Time & Tide

SUBHEAD: They wait for no man - or for anything else. Produce - Consume - Collapse - Repeat  

By Mary Logan on 26 June 2012 for A Prosperous Way Down -  

 Image above: Locusts swarming in Africa. From (http://wisdomofthewest.blogspot.com/2008/05/some-swarms.html).
A century of studies in ecology, and in many other fields from molecules to stars, shows that systems don’t level off for long. They pulse. Apparently the pattern that maximizes power on each scale in the long run is a pulsed consumption of mature structures that resets succession to repeat again. There are many mechanisms, such as epidemic insects eating a forest, regular fires in grasslands, locusts in the desert, volcanic eruptions in geologic succession, oscillating chemical reactions, and exploding stars in the cosmos. Systems that develop pulsing mechanisms prevail. The figure above includes the downturn for reset that follows ecological climax. In the long run there is no steady state (Odum, 2007, p. 54).

Image above: Illustration of locust population boom and bust from (http://prosperouswaydown.com/principles-of-self-organization/energy-hierarchy/pulsing-paradigm/).
The aspect of resilience and panarchy that is most novel and significant concerns the “back-loop” phase when resisting structures and institutions start to break down or transform, releasing the chance for a renewed system to emerge. The many ecosystem examples are matched by many business examples where technology shapes products from sneakers, to automobiles, to electrical appliances.
At that moment, novelty that had been simmering in the background can emerge and be stimulated. And new associations begin to develop among previously separate innovations. The big influence comes from discoveries that, at that time, emerge from people’s local experiments at small scales, discoveries that can emerge at times of big change, to trigger bigger changes at large scales. That process highlights the keys for the future (Holling, 2009).

As a follow up to Dave Tilley’s article on renewable rhythms, and in celebration of summer solstice, I would like to discuss the idea that fossil fuels have allowed us to suppress or even ignore pulses of Nature and our own biorhythms. We have adopted artificial pulses of industrial production and consumption with attempts to create continuous growth.

Fossil fuels allow us to create a seamlessly, climate-controlled, homogenous monoculture that blurs night into day, and summer into winter. It even homogenizes trends, with everything always improving and going up without a break in the action. This separates us from Nature and creates the impression of invincibility. How does this invisibility present in our dominant culture, and what does it mean as our culture transitions into descent?

Up here in Alaska, the annual pulses are so great that it is hard to escape the reminders. Summer solstice is a special time in Alaska. In Anchorage, the number of daylight hours at solstice peaks at 18 ½ hours. Solstice is a reminder that the days are now getting shorter, and that we need to get a move on with things we plan to accomplish during the summer.

We begin to get 70 degree + days. The vegetables start to produce in the garden. Local markets are full of produce. It is a time of plenty, and comfort, and celebration. Picnics and potlucks abound. After solstice, the urge to go-go-go accelerates for some. Alaskans catch and put away salmon, and by late August the smell of high bush cranberry gives me a sense of restless urgency reflected in outings of berry picking and restless hikes in the high country. The Alaska State Fair in late August demonstrates the power of our summer sun and the prowess of our farmers. Brief fall colors, fall rut, and waning daylight bring the promise of winter. Seasonal pulses in Alaska are big, and there is no steady state. Excess light switches to not enough light very quickly, at a rate of over 5 minutes a day, and moods shift and behaviors change with the seasons.

Historically, seasonal pulses have been symbols of growth, fertility of death in multiple cultures. Older medieval cultures connected melancholy with a complex set of moral, religious, and emotional symbols and associations that created cultural order out of the seasons, and was even treated as a mark of distinction in 16th century Europe (Harrison, 2004). The seasons were connected to human behavior, moods, and rich symbolism regarding life and death in a number of cultures.

Winter was a season for rest, regeneration, and reflection. In the arctic and subarctic, Scandinavians and Alaska Native peoples have a much longer culture of adaptation to long winters than the dominant American culture, and they are much better adapted to the changes in light and the long winters. Diet adaptations to physical changes due to inadequate light include cod liver oil for Scandinavians and a diet of fish and muktuk for Alaska Natives. Calendars were oriented towards harvest, and seasonal harvest celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrated and honored seasonal changes with feasts, candlelight and storytelling. Stuhlmiller (1998) tried to explore Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in Norway, and found that Norwegians did not medicalize their seasons, and considered the behavioral changes that come with the seasons as normal.
Norwegians’ seasonal experiences are embedded in a tradition of specific activities and attitudes, which precluded viewing seasonal change as a potential disorder as some Americans do. Scandinavians accept a certain amount of moodiness and insomnia as a normal seasonal adaptation, for example, and treat it with the cultural adaptation of exercising outdoors in the winter. The joke that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet is accompanied by a “palpable peer pressure to go out in the woods fairly frequently otherwise one is not really Norwegian . . . . If you go on a skiing trip through Norwegian nature, you are a good person. The moral undertone is there and cannot be ignored” (Reed & Rothenberg, 1993, p. 21, in Stuhlmiller (1998)).
Some of that expectation can be seen in Alaska, as some cultural exchange with Scandinavia has occurred. Some of my friends nod in approval when I describe skiing activities outdoors in the winter. Our American fossil-fuel based culture not only smooths out the pulses using fossil fuel means, it medicalizes natural conditions such as seasonal adaptation, demanding that we SAD light our behavioral changes, or medicate them with antidepressants.

Is it prosperity to burn the midnight oil to finish work late into the night, in opposition to our nature? Do we then burn SAD lights or take pills in order to medicate our lack of adaptation to the seasons? Is sadness adaptive in some way, or must we always be happy? I have friends who can’t sleep in our sunlit summers without special darkening shades, eye-shades, and sleep medications. The sleep medications become addicting and can cause rebound phenomena, creating worse insomnia than originally experienced. And shift work is known to cause a number of physical disorders due to the alteration in biorhythms. Our industrial society creates unnatural patterns requiring unnatural treatment with strong medications. On our recent bike trip, headlamps were unnecessary. We naturally fell into rhythms of day and night without watches, alarms, or other digital reminders of sleep/wake aids (oh, except for the coffee).

Fossil fuels allow us to ignore in part the natural lunar, solar, and water driven pulses. Schedules shift from solar/lunar to corporate/quarterly or business weekly/commercial or even political/every four years. In the winter, we light up the night, and create many large heated spaces to carry on activities such as indoor tennis that are perhaps better suited to summer. We ship summer fruits and vegetables from the other hemisphere, or we grow them with the assistance of fossil fuels.

We go to great lengths to clear roads of snow, and cart off the excess to large snow dumps so that we don’t have to modify our winter behaviors in any way. School is morphing into a year-round schedule, without attention to the seasonal calendar. Hot climates are made cool, and cold climates are heated to a homogenous, standard 70 degrees. We control floods and we irrigate droughts. Advanced weather forecasting allows us to safely flee hurricanes and hunker down in tornados or blizzards. We create ski slopes and water parks in the desert, and transmit a mall-oriented homogenous consumer culture to just about everywhere, at least in America. Music, language, food, and culture become uniform to the point of blandness.

The general pace of life is different, too. Just in time supply chains supply our every need whenever we want, quickly and efficiently. Behaviors are transmitted globally via the Internet, causing loss of languages and globalization of corporate culture. The internet also smooths diurnal pulses, creating a never-ending stream of information, extended work days due to connectivity, and no down time/rest/leisure from information streams and digital excess. Speech patterns are rapid and courtesies may be dispensed with in crowded urban settings in comparison to slower, rural cultures.

We escape winter by vacationing thousands of miles away from home, avoiding hardships that might build relationships that could foster community cohesion. We rejoice in uniformity in cruise and jet travel. Fossil fuels have allowed us to live in large populations in places like Phoenix, Dubai and Anchorage using adaptations that allow us to exert high tech control over Nature. Historically, small populations of Alaska Native peoples migrated seasonally in order to adapt to low energy ecosystems with extreme pulses of weather. Now we just apply a dose of fossil fuels to our pulses and smooth them out. One can even wonder at our obsessive focus on climate as a symbolic failure in being able to control the weather.

