Self-Evident Truths

THERE ISN’T A CHANCE in hell that something like the original Wilderness Act could be passed today. Environmentalists today are too much on the defensive. Sure, there have been green platforms and policy papers, but nothing I’ve read matches the urgency of this moment. So I decided to draft a declaration. It goes like this:

We, the citizens of the United States of America, hold these truths to be self-evident: that a rapid decline in living conditions is taking place all around us; that compromise is no longer an adequate way forward (and perhaps never was); that more drastic measures must be taken immediately in order to preserve a livable planet. From these beliefs springs the following list of demands:

We demand that the United States Constitution be rewritten to explicitly prohibit the privatization of profits and the externalization of costs by the wealthy, and to immediately grant both human and nonhuman communities full legal and moral rights. Corporations should no longer be considered persons under the law. Limited liability corporations must be immediately stripped of their limited liability protection. Those whose economic activities cause great harm — including great harm to the real, physical world — should be punished. Environmental Crimes Tribunals must be immediately put in place to try those who have significantly harmed the real, physical world. These tribunals should have the force of law and should be expected to impose punishment commensurate with the harm caused to the public and to the planet.

We demand the immediate, explicit, and legally binding recognition that perpetual growth is incompatible with life on a finite planet. Economic growth must stop, and economies must begin to contract. We demand acknowledgment that if we don’t begin this contraction voluntarily, it will take place against our will, and will cause untold misery.

We demand that overconsumption and overpopulation be addressed through bold and serious measures, but not by approaches that are racist, colonialist, or misogynist. Right now, more than 50 percent of the children who are born into this world are unwanted. We demand that all children be wanted. The single most effective strategy for making certain that all children are wanted is the liberation of women. Therefore we demand that women be given absolute economic, sexual, and reproductive freedom, and that all forms of reproductive control become freely available to all.

There is consensus among the scientific community that in order to prevent catastrophic climate change beyond what the industrial economy has already set in motion, net carbon emissions must be reduced by 80 percent as soon as possible. Because we wish to continue to live on a habitable planet, we demand a carbon reduction of 20 percent of current emissions per year over the next four years.

Dwayne Andreas, former CEO of Archer Daniels Midland, has said, “There isn’t one grain of anything in the world that is sold in a free market. Not one! The only place you see a free market is in the speeches of politicians.” He’s right. Capitalism is based almost entirely on subsidies. For example, commercial fishing fleets worldwide receive more in subsidies than the entire value of their catch. Timber corporations, oil corporations, banks — all would collapse immediately without massive government subsidies and bailouts. Therefore, we demand that the United States government stop subsidizing environmentally and socially destructive activities, and shift those same subsidies into activities that restore biotic communities and that promote local self-sufficiency and vibrant local economies.

We demand an immediate and permanent halt to all extractive and destructive activities: fracking, mountaintop removal, tar sands production, nuclear power, and offshore drilling chief among them. The list of activities to be halted must also include the manufacture of photovoltaic panels, windmills, hybrid cars, and so on. We must find nondestructive ways of becoming a sustainable society.

We demand an immediate end to monocrop agriculture, one of the most destructive activities humans have ever perpetrated. All remaining native forests must be immediately and completely protected. We demand an end to clearcutting, “leave tree,” “seed tree,” “shelter tree,” and all other “even-aged management” techniques, no matter what they are called, and no matter what rationales are put forward by the timber industry and the government to justify them. Likewise, we demand that all remaining prairies and wetlands be permanently protected.

Further, we demand that all damaged lands be restored, from the redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters. Because soil is the basis of terrestrial life, no activities should be allowed that destroy topsoil. All properties over sixty acres must have soil surveys performed every ten years, and if they have suffered any decrease in health or depth of topsoil, the lands shall be confiscated and ownership transferred to those who will build up soil.

We demand that no activities that draw down aquifers be allowed, and that all polluted or compromised rivers and wetlands be restored. There are more than 2 million dams in the United States, more than 60,000 dams over thirteen feet tall and more than 70,000 dams over six and a half feet tall. If we removed one of these 70,000 dams each day, it would take 200 years to get rid of them all. Salmon don’t have that much time. Sturgeon don’t have that much time. Therefore, we demand that no more dams be built, and we demand the removal of five dams per day over the next forty years, beginning one year from today.

We demand that the United States make an annual survey of all endangered species to ascertain if they are increasing in number and range, and if they are not, we demand that steps be taken to make sure that they do. The U.S. government must be charged with the task of doing whatever is necessary to make sure that there are more migratory songbirds every year than the year before, that there are more native fish every year than the year before, more native reptiles and amphibians.

The United States must immediately withdraw from NAFTA, DR-CAFTA, and other so-called free trade agreements, because these agreements cause immeasurable and irreparable harm to working people, local economies. Likewise, we demand that the United States remove all support for the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, because these organizations promote and support vast infrastructure projects such as highways, dams, thermal power projects, and mines that disrupt or destroy entire biomes and dispossess and immiserate hundreds of thousands of people (in India alone, 50 million people have been displaced by large “development” projects).

From this day forward, the only conditions under which the United States of America should go to war is by a direct vote of more than 50 percent of U.S. citizens. Furthermore, we demand immediate closure of all U.S. military bases on foreign soil. All U.S. military personnel should be brought home within two years. The U.S. military budget must be reduced by 20 percent per year, until it reaches 20 percent of its current size. This will provide the “peace dividend” politicians promised us back when the Soviet Union collapsed, will balance the U.S. budget, and will more than pay for all necessary domestic programs, starting with biome repair and including food, shelter, and medical care for all.

In addition to the aforementioned, we demand that the U.S. government itself undergo a significant transformation in recognition of the fact that it can only be of, by, and for the people if it is concurrently of, by, and for the earth. And no, the fact that the animals and plants and natural communities don’t speak English is not a valid excuse for failing to provide for their well-being.

Once these demands have been met, we will come up with more, and then more, until we are living in a sane, just, and sustainable culture. We believe that such a culture is our birthright, both as human beings with inalienable rights and as animals who love our home. We have not forgotten that the Declaration of Independence states that when a government becomes destructive of our rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.

Derrick Jensen is the author of Thought to Exist in the Wild, Songs of the Dead, Endgame, Dreams, and other books. In 2008, he was named one of Utne Reader’s “50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World.” His Orion column is called “Upping the Stakes.”


  1. A 4th of July wish list? I thought Xmas and New Years were the times to launch such missives into the skies of magical possibilities. Maybe Derrick is doing this to remind us how totally impossible it is to get any of these wishes/demands fulfilled through the ordinary channels that we are constantly told are the proper means for accomplishing social changes. The same channels that have been carefully rigged to eliminate any chance that they might work to get you what you want. Ergo: on to the revolution! The sad truth is that hasn’t worked either. And never will.

    Never until we meet the enemy: us. Yes, the old possum was wiser than most of his human cousins. We are the problem. And nothing is going to really change for the better until we fix us. Or better, transform ourselves. Because there is so much about us that needs to change, a few repairs to the old model just aren’t going to cut it. We need a whole new model, with completely new and fundamentally altered programming.

    Is such a radical makeover possible? Yes, the basic instructions to do this have been around a long time in various formulations. The generic name for them is “spiritual paths”. Am I talking about religion? No, things classified under that heading have generally gone so fundamentally awry that they no longer qualify as true paths. They have been corrupted over time in the same manner as all the other institutions of culture all over the planet. Of course there are exceptions, but they are relatively miniscule in the big picture.

    How does one find these transformative methods? You look, you seek them out. Then you will need to join with a few others to translate them into understandings and procedures that will be effective for inhabitants of the “modern” world. There is a lot of work to be done (in former times it was known as The Great Work) but the reward of a new human and a new world are well worth it. Let’s get started! (Like Derrick I am filled with an insane and unreasonable hope sometimes, that folks will wake from their lethal trance and suddenly start working to save themselves. Forgive me. The deafening silence that usually meets my offerings will undoubtedly sober me up, and return me to an uneasy foreboding about our future as a species.)

  2. Revolution has worked. it’s the only thing that ever has. It may not work every-time. But it’s the only viable option.

    Waiting for everyone-else to wake-up is suicide. “be the change..” is inverted.

  3. !) Removing the dams will require a substantial amount of energy. If not done with care, it will devastate wildlife. At five dams per day, we’re still talking 40 years during which time we need some amount of oil and gas and other resources to remove the dam materials.

    I like the idea of removing all dams. I just don’t see it happening without some degree of technology that is elsewhere being rejected in this document.

    2) Voluntary cooperation is the only sustainable basis for society. Many, if not virtually all the members of the society that I live in want to have the technologies that are being rejected here.

    I fear that the change will not happen until nature makes it happen. That doesn’t seem to me to be far off either. Have a look at the number of reported bird and fish kills in the United States in just the last few weeks:,-92.710395&spn=30.80044,60.117188

  4. The most important thing is ending this culture. temporary destruction to wildlife and people…is a better alternative than business-as-usual.

    There are no good options. There are no easy-outs or viable easy-transitions.

  5. Pler — If revolution works so well, why are we where we are now? Have you checked out what is going on in Egypt these days? That was so predictable. Putting one’s faith in revolution is like doing the same old things we have done throughout history, and expecting different results.

  6. Pler — Ending this culture appeals to those better at tearing things down than they are at building something new. This culture really does not need a lot of help to destroy itself. If you just step back and let it fall, you will save yourself a lot of energy which could then be used to create something better to build on the ashes.

  7. @Mike –

    Pie in the sky.

    I never said revolution worked well – I said that it’s the only thing that has ever worked.

    Any time people have gained liberation from oppression, some force has been required. I don’t think that now is any exception either

    I know that civilization will collapse itself eventually. I don’t want to wait around that long. I don’t want to wait until Tigers have gone extinct…I don’t want to wait until there are no more grizzly bears or wild salmon..old growth forests..prairies..or wild humans. I don’t want to wait until our toxic body burdens are all too much to bare.

    Your complacency in the face of injustice, ecocide, and mass-murder is not wisdom. it’s absurd.

  8. Thank you Derrick for the specifity of your clarities.

    This agreement already exists among the elders of our landscapes – and this is the path with the vitality of life!

    The singing revolution of Estonia is a nonviolent template for successful sudden revolution.

    The destroyers foster a trance of dependency which lives through the surrender of personal/collective power. As we gain awareness that the true power is with the earth and come to this collective realization there will be a sudden powerful change.

    May we all feed this alliance with the deep sacred beauty of the Mystery of existence on this brilliant planet and collectively say STOP to the destruction.It is life that we all truly want to say YES Too!

    Eeeeee Hychka!

  9. Pler — I am a long way from being complacent about our world, and I do not recommend sitting on our hands and waiting for pie to miraculously manifest from somewhere beyond ourselves. Our situation is urgent, and needs our immediate action. The question is: what action(s) do we need to engage? There are many dimensions and venues from which action can be initiated. Which ones will be the most effective for our long term deliverance from the nightmare we have created for each other?

    If we limit ourselves to the methods of direct and forcible action against the external manifestations of our problems, the infrastructures and primary human agents of civilization and empire, we will be missing the primary source of all our problems: ourselves. We are what needs to change. If that happens in the right way then we will stop creating the mess we are in and build something better. If we simply tear down the existing external structures (like dams) and yet remain the same selfish, uncooperative, ignorant people, nothing will really change, because like most “revolutions” we will rebuild the same old flawed culture that was just torn down in the name of “progress”.
    Only better people can make a better world. We had better get busy developing the means to produce these better people, before it is too late to repair the colossal failure that our civilization represents.

  10. Treothe — Tell me more about the singing revolution of Estonia?

  11. In arising as intelligent beings on this planet, we are presented with a great problem: how do we live well together, so that we may grow to higher levels of wisdom and love?

    We have forgotten that this is our primary task. As a result we are destroying each other and our world.

    To save ourselves we need to remember our mission, and work to accomplish it. We can begin by coming together in small groups to deeply consider these things, and make truth, love, and beauty effective realities in ourselves and in our world. Is there any other purpose or meaning higher than this?

  12. Question: “how do we live well together, so that we may grow to higher levels of wisdom and love?”

    I can’t say that I have the answer to this. I’m not even entirely sure it’s the right question but I like it anyway…. growing in wisdom and love sound like good things.

    I’m reading E.O. Wilson’s newest book, The Social Conquest of Earth, and recommend it. I think he’s onto something important. We’re the products (socially) of both individual selection and group selection.

    It seems like we’ve evolved cooperation and empathy out of competition and antipathy. As selfish individuals, we reached a point of intelligence during our evolution where we could gain more for ourselves by cooperating with a few of our fellow beings in order to out-compete other selfish individuals (so meta-competition at the group level still exists). There are experiments now about this and I also recommend Jonathan Haidt’s latest TED talk for an example:

    The July 2012 issue of Scientific American also has an article about the evolution of cooperation by yet another Harvard biologist, Martin A. Nowak (“Why We Help”) that is also worth reading.

    The reason why cooperative beings don’t always take over and win is that you always have a problem with free-loaders who will take what they can from group efforts without contributing in return. You have to solve that problem if the social organisation is to be sustainable. Money for labor is how our society usually does it (so when you hear the word sustainable always ask “over what time period?”).

    There’s a narrative that humans are basically selfish, and another about how we are intrinsically social and empathetic. Are we more chimp or bonobo?

    It’s clear to me that we’re both, and that trying to deny either part of our nature doesn’t advance the cause of sustaining ourselves for long on this planet. Somehow our competitive instincts have to be put to use toward the goal of sustainability.

    In the story where we’re intrinsically good and generous beings, there’s often some villain who has caused the terrible injustices we’re suffering. Maybe it’s the Bilderbergs or Monsanto or GOP. In the darkest reaches of the conspiracy world, it is reptoids from another planet or another dimension who are here to feed on our misery and sorrow.

    I call these myths out because they are great distractions to the cause of sustainability. They place the blame elsewhere and in so doing they avoid any real possibilities of change. Virtually all of us are “the problem”. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t use fossil fuels, even as I know people who don’t buy them. Certainly no one reading these words can put themselves above reproach, right?

    I like where you end up, mike k, and think that this is our best hope:

    “We can begin by coming together in small groups to deeply consider these things, and make truth, love, and beauty effective realities in ourselves and in our world.” The World Cafe is one structure for doing just this:

  13. It’s time to move beyond outmoded and destructive religious and cultural dogmas, that are literally killing humanity and all living beings on the planet.

    I would suggest checking out the writings and work of Martin Ball at

  14. I loved this piece. It’s everything I’ve been feeling and thinking about for the last few months. Thank you, Derrick for a wonderfully insightful and honest piece.

    Despite the call to action, I still feel stuck. I agree with most of what is written in this declaration and feel whole-heartily that this type of change needs to happen ASAP. But I feel as though much of what is being asked is far too lofty to ask a government determined to destroy the natural world for their own personal profit. I think we need to discuss how to educate people and bring them on board with this cause. We need to help others realize what is happening and organize a large enough mass of people to redirect this corrupt government. Yet when I talk to friends and family and explain what is happening they either roll their eyes at my “extremist” viewpoints (and walk away) or reply with an apathetic “oh, well…there’s nothing I can do.”

    I often feel very depressed thinking about how muffled our voices (the American public) have become. Or even how helpless people have begun to feel when it comes to democracy in action. I agree that we are now living in a corporatocracy…a place where money buys influence and political power. How can we reverse this? How can we revitalize the environmental movement and make it bigger and better than ever?

  15. Kozandaishi — Martin Ball is suffering from ego inflation, a not too uncommon effect of a few entheogen experiences. When (if) he comes down, he may have some useful things to say.

  16. Mike Lewinski — Thank you for your thoughtful comments. I would however point out that the enormous disparities in wealth and power in our world do not fit with the idea of wacko conspiracy theories. Those wielding this enormous power over the course of all of our lives do indeed bear responsibility for many of the disastrous phenomena threatening all of us. To equate the tiny power most of us individuals have with their mega power is not realistic. These major players have to be stopped, or all our platitudes and pious wishes will come to naught.

    In the run-up to the Iraq invasion we witnessed the largest peaceful antiwar protest in world history. The small clique of politicians, military industrialists, and their lackeys in the press simply ignored the will of the people and international law and justice, and went ahead with their evil grab for oil as planned. This is just one example of the ability of the rich and powerful to work their harmful designs on the rest of us, and our precious environment. If a conspiracy is defined as a group of people planning and working together to accomplish nefarious and harmful designs, then we are indeed the largely helpless victims of these folks and their propaganda and power. This is a crucial obstacle to creating the world of fairness, justice, peace and sharing that some of us dream of. The small groups I speak of are more like revolutionary cells bent on overthrowing tyrants, than ineffective forums to bemoan and accept our fate under a system of power and oppression that is destroying the Earth. We need to awaken people to the realities of their oppression quickly before it is too late!

  17. “Martin Ball is suffering from ego inflation, a not too uncommon effect of a few entheogen experiences.”

    Tee-hee. Makes me wonder if the scientists barking up the “theory of everything” tree are similarly affected. :-)

  18. No! Stop It! Don’t! is all I keep hearing. It is not enough to curse the darkness. It is necessary that someone light the way. How can environmentalists denounce energy, even renewables, via their industrially-produced laptops, books, and magazines with a straight face?

    I have been told NOT to eat conventional foods because they are poisonous and DON’T eat organics because they are not energy efficient. Unfortunately, the vegan website did not tell me what I AM supposed to eat..dandelions in the summer and acorns in the fall, I suppose; but what about winter? And shall we kill trees for heat instead of create solar panels? Or shall we allow our families to succumb to the famine and frost of a much more vicious era? It’s easy to be AGAINST damnation. All of humanity’s walls and fences (both physical and emotional) will come down with our without our blessing, inevitably.

    What is much more challenging, and necessary for the survival of our families and the planet, is to be FOR better ideas. What are we offering other than whine and cheesey diatribes?

  19. Vera — I am not looking down on Martin Ball for his current enthusiasms; been there done that. But after the dazzling brilliance of the occasional encounters with things of the Beyond, there come the periods of quiet reflection, as the bright sparks fall slowly to Earth and go out. Then we are tested as to our seriousness in the face of That, or our lack of it, and our proneness to forgetfulness. There is still real Magic and higher Meaning and the quest for it and the sharing and the hope. How we search makes all the difference. Although sometimes the most precious things we find are hard to share with any but those also on the quest…

  20. Brenda — Sometimes we need to understand the darkness better in order to find how to light the way.

  21. Brenda, you wanna light the way? Get together with a few others and start something good. It does not take a brainiac; anybody can do it.

    Here, we just bat words back and forth… :-)

  22. “We are the sharpened point of the spearhead of humanity. We are the “penetrators,” the “first-ones-into-the-unknown.” And thus we must be the creators of our future, and we must lead our tribes back toward a transcendent dialogue with G/d before it is too late. This is not the tribal God of war, not the God of industry that is exhorted from pulpits of propaganda and patriotism: I am talking about the self-realized G/d. The only real G/d. The G/d contained within each and every one of us.”

