Dr. Guy McPherson, making the case for living off-grid in Ypsilanti

Later today, at 6:00 PM, University of Arizona emeritus professor of Natural Resources and the Environment Guy McPherson will be speaking at the Gilbert Residence in Ypsilanti (203 South Huron Street) about his new book, Walking Away from Empire, and the steps that he’s taken to extract himself from what he sees as an American society teetering on the edge of complete collapse. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to ask Dr. McPherson a few questions. Here’s our exchange.

MARK: I thought that I’d start out by running a question by you that I once posed to Jim Kunstler… “Is there anything that can be done, in your opinion, to lessen the impact of the converging catastrophes that await us when cheap oil is no longer easy to come by? Putting global warming aside, isn’t it conceivable that we could, through conservation, a renewed dedication to mass-transit, and the implementation of significant gas taxes (with proceeds going toward sustainable alternatives), avoid some of the terrible things that lay ahead?”

GUY: I seriously doubt it. Jevons’ paradox and its latest incarnation, the Khazzoom-Brookes postulate, indicate conservation and efficiency are irrelevant. Also, at this late date in the age of industry, collapse is baked into the cake, and soon.

MARK: In reading up on your work, I was struck by a quote, and I was wondering if you might be able to elaborate. “I think anarchy is the best that we can hope for.” We talk a lot about worst case scenarios, but I was wondering if you could talk a bit about anarchy as the best case scenario.

GUY: Anarchy means taking responsibility for yourself and for your neighbors, human and otherwise. It means breaking away from the big-government savior state.

MARK: What do you intend to discuss during your stop in Ypsilanti?

GUY: I will discuss my personal decision to walk away from American Empire, and I will encourage others to do the same.

MARK: Have you been successful in convincing others? Do you maintain a network of individuals who have taken your advice and detached from modern society? I ask because I suspect there’s value to be had in the exchange of information on best practices and the like.

GUY: Although there is no evidence either way, I believe I’ve induced little significant change. It’s difficult for people to change. There has been very little follow-up after I speak, consult, or host visitors on the property.

MARK: How was your message received at your earlier stops along this speaking tour? Did it resonate in Northern Michigan?

GUY: My messages have been received well in each of the ten places I’ve spoken so far. So far, I’ve received numerous accolades and no death threats.

MARK: Were you expecting any hostility when you set out? I can see how some folks might become extremely defensive when confronted by a world view such as that which you espouse.

GUY: I expect and receive a certain amount of hostility on every trip. So far, I’ve been experienced enough, and clever enough, to defuse the hostility before it becomes too personal.

MARK: After retiring from the University of Arizona, where you taught at the School of Natural Resources and the Environment, you decided to move off-grid, and live in a straw bale house, in order to put your theories into action. In a recent interview you said the following… “I no longer live according to the expectations of others. While I have long valued the notion of self-reliance, I’ve only recently put the idea to the test. The result is that I now have a profound sense of satisfaction with my own self-reliance, which is rooted in work ethic, creativity, and a decent human community.” I’m interested in knowing more about this “decent human community” you’ve worked to create. How did it come together? How did you find other like-minded people to go on this journey with you?

GUY: My wife and I share a small property with another couple and their young son. So our human community begins with the property and then extends, in concentric “circles” to a dozen or so neighbors with whom we regularly participate in a gift economy. And then it extends to another 80 or so neighbors with whom we participate periodically in an economy of gifts and barter (and, occasionally, cash).

MARK: I’m curious to know how, in your arrangement, you deal with things like health care. I can see how, through gardening, the raising of livestock, the preservation of food, and trade with like-minded neighbors, you could sustain life, given access to clean water, and a climate conducive to agriculture, but I’m curious as to how, in a situation like yours, you interact with the outside world. I guess what I’m getting as it that, in today’s world, at least as I see it, it’s impossible to detach completely, and I was wondering if you could speak to how one manages that intersection of the off-grid world, and the on-grid world, and the concessions that must sometimes be necessary.

GUY: It certainly is impossible to leave American Empire behind. I shop at the grocery store now and then, and I have coffee with several neighbors each Tuesday morning. If I need medical care, I will take advantage of the system. I lived fully in two worlds for quite a while, and I’m gradually transitioning more completely to the off-grid world. In fact, this slow collapse has been one of the truly painful parts of this entire process, for many reasons, most notably including the love I feel for the living planet.

