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« The Real State of the Union (and World) | Main | Exploring Consciousness »

February 03, 2014


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Robin Datta

Actually there is no wizard anywhere:

“they have ceased to cherish any arbitrary notions of their own selfhood, other selves, living beings, or a universal self. Why? Because if they continue to hold onto arbitrary conceptions as to their own selfhood, they will be holding onto something that is non-existent. It is the same with all arbitrary conceptions of other selves, living beings, or a universal self. These are all expressions of non-existent things.”

- Diamond Sutra - A New Translation by Alex Johnson: Chapter 14


Your path mirrors mine closely, but perhaps because of age or personality differences, I haven't ended up at the same spot.

Specifically you say, "I finally realized that salvation was not in the cards," whereas I came to realize that salvation in the dharmic sense of the word is all we have.

Once I accepted that my frustration, anger and hopelessness came from an attachment to the way I perceived the world, it allowed me to let go of it. Your writing actually helped immensely with this because even though I do not agree about the bottleneck creating a good chance of true homo sapiens, it did make me accept that evolution is the fundamental underpinning of the universe.

Ultimately I realized that my attempt to try to tell people what was going on and hope that they would help was a form of permission seeking. I did not feel strong enough to try to live in the Right way on my own and so was trying to offload the responsibility.

Once I accepted that evolution is a reactionary process, then I started realizing that merely going out and living the Right way would suck in other individuals; providing that we were correct. This is exactly what is happening, and my engagement is skyrocketing.

I don't think my contribution or anyone else's will be "enough" in the sense of saving civilization. However, it will be enough to provide peace and contentment for those that choose to accept it. Perhaps society will survive, but who says it needs to be saved in the first place?

I haven't been afraid of personal death since a young age, because the fragility of life is so apparent. However, on an existential level I needed to believe that humanity would go on more or less like it is now because then my contribution -- however minor -- would last. In this way, the death of Civilization and Certainty is the death of each of us on a personal level, because it means our lives are truly meaningless.

When I accepted Dharma, I killed myself and became free. Now I'm focused on trying to help others do the same, through concrete means that provide their basic needs.

Survival Acres

We pass on knowledge, generation by generation, but only in bits and pieces, because we don't require most of this knowledge to be learned by our progeny (and much of it is unnecessary).

They in turn, show little interest until later on in life to know more - and understand our history, including our former knowledge. But as time and generations pass, most knowledge is actually lost to us, being poorly recorded, forgotten or distorted, and therefore, for these reasons (and a few others), we cannot rely upon knowledge to be what guides change.

We only really change by experience, which is why we are always repeating the same mistakes of the past.

It is through experience and the knowledge of that experience do we really seem to change in lasting ways. We do not get this from history, despite it being evident to any study of history.

We do not posess the capacity to pass on experience (and never have). Humans require learned experience in order to change. All the knowledge in the world, even if (somehow) learned, does not make us change, only learned experience will. And because of inertia as you mention, what few humans can change by learned experience, will never be enough to save the species from self-extinction.

Since we as whole population, lack the experience of what is yet to be, and despite the clear and readily available knowledge of what now lies ahead for us all (starvation will be first in the die-off to come), we cannot change in meaningful ways. If and when we would gain the essential and necessary experience as a population, it would be far too late.

Humans do learn from their (learned) experience, but it does take a lifetime before it becomes truly effective. And on this scale - a human lifetime - it will be far too late to change the whole of the population and the entirety of civilization to avoid or even mitigate climate catastrophe. We don't have anywhere near that amount of time left.

This is why we "lack" the ability to change that we've all harped on for years. And this is why we will fail.

There are other reasons of course (greed, corruption, selfishness, etc.) that I won't detail.

I too have finally "given up" after more then ten years of blogging on these same topics for the same reasons you have given (and a few more). I finally understand "why" we are failing. It took a long time to learn.

Tilting at windmills will drive you crazy in the end. I've also decided to spend the rest of my time here in more productive inquiry (and to stay sane). ~Survival Acres~


Your project sounds very exciting! I'm looking forward to hearing more about it. I would also like to see an analysis of permaculture from a scientific perspective - there's a lot of hype about how it can save the world, but I would like to see some hard numbers (especially as compared with conventional of GM agriculture with regard to land and water use). Most permaculture centers I know make the bulk of their profits from expensive workshops or eco-tourism. I guess that's the only way permaculture can be profitable enough to allow you to live in a Western society with all its expenses (like taxes, medical bills, insurance, education).

