Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Our Revels Are Now Ended

“Nature, Mr. Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.”

      ~ Katherine Hepburn, as Miss Rose Sayer, in The African Queen, 1951

De kindermoord in Bethlehem
~ Cornelis Cornelisz van Haarlem, 1590
The painting portrays a particularly gruesome episode of infanticide as reported in the Biblical Gospel of Matthew, which was recorded sometime during the later part of the First Century AD.  Does it matter whether the Massacre of the Innocents, as it is known, is a historically accurate account of King Herod's decree?  To preserve his throne from the prophesied rise of a usurper, he ordered that all the males of age two and under in Bethlehem be murdered.  While we see the baby sons being ripped from the arms of their frantic mothers two millenia ago, it's worth noting that art historians relate these grotesquely graphic images to the actual wars that were contemporary at the time of these paintings' creation.
The Massacre of the Innocents
~ Peter Paul Rubens, 1610-12
Whether or not it transpired as written, the mere fact that such an atrocity can emerge from the human imagination is sufficient to raise the suspicion that our species is not only capable of the most depraved behavior, but that it is genetically determined.  Throughout time and across cultures, there is no lack of evidence that we have a propensity to repeatedly overshoot ecological boundaries, and solve the subsequent conflicts over resources with violence.  We haven’t done a very good job of rising above our natures, Katherine Hepburn’s elegance notwithstanding.

“All species expand as much as resources allow and
predators, parasites, and physical conditions permit.
When a species is introduced into a new habitat with
abundant resources that accumulated before its arrival,
the population expands rapidly until all the resources
are used up.”
          ~ David Price, Energy and Human Evolution

Last Thursday I went to the Four Quarters Interfaith Sanctuary in rural Pennsylvania for the Age of Limits Conference.  When I approached the Allegheny Mountains a spectacular dark storm was brewing, trapped vapor began pouring over the ridge, and as I wound over the range I saw three different rainbows.
When the swift squall cleared, the low sun made glorious highlights across swales in the meadows - but the temperature dropped precipitously and stayed that way all through the long weekend.
We shivered while the damp permeated layers of thin clothing and even when the sun emerged it remained bitterly, unseasonably frigid.  Everyone complained about not bringing enough warm jackets and blankets, but I think I claimed the dubious distinction of being the least prepared, inspiring one fellow attendee to give me those purple gloves, and another to loan the colorful shawl.  So much for my intention to make a fashion statement (but hey, at least they sort of matched).
As a blogger of the event I also failed, since I took no notes and few pictures.  I plan to keep checking for updates at the Doomstead Diner, where the above photo was posted along with promises to upload videos of the presentations.  To be honest, it was never my intention to analyze the proceedings.  I wanted to BE there, to listen and learn, and to compare notes with people who understand collapse even though the dimensions and causes mean different things to different people.
No matter how peacefully collapse is internalized, it's really lonely if you know hardly anybody else who shares that perspective.  Online blogs and comments only go so far, so in that sense it was a really unique and wonderful experience.  From many intense conversations I discovered that what seemed like a plethora of the participants went for the precise reason I did - to share thoughts and feelings with people who aren't in full-blown denial of collapse - whatever their scenario is.  It seems to be overwhelmingly common that friends, family, co-workers and even more sad, I was told, frequently partners and spouses are oblivious to the existential threats represented by peak oil, climate change, and ecopocalypse.

I approached the weekend as a watershed event in my own personal journey towards reconciling with the irreversible and unavoidable morass that characterizes our foolish predicament.  After five years since learning about the converging catastrophes that loom in our future (indeed have already begun), I am ready to move past grief, past attempts to persuade, and on to calm acceptance...and finding something worthwhile to do with the time that remains other than track the path of decline.  It was refreshing to find it's possible to share bemused laughter at our intractable conundrum.

I went because I know I am insignificant and cannot influence this stubborn march towards ecocide, I cannot persuade or change anyone's mind and what's more, I don't even want to try anymore.  I don’t plan to completely abandon blogging about trees and pollution - but I do intend to cut back on reading scientific research, unsubscribe from my favorite doomer blogs and disengage from comments.  Instead I want to return to reading more fiction...and to resume doing things I love to do, like painting and gardening.  As Professor McPherson says, “Art matters”.

What I saw at the camp, and when I came home, is that in addition to trees that haven't leafed out at all, and the many only partially leafed, there are many green leaves falling off already, an extremely bad portent considering it's not even June yet, or hot...or even dry.  They are lying all over the ground, and every sort is falling, too - tulip poplar, maple, oaks, chestnuts, birch and hickory.  I have never seen this before.  Also there are many new leaves that are bizarrely stunted or shriveling up, definitely far advanced damage over previous year's pace.
It was great to actually meet Guy and it seems that he and I were among the few there who don't come to collapse from the peak oil viewpoint.  Which meant that while most everyone was familiar with the notion of collapse of industrial civilization, far fewer had even considered the collapse of nature, a very different and far more soul-challenging concept.  There was one climate scientist - a university professor - who made it plain he doesn't think it's going to be nearly as bad as Guy warns.
Our first speaker was the founder of Four Quarters, Orren Whitten.  Orren is an engaging, swaggering, intense, larger-than-life sort of character, who can pivot mercurially from winsome charisma to a fierce and one suspects uncompromising braggadocio.  If any contradiction lurks between the mystical spiritualism that informs his church”, and his unrepentant chain-smoking hedonism, he seems unfettered by it.  Since his vision permeates the enterprise it is refreshingly grounded in unsentimental realities when it comes to zombie incursions.  I have an inkling that the establishment of the church was a clever tactic to avoid all sorts of taxes and regulations that otherwise might interfere with his vision of pagan enjoyment of the property.   Orren claims that he is not a cult leader but it's difficult to imagine the mission of Four Quarters being navigated without his brand of determination, energy, and drive that dictates policy, despite the formal governance by a board of trustees, to the volunteers and members.  A labyrinthine website describes it all here.
Gail Tverborg's talks were compelling and I discovered to my pleasure that despite her skillful disguise as a normal, ordinary suited businesswoman with a sensible haircut and low-heeled pumps, the steely heart of a radical  Darwinian realist lurks within.  Of all the speakers, she alone harbors absolutely no wishy-washy romantic illusions about the human capacity for compassion overriding competition, or our prospects for survival.  She places the roots of our impending demise as a species squarely on our earliest capabilities to conquer natural constraints back when somebody - Prometheus? - discovered fire, even if she does frame it mostly in economic terms.  If/when the videos become available, I recommend her talks above any of the others excepting, obviously, Guy's.
I have seen previous iterations of Guy's second talk about tipping points on Nature Bats Last, but either it's better in person or he delivered it with an added frisson of humor, because it was very funny and entertaining, eliciting outbursts of hilarity and applause despite the grim import.  His message of near term extinction (NTE) obviously came as a shock to many among the audience, as he says it typically does - in fact, he later said that frequently after he is invited to give a talk, he is shortly thereafter abruptly dis-invited once whatever church or organization looks more closely at his website.

Sure enough, those who retain hopium were in the majority, I'd say.  Most were peak oil preppers who understand civilization collapse and think they have a chance of squeezing through the bottleneck if they plan correctly.  Despite prior advertising, real scrutiny of Guy's prediction of the collapse of nature/climate and the prospect of NTE was foreign to most everyone, so there were some who reacted with denial and others in horror.  I spoke to many people afterwards who confessed they were shaken to their core.  It was very emotional, and exhausting.
In a way it's odd that people who are collapse aware don't know much about how imminent climate catastrophe is, because information is readily located on the internet if not main stream media, and so it really isn’t that obscure, and really shouldn’t be controversial.  Consider a recent article from MediaLens marking the milestone of 400 ppm, which comes astonishingly close to reiterating verbatim Guy’s major points:
The last time CO2 was this high was probably 4.5 million years ago, before modern humans even existed. 
Throughout recorded history, up till the Industrial Revolution, CO2 was much lower at around 280 ppm. But large-scale industrial and agricultural activity since then has seen humanity profoundly alter the make-up of the atmosphere and even the  stability of Earth's climate. 
'We are creating a prehistoric climate in which human societies will face huge and potentially catastrophic risks,'said Bob Ward, policy director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change at the London School of Economics. 
According to Bob Watson, former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and former UK government chief scientific adviser: 
'the world is now most likely committed to an increase in surface temperature of 3C-5C compared to pre-industrial times.' 
As Damian Carrington noted in the Guardian, even just 2C is regarded as 'the level beyond which catastrophic warming is thought to become unstoppable.' But social scientist Chris Shaw has warned that even the notion of a single 'safe' global temperature rise is dangerous. He observes that: 
'falsely ascribing a scientifically derived dangerous limit to climate change diverts attention away from questions about the political and social order that have given rise to the crisis.'  
But for the corporate media, such questions are essentially taboo, and the global corporate and financial juggernaut, driven by the demands of capital, shows no sign of slowing down.  Scientists calculate that humans pumped around 10.4 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere in 2011, the most recent year analysed. A Nature news article reports: 
'About half of that is taken up each year by carbon "sinks" such as the ocean and vegetation on land; the rest remains in the atmosphere and raises the global concentration of CO2.' 
'The real question now', says environmental scientist Gregg Marland from Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina , 'is how will the sinks behave in the future?' And biogeochemist Jim White at the University of Colorado in Boulder warns: 
'At some point the planet can't keep doing us a favour.' 
In other words, the ability of the planet's natural carbon 'sinks' to soak up humanity's CO2 emissions will diminish, and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 will rise at an increasing rate. What is so dangerous about climate change is not just the high level of CO2 today, but the speed at which it is increasing. In other words, climate change is accelerating.
Most fascinating to me is the recognition of the importance of plants as a CO2 sink, because no doubt they are looking at a loss of that ability from the perspective of drought and heat - whereas Ozonists and Ozonistas know we are already losing that carbon sink at a far more rapid rate due to pollution.  If they think climate change is accelerating due to the loss of the vegetation sink from heat and drought, then how much faster would they predict that acceleration to be if they understood the decline from ozone?
A tall tulip poplar has almost not crown left at all.
As I had assumed, it became clearer to me that Guy (as does nearly everyone!) blames industrial civilization and technology for our ultimate ecocide.  I brought up the Fermi paradox as one supporting idea for the notion that eventually humans (having discovered fire) were inevitably doomed and it was only a matter of time before our population - with the help of ever more sophisticated technology and the discovery of fossil fuels - overran the planet.  If I understood him correctly, he maintained that had we continued to live as we did prior to industrialization, we could have been sustainable indefinitely - or at the very least not brought down so many other species with us.  He raised the objection that since the universe is infinite there must be infinite planets that can support life, of infinite sizes some of which must have much greater resources than Earth's - and therefore, at some place at some time, there must exist an intelligent race who could outsmart the limits to growth by getting technologically skilled enough for interplanetary travel and therefore, the solution to Fermi's paradox cannot be that intelligent life is inherently flawed and sows the seeds of its own destruction through overshoot.  (But, entropy?)  As Paul Chefurka wrote me in answer to my questions about this:  “I don’t think it’s possible to have sustainable, intelligent life.  Those two qualities are antithetical, and you only get to choose one...Even if there had been no fossil fuels, we would have burned up the planet’s trees instead and done ourselves in that way” - (an eventuality that may still come to pass).
Not until I was on the way home did the following question occur to me - (of course!).  One of Guy's premises is that industrial civilization must be brought down as soon as possible in order to save as many life forms as possible (I think it's too late to matter, personally, but that's another issue).  As Guy accepts that there is currently no politician that will - or could - make such a proposal (heck, they can't even promote minimal conservation), then at exactly which point in history, in what society and from which leader could that proposal have derived?  How far back in technology would you have to go to halt the march towards irreversible destruction?  Iphones, internal combustion engine, forging metal, the wheel, fire?  One impossible impediment is that in order to be effective, any cessation of “progress” would have to result from a global understanding, but to get to the point where global communication is feasible, would mean technology has already surpassed anything remotely sustainable.
Despite wide adherence to the theme of the conference - that there are limits to growth - some dissension is to be expected.  When Guy advocated the Deep Green Resistance movement and which are working to dismantle the machinery of destruction, one vocal member of the audience, quite unabashed, said that he believes one single solitary human life is worth more than every other living creature in the world put together.

So there!  Aside from some incredulous mutterings, that comment was ignored.  But where the cracks turned into chasms was on the treacherous shoals of gender politics, of all things.  And here, I thought that was ancient history.
This most overtly contentious issue first arose after a drum song performed by Carolyn Baker.  The narration describes the lament of a woman whose husband has returned home from war and is no longer his former kindly self.  The wife seeks the counsel of a shaman, who advises her that in order to restore her husband's former benevolent personality, she must entice a tiger to relinquish a whisker and then deliver it to the shaman.  So, she spends many months devotedly bringing a tiger food every day (implicit in the riskiness is how desperate she is, and how dangerously violent her husband has become), coaxing the tiger closer, and finally tricks him into complacency whereupon she cuts a whisker and brings it to the magic man.  He burns it and then informs her, in essence, that she doesn't need the magic of the whisker after all, because she has now discovered the patience and dedication required to help her husband let go of his rage.
During the discussion that followed there was more than one objection voiced, much to the consternation of Ms. Baker who obviously expected this to be an uplifting and optimistic fable that would be embraced by all.  One or two in the audience looked at it from the perspective of the tiger, who they felt had been betrayed since he was lulled into trust and then summarily abandoned.  More pointed out that wars conducted by men were the problem, that it was unreasonable to expect women to have the ability to fix PTSD no matter how patient and kind they were in the aftermath, and that such logic veered perilously close to blaming the victim for domestic violence.  When I pointed out that is an approach that is rarely effective in reality, Ms. Baker snapped at me that it is a myth and changed the subject.  I seem to have a talent for pissing people off.
Things got even more acrimonious following Dmitri Orlov's presentation, in which he examined the qualities shared by various intentional communities that he deemed successfully self-sustaining.  Several women noted that not only were all of those he cited male-dominated but in fact several exhibited many even worse traits, of spousal and child abuse, as well as other forms of discrimination.  In answer to a question about how LGBT minorities were treated in, say, Amish culture, he averred there would be no way to know since they are so private and secretive - but when asked about physical abuse, he responded that they wouldn't be able to conceal "a gunshot wound" from outside authorities, as if all beatings have to be that extreme to fall into the category of abuse.
Actually, the simple answer he could have given when asked why all his examples are patriarchal would be the verity that there really aren't any matriarchal examples to choose from, but instead he took offense and as more discussion ensued various prejudices emerged.  It was like the cork had popped and there was no pushing the carbonated beverage back into the bottle.  After he asserted that Russian women believe feminism in the west is a failed experiment and prefer the current stereotypical roles, I asked him “What about Pussy Riot?”*  He barked witheringly without any elaboration - “They're idiots” and moved on to the next question.  Well, they may be idiots but they clearly represent SOME segment of women in Russia who dissent from patriarchal privilege, especially as it is embodied in the church and government.