So what does the importance of pulsing mean in adaptation to descent? Relocalization will mean reinvigoration of regional differences. Alaska will lose its box stores and malls, and will re-acquire local markets, diversified zoning, and better adaptations to winter that are not based on fossil fuels. Places will start to look different economically, socially, culturally, and perhaps also biologically. People who cannot adapt will migrate away or suffer or perhaps die. Areas that were historically sparsely populated due to low resources may lose their populations.

For example, the aged and the young in some of our extreme urban environments such as Las Vegas, Phoenix and Anchorage who are dependent on electricity for cooling and heating will need to adapt in one way or another. As fossil fuels wane, we can adapt by recognizing and following natural pulses and responding to periods of growth, harvest, and regeneration appropriately.

Pulsing does not mean “end to growth” or “steady state” which is what is most often proposed as the alternative to growth. If our pulses stop, we are dead. What goes up must come down. Looking at a pulse and seeing only steady state is either optimistic cognitive dissonance or a bargaining stance of viewing the pulse through a narrow time window where Wile E. Coyote never has to fall. Natural ecosystems are organized around pulses of sun, rain, tides, wind, and storms. Pulses help to mediate predator-prey and host-parasite relationships, and may prevent overgrowth in systems by resetting feedback loops. These paired pulsing populations help to keep populations healthy. Pulsing maximizes power and is adaptive.

With the smoothing of nature’s pulses in industrial society comes complex bureaucratic structure that resists change. Forest fire tinder is allowed to accumulate for fear of fires, and we suppress wildfires because of overpopulated landscapes and the loss of natural ecosystems that would have absorbed these larger pulses from nature. We combat natural cycles such as spruce bark beetles. We channelize rivers to control for flood, and support unsustainable building of houses in floodplains and on barrier islands. We create just-in-time round the clock systems of operation that lack resilience.

We are intolerant of hardship and increasingly resistant to change, which creates more pressure on the existing system. Steady states are not adaptive—all systems pulse. Attempting to circumvent pulsing from systems prevents regeneration, lowers productivity, and creates rigidity and a lack of system responsiveness. We have incrementally added so much complexity while suppressing nature’s rhythms that we are vulnerable at all scales to the impact of large disorganizing societal pulses. Every move that we make towards more centralized, corporate control eliminates competitors and diversity. A system that promotes more and more growth creates overshoot that will be hard to dismantle without collapse.

Perhaps the most important meaning of the change that is required is the emotional acceptance of our renewed loss of control over Nature as complexity wanes in a lower-energy world. The control we have over our culture and the complexity that comes with it has created an obsessive fear of loss of control along with increasing intolerance for change. Our industrial society denies ecological and cultural roots of our behaviors, assigning biochemical causes alone to our behaviors, thus medicalizing what may be normal adaptive behaviors. Since we are separate from Nature, ecological connections and causation are denied. Many previous cultures used the image of the ouroboros snake to represent the cycle of life and the renewal that is necessary to sustain it. The All is One.

The end is the beginning–here is our chance for cultural evolution in our rebirth as we shed our old skins and rise anew. We’ve slid a long way from old cultural values that helped us to live sustainably within nature. We need a new compass to steer by for the dislocation that is to come. Chaucer was right, time and tides wait for no man. We need to regain and honor the rhythm of time and tides in new relocalized agrarian systems. Living in Nature’s pulsing paradigm will be messier, more diverse, less uniform, and more exciting.

Bring it on.


Rocky Mountain High

SUBHEAD: Anyway you looked at America from the vantage of Aspen, Colorado, everything we do and stand for looks out of kilter.  

By James Kunstler on 24 June 2012 for Kunstler.com - 

 Image above: A view of a future Manhattan if global warming has its way. From (http://imgon.net/pm-2WA0.html).

The techno-narcissism flowed like a melted Slurpee this torrid weekend at the annual Aspen Environment Forum where scores of scientists, media figures, authors, professors, and policy wonks convened to settle the world's hash - at least in theory.

The trouble started Friday night when Stewart Brand, 74, impresario of The Whole Earth Catalog, and an economic cornucopian these days, exhorted the skittish audience to show a little goshdarn optimistic spirit about the future instead of just griping about climate change, peak oil, imploding global finance, and a few other vexing trifles. The audience's response was to not line up and buy a signed copy of his latest book.

The Aspen Institute is supported by a bizarre array of corporate donors and individuals ranging from the secretive, devious, extreme right-wing Koch brothers to Goldman Sachs, to Michael Eisner to Duke Energy.

The mission of the Environment Forum is divided about equally between publicizing the gathering horrors of climate change and promoting an ethos of wishful thinking that all the problems of mankind will yield to technological rescue remedies.

It's a very odd mix of hard-headed science and the most dismaying sort of crypto-religious faith in happy endings, tinged with overtones of corporate log-rolling and government propaganda. The basic message is: the world is hopelessly fucked up but thank God for technology. There is not even a dim apprehension that many of the aforementioned vexations originate in technology itself, and its blowbacks.

Alas, this is about the best that the American intelligentsia can do right now, collectively, and it explains why we have such uniformly impotent and clueless leadership across the board in America, from the White House to the CEO offices to the diploma mills to the news media and every other realm of endeavor where thinking realistically about the future might be considered valuable.

 Another strange notion permeating this forum - and probably the entire Progressive intellectual class in America - is the belief that if you can measure things, you can control them.

Thus, an endless regurgitation of statistics, which, after a while, resembles liturgical incantation and, pretty much, serves the same purpose, namely an obsessive-compulsive ritual aimed at calming the nerves.

If it was, after all, techno-magic that led us to poison the oceans and upset the calibration of the earth's atmosphere, then maybe fresh applications of magic can make all those bad things go away, fighting fire with fire, shall we say.

Speaking of fire, there was one burning up the valley from Aspen, which made the whole town smell like barbeque Sunday morning while six other wildfires blazed all around Colorado.

One of them, the High Park fire, has been going for two weeks and burned over 82,000 acres so far with no sign of petering out. Temperatures in the high Rockies soared over 90 degrees all weekend and there was practically no snowpack left up in the elevations - a spooky development this early in the summer.

The odor of empire's end also hangs over Aspen these days, despite the sheen of spectacular wealth visible around the little town and the emanations of glowing health in the buff and tanned population of exercise freaks.

Everything that makes the town tick is in danger of unraveling. The ski industry can't possibly survive the eventual effects of peak oil, and the collapse of commercial aviation will put an end to the conveyer belt of tourists.

The villas of the Wall Street and Hollywood kingpins that decorate the ridge lines above town give off a desolate vibe of futility, as if the foregone disaster of a global banking meltdown had already sent their once-proud owners to bankruptcy Palookaville. The place gave off eerie intimations of a ghost town in-the-making.

Anyway you looked at America from the vantage of Aspen, Colorado, everything we do and stand for looks out of kilter. Our intellectual resources look spent, our prospects seem grim, and our assets are going up in flames. Maybe there's some consolation that we're not Europe.

That said, I have never been to a conference in all my vagabond years where so many magnificent buffet spreads and overflowing gorgeous snack tables were laid in never-ending succession. It almost persuaded me that the old Right Reverend Malthus was too Malthusian..


We're Done!

SUBHEAD: Stick a fork in it. The Earth climate is cooked and so are we. Now's the time to live the life you intended.  

By Guy McPherson on 20 June 2012 for Nature Bats Last -

 [IB Editor's note: Don't read on if you are made anxious by gloomy pronouncements. This is a tough piece to read and come to grips with. Guy has concluded we are now riding a tiger we cannot get off or influence. However, that does not mean you shouldn't rebel and live the life you thought you should live.]