    −James Oroc, Tryptamine Palace: 5-MeO-DMT and the Sonoran Desert Toad

  23. Kozandaichi — James Oroc makes a lot more sense to me than Martin Ball. Thanks for the link, it is quite informative. Because of the dire crisis of humanity at this time, I think it is totally legitimate for all possible avenues of deliverance to be explored. In my previous comment I did not mean to imply that I was on the same page as those who ignorantly condemn entheogenic experimentation. On the contrary I feel this area contains incredible potential for leading us out of our current inner darkness. The obstacles to this pathway, however, are formidable.

    Our almost terminally sick culture resists with particular vigor those methods and possibilities for a deep cure of ourselves that are perceived as outside the conventions of our warped cultural values. This ignorant backlash of society represents it’s attempt to cling to it’s failed self image and disastrous agendas. This remains the chief obstacle to visionary and truly spiritual solutions. Then there are the erroneous beliefs among some entheogen enthusiasts that represent distortions of their own persistent ego delusions, that inevitably turn off the uninformed public, and give the whole possible movement a bad name. The manic effusions of Martin Ball had that quality for me. Maybe I am too harsh there

    We must realize and accept that there is a tremendous amount of thoughtful work that needs to be done among those who glimpse the enormous potentials of entheogenic use. This is in some ways equivalent to devising a new religion for humanity, based on principles that are more spiritually advanced than the current popular mass religions. A new language and deeper principles need to be the foundations for such an enlightened framework for proper use of these powerful awakening substances.

    In my own life entheogens played an important role. However subsequent development of meditation practice, study, working in a Sufi group has been crucial for me to unfold the promise of initial experiences. This has been true for others who I have shared notes with on our journeys. I feel that we are at the very beginning of developing advanced methods of spiritual realization that will be accessible to all levels of humanity. I am part of small group that is just concluding a long in depth study of Sri Aurobindo’s book A Synthesis of Yoga. Many strands will need to be woven into the unfolding tapestry of a new spiritual pathway beyond our current confusions.

  24. This article and subsequent discussion have proved to be very rich food for thought. I concur with Sarah W and Brenda Songy that Derek Jensen’s exhortations may go too far in decrying what’s wrong, without providing practicable pathways through the more vital challenge “to be FOR better ideas.” (And thanks to Brenda for the phrase “whine and cheesy diatribes.”)

    Mike Lewinski suggests World Café as a method for accoplishing mike k’s resonant suggestion:
    “We can begin by coming together in small groups to deeply consider these things, and make truth, love, and beauty effective realities in ourselves and in our world.”
    I have also found World Café a useful tool. There’s a great set of similar tools for coalescing the brilliance of small groups at Liberating Structures ( But this only gets us working together in small groups. The essence of the argument for multilevel or group selection (as discussed by Jonathan Haidt) is that this is an evolutionarily stable strategy for competing with other groups.

    Can we rethink what that competition is? Could it be a competition between groups for the best solutions, the most vibrant, ecologically-integrated, just and regenerative communities? Could local pride and tribalism work in way that didn’t invite violence, but instead amplified positive deviance? Maybe these are the questions to explore via World Café and similar tools. Such questions invite us to dissolve the self in the greater “we,” perhaps even at the global level, in a collective effort by humans to improve the well-being of all.

    I have a longer blog post about this at

  25. Michelle — What I am saying (as in #9 above) is that inner transformation of human minds of sufficient depth and involving enough people is the key to our survival and qualification to manifest the further development of the human capacities of which we are capable. The obsession we have with competition is one of the problems that threaten to destroy us. We need a new mind with new priorities and new ways of realizing them. The small groups I speak of have this transformation as their primary business. I have a lot of ideas and experience relative to how this might be implemented. The initial problem is to get people to even consider this inner pathway (I can see some rolling their eyes at this language, thinking “new age cult”) given the materialist conditioning our current age has inculcated in most of us. Many of the spiritual paths from earliest times, shamanism onward have worked with some of the basic methodologies for inner transformation, and we can learn much from a selective use of their wisdom. What is needed now is to reformat knowledge from diverse spheres into a process which can be presented and shared that is free from dogmatism, superstition, egotism, etc. Unless we find ways to awaken the true possible human within us, all our fussing with external fixes will come to naught. The early Greek playwrights and Pogo were right: We carry the seeds of our own destruction within our minds. The Delphic Oracle advised: know thyself. She might have added; or else!

    BTW I am exploring your fascinating site. I am finding a lot of deep considering there…

  26. So American! Why not include the rest of the world?

  27. Somehow we have to grasp much more adequately the sum and substance of our distinctly human nature, with special attention given to improving our ‘reality orientation’ with regard to such vital issues as human population dynamics. Although relatively small in number, evolutionary biologists and scientists in other fields of research understand what the best available science indicates to us about the skyrocketing growth of absolute global human population numbers in our time.Research of outstanding scientists indicate that the population dynamics of the human species is essentially similar to, not different from, the population dynamics of other species. We have uncontested, apparently unforeseen and unfortunately unwelcome scientific evidence regarding the ‘placement’ of the human species within the order of living things that is everywhere denied; whereas, preternatural theories (eg, Demographic Transition Theory), political ideologies (eg, Conservatism and Liberalism) and economic theologies (eg, neoclassical economics) are widely shared and consensually validated as somehow supported by science. To elect to extol the virtue of ideas that have been refuted by scientific research (evidence which is consciously and deliberately ignored, avoided and denied) cannot be construed as the right thing to do. Even though ‘political correctness’ is predominant and accepted as real, when theory, ideology and theology are directly contradicted by science, then science must be shared. Scientific knowledge must prevail over theory, ideology and theology.

  28. Another speech at the wall, Steve? Are you socially impaired, or is it by willful design?

  29. Steve — I admire your consistent determination to express your vision of truth in spite of negative feedback and ad hominem attacks. Carry on, I am one who has learned from your sharing.

  30. Tee-hee. Determination, he’s got. Sharing? He would not know sharing if it hit him in the head. All he does is make speeches in his head. Solipsism, anyone?

  31. If open dialog were not such an essential key to our survival, it might be ok to decide that it doesn’t merit careful consideration of how to fruitfully engage in it. Respectful listening to those you may disagree with, or whose style of presentation rubs you the wrong way, helps maintain a democratic free speech basis for discussion. Personal attacks and snide remarks usually say more about the one uttering them than about the one they are directed at. In any case, they lower the level of discourse and spoil any atmosphere of mutual respect and harmony. Interacting in groups — even online — has taught me a lot about undesirable aspects of my own ego. Whatever the momentary delight in delivering a clever put-down, the net result of such moves proves other than truly rewarding. If our ideal is world peace, maybe we should begin with a little mutual patience and politeness? Our words have impacts for good or ill. Perhaps Buddha was onto something when he included right speech as a basic spiritual practice.

  32. Well, that’s the question, isn’t it. Someone who has come into Orion forums for years, to speechify at us, how long does one put up with it? Orion does not like it, yet they do not wish to interfere. I respect that. That leaves me to say something. So I do. I am fed up… not with his opinions, but with his lack of social regard for others.

    I see no “respectful listening” or “right speech” from Steve. All I see is misusing these forums as his “bully pulpit.”

  33. Vera — I hear your irritation, and you have a right to feel your feelings, and yes, to air them in a forum. I think Steve has a thick enough skin that he is not going to be injured — or silenced! Its just that for me free speech trumps my feelings or personal opinions. It also gives me an opportunity to learn to maintain “noble silence” or simply to put a lid on it when I am irked — something my wife gently reminds me might sometimes be a good idea.

    Actually, there is new material often in Steve’s sharings, and I have learned from those population experts he links to. He has made me aware of the links between what we eat, topsoil depletion, and unsustainable population numbers. Don’t repeat R. Riversong’s mistake of asking Orion to censor folks that bugged him. (I kinda miss Robert — that guy could really get my goat!)

  34. I never asked Orion to censor him; just discussed my annoyance with him with someone… can’t remember if it was Scott or someone else. In those days, they were thinking of creating a discussion on population, I believe. Not that it would have worked… He barges in all over the place, not just here. No fear of thin skin there… more like teflon, I’m afraid.

    I miss Robert too. Amazing, the way he stirred up stuff, for no purpose at all, eh? When we mostly agreed with him on the substance…

  35. Thank you, Mike, for such kind and thoughtful words. Let me share with all of you something else that seems self-evident.

    How can we fail to see something so huge and visible as a human-induced global predicament? The predicament is in front of us for all to see. Perhaps many cannot see because they have been fooled by fools.

    For human beings to count human population numbers is simple, really simple. The population dynamics of human beings with feet of clay are obvious and fully comprehensible. We have allowed ourselves to be dazzled by the BS of demographers just the way human beings have been deceived and victimized by the economic theologians on Wall Street. Demographers and economists are not scientists. ‘The brightest and the best’ have sold their souls to greedmongers, duped the rest of us, made it difficult to see what is real, proclaimed what is known to be knowable as unknowable, engaged in the their own brands of alchemy. In their dishonest and duplicitous efforts to please the self-proclaimed masters of the universe, also known as the keepers of the ‘golden calf’ (a symbol now easily visible as the “raging bull” on Wall Street), they perpetrate frauds at everyone else’s expense, threaten the children’s future, put life as we know it at risk, and are consciously, deliberately, actively precipitating the destruction of Earth as a fit place for human habitation. Never in the course of human events have so few taken so much from so many and left so little for others.

    There are many too many overly educated “wise guys” among us who see the blessed world we inhabit through the lens of their own hubris and selfishness, and see themselves somehow as Homo sapiens sapiens and masters of the universe, as corporate kings and emperor’s with clothes. They supposedly are the brightest and best, the smartest guys in the room, like the guy who used to run the global political economy without recognizing that there was an “ideological flaw” in his economic theories and models, the same guy who reported he could not name 5 guys smarter than himself. These are the guys who have sold their souls, denied science, abjectly failed humanity, forsaken life as we know it, the Earth and God. These ideologues rule the world now and can best be characterized by their malignant narcissism, pathological arrogance, risky addictions, extreme foolishness and wanton greed.

  36. Who but a determined narcissist would keep saying the same thing over and over, in speeches prepared for his own ego, recycling the same phrases for years, and regardless of how the discussion goes?

  37. Dear Vera,

    Would you would occasionally pay attention to, and then comment upon the message? You regularly deny the message. It is the message that matters. Anyone can share anything. To focus on the messenger misses the point of all sharing.



  38. My goodness, Steve. You actually made a connection after all these years! Well, since you have reached out as though I am a real human being and not just a vessel to pour your speeches into, I will respond.

    Can you document where I have denied your message? I may have disagreed slightly years ago. I mostly agree. What bothers me is that you behave as though relationships could be completely ignored, and that because you have a message worth hearing, you can trample over those very relationships. You sound to me like a narcissistic man who thinks that those with valid messages are *entitled* to trample human relationships, or at best to ignore them.

    From my point of view, you have it backwards. Those who trample over human relationships (for whatever “noble” excuse) are still contributing to the evils of the world. After all, it’s what we DO unto others that matters far more than mere words.

    I would welcome your side of the story.

  39. Dear Vera,

    We have been down this road before. I cannot think of anything more to say.



  40. Vera — I am curious. How do you see Steve “trampling over human relationships”? That sounds pretty serious, but what exactly do you see him doing?

  41. What do I see him doing is barging into forums and blogs without any respect for the flow of the conversation, for the state of the discussion that is happening there — indeed without any regard at all for what the discussants are saying and whether his speeches might be intrusive. He wants to be listened to but rarely shows any awareness of himself listening to anything the discussants say. If he does, it is only in relation to *his* ideas, never theirs.

    He in fact expects and feels entitled to be listened to without first building relationships with the people in the forum, and creating a sense of reciprocal give-and-take. Not for him to be bothered by the demands of social discourse. That is the DOING I see. In the absence of efforts to build social connections with those he imagines he is addressing, his words strike me largely as self-centered grandstanding. Even Toastmasters require give and take with the listeners…

  42. Try finding a quiet place on this Earth where there is more than about two minutes of relief from man-made machine noise. We (the people and the animals) demand relief from engine noise. We especially demand that all commercial air traffic cease. The destruction to the upper atmosphere, the consumption of fossil fuels, the wiping out of natural soundscapes across the globe, and the resulting stress and reproductive decline of myriad species require an end to what is now ubiquitous practice: flying here and there and everywhere.

    The trouble we have caused is so deep, nothing short of a total transformation of Western (now global) civilization will be sufficient. Derrick has it right. There is so much we have to give up that we consider our birthright. In these circumstances, asking that we be told what to DO instead of what NOT to do is like demanding that we have a new shell before we shed the old one. This is what is asked of us now. To shed the old without knowing what the new will look like. Stop doing all these destructive things, shed the life-threatening habits and assumptions about what we want and need in our lives. Start paying attention to how the natural world actually works, and bring our lives into accord with natural processes. When we are wise enough to do our work in harmony with the natural order, then we can do and do and do and it will all contribute to life. But for now there is so much that we must stop doing, because the way we do it is in conflict with natural processes and destructive to life.

    For me, paying attention is the key, not formulas or plans or programs. Listening and looking and learning from the animals and the plants and the Earth. Humbling ourselves before the amazing productivity of Life. We don’t know any more how to live well by instinct, our instincts have all been twisted, so now we have to learn from the other inhabitants of the Earth how to live well and then do it intentionally.

    Thank you, Derrick.

  43. JohnC — Your ideas are excellent, but I wonder if you have read some of Derrick’s books that outline his proposals in more depth? I am thinking especially of his recent “Deep Green Resistance” which he wrote with his friends Lierre Keith and Aric McBay. The first part of the book explains that however important individual change may be for changing our world, we will never be able to prevent the ongoing destruction of our world by the forces of corporate greed and power, unless we mount an effective direct resistance to their rule. In order to do this we will need to organize a movement willing to do battle with these entrenched interests by direct actions against them. This book is very well written, and has changed my mind about a lot of things. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  44. In short, I have now come to understand that leaving Babylon will not lead to the world we dream of, unless we leave only to regroup and return to totally dismantle Babylon for once and all.

  45. BTW — The second half of Deep Green Resistance is an in depth examination of how to organize an effective active resistance to the corporate/fascist powers that are destroying life on Earth.

  46. I just read for frist time information Derrick Jensen provided I some of could be true and other parts not so. Like companies get sudsidies did you all know that big power companies in wind mill are get up $2mill dollars back for each wind mill and that the wind mills do not have to do a wild life impact study, also that they have distory meny arces of wild life haditat

  47. There is one other thing that I want to raise, Mike, to wrap this up. Steve has had feedback from other people including folks at Orion, but he never shows any inclination to act on it, to learn from it, and to modify his style to make it more congenial to those who may be interested in what he says. Apparently, the wishes of the hoi poloi don’t matter at all; all that matters is HIS message and HIS style of delivering it. On the rare occasion when he does engage, as soon as it looks like he would be expected to self-disclose, to consider others’ point of view, to show some vulnerability perhaps, he walks off in a huff.

    Thank you for helping me get this off my chest. Now, back to Derrick’s stuff! :-) I confess that I find the DGR book profoundly troubling.

  48. Dear Sam, Mike K and John C,

    How do we get from where we are now to a non-fossil fuel global economy? So great is the power of the fossil fools who organize and manage the global political economy and rule the world in our time, it would mean that David would have to take on Goliath again; that human beings with feet of clay would have win over the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us. We are faced with really long odds and are in need of the advent of something new, different and real that would appear to all the world as a miracle.



  49. Well, for starters, here is one thing. They say they are all for “security culture” yet they pursue “in your face tactics” openly threatening the PTB. You don’t get far yelling down a psychopath and threatening him with damage and destruction. Eh?

  50. Vera — Let me share a few thoughts in response to your reaction to DGR.
    1. How do you recruit folks for a movement without some form of publicity?
    2. Just two examples of successful in your face resistances: the civil rights movement and the suffragettes.
    3. I think Derrick et al are taking advantage of the few days of our civil liberties that may be left to get their message out.
    4. The message is not addressed only to those who will go underground, but acknowledges that these will be a distinct minority of those who respond.
    5. Such a movement needs to have a “bible” in print to help organize and educate those seeking to initiate active resistance.
    6. To date I cannot think of a single act of sabotage that has been linked to any such movement. If and when such does occur, then the sparks will begin to fly. But then, who ever heard of a revolution without sparks?
    7. What better options are there?
    8. Time is short. We don’t have the luxury of a long mobilization process.

    I could say more, but that’s for starters. This is not to say that I don’t have my own reservations and questions about this initiative. But I would like to get your thoughts on it first?

  51. Well, I sympathize with what you say, but advertising yourself to the enemy long before anything is done is simply a way to get effectively infiltrated.

    What is your beef with them?

  52. Vera — As far as infiltration, that is a given that must be dealt with at any stage of a resistance operation. The first time Derrick wrote a book, he put himself on an enemies list somewhere in the caverns of our rulers. You and I are also listed. Do you want to stop blogging as a result? Some would. You won’t. Nor I. Being a free thinker has its advantages, and its risks.

    As to the value of their style of resistance, I wonder if it can achieve the positive outcome they hope for. Planetary life is so complicated and uncertain! On the other hand, as you know better than most, every conceivable proposal has the same dangers and lack of guaranties. As Kierkegaard put it: “To venture is to risk defeat; but not to venture is to lose one’s Soul.” We are in a forced situation, to do nothing is probably to face certain defeat. Its like one of those devilish Zen Koans: Quick you must answer! Life is often not fair, as I understand fair.

    Fortunately its not all up to me, though in my occasional foolish fantasies I sometimes wish it was. But if it was, I wonder if I would do the wisest thing? Kinda like the three wishes trap…

  53. How does a woman living with a dangerous psychopath recruit allies? Very very discreetly.

    DGR could have emulated the very successful model of a security culture provided by folks such as ALF (Animal Liberation Front). These folks vetted people, trained them in secret locations after all sorts of precautions against having been followed. Only first names were used, no paperwork or notes allowed. And so on. Last I heard, they had not gotten infiltrated (in the U.S.). (Their success drove the labs underground.)

    Whether or not I or you or Derrick are on the list, and perhaps we are, that is not what I was addressing. I am not endangering anyone but myself. Derrick’s expensive workshops lure young people hoping to do something brave. They can barely afford them, but I am sure the guvmint’s agents can spring the fee and show up to get their dossiers going. That creates a situation where you are a marked person as soon as you show up. Security culture? They gotta be kidding.

    And then you raise another issue. Positive outcome? How could wreaking more destruction on top of the div’s destruction be a positive outcome? The war to end all wars? It never works. There’s gotta be another way.

  54. sorry, typo: should have said “civ’s destruction”

  55. Vera — I think I can tell from your comments that you have not read DGR. Security questions are given in depth coverage. As for your concern for young people attending Derrick’s lectures, I don’t think they should have any special concern. Anyone who uses any electronic communication device has had all their conversations run thru the immense facilities and super computers at NSA and elsewhere. Soon there will be almost no person in the USA who does not have a file in the security state archives. I am surprised at your assumption that we have to do something special to come under scrutiny in this constantly developing police state.

