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Author Topic: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future  (Read 19933 times)

fishmahboi

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Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« on: July 07, 2013, 09:34:11 PM »
From my reading of the various threads that populate the Consequences subforum I have the say that the near future looks awfully bleak and one that people may have to try their best to prepare for the future as extreme weather wipes out entire crops and conflict consumes entire countries. But at the same time there are likely to be those who think about this negative future that is coming up; the lack of resources, the weather, the conflict, and they might think that there is no point to trying to prepare for the future as they might think that the resource scarce world coming up is one that may not be worth trying to exist in, for example a future that is akin to The Road, and thus they just give up.

The main premise of this thread is to see what people's opinions are on the issue of trying to prepare for the Post AGW future. Do people think that if one can prepare in a suitable manner, then they can get through the apocalypse that is to come, do people still feel hopeful, but think that it is only up to luck as to whether or not they survive in a Post AGW World or have people already threw their hands up in the air and have given up.


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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2013, 11:38:50 PM »
From my reading of the various threads that populate the Consequences subforum I have the say that the near future looks awfully bleak and one that people may have to try their best to prepare for the future as extreme weather wipes out entire crops and conflict consumes entire countries. But at the same time there are likely to be those who think about this negative future that is coming up; the lack of resources, the weather, the conflict, and they might think that there is no point to trying to prepare for the future as they might think that the resource scarce world coming up is one that may not be worth trying to exist in, for example a future that is akin to The Road, and thus they just give up.

The main premise of this thread is to see what people's opinions are on the issue of trying to prepare for the Post AGW future. Do people think that if one can prepare in a suitable manner, then they can get through the apocalypse that is to come, do people still feel hopeful, but think that it is only up to luck as to whether or not they survive in a Post AGW World or have people already threw their hands up in the air and have given up.

A lot of people do just give up - but I personally am not. Perhaps my optimism is misplaced that I can find a suitable strategy, but I'm not one to concede defeat. From a selfish perspective - the more people just throw up their hands and give up - perhaps the faster initial collapse occurs and the sooner the few who prepared or who coped will be left to make sense of what's left? (that might be a positive thing...)

Seriously though - a lot of people get hung up on how bleak the future looks, and I don't really understand why. We live in a world where unimaginable numbers of people (can you picture even a single million mentally?) starve to death, are raped, tortured, enslaved and killed in premature violent deaths today. Why do people obsess about the bleakness of the future when we already live in a very bleak world - if you want to take that perspective.

The way I see it, we don't face anything at the individual level beyond the already extensive range of human experience (bear in mind one can even find examples of people who survived both atomic blasts at Nagasaki and Hiroshima) and the bottom line is that when circumstances become sufficiently brutal death tends to follow - and that is a solution to all your problems (in an ironic sense).

I do not understand why it should not only be possible to survive, but also to enjoy life in a post collapse world. Certainly - life may be shorter, harder and with more risks. But what about the simple pleasures in life? Will there not be sunsets to appreciate? Can one not enjoy social gatherings and meals and stories and suchlike? Why does the loss of modern civilisation have to automatically entail a bleak expectation of the future? Do we suppose people never had fun or enjoyed life until fossil fuel powered modern times? (I know there is a certain amount of myth perpetuated about how hard ancient peoples had it, presumably as we want to feel superior to them).

Look at some of the ancient empires - their art, music, traditions. Ask yourself - is there no pleasant life that can be achieved without fossil fuels? People have done it many times in the past - and for thousands of years at a time.

Furthermore, in my experience of life at least - life in the modern world can be littered with incredibly challenging and difficult episodes. I've already collected enough adversity in my life so far in the modern world to possess a certain self confidence in my ability to deal with shit.

I think the problem is more one of herd mentality that motivation. When it comes to crunch time - people will fight to survive, fight for food, fight for their children - etc. They will respond to the immediate pressures of the situation as the imperatives encoded in their genetics by evolution dictate.

Given most people will follow this immediate pressure encoded into their genes - it's the smart choice to prepare appropriately? The only other thing that makes sense is to prepare to withdraw yourself from the equation.

And again - I do not see why one can not live well in a post collapse world.

fishmahboi

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2013, 12:09:12 AM »
From my reading of the various threads that populate the Consequences subforum I have the say that the near future looks awfully bleak and one that people may have to try their best to prepare for the future as extreme weather wipes out entire crops and conflict consumes entire countries. But at the same time there are likely to be those who think about this negative future that is coming up; the lack of resources, the weather, the conflict, and they might think that there is no point to trying to prepare for the future as they might think that the resource scarce world coming up is one that may not be worth trying to exist in, for example a future that is akin to The Road, and thus they just give up.

The main premise of this thread is to see what people's opinions are on the issue of trying to prepare for the Post AGW future. Do people think that if one can prepare in a suitable manner, then they can get through the apocalypse that is to come, do people still feel hopeful, but think that it is only up to luck as to whether or not they survive in a Post AGW World or have people already threw their hands up in the air and have given up.

A lot of people do just give up - but I personally am not. Perhaps my optimism is misplaced that I can find a suitable strategy, but I'm not one to concede defeat. From a selfish perspective - the more people just throw up their hands and give up - perhaps the faster initial collapse occurs and the sooner the few who prepared or who coped will be left to make sense of what's left? (that might be a positive thing...)

Seriously though - a lot of people get hung up on how bleak the future looks, and I don't really understand why. We live in a world where unimaginable numbers of people (can you picture even a single million mentally?) starve to death, are raped, tortured, enslaved and killed in premature violent deaths today. Why do people obsess about the bleakness of the future when we already live in a very bleak world - if you want to take that perspective.

The way I see it, we don't face anything at the individual level beyond the already extensive range of human experience (bear in mind one can even find examples of people who survived both atomic blasts at Nagasaki and Hiroshima) and the bottom line is that when circumstances become sufficiently brutal death tends to follow - and that is a solution to all your problems (in an ironic sense).

I do not understand why it should not only be possible to survive, but also to enjoy life in a post collapse world. Certainly - life may be shorter, harder and with more risks. But what about the simple pleasures in life? Will there not be sunsets to appreciate? Can one not enjoy social gatherings and meals and stories and suchlike? Why does the loss of modern civilisation have to automatically entail a bleak expectation of the future? Do we suppose people never had fun or enjoyed life until fossil fuel powered modern times? (I know there is a certain amount of myth perpetuated about how hard ancient peoples had it, presumably as we want to feel superior to them).

Look at some of the ancient empires - their art, music, traditions. Ask yourself - is there no pleasant life that can be achieved without fossil fuels? People have done it many times in the past - and for thousands of years at a time.

Furthermore, in my experience of life at least - life in the modern world can be littered with incredibly challenging and difficult episodes. I've already collected enough adversity in my life so far in the modern world to possess a certain self confidence in my ability to deal with shit.

I think the problem is more one of herd mentality that motivation. When it comes to crunch time - people will fight to survive, fight for food, fight for their children - etc. They will respond to the immediate pressures of the situation as the imperatives encoded in their genetics by evolution dictate.

Given most people will follow this immediate pressure encoded into their genes - it's the smart choice to prepare appropriately? The only other thing that makes sense is to prepare to withdraw yourself from the equation.

And again - I do not see why one can not live well in a post collapse world.

That's quite an optimistic opinion of a post AGW world because one reason I would have for people just giving up is that a post AGW world is one with absolutely nothing in it, now maybe I'm being too pessimistic, but that's how I've always thought about it.

JimD

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2013, 01:58:18 AM »
From my reading of the various threads that populate the Consequences subforum I have the say that the near future looks awfully bleak ....

The main premise of this thread is to see what people's opinions are on the issue of trying to prepare for the Post AGW future. Do people think that if one can prepare in a suitable manner, then they can get through the apocalypse that is to come, do people still feel hopeful, but think that it is only up to luck as to whether or not they survive in a Post AGW World or have people already threw their hands up in the air and have given up.

fishmahboi,

A good topic.  As always there are an infinite number of answers to the basic situation but I suspect you are really questioning for yourself specifically.  Here are some thoughts.