MARK: I know it’s not something that can be answered briefly, but if you could share a bit about how you share work and other responsibilities within this intentional community of yours, I’m sure that my readers would appreciate it. Do you, for instance, have a process in place to deal with grievances, consider others for the community, etc?

GUY: Because there are only two small families sharing the property, and because we take communication seriously, we tend to head off problems before they grow out of control. We have a legal agreement by which all parties have their names on the deed.

MARK: Do you foresee a day when you might grow your immediate community to include more than two families? would there be advantages to doing so? Is there, based on your research, an optimal size for a sustainable off-grid community?

GUY: We’re already very close to human carrying capacity on the property, so I suspect we’ll not expand. Because we work with our neighbors, I think the size of our human community is about right — several dozen people.

MARK: When things get bad, have you given any thought as to how you will deal with those around you, who haven’t prepared?

GUY: There are too many variables, too many potential outcomes. But if our world resembles Mad Max, I doubt I live long. And if our neighbors suffer, we will try to help them.

MARK: Can you tell us about your home?

GUY: It’s an off-grid straw-bale duplex. Each side has about 680 square feet of living space, and the breezeway dividing the two living spaces is about 600 square feet. Designed and built with durability in mind, it has an acid-stained concrete floor and a metal roof. It has large, south-facing windows to passively heat the house. I’m sure I’m forgetting many things, so feel free to follow up.

MARK: I don’t know much about the climate in Arizona, where I believe you live, but it seems to me, given the realities of global warming, that there could be other areas more hospitable to human life over the coming decades. Have you considered leaving? If so, what parts of the world do you think are best suited for long term habitation post collapse?

GUY: I live in New Mexico, but your point is valid. I have placed my picket-pin in the small valley I occupy for several reasons, some of them intensely personal and private. It’s probably among the worst places in the world to be in light of ongoing, accelerating climate chaos. Better places would include places at higher latitudes, including the interior, mountainous region of North America and also coastal western North America.

MARK: Given the fact that it’s unlikely that we’ll ever find a leader at the national level to make the changes necessary to turn away from fossil fuels in a timely manner, what options do we have? Clearly, one option is to move off-the-grid, and encourage others to do so, but have you considered political alternatives as well?

GUY: There are no politically viable solutions. No politician will run on the platform of economic decline. Do you think Obama doesn’t know what I know?

MARK: Knowing what you know of Michigan, how well do you think we’re situated here to deal with the future?

GUY: Considering we need the following to survive, the areas in Michigan not characterized by cities are in good shape: clean water, healthy food, the ability to maintain body temperature, and a decent human community.

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35 Comments

  1. Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:24 am | Permalink

    He has still to answer my two last questions, but I really want to get this up on the site before I fall asleep… Here, in case you’re interested, are those two questions.

    Q: I suspect that Obama knows that drastic change is needed. And I suspect he also knows that the American people are not prepared at this time to confront the issue head on. So, he’s doing what he can, pushing for rail projects, increasing research funding, and hoping for a technological silver bullet that may never come. I don’t know, realistically, what he can do more than that, given the realities of the dumbed-down intellectual landscape of America. I just think that there’s got to be a way to harness the political power of the Occupy movement to help push the national agenda in the right direction. It might be too little, too late, but I think I’d rather go down swinging, pushing for a carbon tax, fighting against policies that promote sprawl, etc.

    Q: Would I be correct in assuming that you have solar panels or access to some other form of energy that allows you to interact with others via the internet, heat water, cook, etc?

  2. Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    For those of you who can’t make it out later, here’s some good video of McPherson being interviewed by a television reporter.

  3. Thom Elliott
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately there will be no off-grid places to run from the increasingly inhospitable environment for life that industrial distribution and late-capital has created. This is a fascinating interview Mark, but no one will heed this man’s sage council, we Americans don’t care about the future, the present, our children, our health, living meaningful lives, living in balance with the earth, ect we care about stuffing our arteries with sausage, wreckless driving, drunkeness, text messages, football, maintaining the cruel patriarchy, developing new weapons, and denying climate change exists so we can blithely persist in nihilism. These are our “values”, and widespread suffering havok and mayhem will do nothing to our suicidal society.

  4. Eel
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    I’d like to attend, but word is that Taco Bell is preparing to launch a Dorito taco shell and I want to be ready. There’s also the possibility that the cast from the Jersey Shore might be featured on the nightly news for having contributed something new to American culture.

