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Arrival of the post-petroleum human (Michael Ruppert interview)

“Petroleum Man is dead. Infinite Growth Man is dead. Post Petroleum Human is alive,” announced Michael C. Ruppert on May 22, 2011. Members of this emerging “species” know they must live in balance with the Earth, while remembering the lessons of industrial civilization.

The star and subject of the documentary film “Collapse”, Mike founded CollapseNet.com in 2010 to empower people to connect and relocalize. He’s the author of Crossing the Rubicon, and Confronting Collapse.

Watch his full presentation at Green Living EcoFest, May 2011: “Birth of Post-Petroleum Human.”

Watch Mike’s 2006 Peak Moment Conversation, “Pondering our Post-Petroleum Future.”

Listen to Audio. Download video on iTunes.

Read Janaia’s journal “Mike Ruppert and Dmitry Orlov - presentations and conversations.”


Mike: What I found is that the more I live the life — we've got 2 acres, 8 or 9 food crops in already, putting in some citrus trees — and the more I live the spiritual and community life, the more fun it gets. Because there's obviously cognitive dissonance, as we're all raised as Petroleum Man. And becoming Post-Petroleum Human is going into the unknown, it's like going into the dark, I don't know what's here. But as you do it, I can tell you the more you do it, the better it feels. As I said in the movie, "Mankind is being faced with a choice. Either evolve or perish, grow up or die." Some of us are evolving. And I really like what I'm seeing with that.

Janaia: Hi, welcome to Peak Moment. I'm Janaia Donaldson. My guest today is the inimitable, unique Michael C. Ruppert who is the author of Crossing the Rubicon (which we've crossed), Confronting Collapse (here we are) and the CEO and Founder of CollapseNet. Today you gave us a presentation on "Post Petroleum Human". What did you tell us?

Mike: There's a new species evolving. Long time ago, Cro Magnon and Homo Sapiens existed side by side. Cro Magnon went extinct. Now we live in a world with a new species called Post Petroleum Man with a completely different consciousness. That's the only distinction. We don't have a different number of fingers, the organs are in the same places. But the evolution is a complete change in the state of consciousness. We're living essentially side by side, and the new species is emerging while Petroleum Man is rapidly going extinct.

Janaia: It's important — that we are living side by side. A lot of the challenge for people who are aware of peak oil and the kinds of things you're going to talk about, feel kind of crazy, because we're here in a mainstream culture that says "No." That's not real.

Mike: Only as along as they choose to live in the delusional world of a dying species, rather than step into an awareness and an active spiritual claiming of that which they are. Petroleum Man lived in an infinite growth economic paradigm, and his official religion was commercial advertising. Infinite growth was the religion, commercial advertising was the cathecism and ritual, and the means of inculcating the belief in the old paradigm. And of course all of that is proving to be a lie, it's all falling apart, it's shredding. It's like in the movie "The Matrix", when Neo finally got to the core of the matrix and all of a sudden people looked around and they could see glimpses of what they were really living in. But Post Petroleum Man has a different state of consciousness. A state of consciousness that originates from the innate understanding — before thought, before thought, before writing, before the frontal brain clicks in — a knowing that the fundamental bible, the fundamental law that we have to live by is the law of our relationship to Mother Earth. That this planet on which we live, with all life upon it, with all resources on it....

When I was interviewed by the Wall Street Journal after the movie Collapse came out, with all the great reviews we got. And again I have to tip my hat to director Chris Smith, of Bluemark films, who has won at Sundance twice, brilliant filmmaker, and I yielded to him. I didn't interfere with the making of the film. After the film came out, I was interviewed as the great reviews were coming in, even from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). And the WSJ reporter interviewed me and said, "So what's the point of your movie?" I said it's that infinite growth is not possible on a finite planet. And I just shut up. You could hear the shoe waiting to drop.

What's become clear to me because of the movie — I was guaranteed a percentage of income based on net profits, which is the way it works in Hollywood. I'm not Art Buchwald, that's a long story with Paramount, I've been around Hollywood too long. But the movie was pirated more than 2 million times around the world. It was turning up in BitTorrent sites in Rumania, in India, in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia. But I got no income, but I wound up with 8000 Facebook friends. But what that told me was that what I talked about in that movie, what Chris Smith brought out in me — and Chris really did bring it out of me. There were five separate shoots, there was lots of videos — was a message that resonated all over the world. So the lesson in that for me was there's a whole lot of people who feel this way too. And yet with a stigma akin to the stigma of having been a homosexual in the 1960s. There was no awareness of the power and how much that was a normal natural...it was there already.

