How to face global warming, Part 2

Part Two


We want to live longer and have access to more goods and services. When coupled to the energy of fossil fuels we have become so successful that exponential growth is the result. But our successes have come at the  expense of the natural world. The diagrams (repeated below) of ‘Global Ecological Footprint’,  Recent Changes in Natural Ecological Systems of the Earth’,  and of the impinging of the  Ethereal Environment into the Natural World summarize these conflicts. 



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Global Ecological Footprint Recent Changes in Natural Ecological Systems of the Earth         Predictions for 21st Century 

By now most educated people have accepted the idea that there are major, worldwide environmental problems.  We have personally experienced “heat domes,” temperature extremes, devastating fires, ocean warming, and unexpected flooding.  Many of us have also accepted the fact that human activities have indirectly caused these and many other major environmental problems.  We see that humans thoughtlessly but without malice or intent have altered and polluted the land, water and air around us. On a personal level, we are unable to change our cultural stories and to alter an unrelenting social inertia that prevents acceptance of these existential predicaments. Nor, in the recent understanding of the problem, have we been able to change, collectively, the course of  our government or our economy. 

Most of us have been enamoured with the ideals of progress and growth that underlie our culture.  But we largely remain unaware of the scientific facts that conflict with those ideas. Few can see the direct relationship between humans’ incessant energy demands and the dynamics of thermodynamics and evolution. That is what I tried to show in Parts 1. and 2. The laws of physics and biology, when considered within the intricacies and immense extent of natural ecological systems, are fundamental to understanding the environmental problems we now face. 

We have probably grown up with an optimistic outlook that is basic to this peak period of American economic prosperity. William Catton calls it exuberance! From childhood, I have been influenced by the optimism of better access to diverse sources of food, means of transportation and communication, of better health through better medicine and public sanitation, of more leisure time, of expectations of access to education and employment. In other words, to ‘modern life’.  And even as I am aware of the relations of humans within the biosphere, I continue to live the way of life with which I grew up.  I continue to consume the world, largely unaware of the diverse and extensive energy transformations in assembling goods and services. I travel with little real sense of how it contributes to air pollution. I do not know how my pension plan contributes indirectly to the burning of fossil fuels. In my tenth decade on Earth, I can’t calculate the very high energy costs of my education, career, or health, all of which were extraordinarily  energy consumptive.

The Dominant View of Modern Life

American culture has been mine since birth and is the background to my thoughts today. Some ideas have changed but always within the context of my 20th century acculturation. Lewis Mumford’s Pentagon of Power”-- Power, Profit, Production, Property, and Publicity-gets at underlying cultural concepts. My habits and ideas, built up over the years, remain front and center. Within this 20th-century social contract, it is relatively easy to shift my political views from Republican to Democrat,  to consume less meat, to get rid of my  automobile, to avoid artificial fibers in clothing. I could insulate my house and use solar panels; I can maintain healthy activity patterns, and  grow some of my own food. All of these actions are acceptable within my culture. I can contribute money to environmental causes. But I still consume large amounts of goods and services that I do not need for survival or even to live well. I use digital devices that are new and useful for present day activities but are not necessary for a sustainable existence. In other words even as I am aware of the roots of environmental degradation,  I am unavoidably and inextricably embedded within both the organic imperative to grow and reproduce and the modern cultural complex to get more and more and prosper in social and economic life.

I am addicted.

If you do not believe the evidence, you may ignore, deny, contradict, disbelieve, or not consider it to be important. However, If you believe the scientific evidence of ecology, evolution, and energy and also believe that you are addicted to the ideas of growth and progress, you most likely will experience stress or psychological anxiety.  Many of us feel unsettled as we envision the future of our own, our children's, and their children’s lives because we are living in ways that harm the future. 

 Addiction to Environmental Destruction

In Gregory Bateson’s words:

 If “we realize that we are caught in the double bind of mind versus  body; our mind and body are sending us conflicting messages that cannot be reconciled and which are depriving us of sanity and health.” (Substitute ‘behavior’ for Bateson’s, ‘body’ and you will see the analogy directly).

