel producers are still highly profitable even without subsidies, of course. But a growing body of research shows that many new petroleum-extraction projects are economically marginal at best.

Since the global economy is addicted to energy-fueled growth, even a modest drop in fossil fuel supply – for example, the impact on global oil supplies if the US fracking industry were to crash – would have major consequences for the current economic order.

On the other hand, climate justice demands a rapid overall reduction to fossil fuel consumption, and from that standpoint subsidies aimed at maintaining current fossil fuel supply levels are counterproductive, to say the least.

As a 2015 review of subsidies put it:

“G20 country governments are providing $444 billion a year in subsidies for the production of fossil fuels. Their continued support for fossil fuel production marries bad economics with potentially disastrous consequences for the climate.” 1

This essay will consider the issue of fossil-fuel production subsidies from several angles:

  • Subsidies are becoming more important to fossil fuel producers as producers shift to unconventional oil production.
  • Many countries, including G20 countries, have paid lip service to the need to cut fossil fuel subsidies – but action has not followed.
  • Until recently most climate change mitigation policy has been focused on reducing demand, but a strong focus on reducing supply could be an important strategy for Green New Deal campaigners.

Ending subsidies to producers can play a key role in taking the fossil fuel economy off life support – or we can wait for the planet to take our civilization off life support.

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

Resilience, the Global Challenge, and the Human Predicament

Resilience, the Global Challenge, and the Human Predicament

We face a perfect storm of environmental, social, technological, economic, geopolitical and other global stressors. These global stressors interact in unpredictable ways. The pace of future shocks is increasing. The prospect for civilizational collapse is real. We need to build meaningful resilience.

There are four questions about how to build resilience:     

1.  How do we prepare ourselves and those we love?
2. How do we prepare our communities, networks, tribes, and organizations?
3. How do we prepare our states, countries, and international communities?
4. How do we prepare at a global level?

This human predicament goes by many names. The global challenge. The global problematique. Limits to growth. The end of the world as we know it. The prospect for civilizational collapse. All refer to the perfect storm of global biosphere and societal stressors interacting in complex and unpredictable ways.

Environmental stressors include:

– Climate change, sea-level rise, and changing weather
– Biodiversity loss at 10,000 times the normal level
– Toxification of all life, insect armageddon
– Ocean acidification, dead zones, plastics, and fish and plankton depletion
– Declining and polluted fresh water sources
– Depleted top soils
– Vanishing forests and many more

Social stressors include:
– Poverty, racism, and injustice
– Unsustainable economic growth and global debt
– Vulnerable financial systems, supply chains, and power grids
– Population overshoot, refugee migrations, and resource competition
– Uncontrolled technologies, including AI, biotech, nanotech, robotics, cyber threats
– Dysfunctional geopolitics, failing states, and outdated institutions
– War, terrorism, and nuclear threats—defense resources needed elsewhere, and more

Climate change is the greatest global stressor. But a single focus on climate change means other global stressors are underestimated. These stressors interact as force multipliers, increasing unpredictable future shocks and even potential civilizational collapse.

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

View From The Brextanic

View From The Brextanic

Marcel Duchamp Sad young man on a train – Nude study 1911-12

Longtime Automatic Earth friend Alexander Aston talks about finding himself at Oxford at a point in time when the British themselves appear overcome by a combo of utter confusion and deadly lethargy, and one can only imagine what it must be like for ‘foreigners’ residing in Albion, who face large potential changes to their lives and know there’s not a thing they can do about it, not even vote. 

I like the observation that the entire British political system, the place where decisions are made, is the size of a small village. That’s a visual we can all relate to. It’s a physical limit as well as a mental one. I’m all for sovereignty and self-determination, but how’s that going to work if you can’t even see the boundaries of your own territory? 

Guys, it’s 4 weeks to D-Day today. How about we call off the landing, get a few pints instead, and talk? First round’s on me. 

Here’s Alexander: 

Alexander Aston: I arrived in the UK in 2015 to undertake interdisciplinary research at the University of Oxford. I am a child of the Empire, a cultural product of Britannia’s oldest colonies in the British Isles, her most important colony now turned empire as well as one of her youngest, Zimbabwe. The UK is both an intimately familiar society and yet one that is also strangely alien for me, like a wealthy, often charming and deeply abusive parent that sparks both self-recognition and rejection. 

The ‘leave’ referendum occurred close to a year after I arrived in the UK and is one of the few political events over the past few years that surprised me.

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

Insights From The Wilderness – Human Civilization Will Not Survive Climate Intensification

I recognize that the title of this StonyHill Nugget is alarming and that I will be accused of holding extremist views on global warming and climate intensification. But I am concerned that the media and our government are not telling us the truth. Stated simply, the 1% that control the media, and the reigns of political power in Washington and other nations around the globe, have absolutely no desire or motivation to talk about the real threats embedded in global warming.

