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« The Rollercoaster is Over the Top | Main | How Will People React to a Collapsing Civilization? »

June 10, 2012


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Anywhere But Here Is Better

Stunning piece, George.

Along with the preservation of materials that might be useful to future communities of Homo xxxxx, I think this entire posting should be chiseled on a stainless steel monolith and buried in a suitable location for later discovery. I'd return to dust in a happier state of mind if I knew that some future sapient beings might learn that not everyone in our era was blind, stupid or lying about the necessary outcome of our species' over production and consumption of fossil fueled energy.

We may also need to include a neo-rosetta stone, as the English language circa 2012 is likely to collapse along with our amusingly termed "civilization."

Please sign the monolith 'George Mobus and friends' as I for one would be delighted to have you speak on behalf of all of us who nod and sigh every time we read your postings.

Robin Datta

Beautiful, simply beautiful.
What Will Be vs. What Could Be!


Thanks again, very sobering.

One thing that I believe shows your sapience is to make your writings free. I remember reading The Ecological Rift and it hit me that our ecological destruction is a least proportional to our income. I have started a 6 acre forest garden out of gigantic suburban lawn and my family always talks about what a great thing I have started and how I can sell all my produce. I just want to scream "NO!" If I did sell my produce it would only be to burn the money so it can never be used again to destroy this planet (granted I am no saint because my wife makes enough money to do all the damage one family shouldn't). I have come to see horticulture as one of our only truly advanced technologies (think chestnut and acorn forests of the native Americans). I think we could have more people in both food production and infrastructure category if we properly applied horticulture. Then again: What Will Be.

George Mobus


Thanks for your kind sentiments. I just hope that something I've said or did helps someone, somewhere, sometime.

I don't seek attribution. There are so many excellent thinkers, scientists, philosophers, and so on, out there in the world and in history that have contributed to my thinking. It is a collective effort!

And thanks to you for reading and thinking. Who knows what can come from this?



George, framing the situation we face in terms of hospice is profoundly insightful and rather sapient, as Brian implies.

At the risk of being morose, the human ape species will experience a scale of death as a share of the population in the decades hence never before experience by the human ape consciousness, even without the effects of falling net energy. That the rate of change of increase in population growth peaked in the 1960s, 35-40 years to date implies a peak in the child bearing of females and thus population replacement contracting 35-40 years thereafter.

Add to the population peak and deceleration Peak Oil, resource depletion, falling net energy, an emerging mega-drought, and the convergence of the Gleissberg and Suess cycles and the implied solar and geophysical forcing resulting in mid-latitude "global cooling" over the next 20-33 years (or longer), and the world faces at a minimum an unprecedented scale of death as a share of population from natural causes, famine, war, and ethnic/racial conflict and violence.

Death will become the dominant experience of a growing majority of the human ape population of the planet, including those of us in the West.

In addition to resources and income per capita, compassion, letting go, forgiveness, and acts of grace will be in high demand and likely in short supply in the decades hence.

Thus, we need a "new religion" to prepare the way for the trip into and through the bottleneck. But don't be surprised if in this context that we see ritualistic death and dying emerge in the form of death cults and the like.

Note from an historical perspective that Christianity (as it became in the 4th-5th centuries) arose out of the "Dark Ages" and somehow survived the the Goths, Huns, Black Death, Mongols, Turks, and Islam, only to evolve into institutions run by earthly acquisitors with their fingers on the buttons of nukes, HFT, and controls of smart bombs and drones.

I perceive that the great energy descent will encourage/require a form of austere monasticism, and the iconic models of tomorrow will be more like the itinerant carpenter rabbi of the 1st century and St. Francis of Assisi than Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, George Soros, and Mark Zuckerberg.


Thank you for this nice post George, I 'enjoyed' reading it.

I recall you reviewing 'Too Smart for our Own God' by Craig Dilworth recently. Wouldn't this author also be classified under the 'no hope' category, next to Catton?