And so as a result of that, we started CollapseNet a year ago in June 2010. We're now in 61 countries. And these are real active thinkers, who are members. These are in some cases government officials. I know of one head of state who's a member. And there are also representatives of communities of people. And this consciousness, this awareness that we have to make this transition, have to make the change to go back to living in balance with the earth. It's like they're just waiting for somebody to step up and say something.

Janaia: In the landscape...we taped you in '06. We've got five years here. The whole landscape has changed pretty radically in the last five years. So I'm less surprised to have thoughtful people who are looking at the numbers saying, the writing is on the wall here...than there were five years ago. They're hearing your message. And saying, now what?

Mike: It's not my message.

Janaia: Maybe it's arising from the earth itself.

Mike: Thank you. Yeah.

Janaia: But she's saying, "I'm in terrible distress. And things are getting depleted. And you can't keep it up this way."

Mike: No. And clearly what's happening now is clear to me. And I've discovered a lot of writings over the last 2 or 3 years that have really been saying the same thing: the only thing that will save homo sapiens, this thing with five hands and all of our physical characteristcis — will be a radical change of consciousness that will have to be so large and so profound that it will create a different species.

Janaia: It's sort of hard to conceive of, a different species, but you gave us a good example. Tell us what your glimpses of what that new species would be like.

Mike: The new species will essentially be not much different from the species that existed 40,000 years ago before we had written language, before we had cultivated grain — which was really the start of the first surpluses. Because with the first surpluses with cultivated grain came fear — that somebody was going to steal your surplus. That set the whole thing in motion. We will have to return to a way of life that was intuitive — and I'm just a bare beginning student in this, so I do not speak as an expert or as a shaman. I just had few years to dip into it and seen the power. We have to return to a state of consciousness. Before there was a printed word, where the Earth was a living bible for us. We saw with direct cause-and-effect relationship and no lag between our actions. There was no court to take action, nobody to file a report, nobody to analyze, nobody to file a lawsuit. Nature told you right away.

Janaia: Sure, if you outfish this area, you starved or some equivalent

Mike: Right. And you studied this because it was sacred, because to not follow those rules mean you died. So what we have to do is return to that. In a way a lot of what we're doing is remembering what we were already programmed to know intuitively. That's what evolution had brought us to. But we cannot cut off what we have learned as a result of industrial civilization, as a result of the printing press, as a result of Cartesian logic — which needs to be dethroned as the tyrannical ruler of our universe. The universe is not measured with ones and zeros.

Janaia: It's not just the scientific method, say. We're missing something...

Mike: The scientific method can't measure heart and soul. But music sure can. And so can art. And we all know that instantly, don't we. So we've been tyrannized by Cartesian logic. That's the Dick Cheney people, mindless government bureaucrats who believe that everything can ultimately be put in the computer program, or with the biggest computer you can manage everything perfectly and everybody will be happy. Hah! So we can't lose what we've learned from the time we left that state of pure interaction with nature. We have a wisdom, and it cannot be forgotten because if we pretend to forget it, then the bad guys will remember it again, and we'll be on the same...So we have to take what we have learned from this brief blip in history of human industrial civilization, based on oil and coal. We have to take that back into the old way. And that will be a new species. That will be a new consciousness.

Janaia: Absolutely. Because you're integrating levels of gaining levels of information and observation, and how we're interacting with the world, working with theories and telescopes and all kinds of tools that our predecessors 40,000 years ago didn't have.

Mike: Couldn't conceive of.

Janaia: Although they may have intuited. Some of the wisdom in the shamans carried forward a way of being connected to the universe that we have lost. So you're really talking about both.

Mike: Both! Which will by definition, in scientific terms, result in a new species. And that's the only thing that's going to survive this. And what I'm saying now is, and what the speech was about today, and what I'm about at CollapseNet, is that it's so abundantly clear to me now that our species is already here. We're already established! Just like when the dinosaurs died, the earliest mammals were already here and beginning to function that way. Although they weren't fully evolved as mammals, or as homo sapiens as we are now, they had made that gigantic evolutionary step to a new place that enabled them to survive and evolve.

Petroleum Man is dead. Infinite Growth Man is dead. Post Petroleum Human is alive, but we're just like those early mammals, we're insignificant little blips on the landscape. But we're getting stronger. And the reason we're getting stronger is because the old paradigm, just like the paradigm of the dinosaurs, is collapsing. Peak Oil has hit us, the equivalent of the asteroid that killed the dinosaurs. The dinosaurs are dying. But the dinosaurs are only doing what the dinosaurs know how to do.

Janaia: More bigness, right?