  5. Logical Conclusionr
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Nutcase.

  6. anonymous
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Refreshing. It’s as if Kunstler started practicing what he preaches.

    I think that you touch on something worth exploring further when you ask about how he intends to safeguard his community when the collapse comes. I’ve thought a lot about this, and I don’t think I want to fight it out when the end times come. I won’t be stockpiling weapons, and digging moats around my organic kale to keep people the roving bands of bandits out. I’ll likely just walk into that spot in the Huron where so many have died before. I know it’s a morbid thought, and I hate to ruin everyone’s Saturday morning, but I thought that was worth sharing. I think humanity has had enough time on top. It’s time to step aside and give the pigs and dolphins a shot.

  7. Brainless
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    “…when the collapse comes.”

    I read that when the British Empire collapsed, everybody died of sad it fell into the ocean. I heard that when the Soviet Union collapsed, the Russians ate each other. I learned there used to be a big empire in a place called “China” or something. But it’s long gone and there are no more Chinese.

  8. SparkleMotion
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    Hi dudes!

    I’m going to explain to you why society is on the brink of collapse and why you should walk away from it like me! I walked away from it so hard that I’m a professor emeritus at a public institution funded by said society! You’re going to pay for a plane ticket for me, which is funded by a large multinational corporation, so I can speak for an hour and you get to pay me for that not in foodstuffs and/or blankets, but in money! Please publicize it! Here’s a picture of me smiling like I totally don’t have a six year old locked in a closet somewhere! I’m totally different from the Y2K-worldwide-disaster archetype!

  9. Posted February 18, 2012 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    I think what he says is important, and needs to be heard. Yes, he likely has a decent 401k, after a career in academia, but that doesn’t diminish the importance of what he has to say. Personally, I hope that he’s wrong, and that we have enough time to turn things around, but I suspect that he’s more right than wrong, and I appreciate that he’s “putting his money where his mouth is,” and putting his theories to the test in the real world, and sharing what he learns in the process.

  10. Thom Elliott
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    Need I remind you that the Y2k nonsense was religious in nature? People for some reason seem to think sense can be made of the intense paranoiac fever dream of the Revelation of John, which is a terrifying surrealist masterpiece of the first order, from which no sense could possibly be gleaned. Those Y2k people were delusional, which of course has nothing to do with the two hundred year old blossoming black flowers of technological nihilism which are unfurling in their grotesque majesty, blotting out the entire horizon, annihilating god, and unchaining the earth from its orbit. Thanks to materialism and modernity, we are as a planet plummeting endlessly towards fathomless void.

  11. jean Henry
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Before he dismisses Michigan’s urban spaces, I’d suggest he check out Detroit’s food sovreignty activists and read Grace Bogg’s The Next American Revolution. I think the collaborative model emerging there from a paucity of resources (not a walking away from privilege) is maybe more workable (and hopeful) than very small scale intentional living communities. It does seem strange that he is equating empire collapse with climate change. Clearly one beast feeds the other, but empire can collapse without loss of the living planet. American collapse actually would almost certainly be good for the living planet. Thanks, nevertheless, Mark, for bringing this voice forward. He is subjecting himself to a lot of inevitable criticism in order to ring the bell for fundamental change. But he is ringing the bell and striving for answers. We all know we need deep change. It’s hard to look that in the eye. I’m happy to listen to anyone making the personal commitment to stab at a few answers in practice… not just theory.

  12. SparkleMotion
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    “The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate..”

    That was written in the late 60s by a scientist, book’s called “The Population Bomb”. No religion there, just science stating that the society was going to collapse, everyone’s going to starve, humanity’s finished, and there’s nothing that can be done to prevent this.
    Like most naysayers of civilization and predictors of global collapse, they were wrong. And it’s always for the same reason – they underestimate humanity. Now Thom will go off on a dark tangent about god being stabbed to death with shards of glass and humanity slipping on the gore or something, but isn’t it funny how when there’s a real problem we tend to confront it and somehow overcome it? Think about it – the author of ‘bomb’ totally disregarded the speed and quality of the advances in food producing technology.
    It may look hopeless right now, but this kind of fearmongering does nothing to help solve the collective problems that we as a worldwide community face. We are working on different energies – 20 years ago had anyone seen an energy producing windmill? Electric cars? It doesn’t happen with the speed we’d like, but convincing 7 billion people takes time. Who knows where we will be in another 20 years. In the early 90s a device like the iPhone was no more than a dream on the same level as the fountain of youth.
    Furthermore, I think a great help to the world’s cause is currently occurring as the baby boomers begin to die off. I am hard pressed to imagine a generation that could do more mindless rape to the world without regard to consequence. As the 18-35 year olds come into their own, I am seeing more mindful use of the earth’s resources and a general shift towards the interconnectedness of ourselves and our planet.