You hit this one out of the proverbial ballpark George. Thanks for being honest, forthright and an example of the kind of sapient person we need for the ride down and out, if it is to be anything other than dire.

i was part of a group of about 30 strangers who met a week ago to discuss food integrity (coming to grips with Monsanto, etc) and i hope it morphs into an action plan along these lines. i'm completely ready to give up my job and work on this full time for the rest of what life i have and hope the others will join me. Money is becoming worthless, the food production and distribution system will stop at some point in the not-too distant future and most will be taken completely by surprise and be unprepared. Our political leaders are worthless.

Thanks again for your inciteful words, great book recommendations and for this site.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

@ Tom

If the concept of the Devil hadn't already been dreamt up, it would be a perfect characterization of food gene manipulators such as the megalomaniacal Monsanto.

I am stunned that the American public hasn't risen up en masse against what Monsanto has done to your food chain, with the full complicity of what passes for your government. And what they have wrought on farmers worldwide is a crime against humanity - forcing poor farmers to pay for what they used to collect for free from their own land: the seeds of the next crop.

As we disappear down the plughole, it will be a joy to see these parasitic slugs of the human type come to an equally sticky end.



I agree "jobs" will not "come back". But, I also think A.I. by 2030 -- though I would not be surprised if it were announced within 6 years even -- will change everything.

Just think how cheaply we can cure diseases and solve complex engineering problems when we're no longer constrained by the availability of brilliant people who attend school for 25 years to specialize in arcane magics. Take any medical or engineering challenge and let the machines loose.

Unless kept in check somehow, the AI "service" will constantly improve itself. Over time (perhaps quickly), its output will be indistinguishable from magic.

*IF* it doesn't destroy us (or isn't used to destroy us by those who control it), we could literally enjoy all the things people normally associate with "heaven": clean environment, peace, and endless fun for your immortal soul.

I'm not kidding. (And if I'm wrong about AI "saving" us, yes, we're likely doomed.)

Full disclosure: I have nothing to "sell" either. :-)


@wunsacon, your sense of mutualism is laudable. Thank you for sharing and demonstrating your admirable intentions.

"We" is the operative word. The "we" with the ultimate control of the system of techno-scientific knowledge and application and the allocation of returns from the division of labor have no intention of you and I enjoying a kind of futuristic techno-utopian "Heaven on Earth" in a more egalitarian distribution of net energy returns.

Consider that the Oil Age era's capitalist system of extraction, production, and consumption is unprecedented in its ability to "efficiently waste" COLOSSAL amounts of natural resources per capita (what is referred to as "wealth") in the process of turning the planet into a MASSIVE waste dump (credit to Jay Hanson of for the ultimate benefit of 0.1% of the population of the planet.

If one were a dispassionate extraterrestrial observer examining closely what has happened to the planet over the past 80-150 years, one might conclude that those at the top of the hierarchical system of status, income and wealth distribution, and power relations were aliens from another planet who long ago clandestinely invaded the planet and whose purpose was to enslave the planet's population to a parasitic system of fatal exploitation and resource extraction at the expense of the bottom 99.9%.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

@ Bruce, excellent rationale regarding the aliens who have taken over the earth.

Let's call them the Psychopaths of Zog. I remain convinced that the psychopaths in control of financial services and government (loose terms) who have brought all of us to the edge of mass ruination are as a minimum a sub-branch of the Homo family. If they fell to earth by accident or design at some point in the past, that would not surprise me either.

What does surprise me is the great swathe of Homo sapiens simply belly-upping in the face of the psychopaths. "We" have let these abominations kill our home planet right under our noses, and some of "us" even fawn over such high personages as the corporate marauders of Wall Street, as if they are gods rather than mere empathy-deficient greed-meisters. The tugging of forelocks is audible, and causes me additional pain.


@Anywhere, well said.

That perhaps 90-95% of us in the West have been "educated" or socialized to internalize the religious-like belief in perpetual growth of population and consumption of resources on a finite planet, "we", i.e., in this case the 90-99%, are virtually incapable of imagining alternatives because the division of labor, tax code, and system of allocation of net energy per capita and income and wealth does not reward it, therefore, it does not effectively allow it.

In large part this is because capitalism is highly efficient at allocating resources and rewarding those with the most accumulated financial capital to deploy at sufficient scale to ensure that the majority of gains are captured in the shortest period of time increasingly at the cost of labor.