If you, as I, cannot reconcile your life style with the impact that it is having on the natural world, you have become helplessly addicted to exploitation of your earthly home. The admission that our actions cannot be made to correspond with our thought is fundamental.Environmental addiction is a disease more deadly than drug addiction.

To find relief from that double bind of addiction and belief, it is fundamental to adjust both our thoughts and our actions. Differences between what we know and what we believe to be true result in cognitive dissonance. To reconcile this dissonance, we need help. Gregory Bateson offered some help when he  alerted me to an ecological model about the ways in which alcoholics and other addicts might substitute a sane and healthy life for their addiction, thereby relieving the dissonance.

“It is [***] asserted that the nonalcoholic world has many lessons which it might learn from the epistemology of systems theory and from the ways of AA.  If we continue to operate in terms of a Cartesian dualism of mind versus matter, we shall probably also continue to see the world in terms of God versus man; elite versus people; chosen race versus others; nation versus nation; and man versus environment.  It is doubtful whether a species having both an advanced technology and this strange way of looking at its world can endure.” (My emphasis)

I believe that adopting AA’s systems model  can bring some “sanity and health” to us who are addicted to our modern cultural beliefs as we see environmental crises unfold before us.  Even a modified AA model will not solve the physics of environmental disruptions. It won’t change the course of evolution. And it won’t soon change the course of American culture.  But it may help some of us find peace of mind as we live through and try to understand the troubled environmental predicament of today. 

The AA model is similar to an ecosystem that recognizes that we are organisms who live in larger ecosystems--the natural world--and also in subordinate ecosystems--our minds and the stories we live by. Thinking of the natural world and our mental worlds together causes great stress. Is that stress so great that we have ‘hit bottom’ and recognize the we are addicted (not simply aware) of damaging our environment?

To overcome our addiction to our current ways of thinking of mind versus nature, we must come up with a new way of thinking—a new epistemology.  We must recognize that we are part, but only part, of a system that is greater than ourselves, a system that is sane and healthy, a system in which mind and matter, humans and environment, are not opposed. Bateson’s writes:

“The self is but a small part of a much larger trial-and-error system which does the thinking, acting, deciding.”  

The realization that we are merely a part of a naturally evolving and ecological world that is immensely greater than ourselves is truly a humbling experience for those of us raised in the traditions of The Enlightenment and of modern beliefs which stress the power, rationality, and individuality of humans and humanity.

To acknowledge that we are part of the natural processes of evolution and ecosystems, which we are significantly disrupting, is highly disturbing. Viewed in the context in which every technological triumph has also disrupted some ecological or evolutionary relationship, one can catches glimpses of disasters far more threatening than alterations of our current life styles.  We have to admit that continued human survival  rests largely outside our control but, instead, within ecologic and evolutionary terms.  For a shorthand term, we might say that we are in the hands of Mother Earth or Gaia. 

After admitting that we are not in control, the next step toward sanity-- to surrender to this new way of thinking--is extraordinarily difficult.  We need to acknowledge that our behavior is both addictive and destructive. Few among us have ‘hit bottom’ because to do so would be seen as a threat to our current ways of life. Nevertheless, we can actively and honestly become part of Gaia by physically acknowledging and, wherever possible, rectifying, the wrongs (the disruptions to natural ecosystems) we have done to her in the past.  

We can do so by making a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.  We must admit to ourselves and others the exact nature of our wrongs to what may be called Mother Earth, Gaia, or natural ecological systems. We need to make a list of the environmental and ecological systems we have harmed and, where possible, make amends to them. We should continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong, promptly admit it. Through prayer and meditation we can reaffirm our humility as part of an unimaginably larger system. There  is no need to feel guilty or find blame for your  actions. Instead, you may find lessened stress simply  in the recognition that you are doing whatever you can to live a sane and healthier life.

This is important to my thinking, these principles also allow me to understand human behaviour in historic time, especially in my own lifetime. Humans, extraordinarily successful organisms, have been simply carrying out their lives, unaware of the consequences of their physical and cultural imperatives. If now, humans have become aware that their very existence is at stake, even as they cannot overcome these imperatives, they can find ways to live more sanely and peaceably.