    Oh look – his first blog post was in August 2007. Coincidentally, Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road”, a very popular book about life after the complete collapse of society, was released in late 2006.

  13. Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I was living in Washington, DC in 1987, and I attended a panel discussion on global warming. I can’t remember who was involved, but politicians and scientists were represented, along with folks from industry. Gore could have been on the panel. I suspect that he was, but I don’t recall. All I recall is that the the guy from industry said that, if the temperature went up, we’d just make better air conditioners. His stupidity made a lasting impression. That, sadly, was about 25 years now, and not much has changed. I don’t have much faith that the next 25 years will hold much more. Still, though, I’m inclined to keep trying.

  14. Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I love people like this! Seriously dude, when it falls apart, we are all going to die and it’s not going to be a pleasant death. One of my friends was all, “I’m growing my own wheat so when oil runs out I will blah blah blah” and I said, “that’s awesome! How much firepower do you have?” and she was all, “None” and I was all, “Double awesome! I have some and it will then be MY wheat, at least until someone with more firepower than I comes along and then it’s hers”. My friend didn’t like that. :) :)

    No offense to this guy as I am sure he is a nice man and he definitely means well but me, I like the grid.

  15. Demetrius
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    When I was young, the idea of leaving modern, technology-dominated society, and living “off the grid” was very appealing. In the years since, a number of factors (population growth, global warming, peak oil, the increasing concentration of wealth, the permanent war economy, etc.) have convinced me this may eventually even be necessary.

    However, as I get older it is harder and harder to imagine making such a switch voluntarily. It isn’t that I don’t think I could live without the constant consumerism and non-stop media spectacle … I think I might rather welcome that … it’s just that, at this stage in my life, I’ve become rather accustomed to having shelter that is warm and dry, steady access to healthy food and safe drinking water, access to quality medical care, etc.

    And, to be quite honest, I’m not sure that my 25+ years spent working at “desk jobs” have left me in peak condition to be able to do the kind of back-breaking manual labor that would likely be required.

    I think another factor that needs to be considered is family and friends: One would have to admit that the cadre of people who are even aware of things like “peak oil,” and have perhaps given substantial thought to the idea of living off the grid, etc., is very small. And, I’m guessing that most of these people have (like me) many family members and friends who are quite comfortable with, and even grateful for, modern technological society. Would most people really be willing to abandon their family and friends (most of which would probably think such a decision to be crazy, if not suicidal) to take such a principled stand against modern society?

    I’m not knocking folks like McPherson, or Kunstler, etc. In fact, I consider people like them critical to fostering intelligent dialogue and debate about what kind of future humanity will have — it we will have one at all.

    Still, I think millions of years of evolution have hard-wired humans to seek safety, comfort and community above all else … and it is hard to imagine that any *voluntary* mass movement toward a simpler lifestyle is going to be able to overcome such primitive and powerful drives.

  16. Redleg
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    In my youth– I’m right at the doorstep of fifty, so I’ve noticed myself warmly basking in memories now thirty-plus years old (hence my use of the word “youth”), One memory that I don’t bask in though is my trip through New Mexico with a Hispanic companion, where we took a wrong turn and ended up at this rambling wreck of a ranch or compound and were immediately surrounded by gun-toting, camo wearing, hillbilly nuts, of which one yelled out: “We don’t want you damned Mexicans here!” We got out of there damned fast, and I haven’t been back since– Sorry New Mexico! Also I hope the good prof isn’t of that sort of fearful backwoods survivalist type that seem to be more than a little predominate in some of these off-grid “communities”– especially in the rural west.

  17. Posted February 18, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mention it, but this event tonight is free and open to the public.

  18. Posted February 18, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    It looks like I’m not going to be able to make it. If someone could let me know how it goes, I’d appreciate it.

  19. Meta
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    For those of you too lazy to follow the Khazzoom-Brookes postulate link:

    In the 1980s, the economists Daniel Khazzoom and Leonard Brookes independently put forward ideas about energy consumption and behavior that argue that increased energy efficiency paradoxically tends to lead to increased energy consumption. In 1992, the US economist Harry Saunders dubbed this hypothesis the Khazzoom–Brookes postulate, and showed that it was true under neo-classical growth theory over a wide range of assumptions.