When?  How one reacts starts with a determination of exactly when is "when".  As I have mentioned before I think that significant collapse will occur around 2050.  Others have different opinions.  You have to decide approximately when "when" is to you.  No one can do it for you.  But what you do has to have some timeframe attached to it or you will not be able to make decisions on what to do.

How old are you?  I am getting long in tooth as they say so what I do (assuming my date) would be very different for you if you were say 15-20 (and assumed the same 2050).  I will be dead before my date and so what I do has relevance only for those who will live after I am gone.  If you are young enough that you have not finished your education then I would think about picking a profession that would be a great choice for what may be approaching.  If you are in the middle and have a family then you do your best for them as that is your responsibility.  And helping to educate your children for the future is a critical job.  If you don't have children do you think it is wise to have any? If you are single find a good mate and enjoy living with them.  And so on.  If I was young I would be heading off to medical school and orienting towards trauma surgery and emergency medicine. Or other good choices besides medicine would be West Point, mechanical/electrical/civil engineering, physics, farming.  The important stuff.  Learn all the blue collar hand skills one has time for.

Where do you live?   If you live in one of the rich and powerful countries it is a big advantage stay there.  If you don't can you emigrate to one?   Odds are places like North America, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand are going to hold together longer than a third world country.  If you are in an in between place YMMV and you will need to figure out what can work there and if there is a place there for you.

We all want to survive and we want those we love to survive.  It is a natural part of our makeup and we do not need to feel guilt about it.  Work hard towards that goal.  Never despair or give up hope.  That is just foolish as it makes you perform poorly.  Besides, history has shown that things often take a lot longer to disintegrate than often seems likely.  Whatever ones age is there is a significant possibility that you will live out a natural lifespan in a world that may be a bit harsh but does not include the big die-off.  Just because a collapse is probable and one should be as prepared for it as much as practical does not mean that it actually happens when one supposes.  Live a good life and do something meaningful.  There is great satisfaction in doing that and it is pretty much all one can actually do in any case.

Don't plan for utter collapse in 5 years like some are doing.  There is no point in that as it is very unlikely to happen and if it did there is no real time left to get ready for something like that.  That is the road to despair.  Talk yourself into a more realistic date and plan for that.  For instance while I think the date is around 2050 my son, who worked for Greenpeace for many years and knows as much about this as I do, thinks real collapse will not occur until after 2100.  Go figure!
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2013, 05:46:26 AM »
Don't plan for utter collapse in 5 years like some are doing.  There is no point in that as it is very unlikely to happen and if it did there is no real time left to get ready for something like that.  That is the road to despair.  Talk yourself into a more realistic date and plan for that.  For instance while I think the date is around 2050 my son, who worked for Greenpeace for many years and knows as much about this as I do, thinks real collapse will not occur until after 2100.  Go figure!

I dunno - while none of us can really say for sure when collapse will come, I prefer the idea of preparing for more pessimistic and near future dates even if not very likely - less chance to be caught on the hop as badly (although of course one simply cannot plan or prepare for everything - being able to rapidly plan and act on the fly as things unfold is just as critical). And in any case - since we don't know exactly when - why not front load the effort even if you think it'll take longer to happen? Contraction of the timescale could easily catch anyone delaying on the hop given it takes years to meaningfully plan and prepare for the problem at hand.

That doesn't apply of course if one fervently believes one will be dead before 2050 and that it will take until then for major problems to manifest. The more logical thing in this instance would be to work to prepare the next generation if you are responsible for any of them.

Way I figure it, the sooner one has plans and strategies in hand, the sooner one can get onto tackling bigger and less achievable but equally worthwhile issues and living with relative security in knowing one has planned and implemented for a worst case.

Provided one can do so without sinking into despair - why not? One is likely to be prepared for a whole host of other things along the way... and if you are of a weaker socioeconomic status in even a western nation - there are still plenty of personal catastrophes or problems that can beset you today - never mind in 50 years.

In any case, this is an attitude problem. It always has been. Starting today - even if you expect to take 50 years to bring your plans to fruition - is better than starting in 40 years with a 10 year plan. Procrastination has always been a problem with these issues! It's time they stopped being "tomorrow" issues. That means we should do things today?

wili

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2013, 06:41:59 AM »
Sorry, folks. But I have limited patience for survivalist stuff.

It seems to me that the primary moral imperative is not to do whatever you can to perpetuate your own (miserable or otherwise) existence, but to minimize the damage you inflict on others.

If you use a sh!tload of fossil fuels preparing your doomstead or whatever, you are really just a big part of the problem.

The primary imperative, it seems to me, are to:

A) Minimize your own contribution to the problem, and
B) Fight the forces most responsible for bringing us to this sorry state.

(I guess I might add a C, too: learning as much as you can about what the actual situation really is, and perhaps something of how we got here...)

To paraphrase Bogart, the survival of one person doesn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world.

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Tor Bejnar

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2013, 03:47:33 PM »
Thank you wili!
The nature of my "A" has been a Prius since 2002, and a well insulated, fairly eneregy efficient, 1300 sq ft home built in 2005 within an intentional (not survivalist) community; no air travel since 2007; I may soon comute to work by bicycle, dispite the hilly narrow (therefore dangerous) road I must use.
The nature of my "B" is to educate or support (if they don't need educating) individuals who 1) listen to me and 2) are an influence on many others.
As I get better educated ("C"), "A" & "B" grow & develope.

"Utter collapse" happens in one place or another every year.   Friends of mine do trama healing work in Rwanda, Burundi, Kenya and Cambodia to help prevent future "utter collapses".  The Arab Spring is linked to AGW - Russia's heatwave several years ago directly led to increased food prices in Egypt, etc.; Moore, Oklahoma (2013) tornado; Calgary, Alberta floods - "All politics are local,"  even when brought on by global events, including climate change. 

I'm intregued by the term "Post AGW future."  I would love for this be the time when atmospheric CO2 is back to 350 ppm!  I'm sure my road would be safe for bicycling,  and my environmental job would be less about "recycle" and more about "reduce" and "reuse".
Arctic ice is healthy for children and other living things.

Laurent

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2013, 04:56:15 PM »
I am not a survivalist ! not at all !
But we cannot go on as we do now, we have to change dramatically, individually, by country and every where. The solutions may be will not be the same every where but over all we have to decrease (or stop) our CO2 émissions as soon as possible !
But try to settle a community based on this understanding is a very good idea. Survival is not far behind thought ! As Satire was saying we have to solve the question of fairness between societies (and between individuals too)! That may not be consider a response to AGW, fairness is something that have always be in the pipeline, but now we have no choice.
For example, we (France) import from China much more than we export, that has to change, an unbalance commercial asset cannot go on for ever. This within EU or outside !
Neven did post a video about George Carlin, this guy is saying we have no choice, that's partially wrong, we own our house (sometimes), you can choose to live with someone, share things... you have the choice to start an economy from the basic as cgwebmaster is saying and grow the technology on the move !

Pessimist: One who, when he has the choice of two evils, chooses both.
Oscar Wilde

« Last Edit: July 08, 2013, 09:35:03 PM by Laurent »

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2013, 06:25:20 PM »
A minor footnote - but is survivalist taken as a negative label or something not to aspire to?

Are we not all essentially "survivalists"?

I mean that in the sense that we all keep doing the necessary amount of work to keep living. Not only that - but I'm pretty sure the vast majority of participants on this forum are continuing to exist within a society in a fashion that is causing a lot of these problems.

Quote
If you use a sh!tload of fossil fuels preparing your doomstead or whatever, you are really just a big part of the problem.]If you use a sh!tload of fossil fuels preparing your doomstead or whatever, you are really just a big part of the problem.