Mike: There's an old saying that if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The dinosaurs' maladaptive behavior is obvious: The Gulf of Mexico is safe now? It's okay to eat the seafood from the Gulf? Oh, nuclear containment vessels couldn't possibly be breached? Barack Obama is now going to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, which we've already known doesn't have enough oil to justify anything? World leaders and world governments are failing in spades around us — they're a comedy of clowns. No government anywhere — if you look at the European debt crisis, Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugual, all those leaders are doing is producing stupid non-productive results.

Governments are failing everywhere. China demands more economic growth, but they're having massive power shortages and they're rationing power. They're running out of water. China's financial bubble is collapsing. Governments and world leaders are failing miserably, and it's a Three Stooges comedy. It would be a comedy if it weren't for the fact that these people are really dangerous. Like their having children go back into schools they know are totally lethally contaminated with radiation. (Great thanks to Arnie Gunderson at Fairewinds, Nicole Foss and the great Helen Caldicott) The government in Japan is ordering children back within a dangerous area. They're saying it's okay if you stay on the blacktop, we've cleaned that. Arnie Gunderson at Fairewinds said that was unconscionable.

Janaia: Dangerous and deadly.

Mike: How dangerous is it to tell the people in the Gulf of Mexico to eat the seafood when people down there are dying hand over fist? They're getting sick, they've got skin lesions, their children are getting sick, their hearts are failing, they're getting respiratory diseases. The fish, the mammals, the dolphins — everything is dying. It's safe?

So that's the problem with the dinosaurs of the old paradigm. That's the old species. That's the species that's going extinct.

Janaia: And basically what you're saying is, if you decide to follow the dinosaurs, that's what's ahead of you: more death, destruction.

Mike: And nature has no emotion about that. Nature is absolutely an impartial judge on that. So Post Petroleum Human is here. And this speech was kind of to celebrate that. Because we are coming out of the closet, so to speak. And as a said in the speech, it's not because we're coming out of the closet, it's that the closet is rotten with termites and it's falling down! And people can see it!

Janaia: I imagine for you it's a really joyous sense for you. You've been laboring under difficulties for quite some time. And you talked about seeing yourself now as an elder, a respected elder. (

Mike: Thank you.) And it's true. You've been a voice crying in the wilderness, as you called your first website. I hear that confirmation through CollapseNet, and at levels where people can perhaps make a difference, to mitigate the challenges for others.

Mike: It's not just CollapseNet. It was in the movie "Collapse." But it's also in just seeing the explosion of activity. You know, one of the things we do on CollapseNet, on the World News Desk every day, is that I have to read between 80 and 100 stories a day, which if you look at the headlines — that's the very sacred work that I do first thing in the morning, because I have the rest of the day to recover after that. What's becoming clear is how transparent it is that human industrial civilization is collapsing all around us for myriad reasons. Climate collapse, everything else that's happening. But also to become aware of the fact that, every now and again, this truth ekes out and appears in strange place in the mainstream media or in something.

I am supremely confident that, barring a complete nuclear holocaust, which is possible now...we could do it over the Middle East because the Middle East and North Africa is extremely unstable, and as the revolutions fail, and as that all becomes unstable, the easy scapegoat is to focus all eyes on Israel. And Israel has earned a fair amount of pushback. I'm sorry, they have, for what they've done to the Palestine people and all that. But Israel is a nuclear state. And it will use the nuke. But we run the same risks over China's aggressive military buildup, building its first aircraft carrier. And political disputes between China and Japan that were well underway over some small pockets of oil and gas reserves. And the Korean...nuclear holocaust is on the table. But barring that, if it doesn't happen, I am absolutely convinced today that Post Petroleum Human will be the ascendant and dominant human species in whatever world emerges from the collapse of industrial civilization.

Janaia: For people who say, yes, I can get on board with this, I can come out of the closet, I'm a Post Petroleum Human — what are you seeing, what do you want to see, what are you encouraging for that new species?

Mike: Right now this minute?

Janaia: Absolutely.

Mike: Starting growing your own food! Do it right now! Grow your own food. We're that close. Now come on, and I'm not alone with these views. There's a great many people out here like the Chris Martensons, Nicole Foss, Niall Ferguson, there's a lot of people out here who clearly understand what's happening. And how imminent it is. It's happening right now as we speak.

And as I have said clearly on CollapseNet, the Fukushima holocaust is far from over at this point. The containment vessels from three reactors have been compromised. You have partial meltdowns into the water table, at least two. The Japanese government — surprise, surprise, like the American government — is lying about how much radiation there is, how well it's under control. It's clear that Japan as a nation is mortally wounded.

Janaia: Wow. That's a strong diagnosis, Doc.