They know that the global economy is extremely fragile…..and talking about the deeper truths embedded in global warming and climate intensification would quickly kill the golden goose that is laying eggs of pure petroleum gold for them.

The realities of global warming embedded in the Governmental Global Warming Crisis Report released by governmental scientists on the Friday following Thanksgiving were clear. Global warming is not only going to change life as we know it by the end of the century, but also the impacts of global warming are already changing life as we know it ….and the rate of change is going to continue to accelerate.

Unfortunately, the report which was mandated by Congress tended to gloss over the climate impacts that are coming in the near future or already happening. It focused primarily on climate impacts that will not be experienced by humanity for fifty to eighty years in the future!

Here Is What Concerns Me…And Should Concern You

Global warming has been metaphorically described as a cliff we are about to walk off. Unfortunately, it’s more like a minefield. The further we walk out onto that minefield, the more we are likely to set off explosions and tipping points that can’t be reversed.

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

How Prepared Are You? Let’s Find Out.

How Prepared Are You? Let’s Find Out.

Planning without practice is essentially worthless

We’re pleased to announce the first-ever Peak Prosperity Resilience Challenge.

Over an upcoming weekend in January 2019 (specifc dates to be announced soon) participating individuals will turn off their electricity from Friday at 7:00pm to 7:00pm Sunday and subsist entirely off of their existing preparations.

Are you in?

We’ll be seeking community input over the next month as we refine the particulars of this challenge; but the intention is to stress-test everyone’s current in-place emergency plans. So when the weekend arrives, no going out to the store to get new batteries, more firestarter, or a hot coffee.

A number of Peak Prosperity members proposed this idea to us in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Florence. During those storms, a lot of folks learned their emergency preps were much less robust than they had initially anticipated.

We agree this challenge is a great idea. Working out kinks and shortcomings during a practice-run like this will increase our odds of persevering through a future emergency.

Which is why we’re picking a cold winter month (for those of you in the northern hemisphere) to really push ourselves out of our comfort zones.

What will you eat? How will you stay sufficiently warm? Will you have to take steps to keep the pipes in your house from freezing? How will you communicate with the outside world? Do you have sufficient nighttime lighting? How will you occupy your time?

The goal here is to identify each of our weak areas while having some fun knowing that we’re all going through the experience together. We’ll all regroup here online once we turn the electricity back on Sunday night and compare learnings. Trust me, there will be many to share.

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

Think You’re Prepared For The Next Crisis? Think Again.


Think You’re Prepared For The Next Crisis? Think Again.

Even the best-laid preparations have failure points

No plan of operations extends with any certainty beyond the first contact with the main hostile force.

~ Helmuth von Moltke the Elder

Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

~ Mike Tyson

Scottish poet Robert Burns aptly penned the famous phrase: “The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/Gang aft a-gley.” (commonly adapted as “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”)

How right he was.

History has shown time and time again that the only 100% predictable outcome to any given strategy is that, when implemented, things will not go 100% according to plan.

The Titanic’s maiden voyage. Napolean’s invasion of Russia. The Soviet’s 1980 Olympic hockey dream team. The list of unexpected outcomes is legion.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Forces in Europe during WW2, went as far as to say: “In preparing for battle, I’ve always found that plans are useless but planning is indispensable.”

This wisdom very much applies to anyone seeking safety from disaster. Whether preparing for a natural calamity, a financial market crash, an unexpected job loss, or the “long emergency” of resource depletion — you need to take prudent planful steps now, in advance of crisis; BUT you also need to be mentally prepared for some elements of your preparation to unexpectedly fail when you need them most.

Here are two recent events that drive that point home.

Lessons From Hurricane Florence

A family member of mine lives in Wilmington, NC, which received a direct hit last month from Hurricane Florence.

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

Bad Money


Bad Money

Our debt-based fiat money system poses an existential threat

We’re all going to have to be a lot more resilient in the future.

The “long emergency“, as James Howard Kunstler puts it, is now upon us.

If ever there was a wake-up call from Mother Nature, it’s been the weather events over the past 12 months.

Last year, the triplet Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma resulted in thousands of deaths (mainly in Puerto Rico) and tens of $billions in destruction.

This year has seen a rash of 120° F (50° C) summer days, droughts, current monster storms like Typhoon Mangkhut and Hurricane Florence — as well as numerous 100/500/1,000-year floods spread across the globe.

And that’s just so far.

It remains nearly impossible to connect climate change directly to any particular weather event. But taken together, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to dismiss the scientific claim that the quantity of heat trapped in the earth’s weather systems impacts the amount of water that now falls (or refuses to fall) from the sky and the high-temperature heat waves that now shatter records with such regularity that once-rare extreme conditions are now becoming routine.