*everyone knows I love Pussy Riot.
One woman was so disgusted that she walked out, and others, a few of the men as well as women, appeared dismayed at some of the more clueless sexist comments - such as equating courtesy (extending a hand to a woman disembarking a bus) with respect.  Count me as dismayed.  Albert Bates volunteered that it is presumptuous and disrespectful to condemn other cultures that practice polygamy, for instance.  One woman responded that most such cultures pair very young, often prepubescent girls who have no choice in the matter with old men (ewwww, right?)...and I got no response to my question as to whether that taboo against cultural judgment would apply to slavery.
I would have thought people otherwise enlightened would be also be well aware of gender inequality issues, but as Guy later pointed out, those at the top never feel the pain and subjugation of those underneath them.  Also, as another person observed, people attuned to peak oil come from across the political spectrum.  Some of them are very conservative and not the least concerned about social justice.
In my opinion, that would constitute an excellent topic for a session at next year's conference (assuming we're all still alive and able to travel then) since if this group is any indication, there hasn't been much discussion of how intentional communities could overcome not only the human instinct for overshoot but also the instinct for males to dominate females, and how to incorporate modern standards into tribal groups that don't exceed Dunbar's number.  Not that we will have an opportunity to find out.
Later on during a conversation around the campfire about overpopulation and birth control, I said that I once had hoped that people would come to understand that we are essentially one family and could agree to all share the nurturing and joy of raising far fewer children.  Orren responded with a startlingly bitter edge in his tone, that competition makes that impossible since - get this - women have evolved to hide estrus in order to manipulate men.  Wow!  When I say bitter, I'm not kidding!
Coincidentally it happens that since I've become interested in the relative influence of nature/nurture - or put another way, in evolutionary imperatives v. cultural norms - I recently ordered a used copy of Sex at Dawn; The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality...but I haven't had a chance to read it yet.  So a quick google search found a couple of research papers indicating that Orren's view is, um, possibly outdated.  One is an amusing article about a study tabulating the tips earned by lap dancers, which indicates that somehow or another, whether through olfactory or other physical motion cues, men actually can get a pretty good idea when a woman is fertile.  More seriously, a scholarly 2006 presents a Reevaluation” of the genetic evolutionary "loss of estrus" and undetectable ovulation.  I mean, if anyone is interested.  Worse, a diatribe relating to Orren's divorce turned up too, perhaps revealing a less than egalitarian personality - but such acrimonious events bring out the worst in people and no doubt there is another side.
It's impossible to not like Dmitri, who has a charmingly diffident and disarming manner, paired with a bracingly acerbic wit (even if he does retain a rather old-fashioned attitude about gender roles).  I was glad he was my partner for the one group exercise in manufactured intimacy I was unable to evade, wherein we were supposed to stare into our neighbor's eyes and chant “I see You” and other such drivel.  I could tell when he was the only other person in the audience who refrained from singing some tribal chant that opened the session that we were the only two people there who constitutionally despise such inanities, and so luckily we agreed to ignore the instructions and instead talk about other more genuine things, like how his cat fell off the boat that he calls home in Boston harbor.
You can see from these two photos of the closing in the stone circle that Dmitri is in such a rush to terminate the ceremonies that a body goes flying in the wake of his escape.
For those curious about the potential showdown between Guy and “The Archdruid” John Michael Greer following JMG's not-so-stealth broadside immediately prior to the conference, last I heard they hadn't even exchanged greetings - which was some sort of feat because it was not a particularly large assemblage.  Personally I had decided in advance to avoid any confrontation with the wizard but found myself waiting with him in the line for supper.  He was pontificating on the inadequacies of modern medicine and mentioned that placebos work quite well and said (I think facetiously) that we should promote placebo vaccines to keep the population healthful.
Gratified that there appeared to be something we could agree upon, I chimed in (I thought helpfully) that indeed, placebos have a demonstrably beneficial effect - look at the number of people who claim to be cured by homeopathy.  At this apparent heresy, JMG's eyes bulged as his formidable eyebrows reared up, and his beard quivered.  “But homeopathy DOES work” he declared.  “It’s been proven in dozens of controlled trials.  It’s not supposed to work, they can’t explain how it works.  And that’s because it’s a lot of things science can’t explain!”

That was followed by his signature high-pitched giggle, which often seems to append his more outlandish pronouncements judging from his first presentation (the only one I sat through), the entirety of which he read out loud from a script.  So it was kind of boring.  Just sayin'.
There is one other thing I can agree with him about though, and that is his criticism of climate activists and scientists who typically do nothing significant to reduce their own carbon footprint.  However he seems to imply that such neglect invalidates the findings of climate science which is ludicrous, it only means they are no more or less hypocritical than almost everyone else.  Has anyone taken a look at the locations listed on the 2013 speaking schedule for another presenter, a long-time promoter of permaculture and biochar - the aforementioned Albert Bates?
Here, I’ll save you the trouble:

Belize and Columbia, return to Tennessee, Pennsylvania (for the Age of Limits), then to Washington state, return to TN, next to Scotland, Norway, Sweden, and Ireland, return to TN, back up to PA, return to TN, followed by Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Cuba.
Almost without exception, (almost - although I did meet a few people who volunteered that they read Wit's End, thank you!!!!), there was no awareness that trees are dying, let alone that pollution is causing it.  Once when I alluded to it, a member of the staff pointed to a pine tree and said it looked good because she has been feeding it with coffee grounds.  Aside from the fact that when it's worthy of notice that one solitary tree looks good, surely it can only mean that the overall trend must be pretty bad, I couldn't think of a reply until I was on my way home -(of course!).  From now on though, my standard reply to such observations, which I encounter constantly, will be - by that rationale, because Donald Trump still has money there's no reason to think the economy is bad.  Or, because gas is still affordable, peak oil must be scaremongering.
See, how happy we all look!?  The rest of these pictures are from the trip home, following the last farewells in the stone circle, when I indulged in one of my guilty pleasures...which is taking a lengthy, leisurely and circuitous route along the back roads, looking for dead trees and abandoned farms (and listening to raucous CountryWestern music, loudly).
The landscape is beyond peculiar.  There are fields full of dead shrubs.
Last year's remnants of seed pods haven't even decomposed.
Diseased vines coil and twine, tortured, up old fence posts.
Standing dead hulks line the roadside.
Far more concerning than the occasional dead specimen is this widespread lack of fully leafed crowns.  The reason the mountainside in the distance is splotched with brown is that much of it is actually comprised of branches with no foliage.
Along the edges it can be seen.
This barn isn't quite abandoned, but it's lovely.
I love the weathered boards, the idiosyncratic shutters and the patchwork of broken panes of glass.
Dutch doors under the overhang can be seen beyond the rusty barbed wire.
Everywhere you go, stacks of dead wood are found.
A little further on and I came across a terrific relic.
A cluster of buildings is slowly rotting.
Vines protrude from windows.

Not far along, I almost missed this stone house which is one of the most exquisite ruins I have seen.
That's a huge oak on the left and below, an old maple.
It looks like long ago, there must have been a devastating fire.
The cornerstones are massive.
Even after the fire, I cannot understand why no one has ever restored this beautiful piece of historic architecture.
It is so overgrown around it that I couldn't detect the faintest sign of a path or a drive leading to the road.
I didn't dare go very close anyway, because parts of it are ominously teetering.
There were several outbuildings, almost impossible to see concealed behind the trees.
I heard this structure before I saw it.
It is situated alongside a little creek.
I imagine it must have been a place to keep dairy products cool.
I really wanted to go inside where the sound of burbling water echoed but I was afraid of being crushed.
This is as close as I could zoom in without venturing inside, so I couldn't show how the water, after all these years, continues to well up at the far end, and course vigorously through the tank.  If I had to hide from the zombie hordes at the end of civilization, I would set up the final siege in this forgotten, enchanted spot.
As marvelous as it was to speak freely of doom for the first time, returning to Wit's End has never felt sweeter.  I don't think I've been anyplace where I can hear more different kinds of birds singing ecstatically in the woods, and I found to my delight that a hummingbird has found the feeder I hung up in the magnolia just before I left.  In the next few days, I will sit quietly on the porch step so that I can get a picture of it.  With the fringe tree now in bloom, the air is so laden with perfume it is like bathing in honey.  I'm not sure if I'll ever open Dmitri's home-brewed vodka, regifted from Guy who could not carry it home on the airplane.  Maybe, I'll save it for the very last minute - when that moment of doom, in whatever guise, makes its final, unmistakeable approach.

“Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.”

 ~ Shakespeare,  The Tempest Act 4, scene 1, 148–158


  1. Truly superb...even the shawl and gloves.
    Thank You,
    Jacob Horner

  2. A delight to read, wishing it were all a make believe fantasy instead of reality, but indeed it makes sense to just enjoy what's left, because it's impossible to change the course. Yes garden, dab in the arts, for there's no point in trying to convince others. Oh, but please, don't give up blogging!

  3. Gail,
    Thanks for the excellent post.
    Your artful insights are a delight.

    I leave for you a large comment.

    Your lead subject, Biblical infanticide sums up many aspects of our current state of early extinction. It parallels our cultural and moral values all too well.
    I say this in regard to the deaths, by fossil fuel air pollution, of untold thousands of our children. This includes fetuses, infants, toddlers, and the rest.
    At least the brutes depicted in the paintings show there murderous depravity. We deny, and ignore our handiwork even as, study after study documenting the horrors, are published.
    Myself, I can’t imagine a more callous and immoral person than the average vehicle driver, motoring around emitting a plume of poison gas out of the far rear corner of their vehicle, as they ignore their deadly gift to the world. The sleazy bastards won’t even put the exhaust pipe in the front of their cars, let alone inside their car, where the exhaust belongs.
    I add that the list of first human casualties of air pollution includes the elderly, and the ill among us.
    This means that the first victims are our children, which constitutes our future; and our elders, the wisdom keepers of our past. This is without historical precedent. And, as far as the ill and infirm killed off, that’s just more evil doing.

    One of your next subjects deals with the obvious air pollution induced tree die offs, green leaves falling off in springtime, thin canopies, etc.
    If my botanical knowledge is correct, this fits in with the above infanticide, since new leaves, and canopies, are made of the younger more robust shoots and leaves. If they die off first then something is drastically wrong. If you kill, or permit the young to be killed off, then whole system is in peril.

    Look no further than the Keeling Curve (please find it yourself on the web), it shows the spike in increase in CO2 on a simple graph. The likely fatal increase in CO2 begins around 1950, and steeply climbs to the present level at 400 parts per million. Use 1950 as the beginning of American consumerism, car culture, smog episodes, shopping malls, jet airliners filling the sky, asphalt parking lots and playgrounds, cul de sac 2 car garage houses, schools and hospital built next to freeways, televisions selling junk, acres of frozen processed fatty sugary slop, diesel school buses, and homes far from wage earner jobs, etc.
    Our current survival dilemma is really only sixty plus years old. It is made up of our consumerism, capitalism, car cultism, and escapism, and whatever else that fits.
    The big question, is why the religions, the medical profession, our educational system, and most of our moral and ethical leadership (and followership), have failed in their primary duties.
    Our problems, and solutions, all begin and end, at home, and in the present.
    Thank You,
    David WindSpiritKeeper Lange

  4. Holy crap! :D

    Many thanks for the report!

  5. The assumption that the universe is infinite is, probably, wrong. There may well be an infinite number of universes (there may not) but our's has finite boundaries.
    That said, intelligent life may not be ubiquitous. We cannot know for sure but there is no reason to suggest that it is. This makes it all the more sad that we have blown our chance.
    Still, it paves the way for another species to fill our niche. Possibly.

  6. Thank you for the great insight on the conference and all the work you do, wish I could have been there. Enjoy the Deaths Door vodka, great story behind one of our locals making it work with a green business model.

  7. Gail,

    Thank you for your continued blogging (pls. do not give up this endeavor).

    I have an observation that I am looking to confirm or invalidate - are there any bees swarming around your flowers/garden? I don't see any here in my neighborhood - which has numerous flowering plants. What does this portend for the flowers (I am assuming some sort of symbiotic relationship between bees & flowers)?


  8. Gail:

    Thanks for you're honesty in reporting what transpired at the camp. I'm now glad I didn't have the money to attend, though I would have liked to have met and conversed with you, Guy and Dmitri.

    Though I'm doing what I can working with various conservation organizations (Food and Water Watch and Protecting Our Waters), I know it's hopeless and that humanity is beyond trying to save from stupidity and conspicuous consumption, lack of leadership and direction, and purposefully ignoring all the warning signs along the way. Being "born into captivity" and indoctrinated until one realizes how wrong it's all been (if ever) keep most humans "comfortably numb" to their surroundings and keeps the blinders on when things start deteriorating.

    Soon though, it will become abundantly clear that we're on our way out and all of the myths and stories we told ourselves (including "religion," "medicine," and "education") will be revealed as the fabrications they are and dissolve, leaving us unprepared for the horrid future that awaits.

    Enjoy being home.


  9. Thank you everyone for your comments! As an experiment, I have turned moderation off so we'll see how that works.

    Clyde, I did kind of wonder about that infinity stuff!