    Whether hastening the collapse of civilization will mitigate its increasingly lethal effects on all life is open to question, and is in my opinion impossible to decide with anything near certainty. The argument of DGR is that one thing is certain: if this current regime continues as it is, and it shows no sign of stopping, the human race and countless living beings will soon be toast. Desperate times call for desperate measures. It is for each to decide how desperate and immediate those measures need to be. Spaceship Earth has madmen at the helm.

    I salute Orion for their courage in publishing DJ’s ideas. It probably turns off a lot of middle class readers, who must think he is insane. A little uncontroversial light green consumerism is about all many are really up for. After all, the Naked Truth is pretty strong medicine.

  56. What exactly leads you to postulate that I haven’t read DGR, Mike? Because my idea of a security culture is more like ALF’s and not theirs?

  57. Vera — So you read it? Guess I was wrong. There is a big difference between the security situation of a relatively small group like ALF with its limited objectives, and planning an operation big enough to take down the US government. If you are thinking there is some perfect way to ensure security within a clandestine organization, there is not, never has been never will be. What they are planning is how best to deal with the inevitable leaks, moles, intrusions, surveillances, slip ups, detections, etc. War is messy, there are screw ups, people get hurt. One of the themes of the book is that people who want to be critical of the possibility of this ever working will find innumerable reasons to excuse themselves from being a part of it. That is how it is. Liberals and people on the left want to postpone action or come up with vague ideas, but never commit themselves to real action with all its uncertain and imperfect scenarios. The intellectuals are always caught by surprise when people just get out there and make things happen somehow and it turns out to work. Does it always work? Of course not. But while most of us are sitting around trying to think how it could be made safe and perfect, a few are willing to take the risk to make things happen. Am I going underground and taking part in physical actions? No, I am getting a little to old for that kind of action. But I am not going to sit around pontificating on why it can never work. I don’t know that. Nobody knows that.

  58. Take down the U.S. govmint? Huh? And then what? I thought they meant to take down civ and let the various guvmints fall where they may…

  59. Vera — There is no space between the Elites that rule the world, the US government, and civilization. If you stop one, you effectively stop them all. At least the dismantling of the US hegemony could send the other dominoes cascading into oblivion – maybe. One of the weakest points in the DGR scheme is their vague notions about what kind of world will succeed their demolition derby. If they achieve their deconstructive goals, they may have only created a bigger mess than we are in now. They only give scant attention to this problem. I guess its more stimulating to tear things down than to carefully rebuild them. A problem with all our schemes to save the world is that in our enthusiasm to come up with something that works, we tend to let our critical faculties go on vacation and embrace a lot of questionable assumptions. These unacknowledged downsides could be fatal to our success. On the other hand, thus does conscience make cowards of us all, and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprise of great pitch and moment with this regard their currents turn awry and lose the name of action. Must give us pause. We just don’t have forever to implement whatever ideas we have to turn the tide of the world, which is fast ebbing towards oblivion.

  60. I need to say that I find it disappointing that there are not more participants in these Orion comments threads. The whole purpose of the magazine as I understand it is to stimulate ideas and initiatives to save our dying planet. Is there anybody out there?!

  61. Thanks KDZ. Chris Hedges is a genius of humanity. I follow him every Monday on

  62. The USA is a giant plantation and we are indentured slaves on it. If you step out of line you could end up in prison and/or be tortured.

  63. “One of the weakest points in the DGR scheme is their vague notions about what kind of world will succeed their demolition derby. If they achieve their deconstructive goals, they may have only created a bigger mess than we are in now. They only give scant attention to this problem.”

    You hit the nail on the head Mike. And the correlation is, when people focus on the skills of demolition, what happens when it’s done and a whole other set of skills are needed? Or will they just keep on with the destruction because that’s all they know?

    Sure would be nice if folks came back. Wade? Others?

  64. Vera — On the other hand revolutions often do move the ball forward, even though their aftermaths are not Edenic. The civil rights movement helped a lot of folks considerably, though it fell short of MLK’s dream. Getting rid of Stalin and his successors reduced the gulag population considerably, although Gorbachov could not turn Russia into a worker’s paradise. Can we say that revolutions are part of a positive evolutionary process in spite of their many shortcomings? Sometimes a vigorous cleansing may be needed to birth new possibilities. Again: desperate times call for desperate measures, collateral damage to all concerned notwithstanding. It is interesting to compare this to the traumatic upheavals that have been necessary for human life to evolve. Poor dinosaurs!

  65. Steve — Is it possible that you posted the link to McKenna’s wild rant? What are you suggesting? He reminds me of some of the typical acid gurus I encountered in the 60’s. Is he going to lead us out of Babylon? Isn’t he the one who provided a lot of the juice for this totally wacko 2012 nonsense. Yeah I read some of his stuff years ago. With guys like him for guides you are guaranteed to get nowhere but lost. Enlighten me how this dude is going to help us solve our very real problems? Just drop some acid and all will be well? There is a serious possibility of real inner growth through entheongen use properly conducted. But at this late stage of our cultural nightmare these substances probably do more harm than good. In a more sane world there may be a place for them, but not in the context of desperate need for deliverance we are in now.

    I still find it hard to believe that you would subscribe to this fantasy world McKenna promoted. I respect anyone’s interest in the possibility that entheogens could play a role in a planetary awakening, however unlikely that might be. But I think it is at this point no more likely than cold fusion or a host of other wish fulfillment fantasies.

  66. Dear Mike K,

    Let us encourage more imagination, especially of the scientific sort, and also more ‘outside the box’ thinking.



  67. Mike K –

    I have not read Deep Green Resistance, but I probably should and will look for it. My hunch is that I will disagree with a lot of it. Not because I have an alternative grand plan, but because I deeply mistrust human motivations at this time.

    The revolutionists are human too, just like those they seek to overthrow. If, as I suspect, the root of the problem is in “us” just as strongly as it is in “them” then the new order will be a differently dressed version of the old order. We don’t have time for any more of that pattern. I think the required transformation is political and social, but even more deeply human. Thus spiritual and psychological transformation is also part of the mix. Transformation is not the same as change. Change takes time. Transformation, as I mean it, is nearly instantaneous. As fast as “I changed my mind.” That’s what makes transformation our best hope. It happens that fast.

    Steve – “How do we get from where we are now to a non-fossil fuel economy?”

    I wish I knew! But even more, I wish I knew that that in itself would be enough. There are other ways to do damage, such as scaling up nuclear fission to replace oil and coal as sources of electricity for electric cars.

    The only thing I can come up with that is fast enough and has enough of an impact is for all of us to hugely scale down our demands and desires. In the USA at least, our material “way of life” is considered non-negotiable.

    It may still feel like an impossible thing to achieve, but at least it is possible in a practical sense. There are a few people who are slowing down, making do with less, living very, very lightly, consuming very little, traveling very little, and yet living well. I think the Earth can support that.

    This can not be imposed on anyone. It happens freely or it doesn’t happen at all. So it probably won’t happen. But it might. All we have to do is to overcome our internal resistance to having and being less. No small psychological achievement, but possible.

    I think that if we all just did it, those who depend on us to consume what they produce would be bereft. They would then likely try to impose on us the consumption of that which we no longer want or need, or try to commodify that which is currently provided by natural systems (air, water, soil, food). This is already happening in many ways (e.g. patents on seeds, massive bottled water operations drawing down aquifers) and many opportunities for determined fidelity to a simpler life in balance with natural systems are appearing and will appear. Outcome never clear.

    I am not very well read on these things, and have a lot to learn. But I do hope that we can shift our attention a bit away from ourselves and onto the natural world, to learn from it not just from human knowledge bases. The Earth has so much to teach us about living in balance. I think it displays the wisdom and tenacity and resilience and cooperation and interdependence that we humans are rapidly trying to forget.

    Finally, I have a very slow dialup connection and a 10-year old computer with a bad keyboard (it has taken me a couple of hours to get this down with all the typos needing correction!), so I do not spend much time online or on discussion forums, but I do find this conversation interesting and hope to drop in now and then if it continues.

    best wishes to all.

  68. Steve — I don’t mean to underestimate the positive potentials of enteogenic research, having been involved in it myself. Here is something I published on James Oroc’s website (which I recommend) — “Only it has been my observation in myself and others that one of the compromising effects of entheogenic ingestion is an unnatural and untrue inflation of the ego’s drive towards omnipotence resulting in (usually temporary) delusions of grandeur. My own feeling is that these transcendent experiences need to be subject to a secondary process of evaluation and integration in order to yield their profound benefits for our ongoing spiritual development. Traditional practices such as meditation, study, selfless service, open sharing with others on the quest, etc. can help stabilize, and even deepen and clarify the impact of the entheogenic sessions. In the absence of these efforts, the ego may be all too ready to appropriate our experiences for its own inferior purposes.”

  69. JohnC — I like what you are sharing. You have a sincere interest in the problems we are considering. I feel sure that reading Deep Green Resistance would give you a deeper understanding of the issues and possibilities in our present difficult situation.

  70. Dear Mike K,

    Terrance McK had a lot to say. The energy he spent on enteogenic research struck me as a waste of time really. If we set that aside, how do you view the fruits of a fertile imagination?

    Dear John C,

    Stick around.



  71. Steve — Imagination is an essential tool for creative work, but unless it is in service to reason and reality it can lead to delusion and error.

  72. Dear Mike K,

    There is nothing in your statement with which I could or would disagree.



  73. Steve — I’m glad we are on the same page on this one. I respect your opinions.

  74. It appears to me that there are several things we can at least begin to think about: learn how to live without fossil fuels; adapt to the end of economic growth; substitute a steady-state economy for the one we have now; stabilize human population numbers worldwide; and deal with the relentless dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the reckless degradation of its environs, the wanton extirpation of its biodiversity as well as confront other human-induced threats to our planetary home as a fit place for human habitation. In any event, I trust most of us can agree that stealing the birthright of children everywhere, mortgaging their future, and exposing them and life as we know it to danger cannot somehow be construed as the right things to be doing.

    We have to think clearly and as keep our wits about us as we move away from big-business-as-usual practices to a way of life that embraces true sustainability, I suppose. Perhaps necessary changes to more sustainable lifestyles and right-sized corporate enterprises are in the offing.

    Thank you.

  75. Mike K.–

    Allow me a moment to be pedantic about your last comment? Imagination in ‘service’ of reason–or anything else–isn’t the imagination I recognize as part of the human experience.

  76. Steve E. — Einstein used his fantasy or daydream of riding a beam of light to help construct the special theory of relativity. Kekule used his daydream of a snake swallowing its tail to discover the form of the benzene ring. These were cases where productions of the imagination were used for real world purposes. On the other hand the ‘son of sam’ used imagined instructions from the Devil to murder people. On a deeper level we have the theory of Maya in Indian philosophy. Then there is the basic technique in Tibetan dream yoga where one constantly reminds oneself during the waking day “This is a dream.”

  77. mike k–

    Yes, of course. Didn’t mean to suggest that imagination hasn’t served us or that you didn’t have a clear & thorough working definition of it (both of which your examples clearly illustrate!).

    I was thinking in terms of the context of this discussion, i.e. the multitude of paradigm shifts, etc, that would have to take place in order to achieve the vision Jensen conceives of in his article. And I suppose what I wonder about is the extent to which our imaginations, which, as you point out can illuminate our universe & also run counter to our best interests–well, can these imaginations of ours be harnessed in ways that will better adapt us to the planet? Or is this way of thinking just a further refinement, as Jensen in some ways seems to argue (in other columns, if not exclusively in this one), of the worldview that has brought us to such unprecedented environmental problems in the first place.

    Pulled this Einstein quote from wikipedia, which I found interesting (& which probably is illustrative of my own limited understanding of these matters, but I digress…): “In our endeavor to understand reality we are somewhat like a man trying to understand the mechanism of a closed watch. He sees the face and the moving hands, even hears its ticking, but he has no way of opening the case. If he is ingenious he may form some picture of a mechanism which could be responsible for all the things he observes, but he may never be quite sure his picture is the only one which could explain his observations. He will never be able to compare his picture with the real mechanism and he cannot even imagine the possibility or the meaning of such a comparison. But he certainly believes that, as his knowledge increases, his picture of reality will become simpler and simpler and will explain a wider and wider range of his sensuous impressions. He may also believe in the existence of the ideal limit of knowledge and that it is approached by the human mind. He may call this ideal limit the objective truth.”

  78. Dear Mike K and Steve E,

    Thanks for the helpful dialogue. Keep going….


    Steve S

  79. Interesting article. Although I agree with most of the content, the dismissal of today’s green alternatives seems a bit over the top. A stepwise improvement in technology is better than none at all. I’d hate to dismiss wind and sun energy so completely without another feasible alternative. Maybe we could make more headway with these green technologies if the the government subsidized the average homeowner and car owner the way they do the fossil fuel industry. We need to make living green more afordsble to the average citizen.

    Regarding dams, i commed the thought but wonder where is the money going to come from to do all these removals?

  80. I’m going to spew as much carbon as I can, live it up while I can, because pretty soon I won’t even be able to drive down town to go the bank or eat dinner. It’ll happen. How soon? We’re as obstinate and stupid as we are compassionate and intelligent. That’s why we are like deer in the headlights.

  81. You open with “THERE ISN’T A CHANCE in hell that something like the original Wilderness Act could be passed today. Environmentalists today are too much on the defensive.” Derek, this is the kind of charge that makes it impossible to take you seriously. The Wilderness Act passed an urban-dominated, Democrat-dominated House and Congress in a completely different time. Idaho elected wilderness champion Frank Church for years. South Dakota elected George McGovern. I don’t take anything away from the David Browers and other legitimate heroes of the conservation movement, but when you open up with a charge that suggests we’re all cowardly pieces of crap because today’s John Boehner-led House wouldn’t hold hearings on legislation that easily passed in 1964, it does nothing to make me want to keep reading. The shame is I think you have something worthwhile to say. But your lack of context and perspective get in the way of your message.

  82. We cannot create a just, decentralized, anti-authoritarian, democratic socialist society using violent, coercive authoritarian tactics. The means are the end.

    The only way we can change our societies from the bottom up is unrelenting non-cooperation. We must turn our backs on the dominant society and create our own societies at the local level, based on local economies, local production for local consumption and complentary, reciprocal relationships with local environments.

    We must not consume more than can be naturally replenished nor produce more waste than can be naturally dispersed and neutralized. We must live within natural cycles of resource abundance and scarcity.

    Such a society cannot be imposed by the few on the many, it must grow of itself.

    “Until they become conscious, they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled, they can never become conscious.” George Orwell

  83. Derrick is always thought-provoking and I’m glad he pushes the envelope. We must. But, if you actually follow the vision he lays out in this piece to its conclusion, he is essentially advocating the apocalypse. Contrast this essay to the brilliant one in two parts by James Gustav Speth in recent issues. He writes: Important here is a “theory of change.” The theory adopts the view that people act out of both fear and love—to avoid disaster and to realize a dream or positive vision. The theory affirms the centrality of hope and hope’s victory over despair. It locates the plausibility of hope in knowledge—knowing that many people will eventually rise up and fight for the things that they love; knowing that history’s constant is change, including deep, systemic change; and knowing that we understand enough to begin the journey, to strike out in the right directions, even if the journey’s end is a place we have never been.”
    The problem with Derrick’s vision is not only is it a place we’ve never been, but it is a place few would want to go if its utopian goals were realized.

    If the way to save the earth is to willingly destroy our own civilization, why not just keep doing what we are doing? We will end up in the same place, won’t we? Collapse.

    And so we have a conundrum. We in the fight are trying to make change happen. Speth’s goals are no less ambitious and impossible but they are born of hope, not nihilism. They require radically remaking society but they offer a vision of something positive. That is where we must be if we are to have any hope of lasting change.

    Maybe at the end of the day all roads lead to collapse, and the earth, what is left of it, will have to heal itself over millenia. But Derrick’s prescription is essentially a cop-out. By advocating that which can never, perhaps should never, be accomplished, we abdicate responsibility to do what is potentially life-saving.

    At the end of the day people will walk the labyrinth if they think there is a hope, however remote, of getting out. Without hope, they will simply despair — and do nothing.

  84. Dave S. raises a good point. And I ask in response what is different about Idaho and South Dakota today? What has changed to give us men like Butch Otter and Jon Tester and Danny Rehberg where once we had statesmen like George McGovern and Frank Church? Something dramatic shifted in our collective culture and it is really important, I think, to examine what that is and reverse it. Derrick is right. We couldn’t pass the ESA or the Wilderness Act today. We in DC spend all our time trying to keep the achievements of the past as this Congress whittles away at them rather than passing their own legacy bills. How do we elect people like Church and McGovern and Chafee and and others who are better than they to address these issues?

  85. Jason — How do we elect people like Church and McGovern? No way. Washington is too terminally corrupt and the people are to deeply asleep for that. We had possibilities of electing an honest man as president: Ralph Nader. He stood for everything that sane people want from their government. He didn’t stand a chance.

  86. Dan W, Dave S — You may not be aware of the analysis that Jensen is coming from. He believes that civilization is going to collapse in the near future; indeed it is already in the process of doing so. Neither green technology nor legislative tactics are going to prevent our unsustainable culture from self destructing. Those who feel that everything will work out ok if we just do x or y to fix things are living in wishful delusion. The unpleasant truth is that in truly dire circumstances like ours pessimism is realism. Industrial civilization is crashing and no amount of tinkering is going to fix it. This is because its basic premises are unsustainable. If one sees this, then one’s choices will be based on realities and not addictive pipe dreams.

  87. Michael A. Lewis — Creating a utopian counterculture community here and there will not stop the power elites from destroying the world. Also, the vast majority of Americans have no intention to scale back their consumerist lifestyles in any way whatever.

  88. The power elites cannot destroy the world. They can contribute to changes that will make it very unpleasent for humans, but “the world” will continue.

    The majority is only a majority until change overtakes them and they become the minority.

    Being the change prepares the way.

  89. Michael Lewis — The power elites are destroying the human world. Millions have died already in this century from their activities. What assures you they will not destroy us all? Their nuclear arsenals alone could probably do the job, even without the unstoppable engineered biological plagues. Runaway global warming could give us temperatures like those on Venus. The exponentially escalating capabilities of technology will easily be capable of mass extermination, if not already there. DARPA is using the best and brightest to design ever more lethal weapons. Billions have died as the result of the madness of our so-called elites over the brief history of humankind. Childish optimism is no defense against their anti-life agendas. You are living on a planet under the control of madmen. Wake up!