Our “new normal” is quickly diverging from the natural conditions most of us have grown up with. Permafrost isn’t “permanent ” anymore — it melts. The Arctic now can be ice-free. In a growing number of regions in the US, you can leave a screenless window open on an August evening (with the lights on!), and remain unmolested by the swarms of insects that used to prowl the night.

All of these symptoms are connected by a root cause: our society’s relentless addiction to growth. And while we do our best here at PeakProsperity.com to continually raise awareness of this existential threat, the rest of the media completely ignores it.

meltdown? That’s splashed everwhere…

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

Wayfinder: A resilience guide for navigating towards sustainable futures

What is Wayfinder?

Wayfinder is a process guide for resilience assessment, planning and action in social-ecological systems. It represents the frontier in resilience and sustainability science, synthesized into a clear, coherent and hands-on approach. Encouraging a new generation of resilience practice, Wayfinder will help development practitioners, project teams, policymakers and other changemakers navigate towards sustainable, safe and just futures.

Through the Wayfinder process, participants work together to strengthen and refine their understanding about the system in focus, the sustainability challenges they face, and to develop strategies for creating adaptive and transformative change. At the same time, they build their own capacity for creating the change they want to see. At the core of this process is the recognition that sustainable development in the 21st century requires that we, as humans, find a way to reconnect to ecosystems around us, that we become active stewards of Planet Earth and that we foster a sense of connection and reciprocity between people near and far.

Why is it needed?

We live in a new era, the Anthropocene, where humans have become the dominant force of change on our planet. While many parts of the world have seen rapid social, economic and technological development, there are still severe problems of poverty and inequity. At the same time, and linked to this, we face challenges of accelerating climate change, biodiversity loss and growing pressures on natural resources, to the extent that we are approaching critical planetary boundaries. Many places and systems around the planet, in developed and developing contexts require deep, transformative change if we are to achieve a sustainable, safe and just future for all.

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

Systemic Thinking: The Primary Skill That Humanity Will Need as We Prepare for A Future That Will Not Be What It Used to Be Stonyhill Nugget #300

It’s hard to believe that this is my 300th blog post. It amazes me how fast the years seem to fly by when you’re doing something you enjoy doing; when that something feels important and meaningful!  Awakening our collective adult human consciousness and preparing for the changes that are coming, and the disruptive challenges those changes will create for all of us feels very important to me if our goal is the successful creation of a more just and sustainable world.

In this article, we will take a look at systemic thinking and the dangerous unconscious childhood illusion that each of us is a unique being independent and separate from the rest of reality.

We’re not.

But that unconscious childhood belief and the behaviors and actions that this unconscious childhood belief allows us to manifest in the world is clearly threatening the collapse of our planet’s life support system, the foundations of human civilization, and the very survival of humanity.

What we “do” matters. How we “think” matters.

Human Civilization Is at A “Fork” In the Road

Humanity is at a crossroads. We can continue “business as usual” and continue human civilization toward the precipice of collapse, or we can begin to prepare for the life-altering changes I will list below…the changes that are coming.

  • Without preparation, those changes will threaten human civilization and life as we know it.
  • Without preparation, the critically needed resilience that preparation creates will not happen.
  • Without preparation, the changes that are coming will threaten human civilization and life as we know it.
  • Without preparation, the resilience that will be needed for our survival will be seriously compromised.
  • Without preparation and resilience, the level of courage and sacrifice that will be required for humanity to survive will be seriously compromised.

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

Making It To The 4th Second

Prince Ea

Making It To The 4th Second

A hard-hitting delivery of the predicament humanity faces

Our work here at PeakProsperity.com focuses on raising awareness of the serious challenges facing humanity as we continue to live well beyond our economic, energetic and ecological means.

Through the Three Es framework presented in The Crash Course, we’ve engaged millions of critical thinkers around the world. And we’ve inspired many of them to invest in a more resilient lifestyle, for their sake as well as the planet’s.

But at this point, we’re still only talking to a small minority of the people in the world. And we’re always looking for new channels, new approaches, and new partners that can help get this message out to a wider audience: If humanity wants a future worth inheriting, we need to become agents of regeneration, not destruction.

We especially keep an eye out for effective vehicles that resonante with a younger demographic. The millennials and the generations behind them are the ones who need this information most, as they’re the ones who will experience the full brunt of the Three Es during their lifetimes and on whose shoulders the responsibility of finding solutions will rest.

But as older guys in our forties and fifties, Chris and I realize that we’re probably not the most compelling messengers to this segment. So we’re constantly looking for others who can be.

In that vein, this short video below from Prince Ea recently caught my attention. It delivers a hard-hitting emotional call-to-action for sustainability and resilience using much of the same data we frequently cite here at Peak Prosperity:

If there are people in your life, especially younger ones, whom you think would benefit from watching this video and contemplating the existential question it poses (Will we adapt our behavior in time to make it to the 4th Second?), please share it with them.