    A couple of people who keep bees told me at the conference that they are having no problem with colony collapse, and they attribute the epidemic not to pesticides but poor practices like, removing all the honey and feeding the bees corn syrup because it's cheap. I don't know if that's true - obviously, it's anecdotal. I do actually have some bees around my flowers but not very many.

    1. Dear Gail, Glad to know you are well. I have a question. Next year at the conference, I would like to make a presentation on human population dynamics. How does one go about becoming a participant? Perhaps a presenter? Thanks, Steve

  10. the disparition of bees, like all the other problems, have many/many causes. It is not due to one thing OR another, but to one thing AND another AND another AND...

    I am closer to death everyday. The trees are going down faster and faster all around me.

    I am now going to prove that I am not a robot!

  11. Making the personal acquaintance of fellow realists and bloggers at rarified gatherings like the 'Age Of Limits' is surely a comforting reassurance that you are not alone in your concerns and observations. It is a bit of a luxury though, especially since the event is largely a matter of the choir preaching to itself. It also creates a tiny little carbon and ozone footprint. As you note here in closing, there's no place like home. That's where the real work of community and continuity will go on for all of us, not on the internet or on the Road.

  12. Just confirming the fresh green leaves are falling off in Chicago as well. I have seen this before. The maples did it last spring. We have the stunted leaves too.

    The trees are dying, the weather is frankly bizarre, the ice is melting to guarantee the weather keeps getting worse. This is collapse. This is what collapse looks like. No need to wait for collapse. It's simply time to observe. Does complete and final collapse that the deaf dumb and blind must acknowledge start next week or next year? I have no idea. Observe what happens.

  13. experiment 'ey? Well mam I will experiment too by asking if you think people who attend events (as you just attended) have higher rates of Mental Illness than the general population? I am genuinely interested in your opinion. I read your post thoughtfully and considered what you said - I did not attend, nor wish I had - and thought of the interactions you described. I thought they described in Rashomon fashion various forms of paranoia and narcissism. But I am interested in your reply to my query.

    Remonster from Tacoma

  14. My ex-wife went to California to rescue our friend Jill, who is a cancer survivor, from the radiation there. On the way back, they were on I-70 in Maryland and saw all sorts of dead trees on either side of the road. My peach tree, which I thought was dead last fall, came back partially, 25% of it has leaves. There are peaches growing on it, which is more than last year. The same leaf damage we saw last year has appeared, oak leaves have holes in them and are curling up here in Maryland.

  15. Thanks, Gail, for your on-the-ground reportage.

    An astonishingly small group, to my mind -- but your perceptive differentiation between peakoil-ists and converging-ecocrisis-ists, even in that small group, clarified something for me.

    I'm of the latter persuasion -- converging emergencies are all I see, ahead -- but thinking of art, and beauty, and resilience, and community as part of my final work-to-be-done has great appeal.

    I'll try to build light, whenever possible, and not just curse the darkness I cannot repel.

    Michael ('Doc Michael, of

  16. Hi Gail--it was good to meet you at the conference. I was one of the two fake cowboys from Los Angeles.

    I'm glad you reported on the chauvinist comments. I was shocked and offended too. I'm still processing the general craziness of the weekend as a whole. Kelly and I are writing some blog posts at about the conference and I'd love to read your feedback.

    As to colony collapse (I think you and I talked about this) I'd suggest taking a look at the videos of the bee club I'm a part of at

    Hope to see you again--if you are ever in LA, please look us up.

  17. Keep going, Gail. YOU are the best.

    Steven Earl Salmony

  18. Hi Gail

    First video up so far...


  19. We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.

    - TS Eliot, "Little Gidding"

  20. I Know zero (as nothing) about the particulars of the situation you noted, but I don't trust accounts coming out of de-couplings (legal marriage or otherwise). The unfortunate incentive to sling legal mud when money or children (or dogs or cats) are involved makes that a rather often a tenuous source of information.

    But if you don't find the guy to be particularly likable -and you do an admirable job of stating your reasons - I think that is very fair.

    I like the Druid well enough, but he does seem to couch his message toward his audience. If he started talking up placebo immunization on his website, I can only imagine the chaos that would ensue.

    Note, the placebo effect is real, but how effective they are depends a lot on which part of modern medicine you comparing them to. Since the low hanging fruit is gone big advances are hard to come by, so placebos look relatively effective. But compared to early immunization.....Not to many people getting small pox or polio these days.

  21. Thanks Jacob. I'm hoping that Harry at the Doomstead Diner continued filming through the Q&A following the sessions because that's where a lot of the most interesting discussions emerged, but he may not have.

    Russell, I didn't want to make too much of that link because divorce makes people crazy for sure and accounts are unreliable. However I could easily see Orren engaging in some of the behavior described. He is very, very sure of himself, shall we say. But, he had a vision and made it happen so I do admire him for that, since I seem to have spent my life drifting without purpose and came unforgivably late to understand how destructive our lifestyle is to the very nature I have always loved so much.

  22. What excellent reportage! It's great to hear your "voice" so clearly, Gail.

    Your report on the intersection (collision? clash?) of issues and personalities makes it very clear that any possible resolution will be roadblocked by both nature and nurture. After all, if we who "get it" can't get our act together, there is absolutely no hope that the 99.99999999% of humanity that doesn't get it will do anything before the Earth moves under their feet.

    This is, of course, exactly what most of us have realized (and some of us have accepted) over the last decade. So it goes.

    Regarding intelligent life in the universe, intelligence may arise fairly readily in the presence of steep energy gradients. Suitable gradients are not exactly uncommon close to stars, so I would expect that intelligence arises continuously in the universe. Unfortunately, the main evolutionary function of intelligence is to act as a limit-defeating mechanism as the organism climbs the ladder of life. This means that the higher the intelligence, the less sustainable the species becomes. Thus my comment about intelligence and sustainability. the choice should be viewed as "intelligence OR sustainability, but not both".

    If we could see intelligence in the universe it might look like a continuous sparkling field of flashbulbs across the heavens, as intelligence arises and then rapidly hits a limit it can't overcome and dies out.

    The only possible "get out of jail free" card comes from the speculation of astrophysicist Eric Chaisson. He says it depends on whether the universe is going to keep expanding forever or not. If the universe does keep expanding, this would represent a contiunous reduction of the overall entropy of the universe. Since complexity arises spontaneously in low-entropy situations, the possibility of novel forms of intelligence arising might be quite high - at least on universal time scales.

    Too bad we don't have that much time left for ourselves...

  23. Thanks, Gail, for your report and wonderful writing. Your voice is so alive and refreshing. Adding you to my list of favorite reads, along with Guy and Dmitri.

    Going home to my evergreen forest tomorrow, and my worries over its health, and that of the bees, too. I won't cut back the blackberry invading hordes until the bees have had their fill from the blossoms.

    The old, old fruit trees are erratic anyway, and I'm not expert enough in their health, but it is a relief to commiserate in listening to another's worries on tree health. The professionals I've consulted have no clear answers, either.

    Beautiful photos, too! I do miss the East, its mix of human antiquities and Nature, but glad I don't live there anymore.

    The conference? Well... sounds like even if the "most advanced" thinkers on our situation had distributed amongst them the exact pieces to solve the Puzzle of Doom, they couldn't put aside their differences and put it together. Just sayin'... (or "So it goes.")

  24. I miss the East, too, Henry!! It's not what it used to be.

    People don't cooperate. They posture. For a long time I couldn't fathom why there was such a divide - hostility, often - between peak oil doomers, climate change people and environmentalists. They should all be on the same team, but I think everyone is so busy juggling for their individual status that they don't see the big picture, they get locked into their worldview and are threatened when a competing theory emerges. Pathetic, isn't it!

  25. The realization that it was all about competition for status finally prompted me to withdraw from activism altogether. I suspect this has been a contributing factor in similar decisions by others (like Paul Kingsnorth?)

    We are the Psychopomps of Civilization...

  26. This is a really fun toy for gaining perspective

  27. What a great analysis from a personal perspective which is always the best kind. Thanks! Mike Sosebee

  28. What is true, real and somehow right cannot do harm to anyone. Truth is never trivial. And yet 'the brightest and best' ignore, avoid and willfully refuse to examine, discuss and report on all as well as, perhaps, the best scientific research on the subject of human population dynamics. Knowledge of the population dynamics of the human species remains off limits, a taboo even among those in the newly established 'Scientific Consensus on...Humanity...', the relatively 'ancient' Royal Society, the modern American Academy for the Advancement of Science, other national academies of science, the Union of Concerned Scientists, demographers and economists everywhere. When and where are the self-proclaimed experts in population biology, other sciences and relevant disciplines going to openly acknowledge the uncontested scientific evidence of human population dynamics that appears to disclose simply and elegantly how human population dynamics is essentially common to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species; how human population numbers appear as a function of an available food supply? How more food equals more people; less food equals less people; and no food, no people.

    Are the overproduction, overconsumption and overpopulation activities of many too many people not the primary problem confronting humankind in our time? Scientists have been seeing what is happening during the past 70 years as human population numbers skyrocketed worldwide. Scientists have been regularly reporting this widely shared and consensually validated scientific knowledge. But that is not the end of the story. There is at least one other question to ask that calls out to us for an answer, a question that any reasonable and sensible person would ask, I suppose. And that question is, “Why is the human population on Earth exploding? Why?” The question is straightforward. Where are the scientists with knowledge concerning why the global human population is skyrocketing on our watch? They are electively mute.Their conscious and deliberate collusion makes it possible for silence to prevail over science. This cannot be construed as correct behavior, especially by top-rank scientists. In diametrical opposition to the evolution of science extant, uncontested research related to the question of ‘why' has been ubiquitously avoided or denied by many too many of the very experts on human population matters who are in agreement about ‘what is happening’ regarding the unbridled colossal growth of the human population on Earth. If science of ‘why global human population numbers are exploding’ is willfully ignored, how is the human community ever to respond ably to emergent and convergent human-induced threats to future human well being and environmental health? How can we speak about the necessity for advances in science, for fidelity to scientific facts and truth, for the individual and collective will to go wheresoever the evidence leads while first class scientists with appropriate expertise deny scientific evidence of human population dynamics/overpopulation? For self-proclaimed experts to refuse to examine and share findings of scientific research regarding ‘why the human population is exploding’ has got to be overcome, fast. Such a breach of one’s duty to science & humanity is a personal and collective betrayal of both.

    Steven Earl Salmony

  29. Last night I watched Mike's movie Somewhere in New Mexico at the End of Time. Anyone can order a dvd from Nature Bats Last. So Steven, one of the scenes that struck me was from a 1958 interview by Mike Wallace of Aldous Huxley in which he discusses threats to freedom, at 2 minutes in

    "...the force which in general terms can be called overpopulation...the mounting pressure of population pressing upon existing resources. This of course is an extraordinary thing, something which has never happened in the history of the world before. I mean lets just take a simple fact that between the time of the birth of Christ and the landing of the Mayflower the population of the earth doubled. It rose from 250 million to approximately 500 million. Today, the population of the earth is rising at such a rate that it will double in half a century."

    "But why should overpopulation work to diminish our freedoms?" asks Mr. Wallace, from deep inside a cloud of his cigarette smoke.

    Aldous looks bemused. "Well, in a number of ways. "

    I'll let you watch it if you like - he goes into biology and balance. And then into the perils of highly specialized science and technology. Wow!

    Yes we have been betrayed by the scientists but I think the vast majority have been cooperating with the deceit. I ordered a bunch of books about evolutionary biology and anthropology in my quest to understand how and when and why we went astray (which was likely concurrent with the development of our brains). Anyway, I haven't been able to get past the introduction of "Cannibalism and Human Sacrifice" which was published, coincidentally in 1958 (when I was four years old), because in the first paragraph it says:

    "By instinct, tradition and indeed choice, the overwhelming majority of the world's population of 2,500,000,000 are flesh eaters"

    and every time I see that number I feel hysterical laughter coming on.

    What the hell were we thinking?

  30. Dmitry Orlov won't post my comments, so I'll put them here. I stumbled across his cranky response to your comments & blog post about the Age of Limits conference. (Guess why I was even looking at his blog? I'm trying to figure out why he has such a following. I'm not at all impressed with his work. I can get into why in another comment.)

    It was so unreasonable. I think he just doesn't like anyone "catching him out" by noticing or knowing something he missed. (He does rather give the impression of being a know-it-all.)

    Some other commenter has said that the introduction of feminism was a "distraction". Oh jeez. Women & girls are 50% of the population - their concerns are not a distraction, they are the meat & potatoes of any discussion about a decent human society. I really have to wonder about any person, male or female, who doesn't see that.

    Anyway, good thing I caught this before I wasted any more time on Orlov. There are better thinkers out there.

    I was already aware that some elements of the collapse/doomer/survivalist/what-have-you society are white Christian heterosexual males who are dismayed at losing their top-of-the-heap status and want the next society to give it back to them. THAT's why they hanker for collapse.

    How often does one see people of colour or LGBT folks at these things anyway, right?

    Something to think about when choosing an intentional community.

  31. Hi Pink Pearl I would love to hear more of your views. I have read Orlov before but not on a regular basis, mostly because he can be funny sometimes - just not, I guess, when male privilege is the topic! Ridiculous that he has not allowed your comments through, which has always been my objection with Greer and is why I don't read him. Both of those guys don't want their authority questioned which is just boring. Go read! They are open to all viewpoints and are supposed to be posting something soon about the gender issues at the conference.

    I haven't been to anything like that conference before so I don't know if the LGBT folks typically have much presence in the doomer/survivalist world - I'm pretty sure there was at least one! But I didn't ask. They are certainly well represented at the occupy and other direct actions I've been in. One interesting point somebody raised in a mournful sort of way is that in the ideal (under Dunbar's number) size community post collapse (should any survive) there would probably be only one or two non-heterosexual individuals in the tribe, which would be pretty lonely. A lot of progress in rights has been made precisely because communities were formed in cities, and safety, pride and freedom were fostered because of that.

  32. A lovely, fresh, opinionated report! Thank you, Gail. -- Very interesting about the emergent situation at the conference regarding women's point of view. I feel another wave of women's uppityness coming on... hey, isn't it about time for another one, historically speaking? :-) Distracion, ey? If I recall correctly, that's how women's concerns were dismissed at the Dark Mtn Festival too, a while back.