  90. I wonder if my recent comment has been censored?

  91. I would appreciate an explanation of why my response to Michael Lewis has not been published?

  92. The best synopsis I have read on the most pressing and important series of issues we are confronted with.

    It is evident that as societies and cultures manifested to vast urban zones, deterioration of values also manifested, falling out of cadence with the collective, inter connective pulse of life’s natural momentum. Nature’s non-human life forms became secondary, as humankind’s living designs sought separation from Earth’s natural offerings thereby creating vulnerability in a myriad of forms and dimensions. As this vulnerability grew more precarious the trend developed to ignore its potential effects on the total environmental picture, which eventually expanded into the ongoing destructive cycle we are now experiencing.

    Selfishness is the key ingredient that stalls the enthusiastic embrace of solutions. Materialism and monetary positions are now the dominate rule. The joys and importance of nature, its beauty and display of life must somehow move to a position of equal love, understanding and acceptance. We are presently hugging our gadgets seeking enlightenment in circuit boards and buttons. As a species it is necessary to re-connect with nature, re-discover the love bond that created us and offers introspection far exceeding human manufactured devices.

    Great job Derrick. I’m impressed and motivated.

  93. Investigating our Political, Environmental and Social culture on a global scale has challenged my ideals and assumptions about our everyday choices. Our current economic climate, worldwide and at grassroots level has led me to question our relationship with this fragile planet, globalisation, mass production and consumerism. My ultimate goal, through my work would be to encourage people to think about their choices as a first step to changing their behaviour.
    Through the art of seduction, misleading information and current fashion trends, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements and propaganda that entice us to make choices that have huge implications on our planet and its resources. Like the proverbial ‘canary in the coalmine’, and as a visual artist, my objective would be to highlight these cultural issues, by engaging visually and ideologically with the viewer.

  94. Hello Mike K.

    The power elites are limited by finite sources of energy and the willingness of the masses to accept their hegemony. Their time in power is short.

    Humans who do not cooperate with the power elite, who manage their own energy, who grow their own food, who locally produce their own goods and services will persist.

    When we fight against those in power, we give up our power and control to them. We give them the excuses they seek to oppress us and take away our freedom and liberty.

    When we turn our backs on those on power, we retain our power, our freedom, our liberty to ourselves, to use locally to benefit our fellow community members. We define ourselves in our own communities. We do not accept definition by those from afar who do not have our best interests at heart.

    The more we focus on their power, the less we develop our own.

    Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water,
    Yet nothing can better overcome the hard and strong,
    For nothing can control or do away with it.

    The soft overcomes the hard,
    The yielding overcomes the strong;
    Every person knows this,
    But few practice it.
    – Lao tzu

  95. I wholeheartedly agree with and back Derrick’s Declaration but the fly in the ointment, as usual, is the Frederick Douglass maxim that” those in power never give up that power willingly- it must be taken from them.”

    How to do that is the Rosetta Stone that defies decryption.

  96. Michael, Samuel — Lao Tzu is one of my favorite guys. But when it comes to stopping a powerful clique who are destroying the very basis of life on Earth, his patient methods would be too little, too late. The rapid degradation of our environment does not give us oodles of time to stop it before things like global warming become unstoppable disasters. Derrick Jensen along with two of his friends has recently published a book: Deep Green Resistance that proposes a plan to stop those most responsible for our ongoing disaster, and bring the fatal progression of our so-called civilization to a stop. The book goes thoroughly into the reasons that small numbers modeling a healthy lifestyle will be ineffective in stopping the juggernaut of corporate destruction. As in the civil rights movement here in America, and the Antiapartheid resistance in South Africa, direct confrontation with oppressors is often the only way to derail them. The book outlines plausible scenarios to create this kind of resistance and carry it out. And in my opinion Frederick Douglass was spot on. Those in power will never let go of it unless made to do so. Misuse of power has brought our planet to this sorry pass. It is time to do something real and effective to stop it.

  97. I could not agree with this manefesto more. Sooner or later, if we are to survive on this planet, we will have to begin living as we should have been living all along. Conservation must become our way of life globally. We can no longern take from the earth without giving back. We need to immediately stop depleting our precious and life-sustaining natural resources which are in finite supply, for non-essential, highly polluting, fossil fuels which are also in finite supply. Eventually we will have to invest in safe, clean, renewable energy. The sooner we understand that and take serious steps toward that, the better all life our planet will be. We owe that to our children, our children’s children, and ourselves.

  98. Sadly, I almost entirely agree with this list of demands. What a messed-up world we live in. This is the only sentence with which I have an issue: “The list of activities to be halted must also include the manufacture of photovoltaic panels, windmills, hybrid cars, and so on.” Explain why these things are on the list?

  99. God Himself would have trouble with that wish list! I cannot, and would not want to, disagree with any item on it, but in real terms, not a chance of the corporations that control the world governments ever willingly co-operating. More’s the pity!

  100. I don’t agree that our present day culture is incapable of less consumerism. The counter culture has grown exponentially in some areas of the country and also globally. As the benefits of a more frugal approach to life emerge response will escalate. Sages and spiritual teachers have long taught the values and rewards of an ascetic life. It may seem unrealistic gauging conditions presently, displaying a culture mired in corporate greed and political corruption. However, the human species has proven historically to be evolutionary and adaptable to change, often toward betterment. This new age of unsurpassed technical growth can eventually find level, gaining balance and meaningful direction, discovering applications toward selective, purposeful and beneficial usage, overpowering wastefulness.

    We are all we have, and it is we/us that will and can make our world more habitable and harmonious.

  101. Mr. Jensen is dreaming. It will take industrial technology to carry out the massive ecological restoration he is proposing. But I don’t care. Sign me up!

  102. I would demand an complete takeover of all media by those who agree w Derrick’s demands.People have been so brainedwashed by so many years of Corporate propaganda that they will have great difficulty understanding how things will change..No more trips to Walmart buying all those things that the Prophet George Carlin said does not make anyone happy anyhow

  103. Welcome back Griz. You surely don’t believe Derrick is seriously thinking any of these wishes will come true? It is obvious that such will never come to pass. Maybe when pigs fly. His object is to say: quit trying to do the impossible, it’s a waste of precious energy. His real answer is in the book Deep Green Resistance, which is a manual for revolution against our oppressive civilization, before it destroys what is left of the world.

  104. Right Jean. I think Derrick forgot to add two words at the end of his demands: OR ELSE!

  105. But Raymond G. how are you going to stop those who are destroying our world? There is not much time to save it…

  106. Dave Green– You are so right. Since the powers that be are unwilling to change, we have to make them.

  107. “… we demand that women be given absolute economic, sexual, and reproductive freedom, and that all forms of reproductive control become freely available to all.”

    “Reproductive freedom/control” has come to mean both birth control and abortion. One is preventive, and the other destroys human life. Is this treatise in favor of preserving the planet, its mineral, plant and animal life, but not its human life? If yes, could the writer be more specific as to his intent?

  108. I have been discussing these issues for years with people I know, and invariably there is the feeling that you can’t change things. But we haven’t even tried. We MUST convince our leaders of the need for these changes, and we MUST demonstrate and make it clear that our very lives are at stake.

  109. I belive in your vision. But:
    The arms?, the drugwar in México?, more than 60 000 deads in 6 years, you must legalice the drugs or make the war in you land.The banks and the money from the drug traffic. We are the same, the american peopole, some times, have the problem to see us.

  110. For a very long time we, the earth, have been operating on a seductive concept that Derrick Jensen is smashing to pieces. And rightly so!
    What is uncomfortable to me are the bits of truth embedded in the rubble. I don’t think (and maybe it’s I don’t want) to lose those nuggets of truth.
    The concept I’m talking about is the never ending collision of nature and culture. For epochs of time, nature and culture have crashed into each other like ice bergs and ships. At each incident, the violence of the collision causes a ripple effect that reaches into the entire universe. The universe might not feel or recognize the impact but it’s effects are set in motion and the consequences of that impact are still going on.
    Let’s say the state (culture) decides to build a new road and to do that they condemn (an ironic term) a farmer’s land (nature) to make room for the new road. At the instant these two forces, nature and culture, impact as series of adjustments must be made. There are three adjustments. Both nature and culture must discover how they will survive. Literally speaking, how can they continure to live. And even thousands of years ago nature or culture did not survive. We know more about the loss of culture because they leave better artifacts.
    Once survival is assured, then the quest for creativity to strengthen or enhance the quality of survival begins. Under the umbrella of survival, culture quickly develops resources like mathematics, chemistry, physics, metalurgy, construction concepts, agriculture, resource development (mining, dams, roads, drilling,warfare) all done on the conscious and subconscious levels to prepare for the next nature/culture collision.
    Nature, for the most part, takes advantage of the mistakes and arrogance of culture. Dams built to control flooding but without any knowledge of the fluid dymanics or the function of flood plains create disasters out of the natural power they were supposed to control. Other arrogant behaviors are unsound gathering of natural resources, drilling on fault lines, dumping of mining tilings into watersheds, building housing in reoccuring fire zones and exhaustive comsuption of the most fragile irreplaceable resources. Because nature seemed so vast and so powerful, greed and easy access overwhelmed thoughtfulness and consequences.
    With time there appeared to be a restoration of normalcy. or at least the growing power of culture and its technology told people.
    And so the third phase of the “healing process” begins to appear. This phase is spirituality. No longer is the clash between anture and culture a “them against us” competition. Sefments of culture start looking at themselves and asking questions; who are we? what are we doing? what gives us the right to do these things?
    And so for a lot of people, ethics and morality take presedence over comsumption and wealth. It would seem that culture is now caught in a pincer movement, but technology, wealth, and power are powerful tools against nature.
    Culture is always as harmful as its technology allows. Nature is vulnerable because it can’t get out of culture’s way.
    The old days of nature rebounding and healing through survival, creativity and spirituality are almost gone. The idea these three actions should be in play is getting eaten up by culture’s ignoring the need for survival. placing all its eggs in the basket of creativity (technology), and total disregard for the need for spirituality.

  111. An important addition to this declaration :
    We further demand that all raw sewage, untreated effluent and grey water effluent being pumped into the oceans of the world be stopped immediately.
    The building of treatment plants for all wastewaters must be initiated immediately and standards of water treatment MUST meet or exceed sustainable bio-standards for the globe as soon as is humanly possible.
    We demand that all chemical testing, dumping and other abuses to our Mother oceans be permanently ceased and all available resources be applied to clean up the gross toxic impact that all countries have inflicted upon this integral bio-resource.
    We further demand that all wetlands be restored as quickly as humanly possible as a means to repair our ionospheres and environmental balance on the planet. This includes removing cities from the everglades of Florida and allowing the natural balancing and restorative properties of undisturbed wetlands to again control the ozone layers and carbon recycling for the planet.
    And finally, the recklessly growing population of this planet will from this day forward take second place to the future of this planet. No generation will ever again be allowed to sacrifice the quality of future generations lives to further their own agendas.

  112. Walter Logue — Excellent amendments! Reminds me of the Declaration of Independence. Now, as with that former document, we must decide how we will force the government/corporate interests to conform to our wishes. It is obvious that at this time they show no inclination whatever to accede to our wishes. Demands must be backed up by force, or they are worse than useless, serving only a feel good or letting off steam function.

  113. Jorge — The so-called drug war is just one more atrocity being pursued by our corrupt government. We need to totally replace our present regime with something that truly serves all the people, not just a handful of parasites. When enough people wake up to how cruel and unjust our rulers are, maybe we can get rid of them and institute a real democracy instead of the sham we are currently suffering under.

  114. Don Hudson — I like that you understand the crucial role of spirituality in any worthwhile solution to our escalating problems. The world is as we are. The without is a reflection of the within. Unless we proceed from a deep spiritual basis, we labor in vain. It is the hubris of unspiritual egos that has produced our present flawed culture. Only action guided by true spiritual principles can save our world.

  115. I wish every person who reads that article would research (Google) what Europe and many of its countries have been doing to establish a better society, health and living conditions, nature, energy for a generation already. It’s not hard to find what they have already accomplished. There are many governments and millions of people there that are already slowly changing the ways we do business. And no, they aren’t perfect, but they are acting. The point I’d like to make is that no revolutionary human transformation needs to be made in America. Europeans are just as silly, bellicose, and weak as we are, but they trust our world’s scientists and the data they’ve given to us much more than Americans do. Is it religious fervor that keeps the majority of Americans helpless and unable to make changes? I can even hear religious extremism in this article’s call for you to make everything right, in the need to make everything perfect before any action takes place. The refusal to nominate a Green party person to government is a pretty good indication that there is no willingness to work your ideas into reality. Every community could begin to build a Green party if, as he suggests, the majority really wants to live well with each other and all living things.

  116. Anne Paust — The feeling of powerlessness that so many feel is very convenient for our rulers. Those in the grip of these illusory feelings disempower themselves and represent no challenge to these elite’s disastrous programs of pillage and oppression. To wake people up to this is difficult, but it must be done. Keep trying… Thanks for your efforts.

  117. Joan S. — I think Jensen’s intention in his essay is provocative. He is fully aware that to merely call for these changes will not affect the power elite one whit. Until we wake up and really back up or demands, nothing will change. The scant public support for the Green Party is an indicator of how fast asleep people are, while they are being systematically robbed and their planet destroyed. How to awaken these sleepers is our real problem.

  118. I think people are generally afraid of violent confrontation and are looking for ways to persuade our leaders and perhaps regulate the corporations into a sane policy going forward. But the leaders want to hold on to their power for the short term, and the corporations want to hold on to their wealth for the short term. I am hoping that information and truth widely disseminated to the general population should be our next step – if the people REALLY KNEW, wouldn’t they demand change?

  119. People’s halfhearted “solutions” to our problems are really little more than evasions. I think of Gandhi’s letter to Hitler suggesting he stop his rampage across Europe. He was really dismayed when he got no response. Or the gradualism that King and his supporters rejected and chose instead direct confrontation. Or the sufragettes who put their bodies on the line and resorted to arson in order to demand their rights. The end of apartheid in South Africa was not accomplished without loss of life on both sides. The Occupy Movement gave hope to many because it dared defiance of authority and the unjust laws it imposes. At what point do we resist a tyrannical government?

  120. We hold these truths to be self evident: that rights and responsibilities are two sides of the same coin, and that making demands of the sky is the act of an infant.

    Twenty years ago I founded a wild salmon conservation group and found they were fighting fierce economic (energy) tides generally and the banks are at the root specifically.

    Learn, Derek, do not bleat. This system must be replaced, but time to step out of the frame that humans and environment are separate. Read: How Much Is Enough by Robert Skidelsky.

    Your: Demands for Them is the statement of a consumer. Try being a citizen, for we all see Rome is burning.

    We have numb A and dumb B running to get inside the presidential bubble. Think outside the bubble, like the soy132 students did in Mexico. But Better.

    We need to pop that bubble whatever the case, or it does not matter who is running the surveillance state.

  121. Chinook — Read Deep Green Resistance by Derrick and others, and you will see that he is willing to back up his demands with action and with force. His essays in Orion are for a certain audience; one that may not be ready yet for a more openly revolutionary message. Thanks for your thoughts on this.

  122. Derrick’s demands are all well and good, and it’s obvious at this stage of American history that the United States is a corporatized military police state rather than a democratic republic – an empire intent, in the Pentagon’s own words, on Full Spectrum Dominance. There needs to be a mass change of consciousness to effect re-localization efforts across all sectors of society – economic, political, agricultural and food production, local manufacturing, etc. Given the fact that Western societies have been brainwashed and conditioned for the last 100 years to consume as much as possible, it’s highly doubtful that anywhere near a majority of Americans will wake up and change their lifestyles, let alone demanding real and meaningful change in their “elected officials” and federal government.

    That being said, I disagree with this statement in Derrick’s article and think it’s nothing more than Green/Environmental Fascism: “Those whose economic activities cause great harm—including great harm to the real, physical world—should be punished. Environmental Crimes Tribunals must be immediately put in place to try those who have significantly harmed the real, physical world.”

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
    ─Buckminster Fuller

  123. I’m not sure about hoping that individuals will push this along. In the countries which are actually working on energy solutions, countries which aren’t afraid of making global deals which aren’t ideal, it seems to me that governments are putting the stamp of approval on energy policies, no matter who initially puts them together. This site in one example. Jeremy Rifkin is an extreme personality but he’s been working with the European parliament for years on creating a massive alternative energy system which is actually being applied to the entire city of Rome right now.

  124. Kozandaichi — I agree with most of your comments, but in our present state of development I believe we need laws, and laws without penalties are ineffective. I cannot agree that corporate criminal polluters should not incur the penalties due for violating our laws. This is one of the few ways they are constrained to a small degree from their destructive activities.

    “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
    ─Buckminster Fuller

    You can put new models out there until the cows come home, and it will not alter the greedy behaviors of corporate America one whit. Sometimes you have to fight for basic changes. And many of our important rights and beneficial laws have been the result of people fighting for them. Hitler was not stopped by new models, but by armed force.

  125. Joan S. — When civilization proceeds further into catastrophic collapse, all the pipe dreams of alternative energy providing for our present level of unsustainable energy use will go down with it. Its going to take a lot of air conditioners to cool a planet with runaway global warming! I suggest reading the Archdruid Report for a realistic evaluation of the limitations of alternative energy schemes which is based on physics rather than wish fulfillment and corporate greed. Thanks for your comments.

  126. That is such a debilitating comment, filled with frightening “superior race” elements. Again, perhaps you should tell the Europeans (and even the Chinese for that matter), that what they’re doing on a massive scale, is naive and deluded, that their civilization is proceeding into catastrophic collapse, and that they too should now give in to corporate America. Do you also believe in the Rapture and Second Coming? Please do some research.

  127. Joan S. — I am at a loss to understand what you mean by “superior race elements” in my comments. I referred to civilization collapsing, not to any specific group. I am not a believer in the Rapture or in the Second Coming, however neither do I believe that techno-fixes are going to solve all our escalating problems in some yet to be seen future. Which of these imagined futures is the most improbable is pretty much a toss up in my mind.

  128. To Anne Proust,
    I think the problem is a severe fundamental break between what is known and what is believed. Like Derrick says, “if people really believed their water comes from rivers and lakes and their food really comes from the land, then they would fight to the death to defend their water and land”. Although they KNOW his they don’t BELIEVE it. No one knows God but millions believe in him/her. What’s more powerful, knowledge or belief?
    It seems to me Derrick Jensen is arguing for a complete CHANGE in belief systems.

  129. When someone says that the work of millions of people and many nations is just “pipe dreams” (fantsies brought on by smoking funny stuff in a pipe) it usually is condescending to those people and their work. How did you expect houses (which are the results of tool-work or technology) to be insulated and their energy use lowered, vehicles built for mass transit using electricity or hydrogen, farms and farming introduced to buildings and city yards, deserts “farmed” for solar power and then stored and transmitted to cities (ongoing as we speak) tidal power captured, geothermal heat, wind power and solar panels built up, without technology? Every new idea of humankind has been a translation of an inspiration into an act -whether that act uses paint, stone, wind, water, wood or shells. Once we stop acting out of hope, we will surely die. Every single building on the planet and its surrounding area has the potential to use one or another of these sources of alternative energy and then to transmit the excess to a local grid, just like the Internet currently transfers data (energy). This is what the entire city of Rome is engaged in doing right now. Is this a pipe dream? Of course our solutions will get more sophisticated as we go along. And of course humanity is slow to realize its faults and knuckle down to work. But we can’t move forward with pessimistic people who secretly hope for the “end of civilization”, very often from personal despair and ignorance of what others are actually doing. Please take a few minutes and look up the web sites I mentioned. I think that’s all I really have to contribute to this discussion.