Ignoring the fact one can't rely upon an existence predicated upon fossil fuels if you have any sense - we are all a big part of the problem already. Can anyone here say they are 100% carbon neutral and using no fossil fuels at all?

Taking the idea of personal responsibility in terms of not doing harm to the logical conclusion one should entirely opt out of participation within most societies operating globally today. That might well mean not being able to survive today - are we not therefore all survivalists at heart by default? You might be using the fossil fuels to exist within the current system instead of "preparing your doomstead" - you are still part of the problem!
« Last Edit: July 09, 2013, 01:34:17 AM by ccgwebmaster »

JimD

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2013, 06:46:12 PM »
Optimists are the people who think the tooth fairy solves problems and they sit around dreaming of fantasies of utopia thinking everything will be all right and singing kumbaya!  Let's get a grip here.   To be a real problem solvers you have to be a pessimist because to really solve problems you have to figure out all the downsides and factors which make things break or not work.  Probably the most universal law of all is Murphy's Law!  Then you figure out how to fix them.

I appreciate from a humanist standpoint your comment on fairness.  In an ideal world and given a couple of thousand years more evolution perhaps we could find a way to change our fundamental nature.  But you cannot reason your way to such change.  In the world we are heading into many of the trappings of modern civilized behavior are going to be too difficult to maintain and as our civilizations complexities decline so will many of our behaviors revert to the human norm.  Our politics is certain to become less democratic and more authoritarian.  Religion will grow in importance and influence and along with that back will come a lot of the more unfortunate sides of human ignorance (I have no doubt that the fundamentalists of the world are going to get more powerful).  We live in a world that is FAR beyond its carrying capacity.  This is our #1 problem.  AGW is a consequence of it.  There is simply not going to be room for all of us on the planet and most are going to have to go.  Explain to me in any rational way how that can end in anything but badly.  In bad situations people are not going to play fair.  It is as simple as that.

I find it pretty amusing when folks get all wrapped up around the semantics of words like "survivalist".  You are all oriented towards that desire to survive or you would not be on this blog talking about what we can do to survive.  You hate the word "pessimist" but all you talk about are all the things that are going wrong.  By any normal definition we are all survivalists and pessimists.  The optimists are over at WUWT making fun of all of us.

The reasons it makes no  sense to completely change over your life on the possibility of complete collapse in 5 years are many.  1. Is that the data indicates that it is such a low probability event that a cost benefit analysis of doing so would dictate taking a longer view.  2.  If it does come that quick it is almost impossible to be properly prepared in any case if you are not ready now (there are indeed some who are ready ... those pesky survivalists again).  3.  Will your family cooperate  4. Do you have the resources  to pay for the transition ? and many others.

It seems as if almost all of the posters on this blog are already changing their lives in small ways in order to cause as little damage as possible.  I have always lived simply but I  go out of my way to do so now.  I owned and operated an organic farm for a number of years.  I do environmental work as a volunteer.  I do not fly.  I live in a small efficient house.  Etc. Just like lots of you.   By definition we are already taking the long approach to this so why advise others differently?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #10 on: July 08, 2013, 11:00:34 PM »
The reasons it makes no  sense to completely change over your life on the possibility of complete collapse in 5 years are many.  1. Is that the data indicates that it is such a low probability event that a cost benefit analysis of doing so would dictate taking a longer view.  2.  If it does come that quick it is almost impossible to be properly prepared in any case if you are not ready now (there are indeed some who are ready ... those pesky survivalists again).  3.  Will your family cooperate  4. Do you have the resources  to pay for the transition ? and many others.

I'm a trifle curious - exactly where do you set the threshold timescale for making significant life changes? If you think making a plan capable of responding to substantial collapse within 5 years isn't sensible, how about 10? 15? 25? Isn't that essentially very much a personal judgement call?

I don't think it's categorically necessary to devote ones life to even what you regard as an extreme planning scenario - but perhaps it depends how you live to start with? Due to the unaffordable cost of housing in the UK I lived on a (smaller) boat before I was even thinking about the scope for collapse (on any timescale). The changes to my lifestyle to accommodate a collapse scenario are therefore surprisingly minor (if one grants getting a larger ocean going boat was on the cards anyway) - a slightly different mix of tools/equipment/resources/priorities and a certain amount of thought and planning is about the extent of it. By the way - being almost free of fossil fuels is also something that doesn't overly tax this base lifestyle choice - it's virtually necessary if you want to sail around without deep pockets and large fuel tanks.

I'd certainly agree people shouldn't let the issue totally dominate their lives - it isn't time yet for people to run for the hills, that's for sure. But to be generally prepared - and to give the big issues of ones day thought - it's always time to do that!

wili

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2013, 12:08:24 AM »
I appreciate all the comments here, and I apologize if I came off too harsh.

I don't have time right now, but there was an article a few months ago that showed that pessimists weren't as good as optimists at many things--starting businesses, people skills...

But there was at least one area where the pessimists far outshone the optimists--accurately predicting the future.

I do think that we are all here to try to figure out what is about to happen, and I have seen few show up here (and stay) who are obviously wildly optimistically wrong about how things are likely to play out. Differences mostly come up in exact timing, and that is always the most devilishly difficult to determine.

Another somewhat more recent article showed that optimists are less likely to read about depressing subjects like AGW (quelle surprise!). The less they read about depressing things, the more happy they are, and the more happy they are, the less likely they are to read depressing truths. So we are more and more surrounded by (superficially? sometimes drug-enhanced?) happy people who want less and less to hear about AGW science, that is, after all, getting grimmer and grimmer.

On prep stuff--I mostly buy into the "no regrets" type stuff, the things that would be good to do in any case, even if the world weren't coming apart at the hinges around us. But always avoiding the most carbon intensive possibilities, where possible:

Gardening (as Neven likes to remind us with his tag from Voltaire's Candide)
Walking or biking to most places
Not flying
Mostly not eating meat and dairy
Enjoying and fostering local community
Making music, poetry, dance, love...
Fighting against the worst perpetrators of the geo-cidal madness

And of course chatting on blogs about the end of the world ;D

I honestly don't care much about my personal survival. I'm not planning to do anything dramatic, mind you. But living in a society that pretty much forces you to contribute to the annihilation of most life on earth I find to be a nearly intolerable psychological and spiritual burden, especially when hardly anyone can sympathize since they are more or less oblivious of the basic facts (or are otherwise morally compromised).

Thanks again for a great discussion.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Lynn Shwadchuck

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2013, 04:45:49 AM »
On prep stuff--I mostly buy into the "no regrets" type stuff, the things that would be good to do in any case, even if the world weren't coming apart at the hinges around us. But always avoiding the most carbon intensive possibilities, where possible:

Gardening (as Neven likes to remind us with his tag from Voltaire's Candide)
Walking or biking to most places
Not flying
Mostly not eating meat and dairy
Enjoying and fostering local community
Making music, poetry, dance, love...
Fighting against the worst perpetrators of the geo-cidal madness

And of course chatting on blogs about the end of the world ;D


I'm glad this thread was started, because it brings up the hard truth that we're the pessimistic choir and mostly keeping each other company as we observe the details of the slow-moving train wreck of AGW.

Pessimism doesn't equal defeatism. I like the way the posts here have pointed out that there are collapses happening all over the world. We in the rich world are facing the prospect of having to pay the piper. Some smart young people don't appear to be 'prepping', except they are solidly informed pessimists, so they won't fall apart if things start to fall apart in their corner of the world. Lots of boomers like me have moved to the country, but some are finding it a hard slog to make ends meet without pensions or some sort of non-rural work (performed online). Some have already unduly reduced their options by over-emphasizing individual self-reliance. I'm big on supporting local producers to build a self-reliant community.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

fishmahboi

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2013, 05:05:16 PM »
On prep stuff--I mostly buy into the "no regrets" type stuff, the things that would be good to do in any case, even if the world weren't coming apart at the hinges around us. But always avoiding the most carbon intensive possibilities, where possible:

Gardening (as Neven likes to remind us with his tag from Voltaire's Candide)
Walking or biking to most places
Not flying
Mostly not eating meat and dairy
Enjoying and fostering local community
Making music, poetry, dance, love...
Fighting against the worst perpetrators of the geo-cidal madness

And of course chatting on blogs about the end of the world ;D


I'm glad this thread was started, because it brings up the hard truth that we're the pessimistic choir and mostly keeping each other company as we observe the details of the slow-moving train wreck of AGW.