    Love the story about Baker's benighted take on abuse. Wonderful to hear it was not passed over.

  33. Well done. And you're right about the dying trees thing. Pollution sensitivity has been forgotten in the rush to think about climate sensitivity, but it's still doing its work whether observed or not.

    I'm a little put out with DGR, though -- some of their leadership have concluded, along with Janice Raymond (The Transsexual Empire) that I'm not me. And, sorry, I am. If the argument as I heard it is that there aren't enough resources for me to have done something so frivolous as transition, and that soon enough we'll all have enough troubles not to bother with the needs of people in my situation, well, excuse me, that argument could be made about everyone's needs. The lifeboat is sinking at their end as well as mine, and throwing me over the side won't help.

    Gail the Actuary is my heroine. She gets that the very first agriculturists doomed us, and we're not going to be able to goat-cheese our way out of this even if we all try ... when people ask me why I bother homesteading and prepping, I answer that it is the way I like to live. Less harm might not save anybody or anything, but it feels more ethical to me.

  34. Oh dear, not Dark Mountain too? The mere fact that gender inequality is so deeply entrenched even within the most liberal groups (and more than a few famous writers, artists, etc now that I think of it) lends credence to what Guy said (paraphrasing) - the more he learns about the genesis of collapse the more he thinks patriarchy underlies it.

    So I guess we need to rattle those cages some more. Sadly I see little sign among the younger generations that women have broken the barriers in interpersonal relationships.

  35. Risa Bear, I loved that "goat-cheese our way out of this"!

    I did hear a rumor about DGR being a little less than enlightened, deriving directly from Derrick Jensen. Your point is excellent and only someone who has forgotten how reliant we all are on modern amenities and medical care could be so absurdly callous. It's so irrelevant too - as you say everyone's life boat is sinking. That's all the asthmatics, the diabetics and people who need dental work or eyeglasses. Or food.

    I like your attitude about homesteading! I have been growing and preserving food and raising chickens and avoiding machinery all my life, not to be ethical, (because I was too stupid to understand QUITE the extent of our species' destructive behavior), but just because it's the way I wanted to live.

  36. Does Greer cherry-pick comments too? Ugh. I've only dipped into his stuff. I find his writing overwrought for the points he is trying to make. But I enjoy his interviews because he gets to the point faster and seems to know a lot of history.

    Re: Orlov, short version of my issue with him (based on his interviews and lectures, I've never read his books) is that he doesn't connect the dots. He goes from 1) here's some stuff I observed in the immediate aftermath of the Soviet collapse (note, he doesn't say a lot about Russia these days, it's certainly nothing like the post-collapse picture he paints of the USA), to 2) here's some ways that Russia then is like the USA today, to 3) the USA will collapse too and you will have to grow your own food & learn how to fix things. But #3 hasn't happened in Russia. So Russia had some other kind of collapse (I'd say it's just "under new management"), so how is it relevant?

    With Orlov, I just see someone who is providing supply to meet the demand for collapse scenarios, much the same way Alex Jones supplies the demand for conspiracy theories. It's just capitalism as usual.

    Guy McPherson I like. He does a much better job of linking it all together, and I can't imagine him just dismissing women's concerns out of hand. He just generally strikes me as more open-minded.

  37. Greer is famous for cherry-picking comments, even his supporters acknowledge he brooks no deviance from his view of collapse which is that it will be gradual and something they can all prepare for. He is basically a climate denier, especially the amplifying feedback issues which far, far outweigh the initial forcing from CO2.

    Guy is known for being what some of his readers would call TOO tolerant of diverging viewpoints such that he will not moderate or ban any comment unless it's extremely egregiously abusive. He also told me that once a teacher gave her students several essays to read and their assignment was to identify gender bias on the part of the authors. He was quite proud that the only gender bias anyone could detect in his writing was his name. Ha. A maverick in more ways than one.

  38. Yes, the comments on Guy's blog are a bit of train wreck. I stopped reading them. Good on him for showing that gender bias IS avoidable.

    Just checked Orlov's blog. It seems he reckons that women will die in childbirth in greater numbers post-collapse, and that inevitably means they will go back to their lower status, and that's just too-bad so-sad for them.

    Of course, that view ignores a lot of history and knowledge about other cultures, or that, you know, human beings have a choice about what to value. Maybe society will think "giving birth is a very risky and valuable thing, let's honour and protect the people who do it". Bearing children is easily AT LEAST as key to human survival as hunting, so why should it be denigrated as Orlov assumes it will be?

    Obviously this is all about Orlov's own views of women. Hope he doesn't have any daughters.

    Looks like I can cross Orlov and Greer off my reading list!

  39. Don't know how recently you've checked but after Guy instituted the 2 post/day limit the hijacking has been greatly reduced. Those who feel compelled to vomit over their keyboard have had to find other venues.

  40. Well, Orlov has had some very good posts in the past, and I like his sense of humor. I think he is worth keeping an eye on. Greer, well, yes. All of the above. Still enjoy him here and there. And then there is Clusterfuck Nation... with Kunstler's unabashed anti-woman stance as shown in his novels. Still, though, a good slashing rant once in a while.

    Guy is nothing that could be called open-minded, IMO, though it's true that he does not squash commenters. I think of him as an intellectual bully who's developed a cult following. I rarely look at his irresponsible rants (though there are good pieces there still sometimes).

    If anyone sees a good rant or a good argument against this whole "women are back to KKK (Kinder, Kuche, Kirche)" after collapse, I sure would like to see it. I am getting fed up.

  41. Hi Gail,

    Thank you for your report on the conference. I had wanted to attend it but chose instead to work on a personal relationship, and now I'm glad I made the choice. Your report (this one and future musings?) will provide me with what I want to learn.

    I was halfway through the description when I suddenly realized "this is Gail from the great Radio Ecoshock interview". I've just added your blog to my (otherwise shrinking) "Must Read" list.

    I'm concerned by the tendency within the Doomer community to want to roll back all of the social advances of the last half century - or longer. It doesn't bode well for where we are all going, if we manage to make it through the next population bottleneck. But it's not a new perception for me.

    I joined a commune in 1975. I didn't join the one I really wanted to go to (The Farm) but rather a semi-urban one (Toronto and rural Ontario) which had a superficially more progressive understanding of human sexuality. I don't think Risa would have been welcome, but - at least at first - I was. I lasted less than six months there, and ended up reintegrating back into mainstream society.

    The key is that once they settled into the minutiae of daily behavior, people tended to restore their personal bigotries and patterns of sexuality, and to rationalize them in the language of psychosocial awareness and even feminism. When it comes to sexuality, it seems, people will do what they will do, and the analysis and justification come later.

    I'm with Guy on this one: I think more and more it's our culture of Patriarchy that underlies our predicament. Even as a child, I was bothered by the idea that the uni-God was male, and more by the fact that he was so sexist. (Or, as a friend in Hong Kong once asked provocatively, "If you Westerners had to choose a single god, why did you choose such an awful one?") Even the Archdruid, in his sci-fi blog Stars Reach, postulates a matriarchal society as the survivor, with the primary goddess (Gaia) as feminine.

    For my part, I'm doing what everyone tells you not to do: moving from a city to a rural setting, from one country (where I've lived most of my life) to another (where I was born), and slowly weening myself from a lifelong involvement in high tech. I'm not sure it will be a successful move, but in a decade or so, I expect we'll all have a different definition of success.

  42. Has anyone else read Riane Eisler's book "The Chalice and the Blade"? It's an exceptional re-evaluation of gender roles through history, especially in our medium-deep history. Really worth everyone's time.

    I tend to see all cultural manifestations (including all "-archies")as symptomatic rather than causal, but knowing how those manifestations have changed over time reminds me that we are not simply genetic automatons. On the other hand, the fact that cultures have changed doesn't mean that we have any voluntary control over their evolution, but that's perhaps a topic for another place and time.

    I did experience one of those delightful "Jungian coincidences" just now when I picked up my copy of Eisler's book to check something. I flipped it open at random and found myself reading a page devoted to dynamic systems, strange attractors, bifurcations, and Prigogine and Stengers. These concepts are all intrinsic to the thermodynamic framework I'm exploring these days - the one that has convinced me that "all cultural manifestations are symptomatic rather than causal"... Woo!

  43. I stopped reading Kunstler long ago because his attitude towards women was really offensive, worse than with Bill Maher. But last night I watched Mick Sosebee's movie and I was pretty impressed by a segment with Kunstler. A really good speaker and he ripped into our stupid ways of contructing suburbia - a living arrangement with no future and a great smackdown of Google execs who "don't know the difference between technology and energy" which says a lot, when you think about it.

    Guy an intellectual bully? Wow, I don't get that at all. His blog is kind of the last refuge for me (even though I think he has an overly romanticized notion of human nature and pre-historic behavior). I've read enough of the science to understand that people like Joe Romm, Jim Hansen, Tamino, Real Climate and especially Bill McKibben are soft-peddling the bad news. I really have no patience anymore for techno-enamored activism that (as Kunstler says) just wants to know about what kind of clever invention we can come up with to run our cars.

    The Artic Methane Emergency Group is appropriately alarmed about the melt there, but even they are enamored of the fantasy that we can geo-engineer it to keep it cool. Okay, they also think that will buy time to make other essential changes but I still think they miss the broader points which are that 1. It's too late and 2. climate and melting ice are mere symptoms of overpopulation, overextraction and pollution.

    People are never going to willingly stop any of it and when the oil gets scarce whether it's due to peak or more likely weather/economic/food shortage chaos, they will just burn all the trees. Try to find that simple truth elsewhere amonst all the hopium and the "I don't believe" we can be so stupid. Yes, we can.

    Oh well that's my rant!

  44. Thanks Paul I added that to my reading list.

    I got curious about Risa Bear's reference so I googled it and found this critique:

    Amazing and personally embarrasing to me to learn that feminists are hostile towards transsexuals although it's worth checking the comments because one points out that the author is more Catholic and feminist and is sort of hiding behind that shield.

    Sad that there is so much hate.

  45. Jose I wish you much luck on your journey. I think it's tremendously important to get out of the city (but then I could never imagine living in a city anyway). But cities will be the first to lose food and have civility breakdown especially if the power goes out. I expect the zombie hordes to head out to the country so there really isn't anyplace safe and you can't prepare for the unknowable. But every day counts, doesn't it?

    So I'm confused, when you said the commune you chose had a "superficially more progressive understanding of human sexuality" did you mean more than the outside world or more than the farm?

    I've done a little reading about intentional communities and unfortunately, they seem very difficult to maintain with any harmony without a charismatic leader/dictator type and/or a strong, binding ideology, both of which hold no appeal for me.

    So I guess I'm out of luck!

  46. Gail, thanks for the laughs...great writing!

    How much did Four Quarters charge for attendance? I'll write a check for wildlife rehabilitation for the same amount in order to balance out the universe, haha!

  47. Pym, ya gotta laugh. Actually it was pretty inexpensive and the food wasn't bad. I spent a little extra to stay in the bunkhouse because the tents my kids used to have are in the attic and it's scary in there.

  48. Kunstler is at his best smacking modern architecture and suburbia in particular. A funny funny speaker! There are times when he ventures into other areas, and often does not double check his sources, being satisfied with shallow rants. Too bad.

    Yeah, I loved being on NBL when I found it. Felt amazingly at home, at first. But then I wearied of the silly prophecies, the "I am righter than everybody else" attitude, and the yes men and women he later began to surround himself with. Guy does not listen to feedback, not from anyone who has a different take than he does. When he lashed out against Alan Savory in a pretty sad diatribe, the farmers who appeared in the discussion with actual experience were soundly ignored by all and sundry.

    As far as patriarchy at the root of it... I think it's domination in all its flavors. But then, maybe it's the same thing...

  49. Vera, I don't see how Guy can "surround himself" with yes people because that would imply selection, whereas he lets anyone comment no matter how much they disagree with him and he almost never responds to either agreement or disagreement. As far as I can tell he will speak anywhere to any group that will have him as long as travel costs are covered.

    As far as Savory, I just went back and skimmed over the post you referred to. Guy was pretty harsh however, I had the same reaction when I saw the TED talk, before I read about it at NBL.

    The issue (at least to me) wasn't whether cattle can be rotated and be beneficial to the land, quite likely they can under appropriate management. The problem I had with Savory was his absolutist insistence that ONLY his method can stop catastrophic global warming.

    Whenever I see a silver bullet solution I'm pretty sure it's bullshit, especially because IT'S TOO LATE to stop catastrophic global warming anyway. One of the commenters put it better than I can:

    kevin moore Says:
    March 24th, 2013 at 11:17 pm
    In NZ we use the word fuckwit to describe someone who is mentally impaired but thinks he/she is clever.

    To suggest that climate change can be REVERSED is a clear example of fuckwitism. Climate change cannot even be HALTED (let alone reversed) until some time long after humanity stops burning fossil fuels and stops making steel, and stops making concrete and stops chopping down jungles…….

    The chance of ANY of those happening in the next five years is so close to zero we can call it zero. And I see the annual meltdown of the Arctic has commenced, with slightly less ice than this time in 2012. With the US drought continuing it’s surely going to be an ‘interesting’ [northern] summer.

    To be a popular speaker one does need to tell the audience what they want to hear, i.e. ‘we can extricate ourselves out of this predicament….. in fact it’s not a predicament at all’.

  50. "What about Pussy Riot?"

    It's important to understand that Orlov was raised in Russia...came here in 1974 when he was twelve, by which time his deepest views on everything were a done deal. No surprise that his impulse was to say "they're idiots". He is a smart & funny guy though.

    btw...I love Pussy Riot also. Punk Prayer is coming soon on HBO...

    Impossible for us - man or woman - to imagine being born and raised in Russia...not even close.

    Gail, while reading your post I amused myself by inserting Robert Bly into the that, I can imagine.


