All conventional forms of dissent, from electoral politics to open debates, have been denied us. We cannot rely on the institutions that once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible. The only route left is to disconnect as thoroughly as possible from the consumer society and engage in acts of civil disobedience and obstruction.
Dr. Chris Busby tells us in the above video that he himself went to Japan with very sophisticated equipment and found areas in Tokyo that were 1,000 times higher than the exclusion zone around Chernobyl.
It is important to recognize inaccurate stereotypes about the simple life because they make it seem impractical and ill suited for responding to increasingly critical breakdowns in world systems. Four misconceptions about the simple life are so common they deserve special attention. These are equating simplicity with: poverty, moving back to the land, living without beauty and economic stagnation.
Just after the release of his newest book, The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality, I sat down with Richard Heinberg via Skype to get his take on what needs to happen to shift the conversation on peak oil and peak debt. The interview follows.
Extreme weather, crop failures, commodities speculation, land grabs, escalating prices, soil degradation, depleted aquifers, routine contamination, food-related disease, and mass hunger represent the “new norm” for food and farming. The global agricultural system, with the exception of the rapidly growing organic sector, rests upon a shaky foundation. Patented seeds, genetically engineered crops, expensive and destructive chemical and energy-intensive inputs, factory farms, monoculture production, eroding soils, unsustainable water use, taxpayer subsidies, and long-distance hauling and distribution, including massive imports that amount to 15% of the U.S. food supply amount to a recipe for disaster.
In plain terms, we’re entering a period in history that will rival the Revolutionary war. This country will be very very different by the time it has ended. Many people will lose everything in this mess. Yes, everything. So if you have yet to take steps to prepare for this, you need to get moving NOW!
Clearly, there are real fears and wild uncertainties in this rapidly changing world. There are many people waiting and willing to exploit the fears of others. And, the tendency to panic as part of the herd can suddenly strike anyone. Everyone feels some fear when panic is in the air. Yet, fear can also be a guide that clarifies what needs to be risked for a greater life to be found. That’s what I tell young people when they ask what to do as the world around us becomes increasingly riddled with great uncertainty and blind reactions.
About a decade ago I realized we were putting the finishing touches on our own extinction party, with the party probably over by 2030. During the intervening period I’ve seen nothing to sway this belief, and much evidence to reinforce it. Yet the protests, ridicule, and hate mail reach a fervent pitch when I speak or write about the potential for near-term extinction of Homo sapiens.
“We’re too intelligent.”
“We’ll find a way out. We always do.”
This issue is a difficult one to talk about, because there really is no good solution. I have talked to a couple of groups recently (one a church group; one a peak oil group), about this issue. This is a copy of the presentation I used (Bumping up against the Growth Ceiling (PDF) or Bumping up against the Growth Ceiling (PowerPoint)). In this post, I will discuss my presentation.
To portray the richness of simplicity as a theme for healthy living, here are eight different flowerings that I see growing consciously in the “garden of simplicity.” Although there is overlap among them, each expression of simplicity seems sufficiently distinct to warrant a separate category. These are presented in no particular order, as all are important.