Pessimism doesn't equal defeatism. I like the way the posts here have pointed out that there are collapses happening all over the world. We in the rich world are facing the prospect of having to pay the piper. Some smart young people don't appear to be 'prepping', except they are solidly informed pessimists, so they won't fall apart if things start to fall apart in their corner of the world. Lots of boomers like me have moved to the country, but some are finding it a hard slog to make ends meet without pensions or some sort of non-rural work (performed online). Some have already unduly reduced their options by over-emphasizing individual self-reliance. I'm big on supporting local producers to build a self-reliant community.

I guess pessimism could always lead to Defeatism though, depending on how pessimistic someone is.

Well I'm hardly ready to really face the apocalyptic AGW future, but I guess it should be somewhat survivable as long as nuclear warfare doesn't break out and rip everything apart.

I have to say I quite like the comments that have been posted on this thread as they are quite informative and seem to give some hope for the future, however the thing about people having to go because of the world's carrying capacity being unable to accommodate for the amount of humans that populate the planet is quite depressing because it doesn't strike me as telling someone to try their best to survive the upcoming rapture, but rather it strikes me as telling someone that even if they are thrown into oblivion, it won't really matter because it's one less human sapping away resources from this planet. However as depressing as this is, noting the depressing aspect won't fix things one bit...

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2013, 11:19:43 PM »
ccg,

I'm a trifle curious - exactly where do you set the threshold timescale for making significant life changes? If you think making a plan capable of responding to substantial collapse within 5 years isn't sensible, how about 10? 15? 25? Isn't that essentially very much a personal judgement call?

I don't think it's categorically necessary to devote ones life to even what you regard as an extreme planning scenario - but perhaps it depends how you live to start with? Due to the unaffordable cost of housing in the UK I lived on a (smaller) boat before I was even thinking about the scope for collapse (on any timescale). The changes to my lifestyle to accommodate a collapse scenario are therefore surprisingly minor (if one grants getting a larger ocean going boat was on the cards anyway) - a slightly different mix of tools/equipment/resources/priorities and a certain amount of thought and planning is about the extent of it. By the way - being almost free of fossil fuels is also something that doesn't overly tax this base lifestyle choice - it's virtually necessary if you want to sail around without deep pockets and large fuel tanks.

I'd certainly agree people shouldn't let the issue totally dominate their lives - it isn't time yet for people to run for the hills, that's for sure. But to be generally prepared - and to give the big issues of ones day thought - it's always time to do that!

That is a good way to put it.  Of course it is a judgment call.   I have made mine and you yours.  Fishmaboi was asking for opinions so I offered my thoughts. 

I think the focus that some have on the short term 5 year thing is paralyzing to most of them.  Those that react to it tend to go into the deep end of the pool so to speak.  To me it makes no rational sense to do that.  It is clearly a very low probability event and risk strategy indicates that you are relatively safe to ignore it.  If you are already prepared for it in an adequate fashion then you don't worry about it either.  But if you choose to make it a focus then that will not allow you to properly prepare for other more probable alternatives.  For example suppose you are a bright 18 year old with good grades just getting out of HS.  If TSHTF when you are 23 then your best bets are a rural lifestyle where you can find a community to work with folks who grow food or you head for Ranger School.  Or something similar.  But planning for the future is sort of out.  On the other hand if you decide that your timeframe allows finishing your education then you roll the dice and shoot for something high (screw the costs as you are not going to be paying them back anyway).  Find some thing you think you will be good at and that will make you a valuable person to others.  Doctor, agricultural specialist, practical engineer, military/security specialist or things like that.  Don't pick Law as we are going to shoot all of them the first chance we get :) And you can rinse and repeat that thought process for any age or family situation to a point.  One can even choose to just ride it out while having a good time and let the chips fall where they may when the time comes (I know other Boomers and relatives who are fully cognizant of AGW who have told me that is exactly what they are going to do).

A big factor in how you think about this is what exactly collapse is and what happens.  To me collapse (or significant collapse as I like to say it) is not the slow grind we are in now that will continue on for many years but rather it is when the food supply is no longer sufficient to prevent widespread famine.  That is when the wheels come off the train and the big adjustment to the Earth's carrying capacity takes place.  It is that kind of collapse I am talking about. If you are talking about a different kind of collapse then we are talking past each other.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2013, 09:24:33 PM »
That is a good way to put it.  Of course it is a judgment call.   I have made mine and you yours.  Fishmaboi was asking for opinions so I offered my thoughts. 

I certainly wouldn't recommend a 5 year goal to anyone who can't simultaneously make both longer term plans and plan for life as normal far beyond that time, ie it would be foolish to predicate everything upon such a plan (which I think you touch upon in discussing career choices). I think my ideal is to know what one would do in either main scenario (collapse or not collapse) for an arbitrary time period from now forwards.

Quote
Don't pick Law as we are going to shoot all of them the first chance we get :)
Are lawyers even edible?  :o

One can even choose to just ride it out while having a good time and let the chips fall where they may when the time comes (I know other Boomers and relatives who are fully cognizant of AGW who have told me that is exactly what they are going to do).

It isn't that silly a plan in many respects. Certainly, nobody can prepare or plan for all eventualities and it's important to be able to walk away from a plan if it turns into the wrong plan - and to be able to adjust on the fly as things develop. Getting attached to the wrong plan or idea can in itself be a failing.

A big factor in how you think about this is what exactly collapse is and what happens.  To me collapse (or significant collapse as I like to say it) is not the slow grind we are in now that will continue on for many years but rather it is when the food supply is no longer sufficient to prevent widespread famine.  That is when the wheels come off the train and the big adjustment to the Earth's carrying capacity takes place.  It is that kind of collapse I am talking about. If you are talking about a different kind of collapse then we are talking past each other.

I think our definitions of collapse are near enough for working purposes - systematic breakdown of civilisation, loss of social cohesion, widespead conflict, high mortality rate and substantial declines in population, etc. I can't speak for everyone else - but I mean more than financial or economic "collapse" (which historically tends to be recoverable, unlike climatically induced collapses).

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2013, 09:47:36 PM »
I'm reading Jared Diamond's Collapse now. It causes a population die-off. The effects to the food supply can be indirect, such as the Polynesians who used up all the trees that were big enough to make fishing canoes with, etc. Soil depletion is a major factor and we're definitely on track to have that affect our food supply.

I often think about people who lived in remote villages during various violent revolutions and wonder if many of the bad effects didn't bypass them. But I don't recommend heading for the boondocks as a 'plan'. It happens to be my preference, and it feels like a relatively safe direction to have moved.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2013, 02:08:37 PM »
With all the talk about the financial effects of Methane from clathrates in the Arctic, I wonder if the probability of such an event happening would encourage more defeatism to the extent that maybe people would consider sequestering CO2 emissions to be meaningless as the end result is the same anyways.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #18 on: July 29, 2013, 02:22:21 PM »
I'm reading Jeremy Rifkin's The Third Industrial Revolution. For a while there I was thinking he provides lots of room for optimism – that a timely formation of a post-carbon economy is possible. But then it became clear that the smart grid depends on hydrogen-based storage systems, which aren't quite ready for deployment; and the US power companies don't want a distributed grid – they want centralized stations only, in a profit-to-shareholders world.