 Image above: A goodbye kiss. From (http://www.vibrationalenergyhealingcenter.com/clearing-core-beliefs/mother-earth-has-an-ocean-of-emotion/).
British economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) is well known for his views on monetary policy. The printing-press approach he forwarded is widely used today,
even asespecially as the world-wide Ponzi scheme nears its end. My favorite line from Keynes:
“In the long run, we’re all dead.”
As I pointed out in this space a few years ago, I concluded in 2002 that we had set into motion climate-change processes likely to cause our own extinction by 2030. I mourned for months, to the bewilderment of the three people who noticed. And then, shortly thereafter, I was elated to learn about a hail-Mary pass that just might allow our persistence for a few more generations: Peak oil and its economic consequences might bring the industrial economy to an overdue close, just in time. Like Pandora with her vessel, I retained hope.

No more. Stick a fork in us. We’re done, broiled beyond
hopewishful thinking. It seems we’ve experienced a lethal combination of too much cheap oil and too little wisdom. Yet again, I’ve begun mourning. It’s no easier the second time.

As always, I’m open to alternative views — in fact, I’m begging for them, considering the gravity of this particular situation — but the supporting evidence will have to be extraordinary. By the way, irrationally invoking Al Gore doesn’t count as evidence. Ditto for unsubstantiated rumors about global cooling. A small dose of critical thinking might be required, rather than the ability to repeat lines touted by neo-conservatives and their owners in the fossil-fuel industries.

Before you launch into the ridicule I’ve come to expect from those who comment anonymously from a position of hubris and ignorance in the blogosphere, I invite you to fully consider the information below. I recommend setting aside normalcy bias and wishful thinking as you peruse the remainder of this brief essay. (While you’re at it, go ahead and look up the word “peruse.” It probably doesn’t mean what you think it means. I’ll make it easy: Here’s a link to the definition.)

We know Earth’s temperature is nearly one degree Centigrade higher than it was at the beginning of the industrial revolution. And 1 C is catastrophic, as indicated by a decades-old cover-up. Already, we’ve triggered several positive feedbacks, none of which were expected to occur by mainstream scientists until we reached 2 C above baseline global average temperature.

We also know that the situation is far worse than indicated by recent data and models (which are reviewed in the following paragraphs). We’ve known for more than a decade what happens when the planes stop flying: Because particulates were removed when airplanes were grounded, Earth warmed by more than 1 C in the three days following 11 September 2001.

In other words, Earth’s temperature is already about 2 C higher than the industrial-revolution baseline. And because of positive feedbacks, 2 C leads directly and rapidly to 6 C, acidification-induced death of the world’s oceans, and the near-term demise of Homo sapiens. We can’t live without life-filled oceans, home to the tiny organisms that generate half the planet’s oxygen while comprising the base of the global food chain (contrary to the common belief that Wal-Mart forms the base of the food chain). So much for the wisdom of the self-proclaimed wise ape.

With completion of the on-going demise of the industrial economy, we’re there: We’ve crossed the horrifically dire 2 C rubicon, as will be obvious when most of the world’s planes are grounded. Without completion of the on-going demise of the industrial economy, we’re there: We’ve crossed the horrifically dire 2 C rubicon, as described below. Joseph Heller, anybody?

I’ve detailed the increasingly dire assessments. And I’ve explained how we’ve pulled the trigger on five positive-feedback events at lower global average temperature than expected, while also pointing out that any one of these five phenomena likely leads to near-term human extinction. None of these positive-feedback events were expected by scientists until we exceed 2 C warming above the pre-industrial baseline.

My previous efforts were absurdly optimistic, as demonstrated by frequent updates (for example, here, here, and here, in chronological order). Yet my frequent writing, rooted in scientific analyses, can barely keep up with increasingly terrifying information about climate change. Every day, we have more reliable knowledge about the abyss into which we have plunged.

Consider, for example, the International Energy Agency’s forecast of business-as-usual leading to a 6 C warmer planet by 2035. Malcolm Light, writing for the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, considers one of the many positive feedbacks we’ve triggered in one planetary region and reaches this conclusion: “This process of methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.”

Please read that sentence again. Light is a retired earth-systems scientist. As nearly as I can distinguish, he has no hidden agenda, though he believes geo-engineering will save us (an approach that would take several years to implement, and one that we’d almost certainly FUBAR).
Forecasts by the International Energy Agency and the Arctic Methane Emergency group match the recent trend of increasingly dire assessments based on collection and interpretation of more data and increasingly powerful models. If these forecasts are close to accurate, we’ve only a requiem to write for human beings on Earth.

It’s time to modify Keynes’ famous line thusly: “In the short run, we’re all dead.” For those of us living in the interior of a large continent, much less on a rock-pile in the desert, I’d give us until 2020 at the latest. Carpe diem, reveling in the one life we get.

What, then, shall we do? As I contemplate the shackles we’ve created for ourselves, the words of Albert Camus come to mind: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” In terms of action, I hardly know what that means for me, much less for you. But I encourage any and every act of liberty and rebellion, particularly as the world burns.

I’m often asked why people living in industrialized nations shouldn’t relent to hopelessness and party like hedonists as the world burns. My typical response is to ask how our lives would be different if we suddenly starting acting like hedonists.


Shale Gas Scam Unfolds

SUBHEAD: The reality is setting in. This is an ideal set up for a supply collapse and subsequent price spike.  

By Nicole Foss on 24 June 2012 for the Automatic Earth -  

Image above: Idle equipment of Halliburton used for shale gas drilling. From (http://jclimatebus.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/power-under-our-feet-%E2%80%93-jewish-summer-camps-and-the-future-of-energy/).
It has long been our position at The Automatic Earth that North America is collectively dreaming with regard to unconventional natural gas. While gas is undeniably there, the Energy Returned On Energy Invested (EROEI) is dramatically lower than for conventional supplies. The critical nature of EROEI has been widely ignored, but will ultimately determine what is and is not an energy source, and shale gas is going to fail the test.

As we pointed out in Get Ready for the North American Gas Shock in July 2011, the natural gas situation is not what it seems at all:

The shale gas bubble is a perfect example of the irrationality of markets, the power of perverse short-term incentives, the driving force of momentum-chasing, the dominance of perception over reality in determining prices, and the determination for a herd to stampede over a cliff all at once.
The perception of a gas glut has driven prices so low that none of the participants are making money (at least not by producing gas) or creating value. We see a familiar story of excessive debt, and the hollowing out of productive companies dead set on pursuing a mirage.

Many industry insiders know perfectly well that the prospects for recovering substantial amounts of gas are poor, and that the industry is structured as a ponzi scheme. Still, there has been money to be made in the short term by flipping land leases and building infrastructure to handle gas.
The hype is so extreme that those who fall for it contemplate, in all seriousness, North America becoming a natural gas exporting powerhouse, and a threat to Australian LNG producers, or to Russia's Gazprom.

This concept, constructed from a mixture of greed and desperation (at the lack of conventional gas prospects), is entirely divorced from reality. (See here for Dimitri Orlovs excellent piece on why Gazprom has nothing to worry about.)

Nevertheless, euphoric hype is extremely catching. Given that prices are driven by perception, not by reality, hype has the power to change the dynamics of an industry, exaggerating boom and bust cycles in practice. The hype has resulted in the perception of glut - that North America is drowning in natural gas. The inconvenient fact that this peception is completely wrong does not alter its power in relation to prices.

Natural gas companies gambling on shale gas have been facing prices so low - far below the cost of production - that all of them have been producing gas unprofitably. The financial risk has been increasing dramatically as the companies have been drowning in debt trying to ride out the rock bottom prices that have been the result of people believing the fantasy. Finally, casualties of the financial shenanigans involved are emerging. It is very likely that there will be many more, as companies that have tried to ride out the low prices go under.

Wolf Richter:
Alas, thanks to the Feds zero-interest-rate policy and the trillions it has handed over to its cronies since late 2008, the sweeps of creative destruction have broken down. Instead, boundless sums of money have been searching for a place to go, and they're chasing yield when there is none, and so theyre taking risks, any kind of risks, in their vain battle to come out ahead. 