  130. Joan, I looked up the Rifkin link, and saw only self-promotion, nothing about Rome. Do you have a direct link to the stuff happening in Rome?

    The folks gathered here following the thoughts Jensen puts forth generally do not think that doing more and more meddling (even if the meddling is sorta “green”) is the way to go… Pillaging the earth in the name of “green” is still pillaging. And frankly, Rome (or any other city) could cut its energy needs to a fraction of what is used if people were willing to do things differently, sanely. My 2 cents.

  131. Joan S. — Your contributions to our discussion are respected and welcome. But you have to realize that not everyone is as optimistic about our future as you are. There is a growing body of knowledge that says we are in very serious trouble, and that our feeble attempts to deal with these pressing problems are totally inadequate to solve them. Complacency is a dangerous attitude in the face of clear and present dangers. Many of us are like children clinging to our toys, and willing to entertain any fantasy however unrealistic that promises to solve things magically, so that we can avoid growing up and making the hard decisions and choices that are really called for.

    We are in a historical period when the authority of religion and its pretensions to solve all our problems is no longer accepted by many modern people. Science has taken religion’s place as the magical answer to our desires. So, many are comforted when their precious lifestyles are threatened, and think “Not to worry, science will come up with an answer.” Then when scientists warn us that they don’t have a fix for our dangerous situation, except to advise us to cut back on our excessive consumptive lifestyles, we say these scientists are just being “pessimistic”. False hope is a dangerous substitute for the truth. Remember: True things are not always nice, and nice things are not always true.

  132. Just a tired list of complaints masked as a petition. But to whom? Reading this makes me feel powerless and unfocused as though there is some faceless cause of this list of bad things. Better that we each and all roll up our sleeves and work through the challenges directly in front of us.

    There is a direct relationship between courage and creativity. When discouraged or discouraging others, creativity and will fades. When encouraged and encouraging others, personal and collective power has a foundation.

    Derrick, consider the effect on others when you complain.

  133. One of the chief reasons for our present crisis is that most people are impaired in the ability to look at, accept, and process bad news. The mechanism of denial kicks in unconsciously, automatically, when we are told things we do not want to hear. A whole range of defense mechanisms go into action to preserve our sense that everything is ok, and the unpleasant reality does not really need to be attended to. Most people are unaware that the interested industries have recently spent millions to fund groups that sing the lullabies of climate change denial to the masses. They have been successful over the last three years in changing public opinion on this issue. One of the prime agents in this campaign has been the same PR group that was hired years ago to persuade the public that cigarettes were not harmful to one’s health. Of course this was very soothing news to those addicted to smoking.

  134. Ozzie Zehner’s ‘Green Illusions’ Ruffles Feathers

    If his goal was to capture attention by tweaking the nose of clean-energy enthusiasts everywhere, Ozzie Zehner might well have succeeded. His new book, published last month and provocatively titled Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism, takes on what Zehner considers the sacred cows of the green movement: solar power, wind power and electric vehicles, among others.

    Of course, the book is much more than just this, and Zehner, a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley’s Science, Technology & Society Center, describes himself as being neither for nor against any particular energy source. Indeed, his core objection appears to be with technology fixes in general, or the conviction that any bit of technological derring-do — be it a high-efficiency photovoltaic cell or a low-emissions vehicle — will be sufficient to nudge the planet from unpleasant trajectories like global warming. ….

  135. The Conversion of a Climate-Change Skeptic

    “CALL me a converted skeptic. Three years ago I identified problems in previous climate studies that, in my mind, threw doubt on the very existence of global warming. Last year, following an intensive research effort involving a dozen scientists, I concluded that global warming was real and that the prior estimates of the rate of warming were correct. I’m now going a step further: Humans are almost entirely the cause.

    “My total turnaround, in such a short time, is the result of careful and objective analysis by the Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature project, which I founded with my daughter Elizabeth. Our results show that the average temperature of the earth’s land has risen by two and a half degrees Fahrenheit over the past 250 years, including an increase of one and a half degrees over the most recent 50 years. Moreover, it appears likely that essentially all of this increase results from the human emission of greenhouse gases….”

  136. Those who choose to focus on one particular facet of our global problems are often in denial of the significance of many other areas of our slide into chaos. It is hard for people to recognize that our entire civilization is riddled with corruption and destructive activities, and is headed for a horrific crash. How much more pleasant to dream of a land where never is heard a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day! Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it is tolling for all of us. Time to wake up and face the mountains of bad karma we have accumulated. The bill has come due for all our crimes and excesses. Nemesis demands her payment. Face the truth and make the necessary changes…or else.

  137. The truth is that all the scientists in the world cannot give an accurate figure for the future course of global warming. Chaos theory tells us this is an indeterminable value due to the extreme complexity and interdependent nature of the factors involved. Some scientists are predicting a much sooner and more severe rise, and no one can gainsay them. The potential release of methane from the frozen tundra alone must give us pause. That butterfly might turn out to be more like a monster pterodactyl!

  138. Transcendent & masterful vision. Huzzah! But not a chance in hell. Narrow down to 3 campaign issues per election. Let’s get it done in next 12 years. It’s simple – we evolve the people & our planet, or we lose our physical place to be, hanging here for centuries without hugs waiting for Earth to clean up memories of how human beings screwed up.

  139. David M, interesting and well made vid, that Rifkin thing. Funny he never mentions those whose empathy is damaged or absent, as they flatline on brain scans when presented with emotional visuals. And those are the people who have risen into power. His “we” is a false “we”. We are not all the same, psychologically speaking, and to argue, as he does, that their empathy is merely “suppressed” by bad upbringing or whatever is unwarranted. Nobody knows why they are that way… (He otherwise makes valid points and I agree with him that we need to move in the direction of spreading empathy. But ignoring the problem of power will undermine the project.)

    Peter, what will it take for you to realize that elections no longer hold any promise, and look for other solutions? It boggles the mind… surely you’ve watched the political gridlock and the corrupt shenanigans, and yet you keep on marching to the election tune… (shaking my head)

    Mike, you were particularly eloquent yesterday! :-) Unfortunately, as a friend once told me, people get very angry when you pull the rug out from their hopey-changey thang…

  140. Peter P. — If only elections would do it! But maybe Leo Buscaglia was right: more hugs can save the world. It would answer Rodney King’s plaintive question: Can’t we just get along? Yes, if we indulge in a worldwide Hugathon!

  141. Vera — Anything to stir up a fuss. Discussion needs some fire element. Of course we try to have an extinguisher handy.

    I watched a segment on Through the Wormhole on Can We Eliminate Evil that dealt with the physical basis of socio/psychopathy in brain structure and genetic coding. Turns out these folks can be largely identified through appropriate testing. They really are quite structurally different from most of us. It is unfortunate that our present systems provide such highly placed niches for them.

  142. Mike, indeed it is unfortunate, along with the stubborn insistence of many that everybody is really just nice underneath it all. Recognition is the first step.

  143. Derrick, can I vote for you for president? My representative, my senator? Any office?


    As long as billions of people are willing to believe and practice literalist religions, especially the False Trichotomy of Abrahamic Monotheism, the planet will continue to suffer the consequences in terms of endless wars in the name of patriarchal off-planet deities. And the accompanying environmental destruction due to the lucrative manufacture of arms, fuel for mechanized weapons and delivery systems, troop transport and support, and the ongoing degradation of local right to self-rule.

    Derrick wrote the Afterword to John Lash’s book “Not in His Image” and he’s well aware of fundamentalist/literalist religion’s adversarial role when it comes to honoring diversity – that of both human and non-human life forms on earth.

    Abrahamic Literalists/Dominionists view the “Afterlife” as their true reward for following the teachings of their Books. Learning how to create sustainable communities that honor our relationship to the living planet is way down the list of their priorities.

  145. Please look at some of these sites, especially #1, if you believe that no one and no government anywhere is capable of well thought out, practical though still (human and imperfect) green action.

    SETI means Strategic Energy Technologies Information System, and the SET-Plan is the technology pillar of the EU’s energy and climate policy, adopted by the European Union in 2008. It’s a first step to establish an energy technology policy for Europe with a goal of:

    Accelerating knowledge development, technology transfer and up-take;
    Maintaining EU industrial leadership on low-carbon energy technologies;
    Fostering science for transforming energy technologies to achieve the 2020 Energy and Climate Change goals;
    Contributing to the worldwide transition to a low carbon economy by 2050. Each one of its news articles is loaded with info.

    #2 is the kind of statement a government needs to make to define for itself the pillars on which it wants to build.
    1) grids


  146. Joan: thanks (but no thanks) for not responding.

  147. US prohibition of hemp farming is a national catastrophe.

    “Entire regional economies could grow from a foundation of hemp farming; a natural antidote to the plague of globalization. Superior natural products flowing through jobs that cannot be offshored; wealth that cannot be skimmed and sucked away by casino financialization; local businesses strong enough not to be snuffed by Wal-Mart.

    “Hemp has the power to divert vast corporate profits directly to the people while benefitting life on Earth as only nature can. Any wonder why hemp farming remains banned, 75 years and counting?”

  148. I doubt increased exploitation of a single species will save us–you smell hemp everywhere in Oakland (CA) but it has not brought the milennium with it.

  149. The fact that natural plants such as hemp and marijuana are illegal in the United States of Corporatized Barbarians is yet another indicator of just how divorced this culture is from the natural world. If Americans could wake up and make cultivation and use of hemp and marijuana legal, this would be an important first step in restoring a degree of sanity to an insane culture based on extraction and exploitation. Hemp, marijuana, and natural entheogenic mind expanders are fulcrum points that can lead to awakening on both everyday local and broader spiritual levels. Legalization would do wonders in terms of breaking the corporate empire’s chains of globalized brainwashing and conditioning.

  150. “Just imagine what a critical mass of formerly upright citizens might do if they suddenly saw the whole earth as a temple. “No wonder,” Fadiman writes, “enlightenment is always a crime.””

    “Regardless of whether heretics are visionaries, cranks, or people to whom both labels apply, if their ideas have a certain traction, the powers that be—aka establishments throughout the ages—attempt to silence them through exile, thumbscrews, the stake, incarceration, public ridicule, etc. Such tactics are terribly effective. Which is to say that most accused heretics suffer and are forgotten. But not always. Every once in a while, posthumously or otherwise, one of them topples a paradigm.”

  151. Windmills? Why windmills? There are some good things here – but a number of bad ideas too – there are a number of dams that must come down – but permaculture is to work with what is given with the greatest amount of respect for an equal nature – it is elitism destroying us and dj has hit it – I’d have to ask for more ergonomic progress – if we can’t change it by hand than try and work with it

  152. Vera I don’t look to human empathy as a singular answer, more an expression of the psychological possibilities for wider cooperation. An example of world cooperation that actually happened would be wiping out smallpox, all achieved without having to oppose a human scapegoat group or human “enemy”, just a destructive virus.

    I happen to think overpopulation is critical to our problems but I also recognize it puts one on a collision course when it comes to the matter of human empathy. Terminating unborn “infants” is a condition for a sustainable, healthy society. The contradiction in human empathy terms should be obvious.

    So I would search for a better word that would include empathy like maybe ‘wisdom’, a bit undefined but I haven’t got anything better.

    In any case putting our best foot forward in the simplest possible terms:


  153. Kozan: you are right, of course… just another insanity among all the other insanities…

    David M: yeah, makes sense. And “wisdom” is I think the best way to describe it.


  154. David M — “I happen to think overpopulation is critical to our problems but I also recognize it puts one on a collision course when it comes to the matter of human empathy. Terminating unborn “infants” is a condition for a sustainable, healthy society. The contradiction in human empathy terms should be obvious.”

    Healthy means of curbing the population explosion are a manifestation of empathy, not a problem. Terminating unborn “infants” is NOT a condition for a sustainable, healthy society. Why you are dragging these false ideas and red herrings into the crucial matter of population control is not clear to me. Have the life negative, woman hating obfuscations of the Catholic hierarchy confused you, as they have so many?

  155. Kozan — The “Drug War” is a curse on the health, sanity, and morality of our society. America is now exporting this curse globally to infect world culture. This evil war only serves the purposes of Empire to dominate and enslave millions of innocent people. Those who are complacent or complicit in the face of this outrage have much to answer for. How long do we have to wait for the simplest acts of justice and compassion from our insane rulers?
    Check out this site to learn about an effective movement to end this senseless and evil war:

  156. Kozan — You are right about the negative role that fundamental Abrahamic religious teachings have played in world history. So much blood! So many tortured, killed and enslaved in the name of these evil beliefs and dogmas. These religions have been a dark undercurrent beneath the river of historical unfoldment, perverting the development of a just and loving society at every turn. All the time pretending to be the embodiment of those good things that it is actually destroying. False and deceptive ideas and beliefs have been more deadly than bullets and bombs in the long run. Casting out these lies in oneself is a needed purification on the way to a true spirituality.

  157. Kozan — Thanks for the link to the article about Fadiman and the entheogenic journey. As an early explorer of those inner dimensions, I hope our lost civilization will discover the blessings that these inner encounters with spiritual reality can confer. We need a way into greater depth to save us from our fatal shallowness. I give thanks for the day I embraced being a heretic.

  158. For the past over 250 years now, we have cultivated in ourselves the belief that we can voluntarily “solve our problems” through discipline, action, etc.
    We have cultivated the belief that we are… computers, and not living animals with contradictions, animals whose actions are sometimes unpredictable. That “we” can be reduced to what we consciously think of ourselves, and see of ourselves.
    A certain logic says.. that we will be brought into line in the long run.
    Much of our “public” debate/discussion serves to aggravate our individual sense of helplessness, by exposing the numerous domains that we do NOT control, in a time frame that escapes our comprehension.
    But… in our homes, in our daily lives, we have abandoned our consciousness of perhaps the only power that we ever had.
    Choices present themselves in our daily lives. Those choices have implications beyond what we see or understand of them, and produce effects beyond us.
    How many of us are facing up to this ?
    One last point : we regularly point fingers at our aggressive and selfish impulses, with idealistic calls for cooperation, and more… love in the world..
    I believe that we can’t live vibrant lives without integrating aggressivity and the pleasure that we find in destroying. Our civilization is not helping us on this point.
    We don’t need… better people. The drive to improve us keeps tearing us down, and inculcating debilitating guilt, when not worse. And love ? There is an old saying that the way to hell is paved with good intentions.
    Truer words were never spoken.
    Our modernity looks a lot like some Renaissance… utopias.
    When the urge to idealize grips you, think that “utopia” means… NOWHERE.
    We need… less action right now.

  159. Debra — Taking pleasure in destructiveness is your cup of tea, rather than love and cooperation? You are against better people? Are you pulling our leg? What kind of world do you want for us?

  160. David M….
    Your comments on “terminating” unborn infants as a condition for a healthy, sustainable society chill the marrow in my bones…
    Defending empathy as an abstract concept does not make one… empathetic, by any means.
    At the unfortunate, and inevitable risk of making you very angry (is there any way of saying such things without making people very angry ?), your impersonal STYLE while evoking such… intimate and personal matters (also, not just… social ones) sounds very much like the Nazi bureaucrats who engaged in unspeakable practices while resorting to the same… style.
    Many of them used that very word. “Terminating”. It should make us.. remember, that word.
    We ARE our style.
    If we speak, or write, in bureaucrese, we ARE.. bureaucrats, or operators.
    Who is a socialist, she says ?
    One who thinks that he or she knows best what should be done in the name of, and for the good of, society.
    That is why I am very suspicious of idealistic ecologists at this time.
    Those roads paved with good intentions… the intentions are always good, you know ?
    It is often just a question of… the point of view.
    I live in the country which gave the world the French Revolution of 1789.
    France is still recovering from that revolution.
    What was done with the best of intentions would chill the marrow in YOUR bones, too…
    David M., I am not attacking you individually or personally in this comment, regardless of what you might think.
    Take a look at the impersonal, bureaucratic relationship most of us seem to have with our language/style…
    There is a global… evolution there which I find very disquieting. Very.
    Does it mean that we are brainwashing OURSELVES into not feeling strong emotions ?
    Whittling away our asperities ? The areas of ourselves which could possibly remain… in the shadows, unless we are careful ?
    Are we continuing an inexorable march towards the Paulinian project of Disneyland all over the planet (paradise, or heaven is too religiously connoted to pass inspection in 2012…) ?
    I hope not…

  161. The body, heart, and mind of mankind is eaten up with deadly cancer. Will we find the cure(s) to heal ourselves in time? Or will we finally succumb to the toxic poisons of greed, violence, hubris, and spiritual death? The time is short for this doom hanging over us to be decided. Ignorance of Universal Law, and denial of our responsibility to act will not save us. The probable extinction of the human experiment is staring us in the face. Our fate is in our own hands.

  162. I feel as excited today, reading these self-evident truths, as I did when my college Bible professor said he didn’t believe in the virgin birth. This is so important and will allow me to quit living a compromised life pretending that by volunteering with a local farmers’ market is all I need to do. Thank you Derrick, for having the courage to speak “the truth”.

  163. Anne C. — It is wonderfully stimulating to hear someone in our atmosphere of propaganda and groupthink who dares to state the obvious truth. Welcome aboard. Hang on, sometimes the ride gets a little wild!

  164. Capitalism, Einstein said creates a “huge community of producers” who are “unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor” and an “oligarchy” that “cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized society.” He believes this subjugation is largely accomplished “not by force” but because “the privileged class” had long ago established a “system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.”

  165. Cue the Shirley Bassey: “The word is about, there’s something evolving/whatever may come, the world keeps revolving/They say the next big thing is here/that the revolution’s near/but to me it seems quite clear/that it’s all just a little bit of history repeating….”

    I’m sure lots of people in Rome and in other “civilizations” that are no more all saw it coming. Maybe physics (momentum/inertia) explains why the beasties couldn’t be felled. But I have to go within, because that is where the answer lies in me and by dint of my being human, may I be so bold as to venture that it’s the same for almost all H. sapiens?

    Our brains and hearts don’t work so well together. When the neocortex generates the “what-ifs” and signals the limbic and the mammalian, then fear overrides all else and shuts down heart-based possibilities, and you see the “worst” in humans. We are what we are, we are who we are, we seem to change incrementally…by that, I mean it takes us (excuse me, takes nature) tens of thousands of years to change biological structures. Until we get our hearts (our heart-brains), our reptilian and mammalian and neocortices and prefront cortices all working together—until we get them to cohere—then we probably are looking at a swift end—at least many of us. Maybe then nature will clean up some past chapters of her handiwork and whatever comes next will have a better time of it here.