Thus I am  not panicked by what I have come to think about the human role in changing global ecosystems. I am neither pessimistic nor optimistic about the results of the continuation of the negative, radical changes that I now see going on around me. I think that I understand the principal basic facts about the general trends of the alterations of the natural world and I have a very general understanding of the major ecologic systems that are being altered and of the existential questions of humankind's place in the evolution of organic life. I also have a general understanding of the ways in which worldviews and culture are effecting change. 

I am personally aware of many of the ways that I fit into American culture and worldviews. I am particularly concerned with the uniquely insistent human characteristic of consciousness and how I might use it to live the best life possible in the existential predicament of today. Most importantly, I must be mindful of the ways in which I continue to participate in both the cultural and natural world. 

We must learn to live with the knowledge that our brief moment of human exuberance is expiring, in large part, because of our own doing. Now, we must try to remain sane on the Earth that we have insanely altered.


For most of the last 10,000 years, alleviation of environmental problems for humanity was possible only because new lands and technologies were available. The growth imperative of humans, as with that of all organisms…to maintain and reproduce themselves through thick and thin--could continue until limits within the natural environment restricted expansion. But when technology, science, individualism, and the belief that humans are the masters of the Earth were coupled with the power of fossil fuels, the natural limits to growth were released, swamping any remaining sense of  human wisdo


In the 1970s, with ecological views in mind, H. T. and Elizabeth Odum wrote what to do if  we wanted to attain a  sustainable society or to decline prosperously. To attain a sustainable society, the major requirement would be to consume less. Reading through the list of the Odums, it is understandable  why their suggestions were not adopted.  They simply contradicted the Mumfords “pentagon of power” in multiple ways. For example: 

Redefine progress as adaptation to earth restoration. 

Decentralizes organizational hierarchy; 

Place an upper limit on individual incomes;

Provide incentives to eliminate luxury use of fuels, cars, and electric power;

Use agricultural varieties that need less input. 

Almost none of their suggested  policies could be adopted because they were then unpalatable to political and economic leaders and to most modern Americans. 

( I remember going to the City Council of Eugene, in the 1980s, with colleagues from the Planning Department and the School of Architecture of the University of Oregon urging it to limit growth of the City. We were met with silence before it adopted policies of economic and physical growth of the City.)

 Degrowth--necessary for attaining sustainability--was not even considered. 

Sustainability may remain a goal for some people, today, but will remain elusive because our leaders still want economic growth,  which is impossible without further destruction of the natural world.  Growth and Progress,  today’s dominant world views, can only result in collapse of modern civilization and the vast alteration of the natural world.   

The future after the Recognition of the Crash

A major ecological thinker concerned with  the future of humankind, William Catton, writes:

” … in an age of global overshoot, the task facing mankind is to minimize the severity and inhumanity of the crash toward which we … are headed. Presumably mankind has found high death rates less unbearable when due to natural causes (e.g., microscopic predators) than when imposed by arrogant, sadistic human executioners. “

He continues: 

“Our best bet is to act as if we believed we have already overshot, and do our best to ensure that the inevitable crash consists as little as possible of outright die-off of Homo sapiens. Instead, it should consist as far as possible of the chosen abandonment of those seductive values characteristic of Homo colossus. Indeed, renunciation of such values may be the main alternative to renewed indulgence in cruel genocide. If crash should prove to be avoidable after all, a global strategy of trying to moderate expected crash is the strategy most likely to avert it.”  (Catton, William R.. Overshoot (p. 266). University of Illinois Press. Kindle Edition. on, William R.. Overshoot (pp. 215-216). University of Illinois Press. Kindle Edition.) 

 B. Ethical views.

 All major religions incorporate prohibitions in their worldviews: do not kill, do not steal, do not speak in anger or derision, et cetera.  They also include positive directives: do unto others as you would have them do unto you, be kind, be considerate, loving, and compassionate, et cetera. One can try to live by these commands because they offer directives as to how to live ethically, responsibly, supportive, and concernedly with other people. But they  do not offer ethical guidance as to how to live with nature.

