Oases on a future Eaarth

SUBHEAD: It may seem like slow motion, but the unraveling is happening as quick as it can go.

By Juan Wilson on 28 June 2015 for Island Breath -

Image above: One of the eighteen lakes of Ounianga, an oasis in the heart of the Sahara Desert supported by an aquifer created in a wetter climate in north Africa. From (http://gallery4share.com/o/oasis-geography.html) (http://itcolossal.com/lakes-ounianga-sahara-desert/).

It has taken me almost a decade to come to a resting place - to find some peace - in contemplating the future after first reading "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler (2005).

Kunstler's book identified the onset of "Peak Oil" and it's following ramifications that pointed to the Great Recession of 2008 just ahead that crashed America's suburban consumer middle-class economy-  to be followed by a permanent impoverishment our economy and lifestyles. See more of Kunstler at (http://kunstler.com/).

Kunstler's observations and predictions were soon followed by Al Gore, Guy McPherson, Bill McKibbon, Albert Bates and many other fine minds who warned of catastrophic Climate Change and potentially mass extinctions that might include ourselves - if we did not act to permanently change our habits of consumption.

Needless to say, these warnings have by and large gone unheeded for too long to make a difference. Cheap coal has continued to be burned and as long as fuel was expensive enough it has been economical to frack oil and gas out of the ground to make up the loss in production of cheap easy to get fossil fuels.

Coal has poisoned China and India and fracking has used untallied amounts of water and harmful chemicals injected into American in order to allow the industrial engine to rumble onward.

Industrial society's complacence and indifference have resulted in allowing several negative feedback loops to take over increase in the destructive heat trapping gases in the atmosphere - including frozen methane releases in Siberia;  melting ice sheets in the Arctic; reduced cloud cover associated albedo changes to surface water that absorb additional heat; etc.

Observers of the scene have begun to realize that after twenty years of United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP) that the industrial nations of the world have "shit the bed" and have waited too long to save us from the worst of the downside consequences. What ever happens at this years COP21 confab in Paris this December it won't save us from the harsh realities already on the way.

If you want to look into a microcosm of the troubles ahead look to California. The entire state is in a drought. About 3/4 of California is in an Extreme to Exceptional Drought (http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/Home/StateDroughtMonitor.aspx?CA). For some years that extreme drought has included all of the Central Valley of California (where all that food we eat is grown). There is paltry snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains that supplies the aquifers that are being pumped dry by ever deeper wells. Even the rich will watch their landscaping blow away on the wind.

The entire Southwest of the United States will likely be lost in the sense of supporting large population of suburban sprawl. In a generation you won't recognize cities like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. 

Whereas other regions, like the still forested North East will be by comparison, blessed. Yes, the region will have its share of climate trouble, but its food growing season will likely be lengthened and its harsh winters be milder. Even with its large urban populations areas I suspect the North East will do better than the South West in the future described by Bill MCKibbon in his book "Eaarth"  Making a life on a tough new planet. 

Our popular culture is, to a degree, reflecting that future. The popularity of fantastically ridiculous movies like last years Intersteller ("A team of explorers travel through a wormhole in space in an attempt to ensure humanity's survival") and this years Mad Max: Fury Road ("In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order") and the up coming The Scorch Trials ("Facing a new set of challenges on the open roads of a desolate landscape filled with unimaginable obstacles").

What are these iconic cultural myths telling us? That you messed up the planet and you better be finding a friendly place to live soon.

That planet will be hotter and dryer in many places as we face
widespread desertification. Major shoreline cities will be eroded and inundated by rising oceans in the lifetime of many alive today. And many alive today won't be in the future.

Mega fauna (the big animals) are going extinct as fast as they dinosaurs were disappearing 65 million years ago. Elephants, rinos, tigers, and polar bears may be gone in a few decades.

Will humans muddle through? Possibly, but we will be will be brought to the edge of extinction. Our adaptability has been our calling card. And we have done it before. See "One Time Through the Bottleneck" -
Almost 200,000 years ago humans faced extinction. Only a few hundred were saved along the coast of Cape Horn.

There will be pockets of the world's current living environments that will continue on in new forms where it is cool enough and moist enough for some things to thrive -like an oasis in the desert. It may be the rim in the Great Lakes area of upper Michigan or a pocket valley on Kauai. It may be isolated from other nearby "Live Zones" but none the less that is where you will want to be when the crunch comes.

My advise is to be in that place now. As a first priority b
e prepping for sustainable resilience there: water, food, shelter, energy. It may seem like slow motion, but the unraveling is happening as quick as it can go.

See also:
Ea O Ka Aina: Growing Growing Gone! 6/15/15
Ea O Ka Aina: Food • Water • Energy • Shelter 1/31/13



  1. Juan,

    I think this is dead on and well written. Unfortunately I suspect you and I are of the INTJ Myers-Briggs psychological type which only represents 2-3% of the population. That's about the same percentage of people I find that are interested in talking about aspects of permanence.

    I have found success in pursuing objectives that serve my interests while opening as many doors as possible at the same time. Once I figured out why no one else gets it I started to learn how to talk to everyone else.

    This post reminds me of the first post I ever read of yours, it was the one that kept me coming back: http://islandbreath.blogspot.ca/2013/01/food-water-energy-shelter.html

    As obvious and inevitable as it seems to me, it is comforting to a find similar opinion in our the generally apathetic population.

    Keep up the great work,
    Peter Gilbert
    Smithfield, NB

  2. Aloha Peter,

    Thanks again for your kind words. I've seen your comments on



    If you ever have a future article you are interested in getting posted - please send it along

    Juan Wilson
    IB Publisher

  3. History has shown that only 3% of dedicated, undeterred, relentless people are necessary to create real change. Be the 3%.