  20. Logical Conclusionr
    Posted February 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm | Permalink

    My dad too had the fantasy of packing up and checking out of modern society.  Our family spent two years on a undeveloped island in the Caribbean. He eventually got bored and we moved back to Michigan. There was no “collapse” that drove him to try it, but the result was the same as those who’ve done it in response to collapse due to, say, war. Boredom is the hardest part.

    As mentioned above, humans have a drive to get together and form
    communities, cities, states, nations. We have those now for a reason. If you are disconnected from society now, as a hard core stock piling survivalist or an off-the-gridder, you will still be disconnected when the zombies attack (my generic term for all flavors of sources of the collapse fantasy–peak oil,  depression, water wars, nuclear attack, environmental disaster, etc.)

    Here’s a great comment from a war survivor about how the survivalist mentality plays out in disaster:
    http://www.metafilter.com/78669/What-if-things-just-keep-getting-worse#2430771

  21. dragon
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 1:37 am | Permalink

    Hey, don’t sell yourself short Meta. You are not only a hero for the lazy, the truly disinterested also have a growing fondness for you. I think it is your ability to give absolutely no commentary to, and give very shallow analysis of the daily ramblings of various internet postings. And for that, both I and the Huffington Post thank you.
    Keep up the good work.

  22. Watching Laughing.
    Posted February 19, 2012 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Bring in Steve Pierce to save the world with his plan, and business friend on Washington Street. Opps, that guys not there anymore.
    Never really heard what that plan was?
    Kept hearing about it though.

    WL.

  23. Posted February 19, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    In somewhat related news, I have good news for all of you off-gridders who’d like to practice responsible conservative birth control. I just discovered that you can make your own aspirin.

  24. Posted February 21, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    It was great hosting Penny and Guy. Honestly a couple of wonderful people. Penny is another story. Definitely worth another interview Mark. She arranged Guy’s statewide speaking tour, and has developed something she calls the “Continual University”, and she herself is a Permaculture Teacher, one of the first people certified in the state.

    Guy, btw, has no cushy $ coming from his past work – he cashed everything in to do this project on the land ~ so he’s both feet in.

    We were lucky – talk had standing room only ~ had more people come, there would have been no room for them. While there were some intense moments and discussions, and some distress expressed at the talk, things were discussed and talked out. Everyone left feeling good about the event and the people, and all were able to voice their concerns and get questions answered. Penny Krebiehl did a great job of facilitating this. As well we had folks there from an upcoming Permaculture Intensive in the works for Detroit that has Keith Johnson coming in along with Larry Santoyo (Earthflow Works) and some discussion of our upcoming Ypsilanti area based “Michigan Folk School” which has started enrolling students.
    These are things that help people get ready tangibly for low energy lifestyles.

    Lots of exciting developments…thanks for the interview of Guy, Mark. Lots of positive feedback from folks on your write up and finding it helpful.

  25. Posted February 21, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    1. Guy receives no money for his talks. He also receives no money for his book, which he sells at cost – or, if you want to read it free, he offers the pre-published version on his website.

    2. Jevon’s paradox has been misused and misunderstood. More recent research shows that, even though folks will increase their consumption slightly, there is still a big bang for the buck from conservation measures and increased efficiency. See http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/02/16/207532/debunking-jevons-paradox-jim-barrett/

    3. Guy states that he does not believe we will all need to be armed to the teeth protecting our “stuff” from vigilantes; instead, he feels that history has shown that human beings come together in emergencies. And if someone did come and shoot him and steal his cauliflower (as he put it), it wouldn’t do them much good, because they wouldn’t know how to grow it and would thus starve anyway unless they get themselves into a community.

  26. Posted February 21, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know, man, I don’t see what’s so different about this guy. From what he says here, he’s no different than any of the already existing survivalist rhetoric out there.

    I’m happy that he has been able to run away from energy problems to protect himself from the inevitably vague “collapse” rather than help try to fix it.

    This gentleman is full of fanciful doomsday scenarios, but seems weak on addressing how to affect policy to mitigate some of our worst problems.

    To be blunt, Mark, why not just go and interview the members of the Hutaree? In the end, the only difference is that this guy can read.