In 1864, George Perkins Marsh published, “Man and Nature-or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action.  HIs books were among  the first to incorporate modern views on ethical relations of humans towards nature. He wrote:

“the dangers of imprudence and the necessity of caution in all operations which, on a large scale, interfere with the spontaneous arrangements of the organic and inorganic world.” p. vii 

In 1955, William Thomas edited the massive volume, Man’s Role in Changing The Face of the Earth’, which was the result of meetings of over 100 scholars concerned with human modifications of the natural world. The conference was dedicated to George Perkins Marsh. In the introduction, Thomas stated that Marsh believed that man should moderate his activities and develop a morality in respect to his use of the earth. Thomas included the ideas that

 “ The identification, use, and care of resources is in the end a problem of human values and behavior,”  and “The dichotomy of man and nature is … thus seen as an intellectual device and as such should not be confused with reality.”

 In 1948, Aldo Leopold, a forest ecologist, addressed ethics directly when he wrote (in A Sand County ALMANAC, Oxford University Press):

“The first ethics dealt with the relation between individuals.*** Later accretions dealt with the relation between the individual and society. *** There is yet no ethic dealing with man’s relation to land and to the animals and plants which grow upon it.*** It is still property.”

“The land ethic simply enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals, or collectively: the land.” **

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community.  It is wrong when it tends otherwise. 

“In short, a land ethic changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain member and citizen of it.” *** “In all of these cleavages, we see repeated the same basic paradoxes: man the conqueror versus man the biotic citizen; science the sharpener of his sword versus science the searchlight on his universe; land the slave and servant versus land the collective organism.”

‘By and large, our present problem is one of attitudes and implements.We are remodeling the Alhambra with a steam shovel, and we are proud of our yardage. We shall hardly relinquish the shovel, which after all has many good points, but we are in need of gentler and more objective criteria for its successful use.” 

Written 75 years ago, Leopold’s ethical proposals have been almost completely ignored. The steam shovels have been busy, nearly completely remaking the world. His land ethic sounds quaint, coming as it did before the “great acceleration” of goods and services supported by energy from fossil fuels. The genie of growth and progress has no chance of being put back in the bottle. We can never be a ‘plain member and citizen in the land-community’. We remain ‘man the conqueror using science as the sharpener of  our sword’ and ‘land (and sea and air) as the slave and servant’. 

In the 1970s, Howard Odum also proposed a set of ecological ethics focused on energy flows in society.

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Unlike Marsh, Leopold, and Odum, I  have had no hope that their ethical ideas might be adopted. Instead, ethics remain focused on human relations among themselves, not on their relationships in the natural world.  But, like them, I can actively support attempts to preserve 'natural' areas, urge efforts to decrease the input of carbon dioxide and other disruptive gasses into the atmosphere, eat less beef, support increased use of organic foods, and on and on because I respect the ecosphere and the Land Ethic.  One can live an ethical life even as natural and human systems fall apart. The predicament in which we live does not preclude acting for what we believe is right.

C. Religious views. 

In many ways the ethics and morality of ecology appear to be in direct conflict with some basic concepts of traditional religions.   Michael Dowd a minister,  in a series of extraordinary videos describes his religion as Sacred Realism / Religious naturalism and how those religious beliefs can be interpreted in today’s world.Sanity 101: Living Fully in an Age of Decline - Essential Wisdom for Hard Times Is a recent video in which he expresses his ‘ Eco-Theo Creed’ in some of the same terms as traditional religious practices. The two images below are take form that video. His ecological/evolutionary concepts are similar to those that I presented above. He has come to scientific concepts of the world from a traditional religious background whereas I have come from an a-religious, secular, background in environmental studies to religious views.  We have come from different backgrounds but have reached many of the same conclusions. Our strategies of how to live life may be different but we live in the same spiritual world.  The second image suggests ways to better live a full life if you accept the inevitability of ecological and societal collapse






D. Behavioral Views or Ideas about how to act. 

Solutions: Technology

A word about looking for solutions through the use of technology. Ways of preventing or moderating global warming have been proposed by many people and organizations.  However, I believe that there are no technological solutions that will stop global warming nor prevent a major collapse of modern society. Governmental  and most other influential leaders continue to talk of growth of the economy and act to encourage greater use of energy. They do not want to concern themselves with the realities of ecology and its consequences for organic life.  Instead, they look to technology and false hopes. To reach Net Zero Emissions by 2050, the IPCC, indicates that Low-carbon technologies are key to necessary reductions. Behaviour changes, changes of attitudes, and the lack of needed materials are largely dismissed. Ecological view are ignored.