But this is not an original idea, of course, as Marx made the case a century and a half ago. But one cannot quote Marx for his brilliant critique of capitalism without being branded a Marxist and thus utterly discredited.

Similarly, one cannot argue the case for the impossibility of perpetual growth on a finite planet without being labeled anti-American, anti-business, a lunatic, a maladjusted loser, or just plain irrelevant.

The ballot box is now gilded, secured within a platinum vault, and surrounded by a perimeter fence constructed of Californium 252. We can't get near the ballot box.

Voting for national politicians is an act of affirming those selected by the banksters and rentier Power Elite to plunder what is left of labor product and net energy per capita for the bottom 99%+.

What "we", the infinitesimally small share of the 99%, do in response is what matters (or not) at the margin for "us". "We" cannot depend upon the top 0.1%-1% or the vast majority of the 99% to "do something" that matters. Our salvation (survival of the trip through the bottleneck) is "us", not the top 0.1% or the mass of the 99-99.9%.

But who among "us" is prepared for the implied sacrifice and struggle ahead? What price for (r)evolution? What justification? Who will first cross the Rubicon but this time leave behind Imperium Americanum . . .?

Anywhere But Here Is Better

@ Bruce, I've often thought it's sadly typical that Marx's devastating analysis of capitalism was tarnished by a line-up of psychopaths around the world using it as cover to re-enslave resident populations under the guise (soon to become yoke) of collectivism.

I think of the poor yet stoic Russians, who have been horribly abused by a succession of fascistic 'governments' - first those centuries of out-and-out tyranny by the tsars, then the brutal and manic suppression by the Stalinists, followed now by American-style unbridled, officially sanctioned thuggery masquerading as 'free market' capitalism.

To think that 'Marxist' was and is used as a term of insult is laughable, and typical of the ruling elite's Orwellian approach to language. By the same analogy, to call someone 'American' would become an insult, if it's drummed into you that the imperialist US uses torture against its declared enemies (even its own citizens), despite its stated lofty principles of freedom, justice and rule of law. A vast number of Americans would see past the jingoism and abhor such torture, if they really understood what it meant to be tortured - and that torture is just about useless in achieving credible results. Therefore, to them, being called 'American' as a term of insult is incomprehensible.

Well, that's a bit of a ramble, but my point is that I don't care whether someone calls me Marxist, Anti-American, anti-business, anti-imperialist and the rest. I'll just continue to tell it like it is, as I see it. What the future holds for "us" - the 'infinitesimally small share of the 99.9%' - does as you say depend on what we do next. We are greatly scattered across the planet, so it's hard to get critical mass for a well-planned crossing of the Rubicon.

I continue to ponder this daily. I am 'downsizing' myself to a great degree, shedding the vacant concepts of ownership and possession so beloved by the greed-meisters, while remaining alert for tenable propositions of post-bottleneck living.

All the best and maybe, just maybe see you on the other side.

Bodhi Chefurka


Once again, you've done it. Your ability to make things absolutely, uncompromisingly simple and straightforward is an enormous, treasured gift.

I often wonder why those of us who have had this same vision continue to torture ourselves with "could" when we know too damned well all the reasons - from environment and culture to psychology and evolutionary biology - why "won't" is really "can't".

Please excuse me now, there is grieving yet undone.


The self-satisfied bourgeois professional middle-class and top 1% American households (top 10% in total) receiving average household incomes of $140,000 and up and possessing a net wealth around $1 million and up should be fearing a mass-social backlash by the bottom 90% working-class and working-poor masses as part of the long descent into post-Oil Age lawlessness and barbarism.

The emerging masses of tattooed youths without jobs and incomes will not be satisfied to stand by passively as the detached top 10% drive their BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, Land Rovers, Audis, and Minis, buying their $5+ Starbucks coffees, and shopping at high-end retail while those in the working class under age 35-40 can't afford a cheap car to live in, and especially not costly antidepressants or chic, mind-altering, recreational professional middle-class and upper-income substances to numb themselves to their plight.