  166. There are many solutions to our problems – they are small scale at this point. When greater natural devastation occurs we – our governments as well – may become more interested in trying some of these. Greening dwelling places, making zero energy footprint buildings, whether these be shanties and shacks or what we as humans can most beautifully envision and create… fusion power – check out LIFE project at ( lawrence livermore Natl lab) – sure its in the service of military right now but the civilian power capability is also part of the plan -the scientists there had a successful experiment in march 2012 and say it is like breaking the sound barrier , or watching the wright brothers first flight …. there are microbes that eat oil, there are plants that grow in desert sands, there are movements towards conscious communities. All solutions will be applied when we stop arguing, and those that are most effective will gain traction. Solar paint and solar diodes(? sorry not very up on the science of it) in roadways are being considered – we have so many solutions – as a whole the culture does not yet see the need for them. This will change.
    Times of chaos – which are on their way – create space for new forms. Strange attractors. An optimist in this painful time is Brian Swimme whose movie Journey of the Universe shows us how humans are special and yet definitely part of the web of life. It will be showing on PBS channel at their fundraising this year 2012.

  167. JohnC at #43 and #72
    Right on!

    I believe that if we all slowed down and shed our obliviousness in favor of all the gifts on display (most often in our own back yards), we and Earth would be better off. Where I get caught up is in a desire to see other places and peoples and species (whether the hills of Cuba or the forests of Siberia). But a deep part of me also knows that there is more than enough to “learn” right here. I could choose one plant to study and reach the end of my life without really knowing it. Anyone could choose any species and the same would be true.

    I have often felt, too, that if I just cut off my demands—and if we did it collectively—things would change nearly overnight. And you are right—it’s not change; it’s transformation and it comes from within.

    Sweetly said: “This can not be imposed on anyone. It happens freely or it doesn’t happen at all. So it probably won’t happen. But it might. All we have to do is to overcome our internal resistance to having and being less. No small psychological achievement, but possible.”

    I think having less would actually allow us to be more, give us more time, more depth, less stress, more love. BTW, does one need to be “well read”? The only book truly worth reading, to return to your first post, is nature itself. It’s the deepest, longest-running novel-poem-nonfiction-song-dance-tapestry all rolled into one.

  168. In the last few years posting on Orion, I have become aware that there are quite a few folks who seem to think that those of us trying to point out the ominous events bearing down on us are congenital misanthropes who spend all their time in a depressed and fearful state dreading imagined apocalypses. I do not find this to be the case. My own experience is that there are many of us who have a brightly burning love of life, beauty, nature, love, true spirituality and all that makes life a wonderful experience and unfolding adventure.

    However when folks such as myself learn that all they love is being relentlessly destroyed, and may vanish from this world forever, as increasing numbers of ancient species are every day, we are alarmed, and try to understand these destructive forces in greater depth, so that we may discover how we can stop them. The often popular image of those of us who are warning of our ongoing disaster as ineffectual complainers spreading negative feelings, and doing nothing to remedy the problems they keep trying to get us to look at is no more than a typical human response designed to protect those who use it from the pain of bad news, and reassuring them that we need to do nothing about it. Global warming deniers are classic examples of this psychology. It is essentially a head-in-the-sand ploy. We want to say to those critics: wake up and take responsibility for the millions who are impoverished and dying from your selfish lifestyles. Join us in seeking and implementing real deeply meaningful changes in our cultures of affluence. Do not reject crucial truths because they are unpleasant.

  169. There are some great ideas and concepts here. Taken in totality, it is mind numbing. While all the actions are aimed at current or impending problems, some are more critical in the immediate future. Others may be politically impossible and lead to conflicts including wars. Because these changes are a race against time, there should be some priority estalished. A fear is that the economic impact will lead to corporations-politicians and the military creating Syria-type conflicts all over the world.

  170. Interesting, I make an elementary point about the contradiction between abortion and empathy for humans and mike k and Debra go into emotional Krakatoa mode. And they do so without raising one substantive objection to my point which is we often have to choose between contradictory alternatives. I support the right and even necessity of abortion at times and think on balance that is the more empathetic position in case certain folks don’t get it.

    Sorry about the use of “terminating” Debra. Yes it does sound impersonal and bureaucratic although empathetic organizations like Planned Parenthood, not just Nazis, use it. Since that seems to be the nub of your objection how about if I substitute the word “killing.”

    Now if these two fine sensitive people want to offer some substantive objection to my point, I am open to being educated.


  171. Krakatoa? I did not see it. It seems to me you are mocking them, David. If you poke, expect poking back.

    As Daniel Quinn pointed out, less food means less people over time, with nobody killed — natural attrition. It seems though humans never reach for this solution… maybe it’s not possible.

    Even on Tikopia, infanticide was an important part of controlling population in the old days…

  172. Vera, David — From the plow to the “green revolution” farming has been an ecological disaster zone. To return to organic sustainable food growing practices would result in a major reduction in the total amount of food available for the human population, which would curtail our numbers very significantly. Like so many areas of change due to diminishing fossil energy resources, this could be phased in at a pace designed to limit the negative impact on those now alive. But most probably it will occur in an unplanned catastrophic fashion, and many will starve as a result. Not to rub salt in your “wounds” Vera, but Steve S. has been advocating this understanding and resulting change in practice for lo, these many years…

  173. And I know its Steve’s relentless style that bugs you, not his core content. I just focus on the content and sometimes smile at the stylistic flourishes…

  174. Well, nobody’s gonna return to organic ag, not at the large level; nature will have to push humans back into it eventually. And I have been thinking that perhaps humans will never live in balance with nature unless there are effective predators reestablished. It is predation that keeps populations in check and healthy… The news of a wolf-coyote hybrid reestablishing itself in former wolf territory is interesting in this regard, but mostly I think the tiny critters will have to do the job.

    Mike, I have said many times I do not have a problem with Steve’s concerns. But the WAY he behaves towards people is what gets me. Including the relentlessly repetitive nature of his speeches. He is merciless to the actual humans his words come in contact with, while proclaiming humanitarian intentions in general. But on to better things…

    Kunstler too has a good thing this week, summing the various bloggers he follows; there are many more interesting suggestions from the commenters there.

  175. Vera — “perhaps humans will never live in balance with nature unless there are effective predators reestablished.” I can understand your despair that we will ever get it together. I often feel that too. I think it is this that drives Derrick to his radical “solution”. But I always come back around to thinking “maybe there is a way…” Am I just daydreaming? Probably. Maybe that’s how I choose to spend my remaining time on this problematic world. What else is there? I have always been fascinated with problems and mysteries, scientific, spiritual, human — there are plenty of them if you are curious and seeking. Maybe I am like those treasure hunters who spend their lives with nothing but a few old coins to show for it. Will I or anyone hit the Big One, solve the riddle of this world? Who knows, that is part of the mystery of it all. Why do people play the lottery against such tremendous odds?
    Or scientists spend a life seeking an invisible speck of the cosmic mystery like the Higgs Boson? Why don’t we just relax, smoke a joint, have a beer, go to a movie, get laid, etc. and call it a day? Is it this blessed discontent of our inner never satisfied creative soul? Is it that we were not put here to chill out and spend our time in idle folly, but to seek the answer to an overwhelming question? Oh do not ask what is it, let us go and make our visit…

  176. Hubris is the enticing drug that leads us on….to destruction.

  177. These truths are indeed self evident, why should it be so hard to live in keeping with the sane values declared in your statement?!

  178. Without a spiritual solution, there is no solution.

  179. Kozan — You are right. It has been said: Unless you build the house with My Help you build it in vain. We need a new powerful spiritual movement that avoids the mistakes of past efforts. I have many thoughts on this. But unless there is an adequate response from enough people, it will prove inadequate however true and needed it might be.

    The people of Earth are facing a crucial initiation. If we fail this, then we will go down as unworthy to go further in the cosmic evolution. Exactly how many must respond, and at what depth is not knowable in advance. But if the spiritual response is inadequate, humankind is doomed, just as surely as if a huge asteroid smashed into our planet.

  180. Self-evident? There is no looming disaster, just foolishness. Clean up your back yard, then your community, then your planet. Vote and get engaged. Express your opinion and educate your leaders. Get practical and use the tools you have and please make a difference. Doomsday, God’s wrath. etc. are just fantasies. We are human beings — we can do anything. Cheers!

  181. “Tiny critters,” indeed, Vera. Leave it to humans to “create” the predators we need: bacterial resistance to antibiotics, weed resistance to herbicides, “pest” resistance to pesticides. Not saber tooth tigers, but deadlier, perhaps. Of course, the biggest predator is our own fear.

  182. A variant question on mike k’s: Why can’t we ride the fine line between seeking and appreciating the give and take of life? Between spirit work and enjoying an occasional bear? Sometimes life gives, other times, it takes. Maybe it is just that simple. Why can’t things be BOTH random AND not random? Think of a weaver who has an overall design, but maybe gets bored because what’s being woven is incredibly long, so from time to time, just for kicks, she puts in a different-colored shot in the weft. From time to time, a warp thread breaks and she’s run out of the previous color and has to put in something new, making do with what’s on hand at the time.

  183. Derrick Jensen writes: “Right now, more than 50 percent of the children who are born into this world are unwanted. We demand that all children be wanted. The single most effective strategy for making certain that all children are wanted is the liberation of women. Therefore we demand that women be given absolute economic, sexual, and reproductive freedom, and that all forms of reproductive control become freely available to all.”
    1 – Where does he get the “more than 50 percent” figure? Could it be more? Could it be less?
    2 – We would not be where we are if all children were wanted. Think of what this implies! Seventh-generation (or longer) thinking/feeling: What kind of world would we like for our children to live in?
    3 – “Liberation.” As a woman, I have to say, “It depends on what he means by ‘liberation.’” Freedom to? Freedom from?
    4 – How exactly does the liberation of women ensure that children who are born are wanted? This is an old, trite argument. Maybe someone can spell it out for me?

  184. My only comment is that perhaps Derrick Jensen should consider reading more and writing less.

  185. PERFECT!!!
    Clearly and beautifully stated and desperately

    With continuing deepest gratitude to Derrick,

  186. Barb — My impression is that Derrick is well read, but thankfully he is also an activist, and writing is an important part of his activism.

  187. Among those who study the issues of the relationship between women’s rights, including contraception, education, and economic parity with males, research indicates that women with these advantages have fewer children and are free to give them more and better care. Fully empowered women — a minority in today’s world — who can choose how many children they want to have, and have the resources of time, money, and freedom from male coercion can raise happier healthier children. This is not a theory, but a fact that has been exhaustively studied and proven to be true. A huge number of women in our world are forced to have more children than they want to bear, and are in no position to provide properly for them.

  188. Peter P. — “There is no looming disaster, just foolishness. Clean up your back yard, then your community, then your planet. Vote and get engaged. Express your opinion and educate your leaders.”

    Maybe there is no looming disaster apparent to you in your own back yard, but consider the people of Iraq prior to the destruction of their culture and the murder of over a million of their citizens, in spite of the largest global protest against the US plan to steal Iraq’s oil. Would the Iraqi’s dismiss those events as just foolishness? You must be seriously out of touch with the world around you to write what you have. You dishonor the lives of millions with these careless words. Sorry Peter, but I have to speak for all those you are ignoring with your dismissive platitudes. Wake up to the seriousness of our world and its real deep problems. Or go clean up your back yard, the choice is yours.

  189. 195, mike K…
    It would be very logical if your conclusions bore out, but, unfortunately, I don’t think that they do.
    My current credo is : every advantage has its disadvantage, and every disadvantage has its advantage.
    Call that a form of.. relativism, if you like. I have no problem at all with that.
    I was really not aware that many women have been FORCED to bear more children than they desired (whatever that means… desiring a child is really a maelstrom of conflicting desires, not a unified, or necessarily a voluntary desire at all).
    All over the planet, women have continually had the means of controlling the number of children they had. At a higher price than prescription contraceptives, certainly, but the choices have always been around.
    The price ? it has not always been measured in terms of dollars and cents…
    Your comment, in my view, contains the essence of the current Western belief system.
    Belief in the absolute value of “education”, of “money”, of “freedom”.
    The key word here is “absolute”.
    It means a belief that those advantages… have no disadvantages.
    But they do… they do…
    The ideal of raising “happier, HEALTHIER children” goes right back to Descartes’ “The Discourse on the Method”.
    Descartes’ world is right in front of our eyes.
    You might be happy in it..
    i am not…(and I was raised to be happy and healthy, take my word for it…)

  190. I have watched our country go down FF & nobody is paying attention (too busy buying crap).
    I miss the beach fires nightly on our beaches, now it’s Illegal to Walk on the beach after 9:00, all beachs “public”…
    No freedom of the Press
    No freedom of Speech anylonger…
    Rivers poisoned by hydrafracking, causing cancer to it’s neighbors..
    Oil co.c Lease the land so when they Leave, don’t care how they left iT, DEAD!!! Coming to your town soon.

  191. Debra, excellent points you make. Modernity places high economic and opportunity costs on having children, so of course modern women have fewer. But that says little about other values, and frankly, the incessant dwelling on this amounts to propaganda for modernity. I would far rather grow up Amish in today’s America than the coddled and warped child of the urban/suburban dysfunctional world.

  192. “Leave it to humans to “create” the predators we need: bacterial resistance to antibiotics, weed resistance to herbicides, “pest” resistance to pesticides. Not saber tooth tigers, but deadlier, perhaps.”

    Leigh: We have been busy evolving deadlier bugs for a long time now, courtesy of pharma/big ag. I figure it’s a gathering storm. Heck, I’ll wager my entire shoe collection on it (such as it is…). :-)

  193. Sometimes its hard to find folks to stand up for the basic rights of women for food, shelter, education, birth control if they want it, the right to earn money and spend it or save it, to be free from rape, male violence, etc. In our zeal to promote some ideal intellectual ideas we sometimes forget the basics needs that so many women are deprived of today. In our haste to promote the world we dream of we may overlook the basic needs of the one we are actually living in. Intellectual elitism anyone?

  194. Janet macri — I feel your pain also. What are we going to do about all this?

  195. I haven’t taken the time to read all 200 comments.
    However, I’ve noticed a heavy focus on humans and their ‘cosmic’ evolution.
    When I commented earlier today I also noted Leigh’s question (a “variant” of mike k’s):
    “Why can’t we ride the fine line… Between spirit work and enjoying an occasional bear?”
    That phrase “enjoying an occasional bear” has been haunting me all day.
    This utterly reeks of anthropocentrism, which is a tap root of the ongoing destruction of Earth.
    A bear is not here for a human’s “occasional enjoyment”. How arrogant and unfeeling!
    ‘Cosmic’ human evolution aside (and let me throw in that if anyone wants to try out another planet, I’ll pack you a nice lunch!), this planet has been the only home of the human species for all its history. And a miraculous home it’s been. But of course it’s also the only home of hundreds of thousands of other life forms who have every bit as much right to life as the human animal. And It is clearly thanks to all those other lives that Earth has been so hospitable to ‘us’.
    So I say at this dire point on Earth “spirit work” takes a back seat to stopping the destruction. If we lived “within our means” here, in a direct and right relation to “nature” – the source of our lives – our spirituality would blossom, would be endemic to our particular landbases.
    I urge all of you to read Derrick Jensen’s Endgame. We are in the midst of disaster.

  196. Heh. I missed the bear. But I would hasten to add that enjoying an occasional bear could mean also that the bear enjoys an occasional human! I would be honored if a bear ate me… except they’d probably shoot him or her… so I am back to the need to give up this whole idea that we need to slaughter any and all predators that either eat us or our food… Fortunately, the tiny predators elude us more and more. :-)

    Endgame is good… but consider, Judy, that the work we need to be doing must be in a variety of realms… as Jensen’s Dreams illustrate. Personally, I find DGR to be, er, uncongenial to what I think the planet needs, though I identify with many of the sentiments.

  197. Judy, Vera — Are you two kidding?? Surely you realize that bear was a typo for beer in #190 by Leigh. She is not the type to tuck into a bear steak for dinner. And Judy, spirit work has been in the back seat for the entire wild ride of our history since citification. How’s that ride grab you so far? Maybe if you liked Endgame, you might read Dreams, his (almost) latest where he goes a few rounds with the Great Bear of Spirit. Let’s bring Spirit into the front seat, or better let Him/Her/It/That? Drive for a while, instead of some crazy revolutionaries full of destructive energy looking for targets. Reminds me of when I was a teenager: Get outta my way world, I’m comin’ through! Maybe Derrick needs to smoke some cooler weed for a while…?

  198. I must bear the blame for my 3 AM “bear” typo. I should’ve taken the hint when the computer was moving so slowly! As mike k pointed out, I did mean BEER, the same substance he had mentioned in his comment to which I was responding.

    I don’t believe that we can know, exactly, ever, what is going on. I agree with what Judy says about how hospitable Earth has been toward us and way more forgiving than is humanly conceivable. But I part ways with her on relegating “spirit work” to the back seat. We must do both: spirit work and hands-on everything all at once. One usually feeds the other, which feeds the other, anyway, much like the dynamic nonlinear system we live in. Being part of that system, how (and why) would we have it any other way?

    I read Endgame in 2007. Lots of good to be had in it. But still, I must say, that our problem(s) is US. AND, as DJ has repeatedly pointed out in his writings over the years, “civilization.” The real question is, Are we, each and every one of us, willing to junk “culture” and enculturation (a.k.a. civilization…judgment, sin, self-restraint, restraint of others…war, suicide) in favor of what is our truth birthright as humans, to play the role in the creator-created dynamic? The times we are living in are our opportunity — THE opportunity — to answer this question. What we need most is courage, the kind of courage that would allow nature’s latest handiwork in the human brain — the prefrontal lobes — to go full out on development and stop allowing ourselves to be held hostage to our hindbrains (seat of our fear). If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read Joseph Chilton Pearce’s The Biology of Transcendence.

  199. Hi Leigh — I read Magical Child and The Crack in the Cosmic Egg way back when, and have read his latest too. Lots of good stuff their for the hungry Spirit within. One of the really profound problems today is that people have stunted and distorted notions about what spirit is. These false ideas form a dark veil over the truth. This is why a period of purification of the consciousness is always an essential beginning on true paths. Be still (and empty of all your ideas) and know what is real beyond all thinking.

    “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
    and rightdoing there is a field.
    I’ll meet you there.

    When the soul lies down in that grass
    the world is too full to talk about.”


  200. Hey Mike, did you forget to take your lateral thinking pill today? 😉 Of course I knew. I enjoyed the detour.

    Leigh, my latest take is… it’s us, and also it’s them… the people who are doing the out and out pillage. The responsibility is not symmetrical. And what have you got against self-restraint? Seems the banksters could use some…

    Will look into Chilton’s latest. I am surprised he is still around…

  201. the part in para 3 where it says human and non-human communities needs to be more explicit about them being truly biological and truly living in an interactive biologically, cellular manner. Otherwise we will have Citizens united all over again!