Mike: I was there just a few days after the tsunami occurred. It was clear to me, absolutely clear. And the reason for that is, first of all Japan has lost nearly 20 gigawatts of power. And industrial civilization does not work without electricity. You cannot have growth, which is required to repay debt, without generating electricity. Now Japan is the most indebted government in the world, with debt 200% of GDP (gross domestic product). Japan will never return from that. That debt cannot be serviced without growth. But now Japan cannot even remain stable. Zero Hedge in a great story recently, the numbers for the first quarter (not a Fukushima quarter, Fukushima happened on March 10), were a negative -0.52% GDP. So the globalized economy, relying on Japanese components for everyone from Siemens to Texas Instruments to all major auto manufacturers anywhere, the global supply chain is disrupted. The earnings reports are coming out. So Japan is a vital organ.

Janaia: That's a really beautiful notion of this. Like you can't live without the liver.

Mike: of the globalized economy. So Japan is mortally wounded. So the whole body is dead.

Janaia: And we could perhaps say from the perspective of Mother Earth, hurray.

Mike: Mother Earth always bats last, and she's the empire too. So I'm not too worried about her. But Fukushima is far from under control. And bear in mind I wrote this three days after the tsunami, that if there is catastrophic meltdown from one reactor, then all six are doomed. And nobody has ever really comprehended six reactors. Plus the 20 years of spent fuel rods in reactor building #4 from the six reactors. Even though two are shut down, they've still got the fissile material in there. That all the reactors go. Helen Caldicott was the most articulate on that: if those go, it's all over. That would be a total extinction event, but Mother Earth would come back. So we don't know how that's going to play out yet. But the bottom line is that "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change" so let me get to working on what I can work on.

Janaia: Grow food. What else?

Mike: Grow food. Relocalize. Get involved in...not everybody can make where they live into a community. There's a lot of zombies out there.

Janaia: Zombies? What's a zombie?

Mike: A zombie is someone who still believes in infinite growth, still believes that there will be a comeback, that there are more resources, that everything will be fine, this is just a momentary blip, just a cyclical thing, and gee, can I get my nails done and check my 401(k)? That's a zombie. A zombie is someone who thinks we can just switch to hydrogen. I'm not going there — hydrogen has already been thoroughly killed. Or we can vote for the Democrats. Whatever. Absolutely brain-dead people who don't understand, don't get it. Zombies are welcome to that. They're not my species. I'm a Post Petroleum Human.

Janaia: So, relocalize.

Mike: Relocalize. And you need family and you need community. One of the things we're trying to do at CollapseNet: for our members we have this interactive map where all of our members are plotted. So let's say you live in zip code 12345. You would sign up, answer a questionnaire that tells about who you are, what skills you have. Won't identify your name, won't give away your address, then you get plotted. All the other people who are of your species, who are around you...then you don't have to argue. All then that's left for you to do is help each other.

Janaia: Find each other.

Mike: I have to say that Transition US is doing that, all the transition initiatives around the country. At CollapseNet we've gone to great lengths to support them, and I did on my radio show too (The Lifeboat Hour). At CollapseNet also is we have this free directory in the Lighthouse Directory.

Janaia: What kind of things?

Mike: Many different categories. Some would be how to insulate, how to use less energy in your house. Some would be how to put solar on your house. There's tons of options in each of those categories. Permaculture, organic gardening. But there's also emotional stuff, spiritual stuff, psychological stuff. Stuff on everything from firearms to first aid, checklists for what to do "If", kinds of things you need to do to prepare for. I mean, it's really useful. A lot of people have been preparing this for a long time, compiling the information. And nobody really realized how much information was out there, and how much people had been doing. So that's one of the things we do at CollapseNet is open the door into this whole new universe so you can go where you need to go. Because a lot of people have been working really hard at this. We want to honor them and expose them. We don't know how strong we are. We're actually much further along towards dominance than we actually know.

Janaia: That's heartening. Because this has all evolved in such a short period of time.

Mike: I think it was Buckminster Fuller, who I admire greatly, either him or Alvin Toffler, who said that the new paradigm is dominant a long time before the old one even knows it's dead.

Janaia: Here we are. Here we are: Post-Petroleum Human.

Mike: That's us.

Janaia: Okay folks, you're watching Peak Moment. We're part of that Post-Petroleum Human component, and you are too. Join us next time. I'm with Michael C. Ruppert, the man behind CollapseNet, author of Confronting Collapse, and here we are.

Mike: And I'm also a singer-songwriter too.

Janaia: Oh, right! Sing for us?

Mike: Next time. Pay me (laughter).
Editorial Notes: It's been fascinating to watch the evolution of Michael Ruppert's thinking over the years. Despite his grim analysis, he seems to be encouraged by the emergence of post-petroleum humans. -BA

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