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A radical in the Age of Denial

I received an email message from somebody who seeks my participation in a “save Arizona” panel (his name has been obscured to protect the guilty):

Interesting blog site, Guy.

Sorry to learn about your separation from UofA, I think. I really don't know the school very well. You are a bit of a radical in the Age of Denial, you know.

We should probably talk. There is a difference between what we are doing and an actual pursuit of sustainability. We're trying half-assed things, like creating a green economy with green collar jobs. It's sustainable development. If we're successful, we may slow our cultural demise somewhat. There are those that think by taking our tact, we may create room for some technological fixes.

While I hope that might happen, I don't really believe it will. However, I'm not sure what else to do - besides finding some arable land with good water and rounding up a bunch of talented, patient small farmers and moving there - assuming that the increasing storms, droughts, fires, etc. wouldn't wreck everything. "Best laid plans..."

The objective of our colloquium is to "accentuate the positive" by forming collaborations between us economic meddlers. If we spend any time confronting the realities and the overwhelming data, we'll not get anywhere. Our work assumes that we have the time needed to change course by increments within the current economic structure.

If you have some thoughts on other avenues of action to take, I'd be very interested. Keep in mind, we're limited in power to our communities - and even there, our power is hampered by entrenched interests, ignorance and greed.

Let me know what you think - and maybe a good time for a phone call.

My response:

Yes, let's talk. Here's something to ponder between now and then:

For starters, we agree about one thing: It's all about community. The age of cheap fossil fuels allowed us to forget that. But communities are making a comeback, and we'll need strong ones if we're to get through the years ahead with minimal human suffering. We'll also need tremendous doses of compassion, creativity, and courage.

If we maintain the industrial age, as you'd like, we drive most of the species on the planet to extinction, including ours. Latest estimates, which are undoubtedly as conservative as their pre-cursors, indicate we'll run out of habitat for humans by mid-century.

If we terminate the industrial age, as I'd like, we might return to agricultural anarchy, in the sense of Thomas Jefferson. We might not, of course -- we might be too self-indulgent for that, and we'll bring chaos instead of anarchy -- but I'd say it's worth a shot. Preparing for agricultural anarchy within the next few years will require a tremendous commitment of resources and especially action. Think shoulders to the wheel in a way we haven't seen, in this country, since at least World War II and probably earlier.

The clear choices are extinction or anarchy (with a chance of chaos tossed in). This seems like a no-brainer to me. What am I missing?

I suppose one route would have me presenting my "radical" (i.e., reality-based) view as a touchstone and wake-up call. Any number of more moderate (i.e., denial-based) views could follow to make people feel good while they are taking action. Or, more likely, nominally supporting people who are taking action. Or -- and I suspect this is the best for which we can hope -- staying out of the way while people take actions necessary to save our species beyond mid-century while feeding our children in the months and years ahead.

I'm available for a phone call at my rural property just about any time. Please call me, but let me know when you'll call so I can be waiting by the phone (otherwise I'll be outside, working). Best times for me are after 9:30 a.m. and before 4:00 p.m. because I have animal-husbandry duties before 9:30 and after 4:00.

All the best,

Editorial Notes: In addition to Guy's thought-provoking posts about our possible future(s), I would recommend settling down with John Michael Greer's latest book, The Ecotechnic Future, just out from New Society. We have posted reviews of it here and here.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

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