  202. Heh, heh…
    I remember, way back in the 1960’s, when my next door neighbor ( a nice girl…) used to pester me all the time to play Barbie dolls with her.
    Barbie was so boring.
    I spent most of my time.. OUTSIDE, hunting butterflies (yes, killing some of them for my collection, oh, horror of horrors…, letting some of them go).
    Gotta be careful about spending too much time getting enlightenment of any form with all kinds of.. books, for example (or Internet sites, for that matter…)
    I have a theory..
    I think that as a species, we have been regressing for quite some time now.
    At the same time… as we have been rocketing into cloud cuckoodom with those natural, impersonal forces that govern the universe, we have been… deserting our hands, and our manual KNOW HOW.
    Many of us no longer know what our hands are for. Typing on computer keyboards ?
    Not very fulfilling, from my point of view.
    Neanderthal man, now, he was pretty.. handy, way back when.
    Even our more… modern ancestors, way back in the… 16th century still managed to do nifty manual work.
    And us ?
    We have regressed… (but our neocortex is enormous, thank God… for how much longer ?)

  203. Ah, graf 3: People may actually have good reasons for creating LLCs and behaving responsibly such that there is no reason for them ever to court a lawsuit. In our litigation-happy culture, what recourse is there? Should we not take what little protections are afforded us?

    Frankly, it would be more community-minded and healthy to go back to corporate charters. Would it be cumbersome by today’s standards of speed and so-called efficiency? Yes. But why should community and health be given short shrift in favor of “efficiency”?

  204. That neocortex is sure taking us on a wild ride! Makes one long for the simpler life of long ago. Maybe it wasn’t all a golden age of romantic wonder, but a tiger is someone you can usually avoid more handily than a drone fired missile. When and why did that prefrontal area get its growth spurt? Was it when we innocently picked up that first tool? And of course it really took off when that digging stick transformed into the first crude plow, and farming freed us to dream up more complex mischief.

    Is there a way back that is a way forward? Can the fat brain that got us in all this trouble do a creative somersault that lands us back on our feet in a sustainable world? And what about our heart that we seem to have lost somewhere on the roadside to our escalating wars and feverish search for new weapons to destroy each other? If love is a casualty of civilization, can we sift through the inevitable ruins to find some traces of it to nourish, and regrow our precious hearts? We really need to use our best thinking and what is left of our heartful feeling to answer these questions…

  205. Why do some of us meditate? To recover our sanity.

  206. Where did we lose our sanity? In the world.

  207. How does meditation restore our sanity? By teaching us how to be in the world, but not of it.

  208. Vera,

    I’m not talking “self-restraint” in the sense in which you mean it. I’m talking about restraint of spirit. Spirit itself would not encourage the sort of behavior we see today – or that we’ve seen the last couple-thousand years. Banksters and we consume-rs don’t exercise restraint over our greed. Presumably, if our spirits were not restrained, we would not thrust ourselves (nor be thrust) into modes of having (e.g., today’s extreme greed); we could just be.

  209. Mike K:

    The way forward? This would be through a heart that links up with those prefrontal lobes and effectively guides the other parts of the brain to be the best they can be—not the worst. Absolutely, we can find the pieces of heart and undertake this most important work. But we need courage—and lots of it. Go back and re-read Biology of Transcendence.

    I hope by “in the world, but not of it” you actually mean around other people, but not part of the culture. I most definitely want to be part of the world, of Earth. How can we not be, when its soils/air/water flows through all of us?

  210. Leigh — When I use the phrase “in the world but not of it” I am taking it from a Sufi tradition which emphasizes/lives it as a way to realize immanence and transcendence as not two. In this “station” of consciousness one does not neglect the manifest existence in order to exalt the pure unmanifested absolute Spirit, but lives each aspect of the One Reality to the full. The bodhisattva life in Buddhism is a parallel understanding. A saying of Ramana Maharshi may clarify this (or not!) —

    “The world is illusory, Brahman alone is real. Brahman is the world.”

  211. Leigh — Perhaps there is a less “esoteric” way to describe this dual consciousness. As one becomes aware of the dimensions of our predicament in the world today in all their frightening reality, crying out for our recognition and action to heal them, a gap in experience grows between oneself and others of one’s acquaintance who are still asleep to these realities. It is not that we reject these others, or feel superior to them and glory in our “wisdom”. Rather, we wish they would join us in this great work of saving mankind from itself, in whatever degree we can take part. Sometimes a situation can arise where a friend feels we are living in a dream or delusion, and from our side we begin to feel the same towards them. Perhaps we try to get them to see what we see, but to no avail. We then realize that it won’t do for us to pretend to agree with their deficient perceptions of reality. This painful disjunction can echo one we feel within ourselves between what we hope and dream of and the crushing realities of the larger historical reality that our awakened consciousness has to relate to every day. Being aware of this inner fault line can help us deal with it and fold it into the larger context of our spiritual journey, and to continue our efforts to communicate the urgent truth of our world crisis to those who are becoming ready to awake.

  212. Many times on these Orion blogs people express the idea that spirituality is irrelevant, or even opposed to active work to change our world. Nothing could be further from the truth. Real spirituality is meant to develop consciousness, truth, goodness, and beauty in service to one’s life and to the world one lives in. Without this dimension our efforts are doomed to failure. Between scientism, main stream religions, and preposterous new age fantasies, true spirituality has a hard time being listened to or embraced. People too often think you are trading in one of the above counterfeit coins before bothering to hear what you are really pointing to. As if there were not already enough obstacles to awakening those fast asleep!

  213. How about: The beyond is within. Does that help? (of course not…)

  214. Having been a volunteer in several prisons, I have great respect for Bo and Sita’s efforts: “The primary purpose of the Prison-Ashram Project is to inspire and encourage prisoners and prison staff to recognize their depth as human beings, and to behave accordingly.”

    Their project is a prime example of the ideas I just put forward, in action.

    “We teach a balance between “Communion,” which is an entirely inward, transcendent experience, and “Community,” which includes everything else — our behavior toward others, our worldly goals, our treatment of the planet and its resources, etc. Our books and other materials center both on personal spiritual practice, and committed social activism. The Prison-Ashram Project encourages prisoners to take responsibility for changing their prisons, their communities, and the world.”

  215. Leigh, and all, please accept my apology for misinterpreting the “bear” comment – or rather for failing to read the whole discussion carefully enough to realize it was a typo……
    Pretty funny tho, actually!?!

    I have read Dreams and virtually everything else Derrick’s written. And I recognize the importance of spiritual growth and healing, as addressed in my earlier comment.

    That’s all from me.
    Kinda tired of discussing all this while the destruction just keeps on……………………..

  216. Thanks Judy — you have added important insights to our discussion. As to the bear question — no harm, no foul. We can use a good chuckle from time to time. Feel welcome to come back and share whenever you feel prone. Most of us are not mean. We disagree sometimes, even sharply, but that is all part of the game of learning to share.

  217. Mike K:

    As always, I enjoy your comments. Where I tend to diverge from others who are climate-chaos and peak-oil aware is not that I’m not taking steps in my own life to minimize the eco-disturbances I create (I have, frankly, found it difficult to bypass an every-other-day espresso habit…and coffee places huge demands on Earth’s water body), but that I question my own judgment of whether someone is “aware” or not. I mean “judgment” as opposed to “discernment,” because I feel internally that it carries a judgment and I suffer the energetic burden of it. I’m not out there like J., “our great model” in Joseph Chilton Pearce’s words, speaking parables and giving sermons. Perhaps that time will come. Right now, I just try to hold the space for others who, when and if they find me, I might be able to share with them a different way of being and becoming. I myself am becoming and working on being—and having fun with all that is here.

    I will enjoy visiting the prison ashram site…very good work, indeed.

    My main work now is for me to live from the heart (I believe this is really what we are called to do). If to some others doing so looks like I’m not doing anything or not doing “enough” (because there is never “enough”…it’s always relative to some other “enough”), then that is their burden of their own judgment to bear. For my part, I am trying to stamp out the judge within, the one who judges me and all others, that little ego self for whom no amount of anything will ever satisfy.

  218. Judy:

    Apology accepted! I thought it was very funny, too. Nothing Freudian, either, though I did get some bear fat once from a friend who hunts, because they were not going to do anything with it. I can make some kick-butt salves from it.

    “No harm, no fowl!”

  219. Leigh, I did get your point re spiritual restraint.

    As for judgment, that is tricky. Judging on the basis of what people believe (climate, political opinions, ideologies, religion etc) is a big mistake, imo. I would even go as far as to say, it’s a trap.

    Thanks for a lively discussion, everybody!

  220. The book to read on this subject is that of eco lawyer, Cormac Cullinan, based in South Africa: WILD LAW: A MANIFESTO FOR EARTH JUSTICE. (republished in England in 2011 by Greenbooks, available on Amazon) The only true way forward globally is for citizens of all countries to unequivocally insist that laws and regulations preserving the Earth and all its creatures and eco systems be incorporated into the manuals of governance. Polly Higgin’s recent book, ERADICATING ECOCIDE (she’s an eco solicitor in London) also tackles saving the Earth from a legal perspective. But WILD LAW is the most comprehensive and broad-reaching and is a ‘must’ for all those who are determined to bring about far-reaching positive change on a monumental scale. Karen in Somerset

  221. The trouble with Jensen et al’s scheme is that it is a variation of the old anarchist dream: We will tear down the existing order, and build something better. The problem is that they never completely
    eradicate the old, nor do they build their dream. In short, it just has never worked out, and probably never will. We have to find a better way to change. Systems in power do not want to change, and it turns out that most people don’t want to make the necessary efforts to change either. So what is to be done?

  222. #228 Karen — Thanks for your links. I looked at an excerpt from the preface to Wild Law on Amazon. His hopeful dream of a new consciousness awakening among some of us reminded me of Marilyn Ferguson’s Aquarian Conspiracy and other books promoting this hopeful scenario. Only, the awaited coming never quite gets here, its always on the horizon, maybe over the rainbow. I say this as one who would welcome nothing with greater love than this promised deliverance from our current nightmare. But alas, I am also doomed to be a realist as well as an idealist.

    Unfortunately the laws are made by a power elite who have no intention of empowering the rest of us. And when the elites are temporarily unseated, those who removed them get busy reoccupying their positions. The means of going beyond this pattern are not within the constraints of the pattern. Merely making laws against environmental crimes will not be enough. We need deeply shared cultural understandings that the accumulation of excessive wealth is not to be pursued. That war is not an option. That technology must be restrained, etc. In short we need Jensen’s list of demands to end civilization as we know it. But how to get there? Time is short. Too short to fool around in rich men’s rigged courts and legislatures. Thanks for your suggestions, I know that they are well intended.

  223. The point is that our real modern religion worships science/technology and consumerism. The greatest heresy is to question the value of our so-called civilization. On the brink of self destruction, we cling desperately to our toys. Our “way of life” becomes an excuse to plunder and murder to maintain it. This is an addiction far greater than any drugs we know of.

  224. Karen said: “the only true way forward globally is for citizens of all countries to unequivocally insist”…

    Ah. And there’s the rub. A lawyer should know better. I will look at it though… thank you.

  225. Truths, check out the Revolution of Venezuela on FREE SPEECH watch the video, showing how they did it, The People, all by themselves, took back their country from the “Elite” (govt,), who kidnapped their President twice & twice the People rescued him & their homeland from the 1%. It is truly Inspiring!! We can do that, there is alot more of us. Alot more drinking the cool-aid…hard to awaken Zombies. (the programed) Pres, Chavez is the Man!!! Those People are so proud today, took them 40 yrs. but their Free, Pres. Chavez made it illegal for Oil co.’s to come in & rape their land or the giant corp.’s to Fish with nets. Giving the fish back to all the people. When the nets were there, more fish were Wasted in the name of Profit. No more! Now they have plenty of fish that were almost extinct 7 yrs. ago! Great things are happening for them, progress in education, health care Free for all, loans for all that need them to start a biz.or buy some land, working together, everybody, leaving Nobody Out! Equality for All!! They Literally ran those crooked govt. workers right out of their offices,
    “GO” Now!! they were running like chickens!!!Capitalism isn’t running Venezuela, the People Woke up, said No More!! Hit the streets Peacefully & Look at them now! Love Story.

  226. Janet macri — Venezuela is truly inspiring. We need to come up with some kind of medicine to wake up more of our zombies. Derrick and many others are working on it. Let’s hope we come up with some effective ideas and actions to save our world before it is too late.

  227. Medicine? Why do you think DMT,LSD, psilocybin, marijuana, and other consciousness expanders have been declared illegal by the powers that be…?

  228. Kozan — You make a good point. The powers that be are afraid of new ways of thinking and living. The war on drugs was and is a repressive regime against society’s more creative and less controllable rebellious and creative elements. Fascist societies fear and repress anything that allows people to think and experience in ways outside their control. A population who can think and feel in new ways beyond their propaganda is their worst nightmare. This is why our rulers constantly tell us that we are free — free, that is, to think and act only within their approved guidelines of groupthink and submission to authority. Real freedom is their worst nightmare.

  229. “The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it.”
    ─George Carlin

  230. I don’t think we’re approaching this in the right way. Words, even demands are not going to coalesce the political will necessary for global action. There has to be another, more radical approach. People have to take actions to reduce atmospheric carbon individually and in small groups.

    In recent weeks, two publishers have contacted me about a book idea I proposed back in 2009, when less than 30% of Americans believed in climate change. Today, 70% of Americans share that belief, but both publishers are still dithering.

    Expect no clear and quick decisions about any aspect of global warming. Find something practical you can do on your own or with friends. Reduce your carbon footprint, yes, but also plant trees. Learn about what to do when the grid and infrastructure collapse. Consider migrating to cooler climes and higher ground. The bad times, I believe, will come all in a rush. Most of us will arrive at the ‘bottleneck’ surprised that things have become so bad that our local habitability is threatened. Look ahead now…

  231. Giles — The American Dream is about more and more. CO2 reduction is about less and less goodies, and a simpler life. Americans lead the world in addiction to stuff and luxuries. The climate change problem is a mental problem. The solution lies in changing our minds, aims, beliefs, desires. The real problem is how to do this. All solutions based on external changes will fail unless the essential inner changes take place.

  232. The 99% movement focused on a basic reality: a small number of men are pushing us towards extinction. The destructive policies of this tiny minority must be stopped. We must focus on removing these persons from their positions of wealth and power. As we do so, they will use all the means in their power to keep us enslaved and victims of their mad designs. This will include the whole legal and legislative apparatus, the media, the police, army, and surveillance machinery — which are under their corrupt control.

    Those who seek to depose them will be branded as terrorists, communists, or whatever serves to turn people against their liberators. Therefore, awakening a large number of people to the reality of our situation is the first priority for any chance of changing from the fatal course we are presently being subjected to. Our energies need to be focused on how to bring about this essential widespread awakening, or we will waste our diminishing chances in a thousand piecemeal ineffectual efforts. Without this primary focus, and success in achieving it, our opportunity to save our world will end in failure. To not deal with the primary cause of our troubles, this evil elite, would amount to giving up and admitting defeat.

  233. “We must focus on removing these persons from their positions of wealth and power.”

    And then what?

  234. Vera — What I wrote above only dealt with a necessary step towards a better society. Ideally, preceding the eliminate the abusers phase would be an educative phase leading to the creation of a group spiritually savvy enough to enlist and educate large numbers of others to grow beyond the egoistic motivations that allowed our dysfunctional culture to arise and maintain itself. Now I realize that every term I use in trying to communicate these ideas needs to be carefully probed and understood in order to reach some kind of clarity and to vet understandings that are misleading and counter productive. “Spiritual” takes some time for most to process to some simple root understandings that most (never all!) can agree on. Such a process would begin with considering that spirituality is not synonymous with religion. The muddling of basic words and ideas is a big part of what keeps us frozen in place within this nightmare that we call a culture.

    Well the dinner bell just sounded, so mercifully I don’t have to try to prove the possibility of getting folks to examine their basic beliefs and ideas. I do have some thoughts along those lines, but considering all the trouble Socrates got into trying that project in ancient Greece, maybe I’ll just leave it as a koan for folks to work out in their own ways…

  235. totalitarians, like derrick,remain the same, whether styled as progressives or conservatives. Angry. Selfrighteous, Demanding. And threatening very bad Things to anyone who does not share the Vision of the Truth.

    Oh yes. Also, they all seem to Know that There is a Truth.

    And that they Know it. And You don’t.

  236. didactic – definition of didactic by the Free Online Dictionary …
    di·dac·tic (d -d k t k) also di·dac·ti·cal (-t -k l). adj. 1. Intended to instruct. 2. Morally
    instructive. 3. Inclined to teach or moralize excessively.

    It is instructive how often a critic embodies in his own tirade the very things he finds repugnant in the object of his criticism. Beyond that one may note the use of the ad hominem attack, and ascribing to an author statements he has not made. I have read most of DJ’s books, and have not run across a single instance of his threatening anyone. Then there is simple name-calling, too many instances to quote in your short post. If you had just admitted that Derrick’s essay or other writings really pissed you off, your remarks would have then been acceptable as a discharge of your feelings. But when you presented your dubious ideas as realities to be accepted as unquestionable facts, you slipped into the role of the Didact. That is, you pretty much did everything you accused Derrick of!

  237. The world’s population is what? + or – 9 billion. And among those 9 billion, virtually all belong to a religious community of some sort. Unfortunately, for the worse, no matter what the religions profess, they endorse and practice cultural obligations that hurt the earth.

    How does anything, or anyone, change the thinking and belief systems that peruse these harmful practices destroying the earth in so many ways because that’s the way it has always been done? How do the historically entrenched beliefs get thrown away and new, enlightened beliefs and practices replace them? How do we get grandparents to stop teaching the consumption ethic to their grandchildren?

    The consumption ethic is like a cancer that has maneuvered itself around and into the many body systems that maintain sensate existence. The surgery required to remove the cancer is incredibly delicate. The cancer has latched on to nerve fibers and tiny blood vessels that might seem relatively insignificant, that are more easily discarded because of their minute existence. But that’s not true. The body can compensate for awhile and then eventually weakens and succumbs to the loss of sensitivity and the loss of nourishment.

    How do the vast majority of those 9 billion people get that surgery? How do we get Christianity, that believes is has a moral obligation to “go go-forth and multiply””to conquer Nature” , that it has a greater moral obligation to not “go forth and multiply” and not “to conquer Nature”? And make the same message mandated to the Muslim’s Jew’s, Buddhists,Druids, and all other systems of faith. It;s a hell of a thing to not only question a person’s moral compass but to go further and ask them to discard the compass that has served its family for thousands of generations. To imply that compass is wrong and always was wrong can shatter that person’s ability to believe in anything. To shatter that belief is in fact a way of playing god. Are we asking to play god?

    How do we replace the belief systems of 9 billion people.? And we must do that or we only replace one form of tyranny with another form of tyranny. How do we create a leaderless, benevolent rebellion? Through out history this kind of action has been tried and always failed. What makes us think we are any better?