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

The Viable Economy – and Viable Finance

The Viable Economy – and Viable Finance

money and hands

via openclipart.org

It is all too clear that our economy is precarious, economically, socially and ecologically. Steady State Manchester promotes the Viable Economy1, which means greater resilience, localisation, and balance as economic activity is treated not an end in itself, but rather as a means to deliver a sufficiently prosperous future without continual “growth”. The Viable Economy aims to bring the economic system under the control of society, building a culture that favours equality, solidarity and cooperation. Finally, a viable economy recognises the finite nature of ecological resources and embraces an ethic of stewardship by minimising imbalances to the planetary systems – including the climate, biodiversity, and nitrogen and phosphorous cycles – upon which human life depends.2

Any economy requires a sound financial system to facilitate its necessary transactions. Here we take a look at some current and recent financial innovations, asking whether they might help us move in the Viable direction.

Types of financial innovation

We will organise what follows in terms of the following categories, even though they do overlap somewhat.

Financial institutions that serve the interests of the community.

  1. Community investment

  2. Community-based currencies

  3. Non-monetary community exchange schemes and credit.

We will not be discussing monetary reform, popular among some parts of the alternative economics and degrowth movements: we have critically discussed one set of proposals in this area previously.

  1. Financial institutions: Community banking

A movement is now gathering pace to fill a gap in the UK’s banking system, that of mutual or co-operative, regionally-based banks, orientated to the local economy, and specialising in offering financial services to smaller enterprises, as well as local citizens. As Greenham and Prieg (2015) noted,

The UK lacks … a local stakeholder banking sector, particularly in certain key markets. We use the term ‘stakeholder banks’ to include any ownership or governance structure that has a broader remit than simply to maximise returns to shareholders. 

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

Cursed to live in interesting times

Cursed to live in interesting times

In this article I connect the fall in the growth rate, with its roots in the rising costs of energy extraction and generation, to declining resilience in the economic system. These are in turn related to a more conflict ridden geo-politics. There is an increased vulnerability to shocks which will be catastrophic unless and until there is a new conventional wisdom in society about what is wrong and what has to be done about it. Things would still be hard if we had a better understanding of what is wrong but society would be in a better position to do something about the predicaments that face us all. Unfortunately those with a vested interest in current arrangements are not likely to change their world view any time soon. With their control over an extraordinarily servile mass media there is a grave obstacle to society understanding its predicament and responding appropriately. The global system is entering an extremely dangerous phase for life on the planet.

Growth and stability go together – like balance and momentum on a bike

Let me start by using the metaphor of riding a bicycle. With forward momentum it is possible to balance on a bicycle – as soon as the bike and passenger stops it becomes almost impossible. There is an analogy here for the capitalist economy. If it is growing a capitalist economy will stay economically stable. If it is not growing then, after a time, it automatically becomes unstable. Account books can be balanced, bills paid and debts serviced when individuals, households, companies and government are in surplus because incomes are rising. However a surplus requires growth. In general terms in a contracting system the incomes are more likely to be inadequate to cover outgoings. Some of the costs cannot be paid when revenues do not cover those costs.

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


Local and regional community resilience building is going global

In recent years the resilience imperative has made it onto the agenda of local and national governments, business leaders and international institutions like the European Union and the United Nations. In 2010, the UN Office for Disaster and Risk Reduction launched the five-year Making Cities Resilient campaign (UNISDR, 2015).

A 2012 report to the Secretary-General of the UN, prepared by the high-level panel on global sustainability and entitled Resilient People, Resilient Planet — A Future Worth Choosing, recommends three broad strategic actions: i) empowering people to make sustainable choices, ii) working towards a sustainable economy, and iii) strengthening institutional governance (UNGSP, 2012, p.79).

The 2013 World Bank report on Building Resilience recommends that the “international community should lead by example by further promoting approaches that progressively link climate and disaster resilience to broader development paths, and funding them appropriately” (World Bank, 2013: ix). In the UK there are now community resilience officers in local councils and the National Health Service.

The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge — funded with $100 million — says it “is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century”. The initiative will support 100 cities financially to enable them to employ ‘chief resilience officers’ (CROs). The city of San Francisco hired Patrick Otellini as the world’s first CRO in early 2014 and by December 2014 another 64 cities had received funding to support this important whole-systems integration role in their city councils and town halls.

The Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU) — the German government’s foresight unit — published a 400-page report in 2011, entitled World in Transition: A New Social Contract for Sustainability. It reviews historical examples of social change and suggests that individual actors and change agents are important drivers of cultural transformation, hence their role should be taken more seriously.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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