Oh, well.
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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #19 on: July 29, 2013, 05:39:24 PM »
I'm reading Jeremy Rifkin's The Third Industrial Revolution. For a while there I was thinking he provides lots of room for optimism – that a timely formation of a post-carbon economy is possible. But then it became clear that the smart grid depends on hydrogen-based storage systems, which aren't quite ready for deployment; and the US power companies don't want a distributed grid – they want centralized stations only, in a profit-to-shareholders world.

I can't see why one would need a hydrogen based storage system (plenty of other ways to store energy) - but vested interests are likely a real obstacle.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #20 on: July 29, 2013, 05:47:13 PM »
Are there really plenty of other ways to store power onsite inexpensively and cleanly in a distributed system? It was big news in the past year when some scientists in Calgary invented a device that could store hydrogen as it went along. No time to look up the ref right now.
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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2013, 08:43:12 PM »
Are there really plenty of other ways to store power onsite inexpensively and cleanly in a distributed system? It was big news in the past year when some scientists in Calgary invented a device that could store hydrogen as it went along. No time to look up the ref right now.

Personally I like flywheels - no nasty chemicals, simple to design with common materials, energy density comparable to lead acid batteries - probably can be improved with further research. I believe some old Russian designs even found ways to allow for safe failure modes - though modern engineering should also be sufficient to ensure safety.

For larger systems I'm a big fan of CSP - concentrating solar thermal power - where heat is stored in a large insulated underground reservoir typically in liquid salt (I believe potassium nitrate is a common one as the melting point is favourable) - this approach potentially gaining efficiency with scale as heat is lost as a function of surface area and stored as a function of reservoir volume (in any event modern insulating materials are quite good). Again, CSP does not require particularly exotic technology or chemicals etc (unlike photovoltaics which I think are best for small scale and mobile applications, rather than industrial power).

I've seen compressed air mooted before - though it's a rather inefficient approach and I'm unsure what it would add relative to the other two.

Hydrogen is fraught with problems - production, storage, metal embrittlement, etc.

I don't understand people's obsession with it.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #22 on: July 29, 2013, 10:35:11 PM »
Thanks, CGW, I'm back to being defeatist. I guess Rifkin is a self-booster who drops names like mad and claims to be in on starting a whole revolution, but the crumbling world economy and the already costly effects of extreme weather make it pretty hard to do anything massive in the way of shifting to renewable. The things you mention, which I know little or nothing about sound promising on an individual level. So, 'Preparing for the Future' might mean installing one of these storage systems.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #23 on: July 30, 2013, 12:29:47 AM »
Thanks, CGW, I'm back to being defeatist. I guess Rifkin is a self-booster who drops names like mad and claims to be in on starting a whole revolution, but the crumbling world economy and the already costly effects of extreme weather make it pretty hard to do anything massive in the way of shifting to renewable. The things you mention, which I know little or nothing about sound promising on an individual level. So, 'Preparing for the Future' might mean installing one of these storage systems.

I might start a thread to emphasise them as I think they are overlooked (as are airships and fully faired recumbent bicycles) as a significant technological option. The trouble is that society culturally fixates (largely due to the media I suppose) on one or two ideas - and neglects a whole swathe of other options that largely tend to languish in obscurity.

We have the technologies to have built a radically different world - I'm quite sure of that.

I explored the theme (incompletely) in a post I put on on a blog:
http://civilisationcontinuitygroup.wordpress.com/2013/03/24/the-utopia-that-never-was-the-ccg-vision/

Please note it was intended to have an optimistic spin and as such the notes about population gloss over that the demographic transition may well only be a short term solution - and I don't really address the question of human impact upon the environment in a physical sense (ie cutting down forests etc).

I didn't really emphasise flywheels for static energy storage or wind power as I was thinking of a power grid that was centrally dominated by large power plants as it is today with the CSP angle. The reason I did that is that even if we had a distributed grid some industrial processes require energy on a scale that is best met by large capacity power plants located close by (eg electrolysis to produce aluminium).

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #24 on: July 30, 2013, 02:52:53 AM »
CCG, I read your blog post. It's all pretty tame and sensible. I also looked to see how close we are to the hydrogen fuel cell vehicles Rifkin hinges his Third Industrial Revolution on.

Not very close at all. http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2013/01/30/why-hydrogen-cars-could-still-be-the-future/

This is the announcement of the University of Calgary team who are basing the storage on rust.
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/03/28/fuel-cell-breakthrough-university-of-calgary_n_2973039.html
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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #25 on: August 04, 2013, 06:19:07 PM »
This seems the best thread to post my most recent thoughts on defeatism. I'm looking back at James Lovelock, who most of us began to disregard a few years ago when he advocated using lots of nuclear power and Quorn for food to tide us over till the Great Cull, allowing for plenty of hospitals and housing for climate migrants. So many people I know are obsessed with stopping fracking and GMO farming. I'm starting to think Lovelock is the man. He believes in enjoying life while it lasts and he fears that destroying the countryside with wind turbines is wrong.

Maybe it's time to think of the population on this planet as ready for a palliative care program. Maybe bullying the rich into feeling guilty for consuming so much is like chiding a terminal lung cancer patient for smoking. We're not going to stop India from becoming a more middle class nation. We're going to witness famines and plagues and fatal weather disasters.

Why sit by the patient's bedside berating him/her for failing to recycle teabag tags?
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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #26 on: August 04, 2013, 07:34:37 PM »
Maybe it's time to think of the population on this planet as ready for a palliative care program. Maybe bullying the rich into feeling guilty for consuming so much is like chiding a terminal lung cancer patient for smoking. We're not going to stop India from becoming a more middle class nation. We're going to witness famines and plagues and fatal weather disasters.

Why sit by the patient's bedside berating him/her for failing to recycle teabag tags?

A lot of people can't afford to enjoy life while it lasts - which is to say they struggle too much just to get by in the day to day sense. The message that Lovelock preaches can only come from a comfortably off Westerner who has this choice to start with, and it advocates a total lack of responsibility for things as basic as parents and their children.

And those who are the patient in this proposition - who are consuming the resources and destroying the planet are destroying us and our future, not just their own.

Personally I think people who don't get this don't need palliative care, they need to feel the gun being held to their head and to understand how and why it is being held there.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #27 on: August 04, 2013, 10:17:53 PM »
Two things, Ccgw. "Enjoy life" doesn't necessarily mean eating prime rib in a monster home between cruises. For me it means puttering in the garden around a very small house, staying home, making my own fun with a few smart local people, knitting, reading and not spending three hours a day railing on the internet, wishing the ostriches would wake up. I've spent a decade or more trying to lead by example, but I could drive myself insane wishing everyone would change their habits and elect politicians who weren't in the pocket of oil.

Short of pouring all one's assets into an African village and becoming voluntarily homeless what kind of hair shirt are you suggesting? I left the work force early, the minute I could squeak by on a bit of freelance work and a much younger person was happy to have my job. The fact that the job was basically outsourced creative services to huge American retail chains – am I to correct that somehow?

I find it depressing in an insidious and pretty continuous way to know that millions of human beings around the world are suffering the long-term consequences of the technological society we take for granted.

What are you doing to start the revolution, aside from writing on the internet? Something I can also do where I live?
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #28 on: August 05, 2013, 12:36:31 AM »
Two things, Ccgw. "Enjoy life" doesn't necessarily mean eating prime rib in a monster home between cruises. For me it means puttering in the garden around a very small house, staying home, making my own fun with a few smart local people, knitting, reading and not spending three hours a day railing on the internet, wishing the ostriches would wake up. I've spent a decade or more trying to lead by example, but I could drive myself insane wishing everyone would change their habits and elect politicians who weren't in the pocket of oil.

Agreed - and I apologise for the inference I may have carelessly made that it does mean living to excess in those relatively harmful ways. In my experience most people have used this "enjoy it while it lasts" justification to continue in high impact and harmful behaviours, rationalising away their personal responsibility by arguing it is insignificant and that they are personally powerless. What you describe certainly does not sound particularly harmful by any reasonable metric.