The result is a stunning misallocation of capital to the tune of tens of billions of dollars to an economic activity drilling for dry natural gas that has been highly unprofitable for years. It's where money has gone to die. What's left is debt, and wells that will never produce enough to make their investors whole.

But the money has dried up. And drilling for natural gas is collapsing. Last week, there were only 562 rigs drilling for dry natural gas, the lowest number since September 1999...

...At $2.53 per million Btu at the Henry Hub, the price of natural gas is up 33% from the April low of $1.90 per million Btu, a number not seen in a decade. 

.But even if it doubled, it would still be below the cost of production. And if it tripled, it might still be below the cost of production for most producers. That's how mispriced the commodity has become.

More from Wolf Richter:
The economics of fracking are horrid. All wells have decline rates where production drops over time. But instead of decades for traditional wells, decline rates in horizontal fracking are measured in weeks and months: production falls off a cliff from day one and continues for a year or so until it levels out at about 10% of initial production. To be in the black over its life under these circumstances, a well in the Barnett Shale would have to sell its production for about $8 per million Btu, pricing models have shown.

...Drilling is destroying capital at an astonishing rate, and drillers are left with a mountain of debt just when decline rates are starting to wreak their havoc. To keep the decline rates from mucking up income statements, companies had to drill more and more, with new wells making up for the declining production of old wells. Alas, the scheme hit a wall, namely reality...
...The natural gas business is brutal. The peak in drilling occurred in September 2008 with 1,606 rigs. Then the financial crisis threw it into a vertigo-inducing plunge. After last years mini-peak, the plunge continued...

...Production lags behind rig count, and while rig count for gas wells has been setting new decade lows, production has been rising month after month to new record highs. But lagging doesn't mean decoupled. And someday.... Oops, it already happened. It has started. Production has turned the corner, and not just in one field, but across the US.

Its still just a little notch in the curve. But its a sign that the collapse in rig count is translating into lower production numbers. And when the steep decline rates are beginning to overlap the drop in rig count, production will head south in a dizzying trajectory.

Money has been thrown at the industry, but the notion is dawning that the game is up and that returns will never materialize. The ponzi scheme has reached its natural limit, and investors are waking up to the realization that they have been chasing a fantasy.

Ironically, just as the washout begins, natural gas prices may have bottomed. Conventional natural gas in North America peaked in 2001. Coal bed methane and now shale gas have been revealed to be massively overblown as an energy source. Producers are reaping the consequences of malinvestment and will be going out of business. Demand has been building with the transition from coal to natural gas for power generation. This is an ideal set up for a supply collapse and subsequent price spike.
North America is poised for a huge natural gas shock. Far from being an exporter, North America is going to experience a natural gas supply crunch. Prices will be rising at the same time as peoples purchasing power falls precipitously, thanks to deflation. The structural dependency on natural gas that has been cemented in recent years is going to guarantee maximum pain as prices reconnect with reality.


Fermenting Sauerkraut

SUBHEAD: Some make kraut by canning and heat-processing, but so much of the power of kraut is its aliveness.  

By Sandor Ellix Katz on 27 April 2012 for Wild Fermentation -  

Image above: A beautiful crock, a ceramic plate and a glass bowl filled with water used in fermenting sauerkraut. From (http://herbangardener.com/2010/06/27/how-to-make-sauerkraut/).
[IB Editor's note: We have a permanent link to the Wild Fermentation website on our Reference Menu under "Self Reliance".]

1-4 weeks (or more)

Special Equipment:
  • Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket, one-gallon capacity or greater
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
  • One-gallon jug filled with water (or a scrubbed and boiled rock)
  • Cloth cover (like a pillowcase or towel)
Ingredients (for 1 gallon):
  • 5 pounds cabbage
  • 3 tablespoons sea salt
  1. Chop or grate cabbage, finely or coarsely, with or without hearts, however you like it. I love to mix green and red cabbage to end up with bright pink kraut. Place cabbage in a large bowl as you chop it.
  2. Sprinkle salt on the cabbage as you go. The salt pulls water out of the cabbage (through osmosis), and this creates the brine in which the cabbage can ferment and sour without rotting. The salt also has the effect of keeping the cabbage crunchy, by inhibiting organisms and enzymes that soften it. 3 tablespoons of salt is a rough guideline for 5 pounds of cabbage. I never measure the salt; I just shake some on after I chop up each cabbage. I use more salt in summer, less in winter.
  3. Add other vegetables. Grate carrots for a coleslaw-like kraut. Other vegetables I’ve added include onions, garlic, seaweed, greens, Brussels sprouts, small whole heads of cabbage, turnips, beets, and burdock roots. You can also add fruits (apples, whole or sliced, are classic), and herbs and spices (caraway seeds, dill seeds, celery seeds, and juniper berries are classic, but anything you like will work). Experiment.
  4. Mix ingredients together and pack into crock. Pack just a bit into the crock at a time and tamp it down hard using your fists or any (other) sturdy kitchen implement. The tamping packs the kraut tight in the crock and helps force water out of the cabbage.
  5. 5. Cover kraut with a plate or some other lid that fits snugly inside the crock. Place a clean weight (a glass jug filled with water) on the cover. This weight is to force water out of the cabbage and then keep the cabbage submerged under the brine. Cover the whole thing with a cloth to keep dust and flies out.
  6. Press down on the weight to add pressure to the cabbage and help force water out of it. Continue doing this periodically (as often as you think of it, every few hours), until the brine rises above the cover. This can take up to about 24 hours, as the salt draws water out of the cabbage slowly. Some cabbage, particularly if it is old, simply contains less water. If the brine does not rise above the plate level by the next day, add enough salt water to bring the brine level above the plate. Add about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of water and stir until it’s completely dissolved.
  7. Leave the crock to ferment. I generally store the crock in an unobtrusive corner of the kitchen where I won’t forget about it, but where it won’t be in anybody’s way. You could also store it in a cool basement if you want a slower fermentation that will preserve for longer.
  8. Check the kraut every day or two. The volume reduces as the fermentation proceeds. Sometimes mold appears on the surface. Many books refer to this mold as “scum,” but I prefer to think of it as a bloom. Skim what you can off of the surface; it will break up and you will probably not be able to remove all of it. Don’t worry about this. It’s just a surface phenomenon, a result of contact with the air. The kraut itself is under the anaerobic protection of the brine. Rinse off the plate and the weight. Taste the kraut. Generally it starts to be tangy after a few days, and the taste gets stronger as time passes. In the cool temperatures of a cellar in winter, kraut can keep improving for months and months. In the summer or in a heated room, its life cycle is more rapid. Eventually it becomes soft and the flavor turns less pleasant.
  9. Enjoy. I generally scoop out a bowl- or jarful at a time and keep it in the fridge. I start when the kraut is young and enjoy its evolving flavor over the course of a few weeks. Try the sauerkraut juice that will be left in the bowl after the kraut is eaten. Sauerkraut juice is a rare delicacy and unparalleled digestive tonic. Each time you scoop some kraut out of the crock, you have to repack it carefully. Make sure the kraut is packed tight in the crock, the surface is level, and the cover and weight are clean. Sometimes brine evaporates, so if the kraut is not submerged below brine just add salted water as necessary. Some people preserve kraut by canning and heat-processing it. This can be done; but so much of the power of sauerkraut is its aliveness that I wonder: Why kill it?
  10. Develop a rhythm. I try to start a new batch before the previous batch runs out. I remove the remaining kraut from the crock, repack it with fresh salted cabbage, then pour the old kraut and its juices over the new kraut. This gives the new batch a boost with an active culture starter.
• Sandor Ellix Katz, has earned the nickname “Sandorkraut” for his love of sauerkraut. This is Sandorkaut’s easy sauerkraut recipe from his book Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods (Chelsea Green, 2003). .

Disruption - System Failure

SUBHEAD: We are approaching the end of society as we know it - And that may be a good thing.  