  51. Thank you for those Pussy Riot links, I have to see that movie somehow! Also this one I just learned of (trailer at the end of the article) about Wikileaks and Bradley Manning:

    While I was at the conference I picked up a pamphlet from a pile of literature: "Awakening the New Masculine - The Path of the Integral Warrior...a psychospiritual journey into fullness for men...Become your Ultimate Man and live your Ultimate Life". I was going to give it to Guy as a joke but forgot so now it's on my kitchen table. I'm not sure what to do with it.

  52. Gail, Guy "surrounds himself" the same way Greer does... the people who don't fit into the blog's attitudes end up leaving. Like I did.

    Savory deals with two things: managed rotational grazing to restore grasslands, esp. in drylands, and ranchers and farmers the world over have had amazing success with it.

    Then there is the matter of carbon and water sequestration in "stable humus" which "could" rapidly absorb a great deal of the greenhouse gases. Stable humus is amazing stuff, and he is rightly making a big fuss about it. There are other soil scientists who think like him, particularly in Oz.

    Guy seemed to lash out against both of those aspects of Savory's take on things. Do I remember that right?

  53. This is just not accurate:

    "Guy "surrounds himself" the same way Greer does... the people who don't fit into the blog's attitudes end up leaving."

    Greer doesn't let comments through that challenge his point of view. Guy does. Greer slams the door, and Guy does not. And the readers are not monolithic in their attitude either - there is an enormous amount of very vocal divergence of opinions.

  54. Greer thinks collapse will be gradual? I agree with him, depending on his timeframes. It took about 80-90 years to establish the oil-dependent culture & economy and I figure it'll take about as long to make a new culture.

    There are all kinds of inititiaves in my community that show that some people are thinking along these lines, and setting up the necessary social networks. And not with a DOOM vibe, but just doing it because local & communal works better anyway.

    That said, they are the exception. Most people are still in the dominant paradigm and don't even know it.

    Ack - I'll stop now!

  55. Awakening the new masculine or feminine - the path of self indulgence set to drums. You put it best..."drivel...inanities"

    I'll never have enough time to see all the new documentaries on my list. I'll try to get to Trenton for Gasland 2.

    Oh...check out Rockstroh's piece today on Common Dreams. Good, nutritious right-brain food...


  56. The main problem, pinkpearl, is it's too little, too late. The amplifying feedbacks of climate change, already set in motion and unstoppable, utterly dwarf the initial effects of the billions of tons of CO2 we have unleashed. The proceed non-linearly and exponentially. This is not only being revealed, already, in current scientific measurements, but is how things have happened in the paleclimatic past - but there weren't any humans around who had to contend with it. The mass extinctions have already begun - we are IN a mass extinction event.

    Put it this way - we are in a giant ponzi scheme whether you want to consider only the economy, non-renewable resources, climate or pollution, never mind all together. A house of cards, if you will. It will only take the slightest lurch for the entire thing to come tumbling down, very quickly.

    Of course many - almost all - people prefer not to acknowledge this and to imagine hopefully that whatever collapse there is will be something they can navigate, or at least some people will navigate. But all the evidence says that we are going to surpass the level of temperature that large mammals can survive. This really isn't the blog for people who don't want to know about that.

    The various converging disasters became apparent to me shortly after I realized all the trees are dying. It's the trend, always the trend that is important and there is nothing that is going to save the trees short of the cessation of burning fuel and polluting the atmosphere. And that's just not going to happen, au contraire, more and more is burnt each year. And humans simply cannot live on a planet devoid of trees not to mention other vegetation.

    I recommend Ugo Bardi's examination of the Seneca cliff

  57. Gail, yes, Greer censors, but it amounts to the same thing. Just look at the response to the Savory piece. Uniformity, near complete. And in my own personal experience, Guy does not hesitate to bully people... one example, I am into the old fashioned village lifestyle... so Guy came on my blog and yelled at me about it. Huh? I mean, how is what he is doing different? I asked a relative of his to explain it, he said that Guy has gotten more dogmatic over the last several years. I saw it on the blog too. And have talked with many people who defend his BS prophecies. Or at least make excuses for them.

    But enough about him. ;-)

    I hope you write more about the Age of Limits. What people were saying, how they were responding. Nice blog, I will keep coming back.

  58. Yup, I was going to get into the not-enough-time aspect, but was conscious of my comment length.

    Thing is, (I think Guy says this as well) we still have to try. I can hardly say to my nieces & nephews: Sorry, but you won't make it to middle age, so there is no point in your learning survival skills, just give up, I have.

    I can't lie to them either. But I think there is some middle ground. You know how Kunstler talks about Japan possibly being the first industrial society to voluntarily go medieval? I wouldn't rule out that kids who become adults in the next 15-20 years might make a similar choice. They will have much less experience with the current set-up and so won't be sorry to see it go.

    I know I know - 15-20 years might be too late. It MIGHT be, but let's give ourselves a chance just in case.

  59. Whenever I start to nail shut the door of possibility, my partner always reminds me to leave a tiny space for the possibility of a miracle. Leaving that space in my thoughts won't change the future, but it does change me.

    The specifics of future possibilities don't matter that much to me any more, though they definitely did a few years ago. The situation has always been beyond redemption - it will turn out however it does, all I can do is watch.

    I feel very fortunate not to have kids. Perhaps the kids I didn't have feel fortunate as well ;-)

  60. pinkpearl, there's nothing I disagree with in what you say. I see absolutely no point in filling young people with despair. There will be plenty of it later.

    Vera, I noticed that you got this response to your comment at Orlov's:

    kollapsnik said...
    "vera -

    Women's concerns are quite central, and those who neglect them go extinct in a hurry. But so do those who attempt politicize them."

    I don't understand that at all. How can gender politics be anything other than political? Because we label them "concerns" instead?

  61. I saw it. I actually looked up the word "politicize." One of the meanings is a put down. :-(

  62. This is what wiki sez:

    Sometimes the term "politicized" itself becomes a negative label. A group holding one opinion on an issue will sometimes accuse their opposition of "politicizing the issue". The implication is that they are honestly dealing with the issue on the merits while the opposition is bringing the issue up purely for political gain.

  63. It's stuff like this that turns me off Orlov. He's just not a good thinker.

    EVERY human society makes choices about how to distribute resources, status, power, etc, and anytime you're considering distribution, you're considering politics. That's what politics IS.

    Does he really think a post-collapse society won't need to make choices about distribution, and therefore be political?

    I get the impression he hasn't considered this at all (surprising for someone who grew in both communism AND capitalism!). He just jumps to death-in-childbirth, lower status, end of story.

  64. "I see absolutely no point in filling young people with despair. There will be plenty of it later."

    I have 2 nephews and 2 nieces. The youngest just out of high school and the oldest just turned 30.

    I have talked of climate change and peak oil generally but never NTE.
    If I contemplate them never growing old I'm only left with sadness so instead I encourage them to live well.

    Gail I love the micro photography in the Luminous Doom thread. :)


    now to prove I am truly human...

  65. I just posted another riposte on Cluborlov. It may take a bit to show, so I will post it here as well. This has really been bugging me. Not just Age of Limits issue by any means. My thought is that in the future, we women will have to take matters into our own hands, and not rely on organizers or presenters to accommodate our POVs.

    Here's what I said:
    Hello again, gentlemen.

    It seems like a bit of a confusion’s erupted. We are not dealing with the future, but rather the present. We have a group of women and men, and the women -- as I understand it -- wished in Artemas, and still wish here in this blog, to be heard on our terms.

    The reaction, among your ranks, has been to:
    * dismiss our POV as distraction and waste; as an irrelevant ism; as “politicization"
    * move on to biological imperatives; to the rights of animals
    * liken our POV to choices over “church attire"
    * and name calling

    Would any of you care to comment on this -- from my POV rather peculiar -- situation?

  66. Vera, there is a wonderful new post on this issue here:

    I'd put it up at Orlov's but rather suspect I am now permanently persona non grata!

    I repeated Orren's comment to youngest daughter yesterday as well as Harry's inaccurate recollection at ClubOrlov, and her response (as a PhD biology candidate) was to say scornfully, "Either way that's not even how evolution works!".

  67. Gail,

    Philip from NYC and AOL. Wanted to get in touch with you about us coming out to NJ. Have no email or phone number for you and this was the only way to reach you.

  68. Hey Tom! That comment went into spam for some mysterious reason. I'd love to see you guys and have you meet the menagerie at Wit's End. Write me at witsendnj at yahoo dot com or same at gmail works too, and I'll send you my phone #.

  69. To be fair to Orlov (though I don't agree with him either), Orlov didn't actually say he wanted to roll back women's rights.

    What he said was "the rolling back of women's rights is going to happen", not "I want to roll back women's rights."

    In other words, what he actually meant was that societies are going to choose to roll back progress of their own accord, whether we want them to or not, which is why he thinks feminists are a distraction because they're devoting energy to a "lost cause" rather than to ensuring community survival.

    Not that I agree with this, of course, but I thought I should add the clarification of what Orlov meant.

  70. Iron Plows and Push-buttons

    I was brought up in a thoroughly modern North American household, and I hope this is reflected in my gender attitudes. However, I have a somewhat different take than most on the origins and future of patriarchy.

    My view is based on the work of anthropologist Marvin Harris. Harris believed that the key to understanding the operation of human cultures in general was the principle he called "Infrastructural Determinism." That principle says that cultural influences flow most strongly upwards from the Infrastructure where the means of subsistence are found, and shape the forms of our cultural Structure (institutions) and Superstructure (values and beliefs). The influence is much, much weaker in the other direction.

    In David Hume's terms, this is an "is-ought problem": culture responds to what is rather than what ought to be. Another way of putting it is that culture is shaped more by needs rather than by desires. In general cultural values tend to be reflective, explanatory or justifying of the society's subsistence needs.

    One of the primary needs of society has always been to control and direct the flow of energy. In early societies this mostly involved food (hunting and foraging) and firewood. In agricultural and industrial societies we find higher energy flows in agriculture (larger teams of draft animals pulling heavier equipment) with much less foraging, as well as powered factories. In high tech societies, technology has largely taken over the control of energy production and use, except in the direct conduct of drilling and mining.

    As Riane Eisler and others have pointed out, H-G societies apparently tended to be very gender-egalitarian in terms of the division of labour, power and influence. I would interpret this as a reflection of the physical situation, where foraging supplied as many or more of the calories than hunting. Physical strength was not essential to satisfy the subsistence needs of the community, so power tended to be shared more equally between men and womyn.

    The situation in late agricultural and industrial societies was different. The amount of energy was much greater, but the technological control systems hadn't caught up to the needs yet. Physical strength assumed a much greater importance, and cultural power flowed to those with physical strength. This is the "iron plow" theory of patriarchy.

    Today's high tech societies have become much more egalitarian again, IMO largely because technical control systems have become so advanced. Physical strength isn't as great an asset any more, and the cultural values have changed to reflect this.

    Of course there are lots of overlaps that give patriarchal attitudes the opportunity to coexist with feminism today, just as matrifocal values persisted well into the rise of agricultural societies.

    I think this view frames such cultural phenomena as witch hysteria and feminism as evidence of the turbulence of transitions. In the former case rom pastoral living to the agricultural/industrial regime; in the latter, it was the shift from agricultural/industrial production to the technological era. In neither case did the change in values precede the shift in subsistence modes. In both cases it reflected and reinforced it.

    As we enter a period of energy collapse, this could give matrifocal values an opportunity to re-establish themselves, though possibly not for the preferred reasons. A lot depends on what happens between now and whenever we re-enter a foraging economy.

  71. Smith, you are right I believe about Orlov's position on that specific point. However, I think part of the issue that was raised at the blogpost above very clearly, is that patriarchy is what got us into this set of fucked up values so if there is going to be any long-term survival after collapse, then we jolly well better think of another set of priorities in society.

    I don't, personally, think it matters because I don't think there will be any long-term survival either way. It's just another sort of interesting debacle to watch on the way down.

  72. Is This Displacement?

    In Freudian psychology, an unconscious defense mechanism whereby the mind substitutes either a new aim or a new object for goals felt in their original form to be dangerous or unacceptable.

    With NTE starting to loom,
    Being rank-aware enters the room;
    Hierarchy’s unfair,
    But it’s always been there,
    And it’s nowhere as scary as doom.

  73. HeeeeHaaaaawwww! Benjamin the Donkey, I hope everyone notices the link to you in the blogroll at the end of Wit's End:

    Actually though, I don't think the subject is rising as one to displace the larger and scarier issue of near term extinction. I think of it more as an uncovering of the fundamental, festering CAUSE of doom - or at least, that's how some define it. You could also just say it's human nature, same thing, basically.

  74. Smith, I understand that about Orlov. What I am focusing on is what he actually did -- which was dismiss women's point of view. The several of us who came there to say stuff.

    If the here and now men cannot get their shit together and talk with us as equals, it ain't gonna happen next week either.

  75. I’m KNOW I’m a fool to rush into this one but: The question is, like, the sexist thing at the conference, WUWT?

    I’ve long been railing (to no comments at all) about conflating doom with social hierarchy. Social equality won’t stop extinction. I assume that sex roles have evolved in whatever way was best for species survival so far, and there’s no time to change now. As you say, “I don't, personally, think it matters because I don't think there will be any long-term survival either way.”

    Anyway, I prefer to put it under Kubler-Ross Stage 2 or something, that’s why the title has a question mark.

    For example:

    A focus on who is commanding
    With macho and scapegoat branding
    Comes with NTE
    If you care to be
    Among the last ones standing.

  76. An email I received today speaks to your WUWT ?

    Why did we ever give up enough for more than enough? [which we then fight over]

    Because the ones who want more than enough eat more, reproduce more, and kill more of the ones who don't want more than enough. Inevitably, the want-more genome becomes prevalent.

    Darwin's great insight gets obscured by our desire to believe that we could create a better life. Our notions of powerful, reality-changing, moral values are important props for our illusion. But the apparent power of moral "laws" turns out to just be a byproduct of prosperity. When the easy life ends, which is what's happening now, life begins to resemble the dour visions of Kurt Weil and Bertolt Brecht.