IPCC role of technology in attaining Net Zero emissions

To try to continue our lives as we have in recent decades is not fruitful. Before making suggestion about how to act in a practical way, I want to dismiss technology as being practical in solving environmental problems.

Technology cannot provide solutions to the problems of global warming, which it has created. Technology has been extraordinarily successful because it can focus on specific problems with little regard to the secondary, tertiary, or more remote ecological effects of the solution to particular problems. Technology has produced great medicines, lots of food, better living conditions but also eight billion people on an Earth that will not be able to support them.  Technology has produced the machines and resources to produce  a plethora of goods and services, but not ways to limit the pollution of its waste products. Technology has produced plastics that contribute to many beneficial goods and services but now is a contaminant or pollutant throughout the natural environment, even within the human body. Little sense of large group decision-making survives Technology has devised artificial Intelligence, even among computers themselves, but cannot employ wisdom. In fact, technology, no matter how intelligent, cannot be wise. The lack of human wisdom may also not have been possible once political power became rested in organizations larger than subsistence groups or tribes whose wisdom was necessary for group survival. Technology, in its self, is a human creation. It is not part of the biotic world of evolution nor does it exchange information with the natural world.

For most of the last 10,000 years, alleviation of environmental problems for humanity was possible only because new lands and technologies were available. The growth imperative of humans, as with that of all organisms--to maintain and reproduce themselves--could continue until limits within the natural environment restricted expansion. But when technology, science, individualism, and the belief that humans are the masters of the Earth were coupled with the power of fossil fuels, the natural limits to growth were released, swamping any remaining sense of  human wisdom with regard to nature.

Renewable energy is based on current resources, not those of millions of years ago. But to use renewable sources of energy, almost all of which are based on incoming sunlight, it takes modern technology, which is based on nonrenewable source to use it. Renewable energy, although in continuous supply, cannot support the technology that it takes to  harness it to other uses. Its EROEI is far below the energy required for modern society. It is not a perpetual motion machine!

[As a side thought, even if renewable energy were to substitute for fossil fuel energy  (So far, it has not. Use of fossil fuel energy continues to grow.), the natural ecological systems of the Earth would continue to be greatly altered. Further, the problem of peak oil would then loom large. With continued use of Fossil Fuels at current rates, a peak in production should occur in the 2040s.]


 2. Deep Adaptation

I believe that neither the ‘Eco-Theo Creed’ nor a land ethic, alone or together, will be adequate to keep a personal sane in the insane world  of the coming collapse of modern society. Another approach that may help is ‘Deep Adaptation,’ a philosophy and course of action devised by Jem Bendell, an academic systems analyst who searched for ‘sustainability’ in a world in which humans were radically altering the Earth’s natural systems. As he became overwhelmed with the impossibility of cultural change leading to sustainable  societies , he asked the question:

 How on Earth do we begin to talk to each other and work from a starting point of experiencing or anticipating societal disruption and even collapse?”

He writes of the Four Rs of Deep Adaptation, a broad framework which are questions to keep in mind in times of social disruption:  Resilience, Relinquishment, Restoration, and Reconciliation.

Resilience requires us to think about what we want to keep.  What values and behaviors are most important to maintain when under great stress, even societal collapse? What fundamental positive beliefs do you consider essential when your cultural context is disintegrating? 

On a practical level, what do  we want to retain beyond access to fresh water, basic food items, primary health care, and clothing and shelter.