Terrence McNally interviews Paul Gilding on 22 June 2012 for AlterNet - 

Image above: Painting of "Boomtown" by Thomas Hart Benton, 1928. From (http://www.frankzahn.com/Resources/Thomas%20Hart%20Benton%20-%20Boomtown%201944%20Cite-images.google.com-images.jpg?121).
Paul Gilding says it's time to stop worrying about climate change; global crisis is no longer avoidable. He believes the Great Disruption started in 2008, as spiking food and oil prices signaled the end of Economic Growth 1.0 based on consumption and waste. Coming decades will see loss, suffering and conflict, but he believes the crisis offers us both an unmatched business opportunity as old industries collapse to be replaced by new ones, and a chance to replace our addiction to growth with an ethic of sustainability.

Gilding has been involved with activist campaigns on a wide variety of issues and served as executive director of Greenpeace Australia and Greenpeace International. He founded Ecos Corporation in 1995, consulting to some of the world's largest corporations on issues of sustainability until its sale in 2008. Gilding's first book is The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.

Terrence McNally: Could you briefly talk about your path to the work you do today?

Paul Gilding: I started as an activist really very young. Age 14, 15, I got involved in a variety of issues and went on from there through 19 years of traditional activism, more on the human social side than the environmental side. Then through the late '70s to early '80s, I got involved in the anti-nuclear weapons and nuclear war movement. That led to a greater understanding of environmental issues, which then led to Greenpeace and very focused direct-action campaigns against corporate pollution. I ended up head of Greenpeace International.

I left there in the mid '90s, focused on the role of markets and companies. How could we mobilize the power of markets as a force for good in this area? For the next 15 years I focused on that question, working in the corporate sector, running two companies that I built. Really trying to see if you can drive change through business -- from the point of view of self-interest, recognizing that business is driven by making money. That's their core metric.

Then about four or five years ago, I came to the conclusion that we really had done our best in the environmental and social change movements, but the ecological and system pressures we'd brought to bear on the global ecosystem were now in full flight. Change is going to be unstoppable.
I guess the critical thing for me is being open to new ideas, looking at people from all walks of life, and not seeing myself as NGO or business or academic or whatever. Trying all the time not to get ideological or get caught up in my own beliefs too much -- being open to persuasion, discussion, debate and confrontation. Including with my own ideas -- to make sure I was doing the best I could do.

TM: You even spent some time in the military.

PG: While I was in the Australian Air Force, I became involved in anti-nuclear weapons activism. I had this very bizarre period, where I was serving in the Australian military Monday to Friday and spending my weekends in protests against visiting nuclear-armed warships from the US.

TM: So you've played many roles and looked at things from many points of view.

PG: I've tried really hard to do that. Always meeting new people, different people in different walks of life, and trying to understand where they were coming from, rather than taking a predetermined view. I see most people are good and bad, people behave well, people behave badly. I don't see any consistent pattern because someone's in the NGO community or in business or in government. No. I think people are people and we should try and be open to persuading people from all walks of life.
That doesn't mean all people are good. It doesn't mean we don't confront and get angry about bad behavior. But it does mean we're open to persuasion, and listening to different points of view. My life is about driving change. My life is about influencing the world, and I want to maximize that influence, not just feel good about my personal opinions.

TM: On opening day this year's TED conference scheduled two talks, one right after the other. Yours was the first, titled "The Earth Is Full." You asked questions like, have we used up all our resources? Have we filled up all the little space on earth? You suggested we have, with the possibility of devastating consequences. 

You were followed by Peter Diamantes, head of the X-Prize Foundation and author of Abundance, the Future Is Better Than You Think. It seemed to me that TED was positioning you as opposing views or at least yin and yang. While I can see the differences between your perspectives, especially about the past or the diagnosis, it seems to me you are absolutely in agreement that now is the time for huge advances.

Your assessment of that day, the juxtaposition of your talks, and the audience and web response to what went on?

PG: It was quite an event because TED is techno-optimist heaven. The people who go are great believers in technology and dramatic change, which I am as well, I should point out. But there is also an undercurrent of skepticism about people who talk about the problems. I was brought in by the TED organizers to confront that point of view and I certainly did that. It led to a great debate that carried on all week at the conference.

I'm certainly a great advocate for technology. I'm very excited about the solar industry right now, which is rolling out an incredible rate of growth and dramatically reducing prices. But there's a sort of naiveté I think in some sectors of the technology community that actually believes therefore we won't have a problem.

The only place I disagree with Peter Diamandis is that I think there will be a crisis. I think there will be major economic dislocation, and then we will achieve extraordinary technological and social change -- but not until the crisis really starts to take hold. I think the techno-optimist's view of the world is that there is no problem that technology can't fix. That may be true over time, but there are consequences in the meantime.

If we have a major ecological economic crisis, people will suffer; there will be consequences; there will be refugees; there will be countries that it's very difficult to live in; there will be food crises, and so on. Technology will come to the rescue in a way as part of the solution, but behavior change, different economic models, different approaches to doing business -- these are equally important. I put technology into a basket of solutions, and think it's going to be a pretty rough ride as we move between these eras.

TM: Here's a quote from your TED talk: "Things will get ugly and it will happen soon, certainly in our lifetime, but we are more than capable of getting through everything that's coming." You say "we" are more than capable of getting through it, but aren't millions of us going to suffer and die early, on the way to "we" coming through that?

PG: I think the "we" really refers to we as a collective civilization of humanity. People will suffer, and not just in developing countries by the way. I think there is going to be a lot of dislocation in Western countries. If systems break down; if services aren't provided; if we have a global food crisis due to extreme weather -- where would you rather be, with the hill tribes of Thailand or in the streets of New Orleans?

People in developing countries who are very poor -- I don't mean extreme poverty on the brink of starvation, but the billions who live in very poor conditions but are relatively self sufficient -- they're used to not having any support. In many ways they're in a more resilient position than those of us in the West who depend upon the supermarket shelves being full; who depend upon having a job; who depend upon the government being there to maintain security. It's more complex than the rich will be okay and the poor will suffer.

TM: We have people in developed countries talking about wanting to get off the grid. There are still millions in the world, billions perhaps, who have never been on the grid.

I recommend a book, A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit. She looked at what happened in New Orleans after Katrina, and saw that, rather than people turning ugly, they came together. Then she looked at the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and found the same thing. She examined six different cases where places have been hit by enormous disasters. Despite what we see on the news, pushed to the wall, people respond with compassion and cooperation.

PG: To simplify things: with humans, when things are going well, we behave badly; when things are going badly, we behave well. We look around at this selfish consumer society we see today and think that humans are somehow the lesser for it. The reality is that when crises hit, we come together very effectively and very quickly. During war, during natural disasters. The tsunami and the nuclear disaster brought out the best in the Japanese people. That's not just good luck; it's an evolutionary tendency. Without it, disasters would have brought us down as a civilization. We have survived and flourished because when things get tough, we look after each other.

In a funny kind of way, my pessimistic view about the coming crisis is an optimistic view about the future of humanity. The bigger the crisis, the better we'll behave. Not universally of course. There is always some looting and people behaving very badly for a variety of reasons, but on average we come together and we help each other to succeed and to survive and to flourish. As I said at the end of the TED talk, this could be our finest hour for our generation, because the opportunity is going to be so great to turn things around.

TM: To establish that we have reached our limits, you refer to the findings of the Global Footprint Network that it takes about 1.5 Earths to sustain the current global economy. What does that mean? And how did they arrive at that figure?

PG: This is a really very exciting bit of work done by some very eminent scientists organized around an NGO called the Global Footprint Network. Their Web site shows their scientific advisory board and their methodology in great detail. To summarize, they worked out how much land area would we need to sustain this economy. How much forest would we need to grow to absorb the CO2? How much ocean do we need to support global fisheries? How much land do we need to filter the water that we use? How much land do we need for growing the food? ... and so on.

They translated all of our economic system needs into land area, and their conclusion was that we're running about 50 percent past capacity. That's one methodology. Everybody who looks at it from any methodology comes to the same conclusion, which is that our current economic model is not sustainable in a physical sense.