    MORETHANENOUGH - samples from ThreePenny Opera:

    Wake up all you godless, wake up.
    Open your sinful blue eyes.
    With greed over-runneth your cup.
    So start the day's blessings and lies

    What keeps a man alive? He lives on others
    He likes to taste them first, then eat them whole, if he can.
    Forgets that they are supposed to be his brothers,
    That he himself was ever called a man.

  77. Threepenny Opera is the best! Check it out!

  78. Guess what, Donkey. Social equality would make the world an effing huge chunk better in the here and now. That's why it matters. Esp. while following conferences where men style themselves as oh so ahead of the crowd... and then act out the same effing dickery as BAU.

  79. Vera, not arguing that at all, just raising a group process kind of question.

  80. Yeah? What is it?

    "Hierarchy’s unfair,
    But it’s always been there,"

    Nope, it hasn't always been there. It's been there a few thousand years. Most of our time as a species was spent in egalitarian bands.

  81. Yeah...Vera, I have to question that. There is an awful lot of evidence that in fact, most of our time was spent in non-egalitarian bands. Unless you think cannibalism is, all, like equal. Just talking the archaeological record here.

  82. It’s cool, not getting into that one either! :D

  83. I am not saying they were nice to other bands. They were egalitarian amongst themselves. If you disagree, point me to sources.

  84. Oh, O.K., fine. Even families aren’t egalitarian. Try R.D. Laing.

    Here’s an oldie, coincidently enough in response to a question from Gail:

    Always Hierarchy

    Equality? Here is the scoop:
    Social rank’s found in herd, pack, and troop;
    It’s hierarchy’s way
    At work and in play
    And in everyone’s family group.

  85. Donkey, nobody is egalitarian in civ. Duh. It's founded on domination.

    I was asking Gail about the times prior.

  86. vera,

    Back when we were egalitarian a lot of other things were different as well. Population densities are 1,000 times higher today. We use 15,000 times the energy the human race did back then.

    Just those two factors, density stress and energy flow, makes it terribly unlikely that we could ever reproduce egalitarianism in general society today.

    Ecologists and systems scientists now know that energy flow alone results in the appearance of ever-deeper hierarchies. The fact that we might prefer egalitarian societies is neither here nor there. We can control our individual behaviors, but we are now in the situation of 7 billion hyperactive gas molecules raising the temperature and pressure within the closed box of Earth's biosphere. Our collective behaviour has become as "statistically deterministic" as a real closed box of gas. The individual molecules keep dashing about doing their own things, but the aggregate is beholden to a cultural equivalent of Boyle's Law.

    Part of the emergent behaviour of the complex adaptive system of civilization is the appearance of hierarchy, and part of the appearance of hierarchy is the emergence of oligarchy and patriarchy.

    My preference is to work against individual instances of misogyny - we have some hope of combating poor individual acculturation. But when we turn it into a cultural phenomenon by labeling it patriarchy, we lose our grip on the problem. We can't change our cultures from the bottom up, by changing individual beliefs and values. Harris showed us that cultures don't work that way. And we can't change cultures by arbitrarily changing the values in its narratives to values we prefer. Harris showed us that doesn't work either

    Something deeper, down in the core, next to the earth and rocks and trees that we smash up to make our living has to change first. Fortunately, that change is now upon us. Unfortunately, even now we can't tell which direction culture is going to change, because the future is kind of inscrutable that way.

    And then we'll be dead, of course. but between now and then I prefer to make the situation around me, within arms reach, as whole and connected as possible. Because it feels better to me, and because in life you just never know what's going to turn out to be important.

    I don't know if such arguments would sway an Orlov, but that's my take on it.

  87. Paul, we are not far apart. By doing those things we have power over, like the ones you mention, we do change things from below. That too is emergence. And a butterfly wing here and there... you know the story. We are all culture builders.

    As for egalitarianism itself... one anthropologist puts it this way: All men want to rule, but if they cannot, they'd rather be equal.

  88. Just to prove I'm not immune to impossible dreams, I sure wish we could teach the world a healthier meaning for the word "surrender".

  89. Well, how about teaching one another? What would you dream it to be, this healthier surrender?

  90. My image of "healthy surrender" looks a lot like simple acceptance. Allowing whatever is to be; relinquishing all control; not resisting the flow; knowing that only by giving do I open myself to recognize and receive what the universe has to offer us; feeling myself as a part of something so enormous it's irresistible. On my good days surrender even looks like unconditional love.

    It's not the stuff that wins battles, because it realizes that there is no battle.

    The version of surrender we are taught is the egoic version, the one that stinks of the ignominy of personal annihilation. The dualistic version. The healthy version is a monadic version - the one in which there is no ego to be annihilated - or if there is, the ego at least has a sense of humour and perspective about it.

  91. Gail,

    I've read your comments and Orlov's recent comments that you believe are sexist.

    Sadly, he is right and you are wrong. The world has never been, nor will it ever be entirely egalitarian, though pockets persist briefly now and then.

    The 1970s feminist ideals occurred before we had any significant understanding of evolutionary psychology, called "sociobiology" when I was a young man. The implications were clear even then, and did not support the feminist ideals of the time, or any ideals at all, for that matter.

    Social communities of organisms evolve to do what works to promote the best odds of survival. There is no "intention" to do so. It's the result of the process of evolution. Nothing more.

    In all nature, of course, multiple strategies work. While hominid societies tend to be male dominated (Gorillas, chimpanzees, homo sapiens), there are exceptions (bonobos). Non hominids too, vary in organization (Elephant societies are matriarchal).

    Regardless, no species changes it's social organization quickly. While genetics in humans isn't exactly destiny, it is a strong persistent shove in a particular direction. As an empirical fact, most human societies have been patriarchal, are patriarchal, and will be patriarchal.

    After we run out of niceties like oil, phosphates, nuclear fuel and a global just-in-time supply chain, I think any future sustainable communities will revert to the mean of patriarchy to survive (i.e. males will act as disposable combat and food gathering units and females will be both protected and oppressed to maximize reproduction). I see no compelling evidence to the contrary.

    In short, Orlov's observation is probably correct.

  92. Thank you for your comment Anon. I actually tend to agree with what you said although, there is evidence of societies that have been matriarchal. In fact I said that Dmitri could have replied to the initial question with the accurate observation that there just aren't any contemporary intentional communities that are matriarchal.

    I think you've misunderstood my post and/or I didn't make myself clear. What I was interested in exploring was the very divisiveness of the topic of gender equality, how it erupted at the conference and continues to preoccupy the internet ether. It's not simply a question of whether Dmitri is right or wrong or I am. I think he's a bit sexist but as you point out, who could grow up in this culture and not be?

    He obviously took offense where none was intended, even at my misattribution of the source of Death's Door vodka, which was simply a mistake on my part because I saw him deliver a case of bottles to the bar at the first evening's party, or his running out of the picture, which was just meant as a joke, for cryin' out loud!

  93. Gadz. I am reeling from reading the poisoned pen at Mr. Orlov's blog.

    Paul, what you say makes perfect sense. :-)

    Anonymous, you reflect the prejudice of a male-dominated civilization that is going down the drain. As to what will come after, in part depends on whether we women will find enough sane males to support us and power sharing. Perhaps you might consider being one of them?

  94. Gail, I think his "taking offense" where none was intended is clearly intentional. As is his portraying you you as smacking Ms. Baker with ad hominems. The whole diatribe is appalling, to me.

    Looks like we got our work cut out for us. :) I like what Carolyn Baker just said in the comments. Right on.

  95. Thanks Vera...I guess I'll venture over there to see what Carolyn said. I also have to say, I wasn't trying to criticize Albert Bates about flying, I was using his example to point out that it's virtually impossible to be "pure" in the modern world, we're all hypocrites - not just the climate scientists Greer regularly attacks.

  96. skeered of-confused-and-distracted peopleJune 4, 2013 at 12:59 PM

    I'm glad I did not attend.

    So in a nutshell:

    "A group of angry, confused adult-sized children got together in the woods... comedy ensues."

  97. Sometimes people ask me why I don't run my web site as a blog. I point them to situations like this and ask if they'd like the job of moderating it, or spending half their time dealing with the stress and wounding that these kinds of comments bring up. They tend to go quiet, then order another beer.

    Gail, I totally admire people like you and Guy. Now I think I'll order another beer.

  98. Although Paul, I haven't had a problem with any of the comments to this post at Wit's End. I used to get a lot of viagra and louis vuitton knock-off ads, which is why I moderated comments (and I never got that many for it to be time-consuming). Then I suddenly realized, I haven't been getting spam lately, maybe blogger has better filters now. So in spite of being accused over at Orlov's, first of not-moderating and then of over-moderating:

    "Her blog's comments section is a sort of Land of the Lost: people who inhabit the comments sections of unmoderated blogs, and who are perpetually miffed that no half-decent blog will post their comments."

    "I'll disagree. I read her comments and it appears she is moderating them just fine. It looks like any anti-Orlov comment is sure to be approved."

    This is actually the first time I turned moderation off.

    The problem hasn't been comments here, it's what was published at Orlov's, which has attracted some astonishingly nasty rants from men who are furious about being "emasculated" by feminism.

  99. I agree, Gail. Your behaviour and the comments here have been even-handed and transparent from my point of view. Generally the blogs take on some of the character of their owners - which goes a long way, IMO, toward explaining the acerbic nature of the cluborlov comment threads.
    One of the things that has taken me a long time to get is that on the internet there is no such thing as sure-fire humour. I know I have a bent and blackened sense of humour, and I worry about it running away with me sometimes. The outcome of that is not something i relish. I'm just conflict-averse, even to a fault...

  100. You're right about humor not transmitting across the intertubes very well. I guess I should know better.

    I don't know whether to cry or thank Dmitri for the extra blog traffic. Maybe a few more people will actually look at trees and wonder why they are all dying prematurely.

  101. I loved your description of the event. (It was linked off of Economic Undertow but I have read your account of dying trees before.)
    Personally, I think that people who go around speaking at events like these (and presumably making their livings this way) are really artists and actors. They should expect a slightly critical review now and then. All of these folks are used to acolytes and to being able to control their press (because it is mostly limited to their own comment section.)
    DO clearly can't take a joke which is odd since he is so cool and funny. He and his friends are over reacting and will hopefully get over it.
    Rock on!!!

  102. Hi Gail and friends

    I've been enjoying Dmitry's acerbic prose for some years now, so I'm disappointed (though not really surprised) by his graceless, even petulant response to events at the conference. I popped over here to see what dreadful, hostile bloggery on your part had so upset him, and was again not surprised to find that the tone of your article was actually mild and reasonable. Someone's clearly having a gender panic :-)

    I have run into what I call "Doomagra" issues before in many fora over the last 15 years or so. It appears that there is a subset of modern men who are actually somewhat attracted to doom scenarios precisely *because* they imagine a kind of re-instituting of conditions more conducive to the practise of probative masculinity, and hence enhanced scope for masculine status and power.

    This strikes me as not dissimilar to the sentimentality that some men feel about wars and wartime -- trapped in an era of declining industrialism, desk jobs, boring consumerism, etc, they seem to hanker for an heroic age, for scenarios in which "real manhood" can be displayed and rewarded ("real manhood" meaning physical strength, violence, ruthlessness, force-and-fraud). They long for worlds in which women are either absent or subordinated (army life, say, or a revanchist male supremacy). This widespread Mittyism can be seen anytime in popular "sword porn" f&sf, in video game content and style, movies, etc. The massively popular Game of Thrones franchise offers illustrations galore ;-)

    The revanchist thinking then colours attitudes to various futures: as DO seems to have inadvertently revealed in his OTT response to even the mildest challenge from women with one or two feminist notions to rub together, there are plenty of doomer men out there for whom the humbling of women, the return of women to "their proper place" as baby machines dependent on dominant males for survival, is one of the *positive* aspects of collapse.

    Anyway, be assured this is not an isolated incident. Gender and gender privilege deeply inform *everyone's* responses to, well, *everything*. Swaggering proponents of nuclear power, dismissive of risk, overbearing in tone, convinced of their heroic mission to Save Us All, are almost always male. NASCAR-cult mockery of environmentalists as a bunch of sissies (as by neothug groups like the "Sahara Club") stinks of misogyny a mile off. "Manarchists" on the radical fringe continue the swaggering and posturing tradition with a different libretto. The politics of male supremacy and entitlement cross all party lines. Misogyny is as omnipresent and unconsidered today as racism was 80 years ago: it permeates thought, word, and deed.

  103. Lynn and DeAnander -

    much thanks for your salient comments! Everything I write is generally ignored so becoming a publicly reviled object (I saw I am variously being descried as feminazi, toxic, and "this Gail woman") has been difficult.

  104. “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win” (Mahatma Gandhi). You're almost there!

  105. " beetleswamp said...
    I read her blog and it's obvious she just wants to the the center of attention."

    It grieves me so much when I see this shit. i don't want to be the center of attention. What I want is for the trees to live, and if somebody else would like to take on this incredible threat to their survival - and ours - I just couldn't be happier to shut the fuck up about it.

  106. I believe "feminazi" was one of the favourite slurs hurled about by Rush Limbaugh in his heyday, so... consider the source.

    When you challenge male supremacy you challenge the Holy of Holies, so you can expect a sh*tstorm. Every day in this sorry world, women suffer threats, insults, battery, assault and even murder at the hands of -- almost exclusively -- men; yet as soon as a woman complains about male power, male privilege, or male violence, predictably a bunch of dudes get all upset and start calling her a man-hater, feminazi, etc. Kinda like the Tea Party gets all riled up and claims there's a War on Christians if anyone objects to enforced prayer in schools :-)

    No one gets more righteous and irate than a person accustomed to a certain privilege or status whose privilege or status is suddenly called into question. That's just human nature for ya. There are, unfortunately, a lot of guys out there who just can't stand the idea of women being free or equal; their self-image as "masculine men" absolutely requires that non-masculine persons like women have to accept 2nd-class status; then and only then will they be polite or pleasant to their underlings. Kinda like plantation owners who could be kind and magnanimous to their house slaves so long as the slaves were suitably subservient and obedient and everybody (seemingly) agreed who was Boss; but if any slave ran, resisted, gave any sass, even *looked* angry or sulky, gawd help him or her -- the whip and the noose were ever handy.