History and human nature implies that the US risks conditions typically experienced in the so-called Third World: theft from, assaults on, and kidnapping, ransoming, and assassination of professionals, the wealthy, politicians, and the like. The Giffords attack might have been just the beginning.

But the response by the professional middle class (or the buffer caste between the elites and the masses) and elites historically has been the privatization and militarization of law enforcement, draconian state reaction, and mass surveillance of the population. The US has already begun this process, especially since 9/11. The Internet and mobile/wireless communications make the state's job easier, requiring at some point that rebellious individuals and groups either find clever ways around the state surveillance or disconnect altogether and fight the good fight "offline" and "face to hooded face".

Aboc Zed


how about free mary jane to everyone as a temporary solution until the whole finally gets into eloys and molohs?

humans are inventive; they can use other humans quite well as "objects"; and of corse the revision of 'morals' is well under way

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Bruce, the question is whether the grid is down before or after the days of reckoning for the greed-meisters and their pathetic lackeys. If it's before, no amount of snooping, lifting in the night and private security (a.k.a. police) will prevent sizable numbers making a move on the flaunters of wealth. If it's after, the lack of communications will hamper the flaunters's ability to control their protection systems, yet the dispossessed will still have their arms and legs and a capacity for moving en masse to locate and physically seize back filched resources such as food and water, knocking over whoever is in their path.

I abhor violence in all its guises, which is why I have disowned Homo sapiens in the still-primitive form that exists today. But as I witness the necessary outcome of psychopathic free marketeers given free rein to run the asylum, I will return to dust with the words just desserts passing my lips.


AZ, yes, decriminalizing cannabis, medicating young males for ADD/ADHD, and dispensing soma in the form of anti-depressants to the PMC and the top 1% who find it too overwhelming to deal with the society we have created (concentration of wealth and income, rentier-captured political system, militarization of the economy and society, etc.) is already well underway.

Can "poor farms" serving up Mary Jane, stimulants, anti-depressants, and eventually lethal cocktails to tens of millions of us be far off . . .?

Anywhere, I empathize, but the top 0.1% have the ultimate weapons of mass destruction to use against the rest of us any time they want to deploy them either selectively or en masse, including neutron bombs, genetically selected pathogens, broad-spectrum biological and chemical warfare, etc. The Pentagon can literally wipe out tens of millions of us over the course of a few months to a few years and call it an epidemic/pandemic, justifying seizing property, taking over the functioning of the economy, martial law, and who knows what other forms of social control in the interest of national security. This is not science fiction but evolution and the survival of the most adaptive, be they sociopathic/psychopathic or not.

But would we be otherwise inclined were we in a similar position of self-interest, privilege, power, and desire for our progeny to survive or even thrive in the post-bottleneck era? The logic of evolution suggests not; therefore, as AZ implies, this informs the way forward for all of us, whether we like it or not.


Great post George.

I've been reading your blog for a while and enjoyed it immensely, in as much as it resonates with my world-view and facing the predicament in which we find ourselves.

We should start a "die off with dignity" movement or something that helps people get their heads around this.

Anywhere But Here Is Better

Bruce, you paint an even more dreary scenario than my contemplation summoned up. It brings to mind the questioning I did in the 1960s/70s when there was a tangible prospect of nuclear attack as I slept in my bed (inevitably hyped up by governments to keep their populations in fear and therefore under the yoke). In those days, I concluded that if the Bomb was going to drop, I'd run towards it, not away, as I would have preferred instant death to slow death. By the same token, should the 'most adaptive' resort to genocide at bottleneck time, I would welcome rapid release from this humanity-free future. (Humanity as in humane, not as in Homo sapiens.)

One must ask the question, if the 'most adaptive' wiped out vast swathes of the population, who would be the serfs that the uber race rely on to do the dirty menial tasks? As we know, with few fuel resources, there would be a massive increase in menial work required for survival.

As to whether I would be similarly inclined - if I was a member of the 0.1% - to cull hundreds of millions/billions to ensure that my progeny survive, I am NOT in this sliver of 'society' by choice, not accident, therefore I can't answer your question.

To paraphrase Groucho Marx, I would not want to be a member of a club that welcomes a most adaptive psycho such as I would be.

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