It's important to differentiate that from being not sustainable because it's "not nice" or "not fair" or because "it's bad for polar bears." It's not sustainable in the simple physical sense of supply of resources.

We're using up our capital. If, for example, land area of soil is not strong enough to sustain current food production, then the soil is being degraded. We're not running out of food yet but we're degrading aquifers. We're depleting water supply, we're depleting soil quality, and we're polluting the air with CO2 and other gases. The essence of the problem is that, whether it's the millennium ecosystem assessment; the Stockholm Resilience Center's work on planetary boundaries; the Nicholas Stern report on climate change; or the Global Footprint Network, everybody who looks at the whole global system comes to the same conclusion. We're not behaving sustainably. We're using our resources faster than the earth can provide them.

TM: You point out that it's not just that we have to figure out how to deal with using 150 percent of Earth's capacity, but also that -- between population growth and economic growth -- we're aiming to multiply that number by two, four or six times.

PG: Correct, this is where the math becomes unarguable in my view. The simple math of 3 percent growth per year -- which is forecast in the long term globally, remembering that China is growing at 8 or 9 percent -- means a global economy four times this size by 2050. So even allowing for improvements in efficiency and renewable energy and a whole range of ways to improve resource consumption, we'll need three or four Earths by 2050.

My point is not that that's unpleasant, not that it's bad for biodiversity, which it certainly is, my point is: It's not possible.

There won't be enough resources for the economy to grow that much, and, therefore, the economy won't grow that much. That is actually a very big social crisis because our economic system depends upon growth to sustain employment and social stability and so on. We have to recognize that we have not just an environmental problem but a fundamental human problem.

TM: Your subtitle reads "Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World." But more than a climate crisis, you're talking about an entire integrated system falling apart. I suspect there are people who might not react as much to climate change as to the whole system breaking down. Oil prices have shot through the roof, food prices have led to uprisings, the Eurozone is in grave danger, etc. Might more people be reached and motivated by the notion that the system is breaking down than by the threat of climate change?

PG: "It's the economy, stupid." People respond when their personal economic situation looks bad or at risk. When the economy goes bad, we throw out governments, we try new things.

I refer you to Lester Brown's excellent work at the Earth Policy Institute. The food supply and the water supply are under threat in many countries. The Chinese are buying up farm land in other countries. This sort of economic stress on the system will soon come home to roost. The crisis in Europe and the US debt crisis are all part of the same system problem. We are desperate for more growth, so desperate to get the economy moving in terms of consumption of resources that we borrow from the future to make it happen today.

Richard Heinberg wrote a very important book recently called The End of Growth, in which he points out that the economic growth we're getting today in most Western countries is not real growth. It's actually debt that governments have borrowed from our children and are spending today to keep economies going.

TM: You compare our response to climate change to our response to Hitler. That's highly provocative. I've mentioned it to friends who react rather strongly. Why do you think it's a fair comparison?

PG: I think there are very few examples in history where we have genuinely felt existentially threatened, and Hitler was one of those. From a social perspective, from the point of view of freedom, from the point of view of basic morality and ethics, everything that Hitler stood for confronted the very essence of our beliefs. Therefore, if you ask how much we were prepared to expend our energy, our finances, and ou
r mental, physical and organizational capacities in response, the answer was "whatever it took."
Climate change and the broader issues of resource constraint are going to be the same. We are facing an absolutely existential threat to our civilization. Many forecasts show that if we don't address climate change very strongly, if we don't get the food supply system under control, if we don't stop consuming resources at this rate -- we are facing a genuine collapse of civilization. I don't mean the end of humanity as a species. I mean the end of civilization as we know it, and a breakdown of society, and a sustained period of what James Kunstler calls "The Long Emergency."

When else have we felt that everything we stood for was under threat? The answer is Hitler, the answer is WWII. The mobilization that we need in response is comparable. And unfortunately, same as with Hitler, we won't respond until the crisis is so in our face it's undeniable. The good news is that when we do respond, it will be on a comparable scale.

TM: You make the point that the evidence for climate change has been accumulating for years and is now irrefutable, yet there are still many in denial. Prior to Pearl Harbor, the evidence of Hitler's threat had likewise accumulated; yet there was denial. Acknowledgment meant a second world war, which the US and others wanted to avoid. In the current case, the choice of slowing down and turning back growth is seen as similarly negative by many.

PG: No one questions the ability of the United States to mobilize when it gets its act together. A quote from Winston Churchill is one of my favorites, "The US can always be relied upon to do the right thing, after it's exhausted all other possibilities." We're hoping that the technology revolution, the social revolution and the financial investment will be led by the US.

If it doesn't happen, I think that means the decline of the US as a world power. The future is now so clear and China and others are moving ahead so fast. I think we are at the sort of very special moment in history when big decisions are being made that will have an impact for a good century to come.

TM: You're from Australia. From your outsider perspective, why is the US slower to move to clean energy in the kind of forceful way that Germany or China have?

PG: We have a bit of this behavior in Australia as well. The US is so addicted to oil, so addicted to coal and fossil fuels and cheap energy, that denial becomes stronger. Per capita CO2 emissions on a numerical basis are higher than almost anywhere in the world -- apart from Australia it should be pointed out -- and therefore the change must be bigger. When the change is bigger, when the impact is greater, the denial gets stronger.

You see with alcoholics and other forms of addiction, when people change, they change dramatically, but not until the consequences are getting very severe. That's what I think is happening in America today. The denial has become so extreme, so ridiculous and so anti-science, that I think we are going to see a change happen very quickly when it does happen.

TM: Let me ask again about your outsider perspective on the US. Many, myself included, believe that the US system of politics and government has changed over the past few decades. Nixon, a Republican, for instance, signed the bill creating the EPA. That kind of thing would seem impossible today. What does it look like has happened and how much tougher does that make our challenge?

PG: A central issue in the US is inequality, in terms of political power, in terms of financial benefit and so on. There has been this very great concentration of wealth and power in a small number of people. That's not inherently structurally imposed by democracy; it's just the way the development of this society has turned out. There used to be a greater sense of responsibility to the greater good, I guess. We had many great Republicans in history in the US who did things because they were the right thing to do without regard for political consequences. Now that sort of behavior is rare. I've many Republican friends who lament that change. It's not a Republican versus Democrat issue. A cultural issue inside the society and inside the Republican party has driven that process.

But it is eminently changeable. Politics is, as Al Gore says, a renewable resource. We can see politics change very fast. As we saw with the Occupy Wall Street movement -- one of the most interesting things to happen in the US in a very long time -- we do see the attitudes of the public change very rapidly.

As a bunch of leaders in the Middle East learned recently, toppled from office by social movements that arose apparently from nowhere. We saw it with the fall of the Berlin Wall. We do see political change happen rapidly in many parts of the world, and I think we'll see a change here in the US as well. The US still has an opportunity to lead in this area and do so quite dramatically.

Even though we don't see those signals today, this is a country that went from George Bush to Barack Obama -- the capacity for change is quite extraordinary. And yes, many have been disappointed with how much Barack Obama has achieved, compared to the hope, but the capacity of the people to demand change I think is as strong as it ever was. You have to have the right constellation of forces happening at the right time, and I think that will occur.

TM: You wrote: "Occupy Wall Street is simply the kid in the fairy tale saying what everyone knows but has until now been afraid to say, the emperor has no clothes, we have system failure." You describe how society will move through denial and anger, finally to acceptance. Turnabout will happen after acceptance of reality. Do you want to speak about that?

PG: We tend to get caught up, as we have in this conversation, in the fascination with the size of the crisis and the complexity of the problem and the fact that we have system failure. But that can be paralyzing if we don't immediately move on, as we are right now, to the fact that humans are very good in a crisis. As we discussed earlier, when things go bad, we do well. When we get focused, we achieve extraordinary things very quickly.