If it makes you feel any better, your posts have had a large influence on my thinking and have changed my understanding of the world. I don't think I'm a unique person, so there's hope that "just explaining how the world works" will cause changes at the level of the inividual. Iran has implemented a very successful family-planning program that all couples must take before their wedding, and it has succeeded in dramatically lowering the birth rates of the country. They can probably do this precisely because they are not a democracy.

michael Connolly

Artificial Adaptive Auyonomous Agents Sounds alot like Sky Net to me careful

Ken Barrows

I read "QE" and thought something else at first. But it shows my brain can be molded by media. If modern day media disappeared, maybe there would be hope. Or maybe not.

Paul Chefurka

This crisis is proving to be a golden learning/growth opportunity for those who can seize it. Thank you for sticking with your urge to communicate, George.

I have recently bailed out of most attempts to communicate about TEOTWAWKI issues. The reasons include my recognition of the pointlessness of the endeavour and out of a desperate need to husband my remaining sanity for more functional purposes

Your blog is one of the very few that I'm following now. Please accept my deepest gratitude all you have done over the years.

Keep on keeping on!


After all, from the Zen perspective, "no-thing" is happening; therefore, there is "no-thing" to do or be.

All else is illusory projection of human desire via thought clinging to the illusory images.

If there is "no-thing" to do or be, that is "what is".

St. Roy

I have joined Paul by just living in the NOW which seems to be what you plan to do. Your vision and insight, however, can help people mitigate the misery on the way. Whether bottleneck or extinction, the journey will be painful for most people. I suggest that QE become a guide to understanding and making the most of the trip.

Paul Chefurka

Interesting - three of us on this short comment thread have decided, along with George, to sep back from the effort to communicate what we understand about the situation because it isn't being heard, and would make no difference if it was. I'm seeing similar trends on Facebook and other blogs. I for one am not surprised by the change of tone, and I bet no-one else who has made the decision to pull back is surprised either.


I feel your pain. Indeed, I have long known intuitively that human culture was not going to change fast enough to avoid the disastrous results climate change, resource depletion and the associated financial crisis that are now so common we simply ignore them. I am an attorney by trade and the law is a great illustration of the themes you addressed in your blog. Law, entire discipline based on, well, nothing. Not a scintilla of anything even remotely scientific or in most cases even remotely reasonable is represented by this body of opinions and rules and yet decisions of life and death are doled out daily by the masters of this system. If there is any doubt about the validity of the results of the legal system consider the evaluation of testimony in any civil or criminal case note the value placed on the details especially during cross examination and then think about what the best science on memory tells us about the entirely artificial nature of our visualizations of past events. Alternately, ask an attorney, preferably of the serious well-paid dark suited variety, to explain how objections and other rules of evidence that keep people from just talking normally and telling their stories in court assist in getting to the truth and therefore presumably to justice? The answers are amusing and entirely cultural, being, as far as I can discern wholly without basis in any objective reality other than the collective opinion of other persons associated with the legal system.
I enjoyed your observations and thoughts on systems and on human consciousness and will continue to read as you change course.

Aboc Zed


it is a rare occurrence when a lawyer/attorney notices that law is merely codified opinions that have nothing scientific behind them.

i think you may be interested in a collection of essays at

especially the one that is at


What is the old saying?

'A word to a fool is silence.'

Mankind is,alas,collectively, that Fool.....


There is not "enough" per capita for everyone because, in effect, we collectively don't want "enough"; rather, we are socialized to want, and demand, more.

Consequently, a few at the top want it all, which compels everyone else to compete and struggle for the scarcity that remains after the top 0.01-0.1% to 1% lay claim, and thus secure, the vast majority of the ownership of resources, income, wealth, and the power that accrues to the ownership at the top of the hierarchy of power relations.

There can never be "enough" because the top 0.01-0.1% to 1% want it all at the expense of the rest of the human ape population.

One cannot have it all AND the rest of the population subsist and persist indefinitely in a "full world" on a finite spherical planet.

Speaking of "enough", there is currently not "enough" aggregate real wages, employment, and investment for there to be "growth" of "the economy" in 2014.