Short of pouring all one's assets into an African village and becoming voluntarily homeless what kind of hair shirt are you suggesting? I left the work force early, the minute I could squeak by on a bit of freelance work and a much younger person was happy to have my job. The fact that the job was basically outsourced creative services to huge American retail chains – am I to correct that somehow?

Sacrifice merely for the sake of sacrifice is not necessarily productive. If one is already working as hard as reasonably possible for maximum effect (and a certain amount of downtime is arguably required for maximum effect) - one is doing the best one can.

My issue is when I hear people use this argument to justify what is essentially their personal selfishness. This message is effective and spreads easily and pretty soon reinforces the western ideal of self satisfaction above all else even in the informed portion of the population, diminishing any probability of meaningful action and any hope for future generations (who I might add buy into this concept all the more strongly for feeling that their future is all the more hopeless!).

I certainly don't see the gains of pouring assets into African villages or becoming homeless (I neither pour assets into African villages, nor am precisely homeless, though that is a slightly more technical matter, not having lived in a house for years). Where I think people fail to put their efforts is to work to improve the lives of the next generation (focusing primarily upon their own lives instead).

What are you doing to start the revolution, aside from writing on the internet? Something I can also do where I live?

I'm doing quite a bit besides writing on the internet, in relation to these broader problems - but that wouldn't necessarily mean most people would approve of what I'm doing, or agree with it. My efforts are not aimed at a revolution per se, or aimed at changing the existing order - as I do not see the scope to do so successfully - but rather aimed at the question of what happens next, as and after civilisation collapses. The majority of my total lifetime resources and my life and liberty are all (currently literally) at stake in the pursuit of decisions motivated by my belief in what I'm working towards.

I have a little bit on the web - nowhere near enough to give a full picture - and on reflection I have to suspect what I'm doing could be described as stupid, insane and quite a few rather more negative things besides. That isn't going to stop - or even deter - me, as I believe in it.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #29 on: August 05, 2013, 01:09:02 AM »
Thanks, Ccgw, I feel accurately heard now. For some time I felt being a 'collapsitarian' working on relocalisation was pretty meaningful. But as the effects of AGW speed up beyond all predictions and it becomes clear that the global economy is sputtering and all bets could soon be off, I tend more on the side of despair. Not to the point where I start engaging in retail therapy again, not even air travel to see a son I haven't seen in almost four years. I keep living in a way that I'll be able to stand behind when his generation really starts pointing the finger at ours.

Some members of the younger generation live simply in full knowledge that we're doomed, unless sci-fi technology or an evolutionary leap in collective intelligence saves us. But most of them have abandoned hope in politics. What amazes me is the number of Canadian rural greenies I know whose kids are off to Ivy League universities, preparing to climb the ladder as if it's totally sound.
Still living in the bush in eastern Ontario. Gave up on growing annual veggies. Too much drought.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #30 on: August 24, 2013, 12:32:54 AM »
LS, sounds like we're essentially on the same page. Thanks for articulating the position better than I could have.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #31 on: August 24, 2013, 01:02:46 AM »
A recent remark by my 27-year-old: "Ya it's crazy to think how my generation is going to be equipped to pick up the pieces." I was telling him about my friend whose young garden bed digger quit after two days, realizing how long he'd have to work to save for a snowmobile.
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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #32 on: August 24, 2013, 01:21:30 AM »
A recent remark by my 27-year-old: "Ya it's crazy to think how my generation is going to be equipped to pick up the pieces." I was telling him about my friend whose young garden bed digger quit after two days, realizing how long he'd have to work to save for a snowmobile.

Question is though - should the younger generation be equipping itself to pick up the pieces, so to speak - or should they be equipped or have been equipped by the older generation that created them?

Mostly rhetorical, with so few signs that either side of that equation is happening.

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #33 on: August 24, 2013, 02:31:53 AM »
You know, when I was thinking about having kids around 1980 we were buying into the whole cold war line that the nuclear holocaust clock was at two minutes to midnight. After I had my first kid in 1982 I was hanging out with the mother of a ten-year old who was starting to find out what kind of a world he lived in. It was disturbing. But I still had a second in '86. It's tough to find a balance between pushing kids to 'reach for the top' and telling them to hunker down in the hills and prepare for the worst. One friend, deeply cynical and now dead, had older kids who did exactly that. I don't wish my kids had chosen that path. My way was to let them know I trusted in their creativity, stick-to-it-iveness, ethics and intelligence and that material security was not the Meaning of Life. Beyond that it wasn't up to me to 'prepare' them for survival or revolution.

The boomers who headed for the hills in the early seventies are still feeding chickens and chopping wood and either they're better prepared than the rest of us or they're screwed because they have to work their asses off for every penny into old age, in sickness and in health.

The real problem is uncertainty. If we could be sure it was all going to come apart in a few years we'd do things differently than if we knew for sure we can probably be OK squeaking by 'normally' till we die in twenty or thirty years. I must admit I haven't felt too bad for the friends who've died at around seventy. Just as well.
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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #34 on: August 24, 2013, 06:10:03 AM »
Lynn
I can't say anything bad about the generations that followed my own - not after what mine is leaving them with.
I don't think the kind of education we're providing will do much for those faced with the future that I foresee.
Our generation championed the concept that management is a nobler profession than labor and we've raised our children to aspire to these positions.  Those that repair our cars, build our homes and till our fields are the ones that couldn't make it. This leaves those intellectually capable being trained for pursuits that won't exist and the intellectually handicapped performing tasks that are essential.
People capable of analysing, scrounging parts and repairing things aren't held to much esteem today. Tomorrow they may be the ones that are sought out for their skills. Unfortunately our brightest are being taught skills that may have no place in the future & those being taught skills that might be useful are not the most qualified.
Terry

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #35 on: August 24, 2013, 06:32:01 AM »
Terry, what you say speaks very strongly to me. I am urging my son, who is very bright, to gain some more practical skills as he works his way towards a PhD in Classics. He's already a good cook and handy at DIY but he's going to need a lot more than that. These young people, they won't listen, will they? One of my nephews is training as an agricultural engineer, managing both the IT side (its programmed seed-drills scarily distant from what I grew up with) and the old-fashioned oil and grease tractors. It is heresy, but I'm betting his work on the old Fordson is what will stand him in good stead.

By the way, can anyone here remember how to use a slide-rule?

ivica

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #36 on: August 24, 2013, 07:51:11 AM »
...Our generation championed the concept that management is a nobler profession than labor...

Ah, that reminds me on Golgafrincham's (sorry, couldn't resist :))

**************************************
"...poets who invented the
spurious tales of impending doom  which  enabled  the  people  of
Golgafrincham  to  rid  themselves  of an entire useless third of
their population. The other two-thirds stayed firmly at home  and
lived  full,  rich  and  happy lives until they were all suddenly
wiped  out  by  a  virulent  disease  contracted  from  a   dirty
telephone.
"
*** It's about the one-third part, only one ship of them actually - the `B' Ark

Arthur seemed to come out of a trance.

''You mean you've got a hold  full  of  frozen  hairdressers?''  he
said.

''Oh yes,'' said the  Captain,  ''Millions  of  them.  Hairdressers,
tired  TV  producers,  insurance  salesmen,  personnel  officers,
security  guards,   public   relations   executives,   management
consultants,  you  name  them.  We're  going  to colonize another
planet.''

*** which landed on a blue-green planet:

''How can you have money,'' demanded Ford, ''if none of you actually
produces anything? It doesn't grow on trees you know.''

''If you would allow me to continue ...''

Ford nodded dejectedly.

''Thank you. Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as
legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich.''

Ford  stared  in  disbelief  at  the  crowd  who  were  murmuring
appreciatively  at this and greedily fingering the wads of leaves
with which their track suits were stuffed.

''But we have also,'' continued  the  Management  Consultant,  ''run
into  a  small  inflation problem on account of the high level of
leaf availability, which means that, I gather, the current  going
rate has something like three deciduous forests buying one ship's
peanut.''