It's not just hopeful or wishful thinking, I think it's rooted in historical evidence of how humans behave and how societies behave. That's why I am fundamentally very optimistic that once we recognize we face an existential threat to our civilization, we will achieve extraordinary things.
We'll solve the problems and we'll address the causes, and we'll do that with amazing capacity and incredible creativity. We'll look back and wonder, of course, why we didn't do it earlier. But we will come out of this in better shape as a society.

TM: You have written, "Hope is a stance, it's a belief system I choose to work within because it's more effective, it makes me feel better, and, most importantly, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela did not win by advocating despair." You've said the most important issue we face is when the denial breaks, do we respond with despair or with hope? Hope for what?

PG: Hope for the capacity of humans to respond as much as we need to to achieve the objective. If, when we face a crisis, we revert to fear, that will lead to nationalism, to breakdown, to a dog-eat-dog response. Many people fear that, but I think there's evidence in history that the dominant response is one of self-protection, but on a large scale and acting for the greater good.

With Nelson Mandela, the ANC slogan was "freedom in our lifetime," a very tangible direct goal. The whole process of the civil rights movement was about "I have a dream" not "I have a nightmare." If we believe that humans are capable of acting together for the greater good, if we believe that we're capable of the technological transformation we need to eliminate fossil fuels relatively quickly, then we'll do it. Belief is actually a very important part of the process.

TM: You advocate the "One Percent War Plan" as the technological and behavioral shift needed. Very briefly, what does it look like?

PG: Climate scientists tell us that 2 percent warming causes catastrophic system breakdown, and that 1 percent warming above pre-industrial averages is the level we can cope with. It still has bad consequences, but we're not at risk of system breakdown. I put together the One Percent War Plan with Jurgen Randers from Norway, one of the authors of The Limits to Growth in 1972. Working with the MIT system models we asked, "What does 1 percent of warming look like and what would it take to achieve it?"

We were amazed how fast and how cheaply we could achieve that level of change. We could cut climate emissions 50 percent in the first five years and eliminate them on a net basis within 20. It does require sacrifice, it does require rationing and price controls and so on, but that, as we saw in WWII, can be managed -- if we do it the right way with the right level of political support. You can read the details, but in summary, we can transform our economy with proven technology at an affordable cost and with existing political structures. The only thing we need to change is how we think and feel.

TM: You lay out the practical steps in The Great Disruption. Let's turn to the second part of the subtitle -- "A Better World." Can you speak a bit about the positive sides of this?

PG: Important research in recent years has shown that societies with greater inequality are actually unhappier societies and have worse social outcomes even for the richest people in those societies. That's very important.

TM: The book The Spirit Level by Wilkinson and Pickett makes that case.

PG: If we're extremely unequal, then we all suffer. Not only that, but research on consumerism has found that once you get to a certain point, more stuff doesn't make you happier. Social scientists say that once you get your basic needs met, you may work harder, you may get more money, you may buy more stuff, but your average quality of life does not improve. So the system isn't working for us anyway.
We need to make our societies more equal; we need to have greater opportunity for the poor; and the rich need to realize that more money doesn't actually improve their lives. We need to recognize that less consumption, spending more time helping each other, more time learning, more time involved in community, these are the behaviors that actually bring a better quality of life. That's why I argue that the crisis that's coming will lead to a better world than the one we have today.

TM: You mention Schumpeter's idea of creative destruction. It is usually thought as economic destruction where a corporation or an industry fails and is replaced by a new one. But implicit in what you're saying is that creative destruction applies to society as well. The model that we have lived under will be destroyed and there will be pain, but the shift will be movement forward for the species.

PG: I would add to that, let's think in terms of the evolution of higher consciousness as well. Let's recognize that we continue -- as we have had since we were monkeys -- to evolve to a better, more civilized place. This is the path we're still on. That's why I think we should recognize this is not about defending something old. In this process, we are actually building something new.


Navy EIS of Destruction

SUBHEAD: Navy Environmental Impact Studies presentation and those on Kauai who spoke truth to power afterward.  

By Michael Shooltz on 22 June 2012 in Island Breath -  

Image above: Mark Osborne supervises Sonar Technicians as they monitor contacts on a Surface Anti Submarine Combat System at sea. From (http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/may/14/thousands-marine-mammals-may-be-harmed-navy-sonar-/).

 Over this past week I have had two distinctly different, and separate, opportunities to be present and listen. Each was an opportunity to choose to quiet my mind and listen from my heart, to receive the voices around me, and to receive the voice from within me. On Tuesday evening here on Kauai I attended a gathering sponsored by the U.S. Navy to interact with the public about their Environmental Impact Study addressing the next seven years of "testing" and "training" they plan to conduct in an around the waters surrounding our tiny island here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Representing the Navy was Captain Nick Mongillo, the Commanding Officer of the Pacific Missile Range Facility, the largest missile test facility in the world, and about a dozen different Military Contractors representing different aspects of the kinds of tests that are conducted through the PMRF and the effects of those activities upon the environment and those who live in that environment. There was much focus in the materials offered by these contractors on the effects of the proposed testing and training activities on the whales, dolphins, and other sea life. I mingled through the many displays chatting with the various contractors about their work. 

One of them represented a firm that had created an intricate and detailed computer program that modeled and predicted the impact of sounds and underwater explosions on the whales, dolphins and other sea life as the Navy conducted it's tests. It considered such factors as the average amounts of time that members of a pod of striped dolphins spend at different depths in the ocean at various times. 

And then predicted the probabilities of those dolphins being at a specific depth at any point in time. The program also illustrated how far the concussions from explosions, and the sounds from the sonar testing, would travel through the water and the different impacts on the cetaceans at different distances from the sounds and explosions. It described the size of the death zone, and a little further from the explosion where death would not occur, but only "permanent" injury would result, and a little further out where "only temporary" injury would result from these tests. 

And then combining the probabilities of where the dolphins (or whales) would be within these "impact" zones, attempted to predict how many deaths, permanent injuries, and temporary injuries will occur. There was no doubt that deaths and injuries will be inflicted upon these fellow life forms. Each contractor had beautiful pictures of whales, and dolphins, sea turtles and seals in their displays and addressed the challenges and needs of each in their presentations. As I visited the displays of each contractor and listened to the various representatives describe their work in supporting the Navy's activities I felt appreciative of each of them. They were all intelligent, well-spoken, polite, respectful, nice men and women. I liked them. I felt the sincerity of their expressions. 

And yet, I couldn't help but notice in each one of them a certain level of numbness. I could feel in each one the place where, over the years, they had managed to somehow shut down a part of themselves in order to avoid listening to that "still small voice" within their hearts. I recognized in them aspects of myself from years gone by. In order to become "successful" in the world,they had retreated fully into their minds where, separate from their hearts, it has become "okay" to consider questions like "what levels of harm is "acceptable" to inflict on the beautiful creatures of our seas?" 

It has become "okay" to study the details of which injuries would be permanent and which injuries would "only" be temporary. In their minds it has become "okay" to question what level of death it is "acceptable" to perpetrate upon our fellow creatures here on Mother Earth. It is the same kind of twisted military/government thinking that can allow the death of murdered innocent women and children to be categorized as legitimate "collateral damage". 

 After an hour or so of the citizens mingling with the Navy Contractors the time arrived for the public to share their comments with Captain Nick. I watched with interest as 27 individuals were each strictly allocated three minutes to share their heartfelt comments about the impacts of the Navy's proposed activities. 

As I observed the valiant efforts of those 27 people, who took the time to "show up" and speak their hearts in an effort to turn around the ship of the Military Industrial Complex, I couldn't help but notice that, standing around the back of the room the Naval Contractors represented that massive Military Industrial Complex and the trillions of dollars of Military Spending being expended in today's world. In this world where "money talks" I noted that the combined net worth of the 27 people was peanuts compared to only one of the Military contracts represented by the Naval Contractors lining the back of the room. Further "rules" of the public input portion of the gathering were that the public would be "allowed" to speak their comments to Captain Nick, but that Captain Nick would not be answering questions or replying to their comments, but was willing to listen. 