Relinquishment means what we are able to  give up.  It involves people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviors and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawing settlements from coastlines, shutting down vulnerable industrial facilities, or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption.” In line with what Aldo Leopold writes, we should be able to give up practices that damage the natural ecosystems that support life other than our own. We should give up the technologies that pollute or damage our life support systems and manufacture items that might be called luxuries.

Restoration means to rediscover attitudes and approaches to life and to organizing people and communities that were lost during the days when fossil fuel energy dominated technology. Humans need to restore the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community through such activities as rewilding and organic gardening. We need to restore the communal activities that strengthen families, neighborhoods, and larger community. We may encourage this through restoring participatory sports, dance, music, and arts of all kinds  We can substitute personal contact for reliance on mechanical and electronic devices. 

Reconciliation means the process of learning to live with each other and nature within the emerging existential predicament. We must do so in an open, calm, and adaptable manner, without panic. We should look for consensus.

To lessen our impact on the ecosphere and personal cognitive dissonance, I think that we should always ask the four questions of Deep Adaptation before we act.

The question of Resilience is  “What do we most value that we want to keep and how?”

The question of Relinquishment is  “What should we let go of so as not to make matters worse?” 

The question of Restoration is: “What could we bring back to  help us in these difficult times?”  

The question of Reconciliation is: “With what and with whom shall we make peace as we awaken to our common mortality?” 

I believe that these questions ask us to think about human consciousness. The better responses are to be found in the depths of consciousness. They include honesty, kindness, truthfulness, concern for others, openness to love--the positive characteristics of most religious beliefs. I also believe that Michael Dowd’s recommendations to act through love, laugh, learn something new, leave  a legacy, and live courageously are good behaviors to keep through the predicament of modern life and societal collapse. 

 3. The Post-Carbon Institute through its web-site, Resilience, offers ideas about how to live in a collapsing society. Their ideas are positive and pro-active in that they show ways in which local communities can become more resilient in a declining economy. I recommend its video course entitled Resilience. It emphasizes actions at the local level. 

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4. Stockholm Resilience Center also offers many ideas about sustainability and guides to survival. The Wayfinder guide is particularly good at offering organizational skills dealing with sustainable development.

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5. The website of Job One For Humanity, in addition to offering solid scientific advice about the climate predicament, has proposed a series of strategies of survival for people, whatever their situation may be today. They have very recently prepared a program called: Climate Change Backup Emergency Preparations & Climate Disaster Recovery Survival Kit, which proposes several ways to survive the impending global climate disaster. The outline of the proposed actions (listed below) is followed by detailed explanations:

Action Step 1: Enjoy your life now and build psychological and emotional stability, reserves, and resilience. 

Action Step 2: Build your necessary backup emergency supplies and resilience for runaway global heating disaster survival and recovery.

Action Step 3: Create a climate change emergency preparation cash or valuable commodity reserve fund equaling 5%-10% of your annual income.

Action Step 4: Plan how to adapt where you are and move critical resources, technology, and infrastructure to handle the escalating consequences of runaway global heating.

Action Step 5: Get as personally sustainable as possible, as quickly as possible, and create renewable long-term food supplies that you can manage.

Action Step 6: Evaluate if you must relocate or migrate, and if so, plan where and when. Here you will learn about the concepts of Managed Retreat.

Action Step 7: Carefully Watch Our Accelerating runaway global heating and Other Related Consequences and Their Warning Signs to Wisely Stay Ahead of Them for as Long as You Can.

Action Step 8: If you are also of a spiritual nature, your faith can provide a critical and powerful motivation to help you persevere and survive what is coming.

Action Step 9: Work together passionately and wisely to slow and lessen the avoidable pain, suffering, and death that is and will be caused by accelerating runaway global heating.

Action Step 10: Join one of our existing ClimateSafe Villages or create a climate-safe eco-community to have a prepared community to help protect you and your loved ones through the many hardships ahead. (This is an essential survive and thrive step as climate consequences worsen.)

Action Step 11: How to become a part of or build one of the four urban, rural, hybrid, or virtual resilient models of the new supportive ClimateSafe Villages that will have your back as conditions worsen. 

Action Step 12: Do everything possible to also protect and preserve the biological life and ecological systems within your zones of influence and resources while protecting yourself and your loved ones.