Murmurs of alarm came from the crowd. The  Management  Consultant
waved them down.

''So in  order  to  obviate  this  problem,''  he  continued,  ''and
effectively  revaluate  the  leaf,  we  are  about to embark on a
massive defoliation campaign, and  ...  er,  burn  down  all  the
forests.  I  think  you'll all agree that's a sensible move under
the circumstances.''

The crowd seemed a little uncertain about this for  a  second  or
two  until  someone  pointed out how much this would increase the
value of the leaves in  their  pockets  whereupon  they  let  out
whoops  of  delight and gave the Management Consultant a standing
ovation.  The  accountants  amongst  them  looked  forward  to  a
profitable Autumn.

''You're all mad,'' explained Ford Prefect.

''You're absolutely barmy,'' he suggested.

''You're a bunch of raving nutters,'' he opined.

*** a bit alter

The crowd muttered to itself in annoyance. People as rich as they
had  suddenly  become shouldn't be obliged to listen to this sort
of gibberish. Perhaps they could tip the fellow a leaf or two and
he would go away.

**************************************
It's from "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe", #2 part of Trilogy:
The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.

ralphw

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #37 on: October 03, 2013, 01:22:56 PM »
Long time lurker.

So much to say,  so little to add to what is here already.  I am a virtual refugee from The Oil Drum which focused more on the resource depletion path to collapse than the pollution /AGW side,  but they are two sides,  the source and the sink,  of the limits to growth.

My girls are 9 and 10,  adopted,  they struggle with their own demons (they were neglected and abused as babies) and the stresses that 'normal' 21st century life inflicts on them, one just wants to cuddle animals,  the other to play computer games.  How to I instil resilience and community into them?  I just cut the logs,  repair their bicycles and feed the chickens and hope it happens by osmosis. 

We have just moved out of the city into a village.  More community here,  but less awareness of the future.  My commute is longer, but that just means I get fitter cycling.  The house has been here for 400 years,  but for 370 of them it was freezing cold,  all winter long.  Insulating it efficiently will be a challenge. 

My wife accepts the future is not rosy,  but she struggles with the prospect of old age and life that has achieved little in terms of a 'modern career'.  She still yearns for her 15 minutes of fame.  Also arthritis and poor circulation means she hates cold, damp houses...

wili

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #38 on: October 05, 2013, 06:47:56 AM »
Welcome, ralphw. I used to hang out quite a bit at TOD as well (as 'dohboi'). This is the closest I''ve found to that kind of intelligent interchange about vital issues on the net. Do you know where others migrated to? I see that ROCKMAN is at POForums, and Magyar posts some at RealClimate.

As I stated somewhere above (iirc), I hate the title of this post. Most of the people that I know that are most "optimistic" are also those most willing to continue to conduct a lifestyle that is extremely carbon intensive, so their optimism is further damning themselves and their children to lives of utter misery, or depriving them of life altogether. Meanwhile, my grim take on the situation would be (has been) perceived by many to be 'defeatist,' but I have done more than pretty much anyone I know to come, for example, close to only one "earth" on the www.myfootprint.org measure (US average is 5-6 earths, irrc).

All that is not to brag on myself, but to point out that optimistic outlooks and 'can do' spirit are in most cases part of the problem.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #39 on: October 05, 2013, 04:40:09 PM »
Wili

You had me laughing this morning.  I also used to hang around The Oil Drum(starting in 2005) and now realize that you and I have had many more discussions than we realized as I can remember the 'dohboi' moniker from that blog and several others. Let's see if you can guess who I was there  ;)

I pretty much drifted away from TOD when the monitoring got too authoritarian and Heading Out kept up with his climate change denial I just got tired of the place.  But in its heyday it was the best blog I have ever found.  Reasonably polite and very science oriented.  I go to the PeakOil Forums some but do not comment often as the place is over run with ideology, lack of science or knowledge relevant to the current discussion, and the rudeness and vulgarity poison discussions.  Like you I find ASIF the most enjoyable current blog for the subjects we discuss.  While I read lots of other climate blogs I only post occasionally here and there.  I read about a dozen other blogs regularly on subjects like economics/finance, international politics/strategy, climate change, agriculture stuff, politics and follow data trends relevant to the various subjects I am interested in.  And being retired I can spend a lot of time outdoors hiking and camping and as much time as I want on my crafts I work at. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #40 on: October 06, 2013, 05:55:52 AM »
Hey, Jim. I'm not very good at this kind of guessing, and my memory is not what it should be. IIRC, you have indicated here that you're a farmer, but your style doesn't seem much like OldFarmerMac (if I remember that name correctly). I'm afraid I'm really blanking out right now on the names of my other favorite posters there (of which I'm sure you're one  ;D ). Any hints?

I drifted away toward the end, too, partly for the same reasons, and partly because I started having trouble logging on for some reason. A lot of smart folks from whom I learned a lot, sometimes most when I was disagreeing.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #41 on: October 06, 2013, 05:11:30 PM »
Wili

I had 2 main articles on farming in the Campfire section back in about 07-08 (my first was the 2nd ever Campfire article I think...there's a big hint).  No I was not OldFarmerMac but he was sure interesting to read and I exchanged a lot of posts with him.  The Campfire part of TOD was simply the best internet blog section ever.  When the moderators had their big falling out and Jason Bradford and others left and then they shut down the Campfire I knew the place was on borrowed time.  Jason and I were sort of farming buddies and one of the reasons he helped create the Campfire was so different types of articles could be published.   I tried to submit a 3rd main article on farming in 2009 but the new moderating crew rejected it.  They wanted to have more impact with policy people as it was growing at the time due to TOD's prominence, but they ended up fading away and lost their platform for influence.  There was this great critical mass of experts in so many different disciplines that almost every day there were in-depth discussions on critical aspects of our world.  It was one of the best places to learn I have ever seen.  I still miss the place.

I hold out hope that about 50 of the old TOD posters will pop up here over time as this blog runs in a similar fashion on a very small  scale.  Course Neven might be overwhelmed if he was seeing 300 plus posts a day.  Maybe we can talk him into allowing guest posts to be submitted to him as main articles? He could build an empire!  That should scare him  ;D
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #42 on: October 06, 2013, 07:54:07 PM »
Thanks for sending me on a bit of a wild goose (or free-range-chicken? '-)) chase through the archives of TOD--something of a bitter-sweet stroll through yester-doom. What an amazing number and incredible high level of contributions over the months and years.

So I think I found you. Are you still on that beautiful farm pictured at the top of the post? Are you still working 300-350 hours per month seven months of the year?! Did you ever take up chickens? Do you still hold out some glimmer of hope that at least some middle aged, middle class shmo's can make a go of it as small-time sustainable farmers?

If you are in contact with any of the folks from TOD, to send them this way. I miss many of the posters, but I used to particularly depend on Seriph's prolific links to keep me abreast of various critical issues.

Anyway, thanks again.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ggelsrinc

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #43 on: October 06, 2013, 11:16:42 PM »
Long time lurker.

So much to say,  so little to add to what is here already.  I am a virtual refugee from The Oil Drum which focused more on the resource depletion path to collapse than the pollution /AGW side,  but they are two sides,  the source and the sink,  of the limits to growth.

My girls are 9 and 10,  adopted,  they struggle with their own demons (they were neglected and abused as babies) and the stresses that 'normal' 21st century life inflicts on them, one just wants to cuddle animals,  the other to play computer games.  How to I instil resilience and community into them?  I just cut the logs,  repair their bicycles and feed the chickens and hope it happens by osmosis. 

We have just moved out of the city into a village.  More community here,  but less awareness of the future.  My commute is longer, but that just means I get fitter cycling.  The house has been here for 400 years,  but for 370 of them it was freezing cold,  all winter long.  Insulating it efficiently will be a challenge. 