At some point during these sharings I had a picture come to mind of a circle of Native Americans, sitting in circle for days, to make serious decisions that would effect their children's children's children and all living things. I wondered what they would think about the "three minute rule" and the "chief" who wouldn't speak?? After the gathering I had an opportunity to chat one-on-one with Captain Nick. Again, I liked him, a good man. 

But I was troubled by the same closed heart that I had experienced from the Contractors. Captain Nick spoke of "preparedness" and "defense". When I commented about some of the wars being conducted by the U.S. Military in the world today and the aggressive nature being displayed by the U.S., Captain Nick responded by saying,
"Those decisions are made further up the Chain of Command from me."
In his response I noted another aspect of the closing off of one's heart, i.e. the giving away of one's own personal power and responsibility for determining the kind of world we all live in. So where is the hope for the 27 people who show up to speak from their hearts for three minutes, to the Commander who doesn't speak, and who has given away his personal power to the "Chain of Command", while the trillion dollar Military Industrial Complex marches on and could care less about "acceptable" levels of death for our whales and dolphins???

Of course of what importance is the death of these whales, dolphins and turtles in a world where the President of the United States has secret assassination hit lists that even include US citizens; where US Military drones, flown remotely from Colorado and Connecticut, kill innocent women and children daily around the world in never ending wars; where new laws make it acceptable for the US Military to be used against it's own citizens; where, here in the United States anyone can be locked up indefinitely without charges at anytime; and where the US Constitution seems to have become a meaningless museum piece?? When the death of human beings has become so cheap, it becomes quite easy to write off the death of "a few" whales and dolphins that most never see. 

My second opportunity to be present and listen this week occurred yesterday on a sunny, small, secluded, deserted beach here on Kauai. I swam along the reef exploring the beauty of the tropical fish. I walked the beach and stumbled upon a Monk seal sleeping lazily, magically camouflaged amongst the rocks. I delighted in the terns scampering back and forth ahead of the incoming surf and, with one mind, taking flight and circling the bay with their chatter. And I sat in the shade of a palm tree, and I listened. I pondered, "Where is the the sound of hope?" 

There is talk these days about the re-emergence of the feminine energies, a rebalancing of the dance between the masculine and the feminine. Recently I had a vision come into my mind of a large bell, like the Liberty Bell displayed in Philadelphia. 

And it struck me that the curvature of the bell itself represented the feminine. And that the straight clangor inside the bell represented the masculine. 

And that the two have become separated over time. And that both the masculine and the feminine carry a deep longing for the sweet sound of universal freedom, in all of it's depths, that is created when the two come together to create that healing tone that has been missing so long from our lives. That missing sound carries within it the sense of fulfillment, of knowing, and of the oneness that the "still small voice" within every heart longs to experience. 

The deeply frustrated masculine has been running amok through the world striking everything in sight with that clangor in an effort to find that missing tone. But the sounds from all that has been struck by the separated masculine have only been, and continue to be, disharmonious, harsh, and grating. What is the emerging gift of the feminine?? In my pondering, the answer that comes forth is that the feminine brings a gift of deep "caring" based upon a wisdom that knows of the total connectedness of all of life. And it rests upon the fierce strength that the Mother can call forth to protect her own. 

As I observe the many issues facing our world today it occurs to me that in every arena the "problem" could have been avoided by merely adding this dynamic of "caring" to the decision making process. Massive amounts of toxic chemicals would not be sprayed upon our genetically engineered food and the earth if someone cared. Drones would not kill anyone, let alone the innocent women and children, if someone cared. 

Financial hardships would not be inflicted on the family of humanity if someone cared. There would be no Smart Meters carrying unseen toxic poisons into our homes and lives if someone cared. Profits would not be valued over people if someone cared. There would be no people starving. There would be no healing modalities suppressed. There would be no one denied health care. This will be another kind of world when the Mother's caring has returned. Ultimately one must "care" about the true voice of knowing, that "still small voice" that speaks from the heart. 

For it is that voice, within you, that cares the most about you, and your entire family. It recognizes, and resonates with the Truth of the connectedness of all of Life. It watches the events of our world and recognizes the insanity of a world without caring. That "still small voice" in the heart of EVERYONE in that room here on Kauai on Tuesday recognized the absurdity of the massive military war machine, coming to ask the 27 people here on Kauai what they think about the effects on the environment as they test and train their abilities to inflict massive "shock and awe" on every aspect of life on this planet. 

How numb does one have to become to ask the question, "Will the military have an effect on the environment?" 

How much denial and forgetfulness is required to block out the unending pictures of the results of the mayhem of war on our planet? Environmental Impact indeed!! 

Where is hope? 

Hope is in the knowing that there is power in Truth. Hope is in knowing that Truth can be found in every heart, and that that "still small voice" is speaking in every heart. Hope is found in the knowing that everything, in every arena, that is not founded on Truth, the Truth of the Heart, is now crumbling. When Truth is spoken it resonates and empowers all of Life. Hope is in knowing that this Truth is being expressed from the grass roots up where foundations are built and change happens. 

Those 27 voices were Truth being spoken, were foundations being laid, were Light being shined upon the dark, were awakening the good but numb. Having lived 18 years in the Washington, D.C. area, and having walked the halls of Congress and worked in the financial and corporate arenas for many years, I realize that this can sound naive to some. 

But in my heart I know the power of what is happening now. In that room on Tuesday everyone representing the Military industrial complex, those who had become numb, were there drawing a paycheck. But those 27 Kauaians investing their time, hearts and knowing were there is service to Truth, Caring and the well-being of all of the family of life. None of them received a penny for their efforts. And the dichotomy was that despite appearances, the true power in the room was held by the 27. No hearts were swayed by the money and power of the Military presence. But the voices of the 27 visibly touched the hearts of everyone in the room. 

The Military Complex was touched, and moved. The world is healing....one heart at a time. That gives me hope. The 27 give me hope. The still small voice emerging gives me hope. I trust in the potent power of Truth that lies in and is known in every heart. It is carried in the sounds of the terns chatter at the beach, and the breeze through the palms, and the gentle lapping of the waves. It is soft enough to allow the Monk seal to doze peacefully, and powerful enough to touch everyone, and everything, everywhere. 

No one is immune from these winds of change. I have begun to hear, in the voices of the 27, those gentle healing tones sent forth from the reunited bell, as the masculine allows itself to be returned to the wise and caring embrace of the feminine; and allows the warrior within's action to be tempered by caring, to touch and be touched by the feminine as the healing tones of their uniting once again peal forth to caress, recognize and nurture the oneness of all of life. As Chogyum Trungpa shared,
"The definition of vulnerability, for the true warrior, is, the availability to be touched by life."
And as the wise ones who came us before said, "These truths are self evident...." - when we listen to that "still small voice" in our hearts. I have hope. I offer my most sincere appreciation and gratitude to each one of you each and every time you find a way to show up, in support of all life; to be one of the 27 who sound the Truth of that ever growing "still small voice"!! Shine on!!

Petition to Curb Navy Plans 
SOURCE: Brad Parsons (mauibrad@hotmail.com
SUBHEAD: Navy to deafen 11,200 whales and dolphins and kill 1,600 more. Help stop them. 

The Navy is required to include comments on their Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) re: the use of high frequency underwater sound for testing in Hawaii and off the coast of California. According to their estimates it will deafen 11,200 whales and dolphins and kill 1,600 more over the next 7 years. Whales and dolphins depend on sound to navigate and live. Your signature and comment will have to be included in the EIS and could stop this Naval program, potentially saving the lives of these ocean creatures. The comments must be in by July 10, 2012. That's why I signed a petition to U.S. Navy EIS Comments, which says:
"Stop the killing of 1,600 whales and dolphins and the deafening of 11,200 more by ceasing the operation of the Navy's underwater sound system in the Hawaiian Islands and California coastline."
Will you sign this petition? Click here: http://signon.org/sign/navy-under-water-sound?source=s.em.mt&r_by=1894502 Thanks!