And this is particularly the case for real wages after debt service (10% of private GDP) and "health care" spending (18% of nominal GDP and 25% of private GDP).

I share these data to illustrate graphically that western economics is little more than imperial ministerial sophistry in support of the "growth illusion" via "debt-money illusion".

However, the cumulative compounding interest to total credit market debt outstanding to average term now exceeds US private GDP.

Moreover, the net interest claim from the financial sector now exceeds annual US GDP growth yoy. There can be no "growth" of real GDP per capita hereafter after debt service claims imposed by the rentiers.

But this is not a profound insight by any means, as the Anglo-American and European Power Elite top 0.01-0.1% have known for at least 40-45 years that the oil-, auto-, and debt-based western mass-consumer economic model would eventually prove to be unsustainable. The Rockefeller-Rothschild banking syndicate's "Great Leveling" espoused in the 1970s has continued apace since the end of Bretton Woods and the implementation of NAFTA, China's admission to WTO, and soon the finalizing of the provisions of the TPP.

What I present above is not theory, opinion, nor conjecture; it is empirical data derived from readily accessible data available to the public, i.e., those predisposed to seek, analyze, and present it.

I can personally attest that these data have been presented to select principals on Wall St., the Silly-Con Valley, and others in the UK, EU, and Asia. The typical response is a shrug or a yawn from those whose clientele have so much financial wealth that they perceive themselves as unaffected, protected, or, in some case, utterly detached from the implications for the rest of us.

The primary inference is that the top 0.01-0.1% to 1% have little or no sensitivity to the thermodynamic and exergetic "reality" with which the rest of us must contend.

"They" cannot, and will not, hear.

"They" do not have to hear or care.

"We" are on our own.

Who "we" are and what "we" collectively do hereafter will matter for the rest of "us" and our progeny.

But "we" are not informed about what "they" have in store for "us" that risks precluding actions that might sustain a necessary minority of "us".


Recently I have revived my research program in artificial adaptive autonomous agents (A4).

I have wondered what the best strategy might be to negotiate decline. The only "viable" plan is to plan for survival, otherwise you could stop worrying right away. Once you decide for survival you are best off if you try to stay on the top. So it is the same as always.

Ridiculously, in my current job I'm working harder than ever, and it is the same old thing I have always done, programming some kind of embedded system.

If Ugo Bardi is right though about Seneca the decline will be much faster. So on the way down you have to be more flexible than you were on the way up.


kt256, regarding the Seneca Effect, the effective fall off the cliff began in 2008 per capita when the US energy firms commenced investing more than $1 trillion to date to increase "oil" extraction at a doubling time of 5 years, resulting in the US extracting 30-35% of proven reserves in the space of 5 years.

In the meantime, the US exported as much as 55-60% of equivalent "oil" extraction in 2001-12 in the form of refined products, the fastest-growing export destination being China-Asia.

BTW, US proven reserves are at about 10 years' worth of consumption. The US is effectively extracting as quickly as possible "oil" to export that is too costly today to permit growth of US real GDP per capita. This implies that we will have less extraction/supply in the future at a price that will not permit anywhere close to the current level of material consumption per capita.

At the current differential rates of "oil" extraction, exports, and consumption to real GDP per capita, the US has "no more than" 2-3 years before a domestic and global of affordable extraction/supply crisis occurs, production declines, and consumption risks collapsing with real GDP per capita.

But real incomes and profits after taxes and debt service are again contracting yoy, implying that conditions are emerging as in 2008 and 2001 at the onset of recessions and stock market crashes. So the aforementioned extraction/supply shock will likely be preceded by a financial shock from insufficient household incomes and non-financial business profits, precipitating another financial crises that exacerbates the energy anf growth constraints per capita from Peak Oil.

IOW, the US has already fallen off the Seneca cliff, only most of us don't realize it, nor are we being conditioned to recognize the causes and what is required to successfully adapt.



I did avoid to nicely sort out my thoughts and make a coherent story out of it.

Maybe to put it all together I should say that, while staying in my job might secure me a comfortable middle class position, the job is at the same time the most prone to go away. Instead it could be beneficial to find another job that is more resilient, even though it might be even harder to give up my current position and learn something new. However, the fact that I have to work harder in my current job may mean that it may soon go away all together so maybe switching will not be so difficult in the end.

Regarding the cliff fall, I still think that we just have started to slide a little down the slope.

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