The above are just the emergency preparation's found that job one for humanity. Click here for an equally useful list of the necessary adaptations that will be needed for true climate resilience.

6. Sixteen Words of Advice to Young People in the 21st Century 

And for down to Earth advice, I recommend Richard Heinberg’s advice to young people:

In his book, Power,  Richard Heinberg presents what is probably the most important practical ideas and actions for everyone who will have to live their lives in a disintegrating society. He writes:

1.Learn to grow food. Study permaculture. 

2.Learn to read people. You’re going to need to know whether people in your vicinity are trustworthy. 

3.Be trustworthy. Otherwise smart and trustworthy people won’t associate with you. 

4.Learn to express yourself clearly & Persuasively. 

5.Consider making a commitment not to reproduce. There are already plenty of people in the world. 

6.Learn to make decisions by consensus and to work collaboratively. 

Be a person with whom others enjoy working. 

7.Learn to repair and use relatively simple technologies. Studying to be a computer programmer or hacker could pay off in the short run, but over the longer term you’ll benefit more from learning to fix farming and construction tools.

8.Learn to make spare parts from junk. 

9.Learn how energy works. Be able to identify the sources of energy 

in your environment and find ways to harness that energy to do useful work. 

10.Learn to defend yourself. Sadly, for the remainder of this century the world is likely to be a more violent place. Even if that turns out not to be the case, martial arts can still be useful paths of self- discipline. 

11. Learn to heal the human body via nutrition, herbs, and basic emergency care. 

12. Learn to recognize the subjective effects of sex hormones, dopamine, and other brain chemicals, and find ways to use their effects to help achieve goals. 

13. Learn about nature. Memorize the names of local plants, birds, and insects, and observe their habits. Learn to be comfortable in the wild. 

14. Learn how to produce beauty via art, music, or movement, and how to engage others in creative, celebratory activities. 

15. Learn to emotionally process trauma and grief, and to help others do so. 

16. Learn when and how to use humor to release tension.

Summary Remarks

I try to apply ecologically positive behavior to how I live. At 92, I try to follow Heinberg’s advice to young people. In small ways one can conserve, preserve, encourage diversity and integrity of the spaces we occupy, use, or travel through. I have tried to apply ideas as a person concerned with planning my workspace, my yard, my neighborhood, my city, and my state. And ecological understanding is the issue I find most important in trying to influence my political leaders. (with little response.) Many of my contributions in time and money have gone to organizations imbued with Leopold’s ethics. My fundamental conscious thought is trying to raise awareness of human/nature interactions, which are as important as interaction between and among humans. And to understand the physical context of the land ethic it is necessary  to    learn the basic facts of the natural environment within which humans live-- evolution, ecology, and energy--Biology, Geography, and Geology.

I believe that the ongoing political, social and economic crises will result in unprecedented psychological stress. New technologies or radical changes in worldview will at best slow or delay the processes that are leading to crises. As cultural changes get more disordered, personal unease and stress will increase.  To lessen the stresses of living in a society in which growth and progress are less possible, I believe that more direct communal activities-- as well as greater personal self-sufficiency-- must be learned. To that end, education, especially of young children, should shift emphasis from global technology and how to get a job in a capitalistic economy to concerns of how to live locally and respect the natural world around us. In particular, education should emphasize participation in the care of the local environment and local community and in teaching ways of living an enjoyable, non- consumptive lifestyle through personal skills such as conversation, music, dance, drama, art, physical training, and participatory sports. As well, meditation, in whatever form practiced, can help clear the mind, leading to greater personal peace and possibly to connections with the 'power' of existence. 

This is not to say that activists should stop protesting new fossil fuel production projects, to advocate for a fossil fuel tax, or that planning agencies should stop advocating more energy efficiency and solar panels, or that conservationists should stop protecting creatures and ecosystems. I encourage the old-line preservation, conservation organizations to continue their efforts. And everyone who recycles, reuses, and reduces their consumption must by praised.

We must do what we can, even if it’s not enough to avert all the environmental, social, and economic crises that we’ve been fomenting with decades of over-consumption.    


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