My wife accepts the future is not rosy,  but she struggles with the prospect of old age and life that has achieved little in terms of a 'modern career'.  She still yearns for her 15 minutes of fame.  Also arthritis and poor circulation means she hates cold, damp houses...

ralphw, welcome to ASIF. I was touched by what you said and wish your family the best.

The reason I didn't respond when I first read your post is I don't like this thread. "Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future" are two of the same things in my book. There is another option called "Fight for What is Right." I've butted heads with enough Doomdayers, Defeatists or whatever is the wisest way to identify them, because I'm not calling them names to take a cheap shot, but just trying to identify. I don't think that way and I'm way too old to learn to be different. My nature is to stand my ground even against impossible odds and I know I can't change my nature. I view global warming as war. So what if it's a war we are losing? When Greece was attacked by Persia, King Leonidas only took 300 Spartans to face them and he had more troops available. You do the best you can do with what you have. In war, there are a lot of people I don't want next to me. Life is precious, but a few moments more of life is not worth selling your soul.

JimD

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #44 on: October 07, 2013, 01:54:41 AM »
Wili

That's me.  No I do not live on that beautiful place any more.  I was critically injured in an accident and the docs told me no farming ever again as my back would leave me crippled if I tried.  So it is retirement.  I moved clear across the country and now live in Prescott, AZ.  I walk the wilderness areas out here as a Wilderness Steward for a non-profit that assists the Forest Service and I make hand make knifes and daggers in my little shop (an old hobby I took up again).  We are building a little greenhouse garden setup for ourselves.  My son is just buying a small farm in CA so I can do that vicariously through him. 

As to making it on a small sustainable farm I would say that with certain restrictions it is possible.  But you will be poor even then and the work is very hard.  A middle aged guy might get started at is but he will have to have young ones to take over and carry the heavier load at some point as older folks just cannot work hard enough and fast enough (or you have to hire a bunch of workers).  We were wearing out from the load and were planning on switching to farming sheep on a different place to lower the work load when I got hurt.  Animals are a lot less work than vegetables but you get no time off either.  If you have a lot of interest in a detailed answer let me know and we can exchange some personal emails so we don't clutter up Neven's space.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #45 on: October 07, 2013, 05:29:29 AM »
Sorry about your injury. I have a friend with a similar story. He really misses farming, but manages to be involved in advising some urban farm ventures and works with kids and gardens some, too. With the last kid about to head off to college, they are thinking of retiring back to the country.

I long dreamed of pursuing the farming thing in one way or another, but I think I have now passed the threshold (in my late 50s) where it's probably not practical any more. My wife isn't particularly wild about it, either. Still some possibilities of small scale work with some local urban farms, perhaps. Sure makes getting veggies to market easier.

Anyway, you were a great inspiration to many, as I can see from the many comments.

This all seems pretty relevant to prepping, so I wouldn't hesitate to go as deeply into any reflections on the experience as you please. Since the risk of injury on the farm is relevant to the difficulty of that life, perhaps you wouldn't mind sharing whether your injury was farm related or not. Of course, people can get hurt in any kind of work. But it does seem as though there are more chances of seriously hurting yourself while working so constantly with so much heavy material and machinery. And of course major injury makes it much less possible to go on in that kind of heavy physical work than it would for doing most of the more sedentary jobs that urbanites tend to have.

But obviously don't share beyond what you're comfortable with.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

JimD

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #46 on: October 07, 2013, 06:47:46 PM »
Wili,

I was hurt on the farm while working on one of our buildings.  Shattered my back, broke ribs and bruised my heart.  No one knew I was hurt for a long time.  I had to drag myself across the property to the house and call 911 and that took a long time.  Almost died and was in intensive care for 5 days.  I exceeded that Golden Hour they talk about and was close to gone when help got to me.  Doctor told me that if I wasn't in such great shape from the farming I would not have made it.

This is one of the aspects of farming that most people do not know.  You need to do everything yourself as you do not make enough money to fire out work.  You need to know everything from pouring concrete, electrical work, plumbing, refrigeration, framing, insulation, roofing, repairing appliances, mechanical work on vehicle and farm equipment, welding, farming of course, pumps, accounting, marketing, finance, you name it.  You need to have all the tools to do this, a big shop with a lift and air tools, full mechanics set, a huge selection of bolts, screws, nails, scrap metal, (think about a sub set of Home Depot), etc.

In the area I lived to make a  living wage farming vegetables, one needed about 15 acres of crops (20 acre property minimum- good land), house, shop, equipment storage building, washing room (for vegetables), large walk-in cooler, housing for workers to include showers/cooking/laundry, good water, full set of irrigation equipment, 2 tractors (45 & 90 HP), cultivators, tiller, disk, transplanter, harrow, plow, sub-soiler, flail mower, bushhog, bedformer/plastic layer, plastic remover, wagons, 2 each 26x90 ft heated greenhouses, 20 ft box truck, Ford E350 van, 4x4 pickup, large number of harvest buckets and bins, several market tents, tables, benches, coolers, scales, farming tools by the pile, 3000 steel posts for the tomatoes, etc. About 100,000 in equipment (used equipment not new).

Your non-capital expenses are going to run about 200,000 a year and in a really good year you could make 350,000.  But not until you have learned what you are doing, have established your markets, built up a clientele, learned how to farm (if you can as some people just do not figure it out).  After operating expenses you have to pay your capital costs, taxes of all kinds, your mortgage, etc.  Most farmers in my area who knew what they were doing and had been in  business for a number of years made about $5-7/hr profit after all expenses or 36k/yr for a couple (3000hr/yr each minimum). You have to live to a great extent off what you produce on the farm and live cheap (we were big canners and we hunted or traded for most of our meat). Property and equipment costs are killers.

You must have a spouse/partner and you really need kids (slave labor ;) .  You have to shift the heavy work load off on others as you age.  On a sustained basis there is probably not any occupation which exceeds the work load of vegetable farming.  That is why we have all the immigrants up here.  They have left their farms and love to work on our farms (it is easier and more profitable than back home) or they take the low level jobs Americans won't do and are on easy street in comparison.  In my experience (and that of all farmers I know) it is almost impossible to find a young American who can work hard enough that they are worth having around.  A 16 yr old Mexican off the farm will get 2 times as much done in a day as your best 22 yr old American and he will never cause you problems or steal from you.  Where I lived it was pretty difficult to make a profit without your crew being almost entirely immigrants.  Your workers all make more per hour than you do.  I paid the Mexicans about 50% more than the Americans who also made more per hour than I did.

All this being said I found it very rewarding.

BTW there are lots of different types of farming and a lot of what I wrote above does not apply to them.  Each has very different requirements.   

We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Laurent

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #47 on: October 07, 2013, 09:13:11 PM »
Wili,

If you have (or can have) a job (that you are ok with) that pay you, just keep it. try to do gardening first (if not already) if you have enough land, you need a minimum of 2 m2, ideally more than 200 m2 and with 2000 m2 that would give you loads of opportunities to install any kind of plants.
Start small and increase year after year... (there is plenty of ways to reproduce vegetables, use them all)
Most people do not realize how important the seed saving is important, so anybody reading this should be able to keep some seeds, plant them, grow them, harvest them, share them. We are on the edge of a possible extinction of farming seeds like wheat seeds...Even if you are not a farmer keeping some "old" seeds of wheat on 1m2 is a very goog idea. Of course there should be some use for this seeds but that may be an other story try to find some people around you with whom you can exchange seeds and find a purpose (like making bread, pasta, feeding your chickens...).
We live in a world where it is always me, me, me, me and me, always me !
We are eating vegetables that have been cultivated for thousands of years, they do exist as they are because somebody did plant, did grow them, did harvest, did select them !


wili

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Re: Defeatism Versus Preparing for the Future
« Reply #48 on: October 07, 2013, 10:14:08 PM »
Thanks for the insights, Jim and Laurent. I got so tired reading about all that work, I think I'll take a nap now. :D
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."