    Here's a couple of links about massive harassment campaigns directed specifically at female bloggers -- you can find much, much more if you look.

    It's a pity -- you'd think that the peak/doom subculture of the internet, having much bigger and more serious things on its mind, would be less susceptible to these macho ego-trips. But alas no -- we carry our cultural baggage with us no matter to what strange and far ends of the industrial time-curve we try to travel.

    And just to show that every situation, no matter how tedious and repetitive, may be good for a laugh

    (Note that, ironically, the publication of this comic triggered *exactly* the same dogpile that the author was documenting and making fun of!)

  107. Gail.

    It appears you trolled Dmitry Orlov. Not many people can say that.

    Trolls are intentionally irrational in order to either victimize or be victimized (sometimes both).

    This is a good example...

    "In answer to a question about how LGBT minorities were treated in, say, Amish culture, he averred there would be no way to know since they are so private and secretive - but when asked about physical abuse, he responded that they wouldn't be able to conceal 'a gunshot wound' from outside authorities, as if all beatings have to be that extreme to fall into the category of abuse."

    First, even from what you said I can tell you didn't understand his answer about the Amish being secretive. Given my experience with conversations like this I'd wager that you intentionally failed to understand what he was saying.

    Typically the troll will repeatedly ask the same question using different words. This is done until the trollee gets frustrated enough to say something that the troll could use to emotionally charge the conversation.

    It seems it didn't take long.

    Obviously Dmitri stated that he didn't have enough data to form a conclusion about the Amish but that didn't stop you from asking about abuse.

    Then, his reply obviously meant that the only abuse that we could observe were the cases that could not be hidden, like gun-shot wounds. That further reinforced his previous assertion that he didn't have enough information to draw a sound conclusion.

    It was completely irrational to conclude that Dmitri would only call something abuse if it were as severe as a gun-shot wound.

    Yet that is what you did conclude while failing (probably intentionally) to grasp what he made obvious twice. Why would a rational person do that?

    Well, by definition, a rational person would not.

    The only thing I fear as much as an all powerful patriarchy is an all powerful matriarchy. The reasons for that mainly stem from the type of behavior I'm describing above.

    Your behavior was just as macho and egoic as that out of any testosterone filled male I've seen. You've become what you hate. Hate tends to do that to people.

  108. Non illegitimati carborundum, Gail.

    It's all just electrons...

  109. My carbon footprint, and what I do about it, is described in the current issue of the Permaculture Activist, and here:

  110. Gail, explaining yourself to bullies gives them credibility. Consider that you are validating their blather by taking it on face value. They are out to yank your chain.

    Mr. Universe (sic!) is an ego-bloated troll. Pay no attention.

  111. DeAnander: one word: entitlement.

    Thank you for telling it like it is. :-)

  112. @vera

    I notice you're drawing attention to my screen name.

    I believe you're doing this to prove a point and that point is well taken.

    But hear me out.

    You are also the universe. At some time in the past every atom in your body was at some time in the depth of a star which exploded and eventually came to help form the Earth.

    You, literally, are a bit of universe that has gained consciousness. You're literally a bit of sentient cosmos.

    You have the right to post as The Universe too. :)


    I don't require an explanation. I know exactly what happened, as does Gail, deep down.

    She also knows that some of the conclusions she's reached are irrational and done only for the emotional charge she gets.

    She is human. Humans do it. Not just men.

  113. LOL
    Don't feed the trolls, folks, don't feed the trolls! :-)

  114. @vera

    OM NOM NOM :)

  115. Stuff I've learned from this exchange:

    Gail has a cruel and tasteless sense of humor.

    Open-door policies are the death of small groups.

    Dmitri and JMG are still my two favorite blogs, but now I want to find out more about Albert Bates.

    Guy Mcpherson is associated with Deep Green Resistance, a terrorist organization with an openly anti-transgender policy.

    Most of the stuff on Guy's blog is not very useful, and I'm inclined to agree with the Wizard on the whole NTE movement being just another apocalypse cult waiting to fade into obscurity.

    Trees are dying. Probably from geoengineering but nobody here has a working hypothesis and there's probably not much that can be done about it anyway.

    I don't care about dead babies from 2000 years ago. It's not particularly relevant to anything and looks like a sloppy attempt to add some shock value to a blog that basically attacks people for no reason.

  116. "nobody here has a working hypothesis"

    You should probably scroll on up to the top of the page and click on the link entitled "Pillage, Plunder & Pollute, LLC". It's Gail's book that lays out a very detailed and well-researched hypothesis on why trees are dying around the globe simultaneously.

  117. Thank you Amanda.

    Albert, I think it's nice that you plant trees to offset your increasing carbon footprint. I honestly don't think you are any better or any worse than me or anyone else. As the Unabomber realized, we can't escape the empire, no matter how hard we try.

    However, the entire notion of offsetting a carbon footprint is a useless and vain pretense. It's tragic because it is done with good intentions.

    The irony of people planting trees not just to make up for climate change but to absorb pollution so the air is cleaner for humans to breathe has been a regular feature at Wit's End. The obsession with CO2 by climate scientists and activists is another sad distraction regularly lamented on this blog. It's the OTHER emmisions that are killing those exact same trees you plant, BECAUSE they are absorbing ozone.

    This has to be the least popular truth ever to confront both right-wing conservative deniers, and progressive climate activists. Which is I suppose why it is just about universally ignored.

  118. Delightful description Gail. I very much admire your honesty and forthright comments. The inconsistencies that you have noticed can be explained by Ken Wilber's pre- trans fallacy, a tendency to elevate pre- rational cultures, to post rational wisdom. Unfortunately what is missed, is that many of these cultures and Orlov's communities were deeply patriarchal, which Spiral Dynamics would describe as Blue or fundamental. When we look for models of resilience, we tend to look at the good old days of the past and romanticize away many of the shadow elements. This is why I am grateful for your keen nose for bullshit. Keep it coming. I am a fan!

  119. Ravi, thank you, your comment started my day off much better than I expected!

  120. I just read some of the posts relating to Ozone pollution. Did you get an opportunity to discuss your hypothesis with Guy McPherson? If so, what was his take on it? Also, might reduction opinion CO2 emissions have a beneficial impact on tropospheric ozone formation! If so, the current focus on carbon may have unintended positive consequences on other forms of pollution as well.

  121. Ravi, I'm sure Guy knows what I think about ozone and trees but he has not given me his opinion. My guess is, he wouldn't think it matters much since he is convinced that rapid climate feedbacks will lead to extinction in the near term anyway (and he may well be correct). Yes - any reductions in CO2 emissions would help reduce ozone precursor emissions since the both come from burning fuel (mostly). The problem with focussing solely on CO2 is that certain people believe there are ways to geoengineer climate, which won't do anything to reduce ozone or address the other overshoot issues such as population and consumption.

  122. Boing...

    First mention I've come across of Ken Wilber in any of the multitude of environmental-ecological-decline-collapse-resistance-protest-and related sites & blogs I have visited daily for the past 5 years. Admittedly, I read comments on only a very few of those (like yours, Gail) - but I find this remarkable considering the insight provided by Wilber's lifetime of work in what can generally be called Integral Consciousness.
    Highly recommended...Thanks Ravi.

    Gail, I've been following all the various Age of Limits blog posts & comments and have been fascinated by the shitstorm (and reminded of why I tend to stay away from comments). What a trip.

    I'll repeat...your post is truly superb. Do not be dismayed by fools.

    You've probably seen that Orlov's talk is up on Doomstead Diner where you are prominently mentioned...

    "No one is smart enough to be wrong all the time" Ken Wilber

    Jacob Horner

  123. It amazes me how people can say they are not a feminist, or that they dislike them, but they can't even express what defines a feminist. Furthermore, when the tenants of feminism are presented they agree with them! (as long as they are not told that these tenants describe the definition of a feminist). Seems feminism has been turned into a dirty word by the powers that those who would like to dominate women. (It's a common trick used by those who seek to dominate another - to steal the word their enemy uses to define themselves, turn it a bad word, and then manipulate society to believe how 'bad' the group is that they want to maintain power over.)

    So what is a feminist? They want to have the same priviliges men do. They want to be treated with respect as an equal, with the same rights as men have. True feminists do not want "special privileges" or "entitlements" or to "dominate men" or to "be men" - they want respect as an equal. Why is that so hard to understand?
    Especially prevalent is the notion that feminists want to be men. While some may want to be like men many do not....they simply want the CHOICE and not have men's idea of how they should be forced on them.

    Up until recent times women could not vote, they couldn't own property - they were in effect property of their fathers and husbands and could even be beaten or raped without legal recourse. In more modern times they couldn't even open up a line of credit, and there is nothing worse you can call a man than 'a woman' - what does that say about how men think of women? I could go on and on - clearly a movement to help women was needed to help raise self-esteem (and still is needed).
    I just can't believe Dimitry considers the rights of the poor in society and the upcoming collapse as valid, but not the rights of women.

  124. Now I'm not saying there are not feminazis or deeply disturbed women who use political movements to achieve their agenda, but to shove all women into that category is faulty thinking.
    And to try and prove that feminists are bad by mentioning that some women hate feminists is wrong (as Demitry did with his example of Russian women who don't like feminism). Like I said earlier, many do not even know what a feminist really is. And there are many sick women who like the idea of being a child forever - being dominated by a man - dependent and taken care of like a child. For that safety they will do most of the work, be considered half a person, and even take a few blows to the head.

    Power corrupts, and that men by virtue of their greater physical strength have the advantage. It takes a real man not to use that strength to dominate and to instead offer love and respect by taking into consideration a woman's viewpoint too. And it takes a lot of effort to be empathetic - it's never easy to see another's viewpoint (especially if you have not been a part of the group being taken advantage of).
    Those in power don't give up that power willingly - hence a movement of women (and some supporting men) banding together and forcing the issue usually needs to occur, despite the horrible backlash it evokes in men who then feel they are surrounded by feminazis who now challenge their authority.

    Who are all these men surrounding Demitry who cannot marry American women because of the feminist agenda? No doubt they are men who could not cope with women refusing to treat them like little kings in their home - women who refuse to be dominated and want to be treated with respect as an equal. Obviously they are the men trashing women on his blog.

    I am appalled at the names he has called Gail and allowed his minions on his blog to trash her with.
    (Troublemaker, seeking attention, feminazi, troll, invalid because she didn't bring the right clothes, invalid because she has land and her daughter has horses, apparently stupid for looking at trees at the event - there was more but I will get even more angry if I search again to track them down.)
    Good God all she did was want matriarchal communities to be included in his communities that abide lecture. Is Demitry so insecure as a man that he can't take some gentle criticism from a woman? Wow Gail, you attention-seeking trouble-making feminazi! (translation --- you whining b*tch). We can certainly see from all this how Demitry would respond to women expressing a need in the coming collapse - best not to be in his camp.

  125. Thank you Luna. One of the funny things is, it wasn't even me who asked about the absence of matriarchal intentional communities in his talk. I just reported on it! Now that a few days have passed, I think Dmitri set the tone for hateful comments, even ridiculous comments from his readers like whether I brought enough warm clothes. Before he did that, he could have, for instance, written to me and asked for clarifications/corrections or even an apology if he felt there was some egregious error in what I wrote. Instead he revealed information on the internet about my family that I shared with him in a personal conversation, not as a public speaker or in open q&a sessions. I think that says it right there.

  126. I am so sorry this has happened to you. Your narrative was masterful, as I said previously. And, as others have said, you know you are good when you get Dimitri and his readers to climb right down out of their trees and chase you through the forest.

    Still, putting your personal comments to him out on the net is truly awful. I think there are a lot of folks in our (unfortunately) relatively tiny band of readers who will never see him in the same positive light as previously. I, for one, had hoped that he would take your criticism more gracefully.

  127. Thanks Lynn. I wrote that about the personal comments even before Morocco Bama aka noponyforyou used those comments at Nature Bats Last in a particularly vicious and absurdly inappropriate attack. Oh well.

  128. My husband and I have been trying to build a small micro community (4-8 people) for 10+ years. Because we grow so much of our own food on 5 acres without using fossil fuels (using manual labor and hand tools), we have found the biggest factor why is won't work is most people are physically lazy, out of shape and refuse to do the work necessary to survive.

    These are points that we need to rally around in order to build foundation for any of this to happen. We all have the choice of which community to subscribe to and this shouldn't even be an issue until we can commit to working.

    We are big supporters of Guy McPherson who visited our homestead last year and the core things we should be focusing on in the face of NTE. We've become a debating society rather than a doing one.

    You can read about us and our struggles in building community here:

  129. Just peeked at NBL for the ponyup. Awful. This is just a sample of the men who hang in collapsitarian circles, passing for "regular folks" until something triggers them, and then the fangs come out.

    My impression is that all the divisions among us matter not, except this one: trustworthy and untrustworthy. That Dmitry maliciously exposed you to this abuse by revealing online information you privately confided places him firmly in the latter camp. Shame, really. He's just lost me.

  130. Dear Garden Gate,

    That is a sad fact that you can't get a community to join in. I'd join but I'm too old - you wouldn't want me! Gardening is really hard work, even though it is satisfying and fun sometimes. I just spent the morning pulling weeks and that is not so fun.

    I honestly believe it would be very difficult to raise enough food without the extra energy of fossil fuels, particularly for times that the weather doesn't cooperate and crops may fail or animal get sick. It's easy for me to see how people in earlier times ended up in famines or epidemics from being weak from hunger. And not that there are 7 billion on the planet, I don't see anyway even half of them could be fed without the inputs of industrial ag - fertilizer and transport and medications etc.

    So that means some signficant portion of humanity isn't going to make it, especially considering resource wars and climate change. Maybe no portion is going to make it. Maybe that is the reason it has come down for many people to debate WHY. We always knew HOW but as you say, nobody wants to do it, and now it's too late.

    I'll definitely be following your blog though. Sorry to hear about your big leaf maples. That more than anything makes me think that we've already lost this one, as I see no will in politics or a social movement to stop the pollution that is killing life in both the ocean and on the land.