  27. JC
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Monica: what is the Michigan Folk School?

    Much obliged.

  28. Mr. X
    Posted February 21, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    There’s a subtle distinction, Pete. McPherson isn’t stockpiling guns, and plotting to murder dozens of Michigan state police officers. He’s just living off grid, thinking about what it means to disengage from a society that he sees as doomed. To my knowledge, he is not forcing this view on anyone. Generally speaking, I appreciate your comments, but this comparison is off base.

  29. Posted February 21, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    JC, I’ve contacted them about doing an interview for MM.com. In the meantime, here’s a link to the Michigan Folk School site.

  30. Posted February 21, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really see the difference at all. Both rely on whacked out and unlikely doomsday scenarios. Both present solutions which are unsustainable and fail provide options to mitigate current problems in economic policy.

    I don’t think many gun toting libertarian survivalists enforce their views on other people, either, but it doesn’t make them any smarter.

  31. Posted February 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    Understand, though, that I am only judging him by what I’ve read here. I don’t know anything about him outside of this post.

  32. Wallflower
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:40 am | Permalink

    Peter, your take on what Guy says sounds like the interview by Mark. The man is talking about the complete collapse of society and Mark asks him about Obama and insider beltway stuff.
    Political people are notoriously bad listeners.
    Don’t get me wrong, I think the guy is at least just a little touch full of bullshit too, but he is interesting. Not just the same old politics and left and right crapola.
    You might just want to completely empty your head and read what they guy said again.

  33. Wallflower
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Plus he has jackets with elbow pads.
    Who could not trust that?

  34. Mr. X
    Posted February 22, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this, Peter. I don’t know the man, but my sense is that he’s not a paranoid survivalist. He’s just an academic that decided, after years of studying the implications of our fossil fuel based economy, to try to decrease his footprint on the earth. He’s not claiming to have all of the answers, as far as I can tell. He’s not saying that he’s perfect. He still buys his coffee, takes advantage of our corporate health care system, and drives when he as to. He’s not stockpiling guns. He’s just saying, ‘I think that things are heading in a bad direction, and I’m going to do my best not to participate in the decline.’ And he’s sharing his thoughts with others, in hopes that they too might be motivated to disengage to some extent. The Hutaree were, according to accounts, planning to kill a state cop, and then, when it came time for said cop’s funeral, they were going to blow the place up, in hopes of killing dozens. How you can equate the two is beyond me. I can certainly see how you might think the decline will be more gradual than he predicts, but I think we all know, to some extent, that the shit’s going to hit the fan once the oil runs out. All he’s saying is that we need to think about long term models that can work going forward. And, toward that end, he’s suggest agro-anarchy. Yes, he’s saying this from a position of privilege, as a white, male, professor emeritus, who probably has insurance and a savings account, but that doesn’t mean that his points aren’t valid. We’re constantly subjected by the messages of consumerism in this country, to the point that we don’t give it a second though. I don’t have a problem with a few individuals speaking up, and voicing the other side.

  35. Meta
    Posted March 7, 2012 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I saw this today in the Onion and felt compelled to share it.

    Saying there’s no way around it at this point, a coalition of scientists announced Thursday that one-third of the world population must die to prevent wide-scale depletion of the planet’s resources—and that humankind needs to figure out immediately how it wants to go about killing off more than 2 billion members of its species.

    Representing multiple fields of study, including ecology, agriculture, biology, and economics, the researchers told reporters that facts are facts: Humanity has far exceeded its sustainable population size, so either one in three humans can choose how they want to die themselves, or there can be some sort of government-mandated liquidation program—but either way, people have to start dying.

    And soon, the scientists confirmed.

    “I’m just going to level with you—the earth’s carrying capacity will no longer be able to keep up with population growth, and civilization will end unless large swaths of human beings are killed, so the question is: How do we want to do this?” Cambridge University ecologist Dr. Edwin Peters said. “Do we want to give everyone a number and implement a death lottery system? Incinerate the nation’s children? Kill off an entire race of people? Give everyone a shotgun and let them sort it out themselves?”

    “Completely up to you,” he added, explaining he and his colleagues were “open to whatever.” “Unfortunately, we are well past the point of controlling overpopulation through education, birth control, and the empowerment of women. In fact, we should probably kill 300 million women right off the bat.”

    Read more:
    http://www.theonion.com/articles/scientists-look-onethird-of-the-human-race-has-to,27166/

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