  131. How many people today would have what it takes, physically and psychologically, to make it in a subsistence setting without fossil fuels? One in 500? On in 1000?

    That would correspond to 7 to 14 million people in the world. That's in the range of my recent estimates of what the "truly sustainable" population of the Earth likely is: between 7 and 30 million people. Not sure what getting from here to there would look like, but there you go.

  132. That's a good question to raise, Paul. But the twist is that we need not "go back." For example Walter Haugen runs a pretty large CSA using only a rototiller. What if the rototiller was open source and easily repairable with salvage, and fed on plant oils?

    (Not that I like machine noise, but occasional bit of it I could stand.)

  133. In the short run you're probably right, vera. Getting back to a long-term sustainable level of 10 to 20 million people could take a millennium or more. Or less - it all depends. Between now and then there will be a lot of survival options tested around the world. Veg-oil rototillers will probably be among them.

    Personally, I expect to make like the trees, and leave...

  134. :-)

    On another topic, that is, on communities that don't abide, I just realized that I have joined Gail as persona non grata on Cluborlov and my last two comments were censored. Compare my comment with, say, the one about cojones and bitches.

    I said: "It appears that my comment never got through. Let me try again.

    Andy and Albert, I would love to discuss with you the issues you raise, in a less aggressive environment. Dmitri has flushed a lot of the goodwill that existed among his readership down the toilet. Savvy collapsitarian behavior?

    See ya at, I hope, and perhaps other venues will continue with the substantive puzzles raised at the conference and here."

  135. Welcome to my world, girlfriend!

  136. Yeah, I'm sorry to say that I've lost interest in Dmitry's comment threads -- maybe even in his site, of which I've been a faithful reader for lo these many years -- as of this flamewar. The immaturity and misogyny being displayed there are just too yawn-making and depressing; I ask myself, can't men stop resenting and dissing and insulting women even during the goldurned EOTWAWKI? It's always distressing when one witnesses a clever, articulate, amusing man suddenly devolve into a foul-mouthed, resentful, tantrum-throwing adolescent -- abandoning dignity as well as courtesy -- just because some woman, for 10 seconds, annoyed him. It's somehow even more distressing when the issues being discussed are so much larger and more important than anyone's ego. Sigh. I mean, GOI.

    I suppose it's unreasonable to expect guys in the doomer community -- just because they have seen through myths about infinite growth and infinite resources and so on -- to be able to see through the conventions of male supremacy and actually understand the limitations and constraints on women's lives as clearly as they understand the limitations and constraints on, say, ecosystems or capitalism. But it doesn't feel unreasonable :-) It feels like the ability to see past one set of myths and conventional narratives should equip and predispose one to see through others. And yet JHK (for one) periodically recycles a rather quaint racism, and many doomer guys recycle a positively Edwardian outrage towards "uppity females." And everyone, on all sides, continues to sling around malicious misogynist slurs like "bitch" and "whore" (and worse) without even considering that women as a class are being insulted with each ill-considered utterance :-)

    It all makes a person feel rather tired, and like maybe primates were not such a good idea.

  137. Demitry Orlov Said:

    "There is a big unintended consequence that results from treating women (or men) as a (fake) political class: it cuts across the real class lines, to the great disadvantage of the lower classes. America's class war against its lower classes is a permanent, full-spectrum, total war, and it is by this point quite close to total victory. Among its foot-soldiers there are numerous higher-class, educated women ensconced in various official positions who, while supposedly championing the rights of women and children, end up oppressing lower-class, uneducated men. To do so, they rely on the services of America's oversize criminal-industrial complex, which imprisons a larger share of the population than Stalin did during the height of his purges, with the majority of the inmates male, non-white, uneducated and poor. Add to this the fact that in the US, as women joined the “workforce” (a term full of inane puffery), family incomes stagnated (women's wages have been subtracted from the men's) while family costs went up (because domestic services such as child care and food preparation now had to be paid for). The results of all this are plain to see: the US leads the world in the percentage of children brought up fatherless, many of them on public assistance that is becoming precarious. Eventually “men's liberation” will come and all these inmates will be freed—once the system runs out of money and can no longer spend the $60-80k or so a year it costs to keep someone in jail. Since jail is a deeply dehumanizing experience, the role these freed inmates will play in society upon release is unlikely to be positive. This seems to be the unintended but hardly unexpected consequence of politicizing gender: all fall down.

    To be able to criticize, one must first rise above that which you wish to criticize. As I outlined at the beginning of my talk, part of the rationale for looking into communities that work is that America, regarded as a community writ large, does not work. Of all the developed nations, it has highest rates of spousal abuse, child fatalities from parental and other abuse and violence, highest divorce rate, highest teen pregnancy rate, highest rate of STD inflection among teenage girls, highest rates of depression among women, children who have to be medicated into submission to force them to cram for meaningless standardized tests... the list is very long. It is a case study in societal failure. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Before you criticize others, you should first reflect on what your own people are like, and, if they are that bad, then perhaps you should just zip it.

    One potential comeback is along the following lines: Of course we have the right to criticize; we are not like those other trashy/dark-skinned Americans! We are white, upper-middle-class, Ivy League-educated, we send our children to private schools and our outcomes are as perfect as our pearly-white teeth! (The infamous Gail shared that she has a daughter who owns five horses and rides them every day and a son-in-law who keeps a 50-foot yacht on the Hudson. She lives surrounded by a private 2000-acre estate owned by one of the wealthiest families in America. Sorry to have to bring this up, but I think it's highly relevant. For 99% of you, you need to know that Gail is not “your people.”) Sure, the 1%ers are a successful community of sorts, but will they abide, given the sour mood of the people and all the guns and ammo they've stockpiled? More importantly, their main community-building principles seem to be “pay to join” and “pay as you go,” both of which would take too much money—which they won't give to us—so it seems like a waste of time to listen to them tell us how wonderful they are and how bad everyone else is."

    uh...wut? LOL

  138. Thanks Luna (I think!) for posting part of Dmitri's lament. Since it's here now, I'll just say that to extrapolate my financial situation from that of my son-in-law or my neighbors is beyond absurd. I suppose it's because I'm in the 1% that I was arrested in a direct action protest at Occupy Wall Street? Oh no wait, I get it - I'm undercover FBI!

  139. I hesitated about posting Dimitry's comments @ your blog, but I wanted people to see in his own words how he revealed private information about you in a public forum, as well as see more clearly how he blames/scapegoats women and has bizarre theories. Someone who does this should not be in a position of leadership in a community. I worry in the coming days about my daughter having leaders like this to guide others through the collapse.
    It's beyond creepy, the way he projected onto you. I started to see an image of an orange haired guy with an automatic I'm glad it happened though - often when you criticize someone you're able to see who they really are through their response. He dug himself into a hole further and further as he responded to it.

    I come from a background in Social Work, and then veered off into art. So I am sensitive to oppressed groups in society, and oddly enough he manages to turn the 1% into an oppressed group! (and those he imagines are in that 1%)

    Many men just don't get what feminism is about. I suppose it won't matter in the final phase of the collapse, as men will just use their upper body strength to force women to submit to their will again. There will be a descent downward though, who knows how long, and I just hope enough sensitive men will mitigate the suffering to women during that period.

    It's not that I think Demitry would be horribly abusive to women - I don't really know - the problem is that when you love this 'vive la difference' theory as he expressed he does (and believe men should be in control due to their more aggressive nature, need to control, and upper body strength), then you enable men to feel it's ok to control women. This is where the worst abuse comes in, and this is why sexist men such as Demitry Orlov should not be in a position of leadership.

    What else can I say, except --- Gail, you need to make that son-in-law turn his big boat into a sailboat, make that daughter get rid of some of her horses, and next time you protest against the 1% you need to at least be in jail 6 months! - then we will consider your opinions valid. LOL

  140. I hesitated about posting Dimitry's comments @ your blog, but I wanted people to see in his own words how he revealed private information about you in a public forum, as well as see more clearly how he blames/scapegoats women and has bizarre theories. Someone who does this should not be in a position of leadership in a community. I worry in the coming days about my daughter having leaders like this to guide others through the collapse.
    It's beyond creepy, the way he projected onto you. I started to see an image of an orange haired guy with an automatic I'm glad it happened though - often when you criticize someone you're able to see who they really are through their response. He dug himself into a hole further and further as he responded to it.

    I come from a background in Social Work, and then veered off into art. So I am sensitive to oppressed groups in society, and oddly enough he manages to turn the 1% into an oppressed group! (and those he imagines are in that 1%)

    Many men just don't get what feminism is about. I suppose it won't matter in the final phase of the collapse, as men will just use their upper body strength to force women to submit to their will again. There will be a descent downward though, who knows how long, and I just hope enough sensitive men will mitigate the suffering to women during that period.

    It's not that I think Demitry would be horribly abusive to women - I don't really know - the problem is that when you love this 'vive la difference' theory as he expressed he does (and believe men should be in control due to their more aggressive nature, need to control, and upper body strength), then you enable men to feel it's ok to control women. This is where the worst abuse comes in, and this is why sexist men such as Demitry Orlov should not be in a position of leadership.

    What else can I say, except --- Gail, you need to make that son-in-law turn his big boat into a sailboat, make that daughter get rid of some of her horses, and next time you protest against the 1% you need to at least be in jail 6 months! - then we will consider your opinions valid. LOL

  141. That post of DO's is pure crankery.

    His bit suggesting that women are not a political class is just freaking stupid. Is he unaware that up until fairly recently, there were actually DIFFERENT LAWS for men and women? And that even now, women are still treated differently under the law, in actual practice? It doesn't get more political than that.

    I'd have some respect for DO if he were opening to learning more about the issues & concerns of women in all this. Instead, he seems fine with letting us die in childbirth. Nice guy.

  142. Another ugly, awful rant at CO, poison pill and all.

    All about projecting blame onto others, and zero responsibility for his own behavior.

    And the comments? The yes men piling in. Ugh.

    I really need to stop reading this crap.

  143. Hm, thanks for the heads-up I know to avoid it!

  144. Wow Gail did you question/challenge Demitry on anything else at the conference?
    (I just want to know what his next article will be about).

  145. Yikes Luna, I have been avoiding ClubOrlov since I'm feeling rather fragile after the last round, so I don't know what he has written - but from comments elsewhere I gather Dmitri has jumped the shark. Since his latest assault apparently inspired the hysterically funny comment at NBL from Alex, I'm actually rather pleased. I intend to print it out and affix it with magnets to my (pre-enlightenment) gourmet stainless-steel-and-glass restaurant-quality Traulsen refrigerator freezer, which is situated in the kitchen right next to my elite 1% AGA, a relic of my long-defunct marriage that I can no longer afford to heat.

  146. Wow, Gail, it's amazing to me to see what you've stirred up by expressing a few strong opinions. You uppity woman, you! LOL!

    As one who does not blog and who rarely comments, I think all bloggers must have pretty healthy egos or they wouldn't have the nerve to put themselves and their opinions out there. In our society, having a healthy ego is perfectly fine and acceptable for men, of course. For women, not so much.

    Don't let that stop you, Gail. Your tenacious observation and documentation of the decline and death of our trees is of great value, especially as no one else is paying attention. It certainly has made me more aware of what's going on with trees in my area. I now look for blotched leaves, peeling bark, rotten cores. Your photographic record of the same trees year after year speaks for itself, apart from any words you might add.

    Keep up your good work!

  147. Gail, you have really gotten under DO's skin! Imagine him devoting a second screed (this one verging on the insane) to your disagreement.

    He's a coward through and through. I wrote a comment that described the ways in which I could see both sides of the argument (what I called the Right vs. the Real), and he censored it, despite the fact that in both of his ranting posts he invites us to air our thoughts.

    I find it fascinating that he has dared to raise the cudgel of "shame", the deliberate cultivation of which I have always considered to be in itself a form of violence. More fascinating still are the illustrations accompanying his outburst. Most depict cartoon naked women, the first sad over having apparently spilled a glass of wine. The Italian translates to "sense of guilt", which is not the same as "shame" (vergogna). Other female figures are headless, bums up...

    I suppose this is just Exhibit #487 in the series "How Thin is the Veneer of Civilization", so yes, Gail, I would worry if I had daughters.

  148. Lidia, you are right on. Shaming people is usually verbal abuse. (As is guilt-tripping them, or blaming.) Goes along with all the other tricks he and others on his blog have used. Sad, really... ;-)

  149. Dear Gail, I left a comment at CO thanking Dmitri for introducing me to you.The snarky remarks on that forum bear no relation to your gentle post. I have been a fan of D.O. for some time and rather enjoy his utter disregard for all things PC. But these were valid questions. He may not have had an informed response handy but that is no excuse for depicting the questioners as a bunch of fanatics. I also wonder whether Russian women turned their backs on feminism out of sheer fatigue. Merry meet, will be following you.

  150. Len, the Russian women did not turn their back on feminism. They were subjected for 70 years to "women's emancipation" that was engineered by the male-dominated Party. It was not in any way a "women's movement." It got them to a place where they worked at their jobs, then had to shop (a job in itself, in that system) and cook and clean and care for kids, while men kept playing the privileged card in the household. Moreover, the pay was not equal for equal work, and the women often did the bulk of the work while the men sat in meetings. No wonder the whole thing backfired. Same for the satellite countries. But my sense is that it's beginning to shift now.

    (So, your perception of "sheer fatigue" is not far from the truth! :-)

  151. Just saw this comment on Morris Berman's blog:

    John Wolff said...
    I emailed popular collapsitarian Dmitry Orlov with criticism on his predictions about mass suicide and the soon to be popular profession of the roaming storyteller, and of his choice to live on a sailboat in preparation for the collapse.

    He responded by doing an internet search on me, and responding to my email with a jab about my sexuality. I think you have to question someone that responds to criticism with an attack on someone's character.


    Oh but one dare not QUESTION Dmitry!

  152. In the beginning I had some sympathy for Dmitri because he was kind of blindsided by the questions and I thought perhaps he was just being defensive and not representing himself at his most thoughtful. But as things have gone on instead of considering any other points of view, he has jumped the shark. Apparently a vindictive and self-righteous side of him has been revealed. It wasn't put there by anybody else.


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