    Through this discussion, the word “rebellion” has been used many times. Often with anger and malice. And once in awhile with peace and justice. There is no doubt, in my mind, we must change. There is no doubt this change will come sooner or later. If we have passed the point of no return, the rebellion that follows will be so violent, so brutal, remorseless that it will tear apart every belief system and replace it with “only the strong survive”.

    I go back to my original question, how do we get 9 billion people to change their world view, or in many cases to have a world view? I see the terrible injustice and cruelty going on in our political system, that we cannot balance out, let alone reverse. It scares me to the point of resignation that we cannot change any power system from the inside. In the end the only alternative is revolution. What a sad prognosis.

  238. DonHudson:

    I can certainly empathize with where you’re coming from…even as we’ve surpassed 7 billion and are not quite to 9 billion. Where I differ is methods.

    Think of all those people: That’s 7-plus billion opportunities for people to exercise the power of love over fear. Fear generates such strong field effects among humans because it goes back to the ancient roots of our existence and evolution.

    But these times we live in present us with choices, one main choice, in fact: to live with and within love or to live under the tyranny of fear (whether fear inspired by religion, politics, science, or technology). Fear is useful as a motivator so long as we don’t let it override all of our systems. For instance, we can fear the loss of our health and act to change our ways to live more healthfully—and more lightly on Earth so that we stop polluting Earth with the means/products of our consumption. But to succeed, feelings of love (of ourselves, of Earth) have to override feelings of potential loss, because staying there just draws in more of the same.

    We need to take responsibility for how we feel about and react toward what’s going on. It’s kind of like insulin receptivity: A person losing insulin receptivity eventually will not be able to process glucose properly. But this is reversible through a change of diet/exercise, etc. In the same way, a steady diet of fear-based things and things that increase feelings of fear in us will cause us not only to lose receptivity to love, but we’ll also have a harder and harder time processing all of our fear.

    So, to answer your question: I think the only way to get people to change is by modeling love (you need to decide for yourself what that feels like and looks like) rather than using the means of tyranny (religious or political or scientific or technological) to try to inculcate in them a different way of being. Fact is, we can influence others, but we can only change ourselves.

    If enough people began acting from the standpoint of love as opposed to sheer fear, then we would have a revolution, the likes of which humankind never has seen.

  239. Leigh,

    I think you go straight to the heart of my concern. But you take a wrong turn at the intersection of Solution and Deception.

    You don’t answer my questions or calm my fears. Your theory echoes Gandhi and M.L. King. But both of them added civil disobedience to love. These great men taught by example but practiced passive-resistance, opposition to authority. The same thing as adversarial conflict. Their opposition to authority did indeed cause change. And in the end they left a legacy of defying authority. In other words, rebellion; certainly not love alone.

    Besides the consumption ethic, the world operates on the adversarial principle.That means differing opinions must be resolved in accordance with what is arbitrarily believed to be right or wrong. Why? Why must there be winners and losers? Are human beings genetically mandated to disagree? And must that disagreement finally be resolved in favor of one side or the other, by culture instead of reason? Where’s the love in that.

    I, too, would like to replace that antagonistic mind set to one of love. I certainly don’t trust religion, which is one of two ways I can see reaching the numbers of people that will make a difference. Historically, religion is the most hateful. war-making engine the earth has ever had. Just look at what’s going on now. Religion is making politics make war on women, children, the elderly, and the poor.Tell me where there is love there? Tell me where the love is in beheading a woman in Saudi Arabia for infidelity, or stonning to death a woman in Syria for meeting a man in public. Tell me where the love is when mothers force their daughters to be brutally circumcised. No matter how humaniterian an offer can be, cultural perogatives can require refusal and so children starve to death. Where’s the love.

    The love thing must carry with it honesty, compassion,frugality, sacrifice, and benevolence. I am not a good example to model love. I, personally, try very hard to to do the honesty, compassion, frugality and sacrifice parts. I do not do benevolence. I remember and hold grudges against people (mostly politicians) that hurt me and people that I love . I do not believe in forgiveness. That’s a religious trap creating slavery. To forgive and forget is not love, it’s denial. Is that just my problem, or does it fit into a much larger one?

    No matter how pure the loving effort , it dies at the point of forgiveness . I understand that sounds like a terribly cynical attitude and I sound like a terrible person. But I would say love thrives in an ideal world, and barely survives in a realistic world. Tell me how to make ideal love realistic? The only way I can see is through Nature. Because in Nature there is spirituality. It’s the kind of spirituality you call love. But the world doesn’t know that anymore.We live on a planet where Nature and culture are uncompromising forces that constantly crash into each other. They are adversaries.

    If we are systematically destroying nature, turning our planet into a giant landfill, how does love stop that? Do we have to chain ourselves to the gates of the nuclear power plants, the hydroelectric dams, the chemical factories, the armories, the trees, the lakes and rivers, the salmon, the whales, the salt plants, lay down in the street in front of a tank, refuse to give up your seat on the bus? Or should we pray to something that does not exist? The greatest deception of all time is getting people to believe in religion. Every human being requires a spiritual component to her life. it’s as necessary as food, water, and air. And for millenniums we have been deceived by religion. That deciet is rapidly catching up to us.

    “no man hath greater LOVE, than to give up his life for another.” Is that the kind of love you mean, that will save the world? To me, that sounds like revolution.

    Tell me how to meet the genuine spiritual needs of human beings and I will guarantee the world will live in love not hate? How do you reach 7 billion people with that message? We certainly aren’t doing it yet! The one person at a time theory is to slow to save the planet.

    As a test, think about this missive as a paper written by a high school student. Think about it in Texas, or Kansas, or Mississippi, or New york city. Would it be received differently in these different places? If differently, what does that say about love? Is love suppose to be about tolerance? If so, I fail miserably because I operate from a point of “selective tolerance”. I tolerate different religious views and values but not allrun 47; I do not tolerate religious views that are given legal authority or to capitulate-authority. Don’t ask me to love my neighbor, when he is killing me with the use of things that culture says are safe and allowed. But we know none of that is true. Culture lies!

    The message of love is good. The problem is whose love. At the molecular level of our DNA I don’t think love is constructed the same way in every person. It may be impossible to recognize love in some people. What do we do then?

  240. Don Hudson — You are asking some good questions. I wish more people would become concerned enough about the fate of our species (and so many others) to ask these types of questions. Complacency and indifference are our deadly enemies at this critical time. The soporifics and tranquilizers our culture offers keep so many asleep to the growing peril that our collective time on Earth may be drawing to a close. Reminds of a poem:

    William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    There was a man awakening to the dark reality of the Nemesis that is stalking our sleeping world. We don’t need nine billion like him to sound the alarm and take action to avert final disaster. A million or so of such souls would command the gravitas to swing the rest, most of whom are stuck in follower consciousness.

    Congratulations on reaching your present stage of awakening. Be aware that there are no quick or easy answers to our situation, which has been brewing its evil karma from very early in the human experiment. Do not let this lead you into the inviting shadows of despair, and abandoning the search for solutions. Many bright and promising minds turn aside from this struggle for a variety of reasons — all fallacious. Continue your questing and willingness to experience the Darkness in order to find the Light.

  241. D.H. “If we are systematically destroying nature, turning our planet into a giant landfill, how does love stop that?”

    Yeah, I’m not too big on “love is the answer” type solutions along with “God is the answer”. Love is more the result of conditions that allow it to thrive and hard to effectively advocate for directly and God to me is a seeking of truth rather than its perversion, which is something one can have a patent on.

    Rather than be enthralled by the coming disaster I think it might be more realistic to accept a coming die-off and lay down a program for post die-off recovery, which will be initially tragic but clear the decks for a possible rational sustainable world.

    Key to that recovery will be the proliferation of self-sufficient communities, at a different level clearly than our ancestors but partaking of an historically proven way of life. In that kind of culture you can not downstream the costs to another place and so a kind sustainable integrity is built in.

    Well it’s a start.


  242. DonHudson (1/3):
    It’s important to point out that no one else can answer your questions or calm your fear, except you and you alone. Would you want someone else to allay your fears or answer your questions?
    If you look at people who influenced millions of others, whether they be Martin Luther King Jr. or Hitler, you see love or fear at play. What do they have in common? They both seemed to have accepted their own personal death as a possibility among many potential results of their actions. But one was courageous, the other a coward. The one operating from love was courageous; he did not suggest eliminating the Other, those who differed in their approach to treatment of humans, human dignity and spirit. He died because of it. The one who promoted the “we are losing ground to the Other” cant, stirring fear and false pride in his countrymen, and who directed the machinery to eliminate the Other died by his own hand; once a control freak (i.e., fearful to his core) always a control freak.
    As for “winners and losers,” even the concept itself is quite arbitrary. Who decides who wins or loses? Do you not believe that in the long span of human history, we, through our ancestors, have gotten to play all sides? We are dual by nature: our heads are in the sky, our feet are (or should be) on the ground. And part of our journey here is to learn to navigate our dual natures as best we can, and to step out of the victim-persecutor-rescuer triangle. Those two actions can help move us out of the status quo. But really, they start with love: love of self, recognizing our dual natures and loving ourselves all the same, the light as well as the shadow; recognizing that throughout history, we’ve been in all three places on the triangle and loving ourselves enough to say, “Enough is enough” and developing new habits that resist taking up a place on the triangle.
    Religion is also largely about control. If one wants patterns from religion to live by, you basically have to turn to the different ecstatic traditions within them and you have to read carefully. Jesus lived love. That was his message. Did his message change the course of human history? How much has his message been obscured by those who came after him, who claimed to know what he was saying, but who, in fact, distorted his message to serve their own ends?

  243. DonHudson (2/3):
    I don’t understand how forgiveness is a trap, if it’s real forgiveness. In my experience, it is what has set me free; otherwise, much of my energy would be tied up in hating people I feel wronged me in some way. I differ from you as well: When I am able to forgive—and it takes quite a lot of love to get to that place—then I open the door to more love. I don’t think it means forgetting; forgiveness must encompass remembering, because I don’t think it’s a one-time deal: I forgive this person, now I’m done. I remember, so I must practice forgiveness anew. Again and again.
    You ask about actions required in order to save the planet. I really don’t believe that Earth needs saving; humans do. I’m talking not about our numbers, but about our spirits. See especially the third question here: Whether you will need to chain yourself to the doors of munitions plant or a giant sequoia—that is only up to you. The main thing, again, is to be willing to love and to be willing to risk your life for that love, because we have to be honest: it’s really about risking your life to continue loving, even if in that push to continue loving, we court death. Reread this, too: How love manifests as action is unique to each person. I would not look to any “great person”; I think we are probably moving beyond that period. To wit, many are taking different actions (see Blessed Unrest by Paul Hawken) and these actions come and go as people change.
    Also, you are correct, Don: Some people may be wired such that it’s impossible for anyone to recognize love in them. But does that matter? The people I most concern myself with are the ones in my immediate sphere, because that’s all I can really do. I can write about these issues, put them on a blog, hope that people read them; they may or may not. Who cares? What’s important is that I show up every day and that I not allow those in whom it’s impossible to recognize love to dis-tract(ion) me from what I am called to do.

  244. DonHudson (3/3):
    The apocalyptos’ version of reality is just that—one version of reality. I used to be caught up in it. I find I no longer have the taste for it. It dwells too much in fear and that does not appeal to me. Apocalyptos (apologies to them, but I’m unable to create a more appropriate shorthand) look at me and see what they want—and to them, that would be someone in denial. But in doing so, they wear the hats of rescuer and persecutor, probably victim, too. And I’m not going to play that game anymore. It serves neither me, nor Earth.
    Bottom line, I cannot change the mindset or absence of heart in 7 billion people. I may work just to help those around me, to plant seeds of different ways of being, and do all with the awareness that our climate is further descending into chaos, that we collectively misuse the gifts Earth gives us. I care about these things, but I have only so much time, money and energy, especially energy, to deal with them in any way that might be remotely effective.
    Looking for something or someone to change the ways of 7 billion people is, well, you won’t like this, but it’s like looking for some Savior that does not exist: never has, never will.

    PS NEVER stop asking these questions! They process of asking helps us all to change.

  245. From Leigh. “it’s really about risking your life to continue loving, even if in that push to continue loving, we court death. Reread this, too: How love manifests as action is unique to each person.”

    From the link this is a stark perspective on the spark to Tim’s environmental activism, leading to imprisonment. If you’ve got nothing to lose ……

    “TIM: Yeah. I met Terry Root, one of the lead authors of the IPCC report, at the Stegner Symposium at the University of Utah. She presented all the IPCC data, and I went up to her afterwards and said, “That graph that you showed, with the possible emission scenarios in the twenty-first century? It looked like the best case was that carbon peaked around 2030 and started coming back down.” She said, “Yeah, that’s right.” And I said, “But didn’t the report that you guys just put out say that if we didn’t peak by 2015 and then start coming back down that we were pretty much all screwed, and we wouldn’t even recognize the planet?” And she said, “Yeah, that’s right.” And I said: “So, what am I missing? It seems like you guys are saying there’s no way we can make it.” And she said, “You’re not missing anything. There are things we could have done in the ’80s, there are some things we could have done in the ’90s—but it’s probably too late to avoid any of the worst-case scenarios that we’re talking about.” And she literally put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I’m sorry my generation failed yours.” That was shattering to me.

    TERRY: When was this?

    TIM: This was in March of 2008. And I said, “You just gave a speech to four hundred people and you didn’t say anything like that. Why aren’t you telling people this?” And she said, “Oh, I don’t want to scare people into paralysis. I feel like if I told people the truth, people would just give up.” And I talked to her a couple years later, and she’s still not telling people the truth. But with me, it did the exact opposite. Once I realized that there was no hope in any sort of normal future, there’s no hope for me to have anything my parents or grandparents would have considered a normal future—of a career and a retirement and all that stuff—I realized that I have absolutely nothing to lose by fighting back. Because it was all going to be lost anyway.”

  246. Leigh — Thanks for the link to Raylene’s interview and her wonderful way of inviting us to converse with our ancestors, the plants. Reminds me of Derrick’s early book A Language Older Than Words, and his recent book Dreams. Many who only know Derrick through his essays in Orion, are not familiar with the more soulful side of his journey. Things often labeled spiritual play a big part in his worldview.
    The word love needs a lot of contemplation, practice, and living to reveal its full range and inner depths. Confusion about and misuse of words is a major cause of our inability to extricate ourselves from the web of ignorance woven in our minds. Perhaps this is why Plato often constructed an entire dialogue to try to fathom the depths of one word — justice, beauty, love, etc. Of course we moderns mistakenly think we have no time to engage in such considerations. Besides, we think we already know what love, or spirituality means. Such hubris is leading us towards a final disaster.
    Sometimes I think that the chains which bound the prisoners in the cave of Plato’s myth were made of words…

  247. Thank you and more Thank yous! The minute you said that the ever expanding GNP is what is no longer possible, workable, period.

  248. You know how we could fix the national debt in 5 minutes? Pass a law that says if the GNP ever has a deficit of minus 3% or more, all sitting members of congress become inelegible for re-election.

  249. The foundation of government is lying. Everything depends on having these lies believed, or at least not effectively questioned. Hence the desperate need to silence Julian Assange. What was his crime? Telling the truth. To expect government to tell the truth is to admit to being fooled by their lies. Government is founded on and vigorously maintains basic unfairness. To expect otherwise is to be a victim of propaganda induced illusions. We need to create a means to facillitate our mutual relations that is not founded on lies, unfairness, and violence.

  250. No obsession ever gets quelled from a rational person advising against it, but there could be some value in hearing it once more: Derrick Jensen is not going to lead you anywhere but back to where you started. The more you hear someone pontificate without any evidence of effect or seriousness, the more it is incumbent it is for you to move on.
    There are no dams being blown up, there is no Occupying of anything except jail cells, there is no “spirit” that will rescue us.
    Charlatans and self-anointed ascetics have always been with us, but with the advent of more communications technology, the easier it is for folks to see behind the charade – you just have to be willing to question the bullshit.

  251. Hi
    I agree that the stakes are extremely high.
    But this type of war chant is the wrong approach.
    Perfect example- no more wood? No more forestry?

    There has to be a transition phase

    There will be a transition phase…

    Kind Regards

  252. This conversation has been very interesting to me.

    I’ve been operating under the assumption, which was common twenty years ago (cf. “How Much is Enough” (1992) by Alan Durning), that a more modest, European style life is sustainable. That using 90% less electricity than the American average (which we do, and which is perfectly comfortable) is sufficient. That driving less, and eating more local food and no grain-fed animals, and not drinking any bottled drinks, and not flying, and mending clothes rather than buying new, and fixing things rather than replacing them, and keeping a computer for a decade rather than a couple of years, and eschewing the whole smartphone/cell phone thing, etc etc is enough. That converting from nuclear and fossil fuels to solar for heat and electricity is good enough. I thought it was sufficient to live with less of this stuff. That the American “way of life” is obscenely obese, and trimming is enough. That giving it all up entirely is not necessary. And that may still be true, although we are not even close to doing any of that trimming!

    But now I am not certain. I am not entirely convinced, but I am at least unsettled by Derrick’s position, which is that the entire package is unsustainable. That any importation of materials from outside your immediate region is unsustainable. That any use of fossil fuels is unsustainable (this is unequivocally true). That any mining of minerals is unsustainable. That any exploitation of labor is unsustainable (this one seems more a moral stand than a physical one – unfortunately, exploitation of labor can probably go on indefinitely in a strictly biological sense). I reject absolutely the use of violence and destruction to bring down the system because I feel they are part of the system that needs to be turned on its head, but the advocacy of a strict definition of sustainability is compelling.

    What kind of life would we be living without any export or import of materials, without any fossil fuels, without any mining of minerals, without any exploitation of labor? What if we include animals in that? How would we live without any exploitation of human or animal labor? Now we are back to being hunter/gatherers with perhaps a bit of permaculture thrown in. Or if we compromise a wee bit on the animal part, we can include being pastoralists (shepherds, goatherds, nomadic reindeer herders etc). What else is there that is completely harmonious with the processes of life? How else can we be human animals, where absolutely everything we take from the Earth is given back in a form that is useful to Life? What else can it possibly mean to live sustainably? From this strict definition of sustainability (which is the only definition that the Earth cares about) nearly everything we do now is unsustainable. It all has to stop one way or another.

    I agree that to participate in the industrial economy is de facto to live a life of violence. But I still reject the intentional use of violence to combat what is for most of us the unintended violence of a system we were born into and are trying to find a way out of. There has to be a better way.

    The Civil Rights Movement is a fine example of positive, nonviolent, coercive resistance, but my understanding is that Dr. King, toward the end of his life, was beginning to realize that the sickness at the heart of the American individual/social/economic/military system was so deep that the tactics of the movement were inadequate. Something more like a religious conversion was needed, what Jesus called “metanoia” — a complete transformation of heart and mind. Resistance tactics were adequate for achieving limited political and social gains within the exploitation system, but not for transforming or unraveling the system itself. Dr. King got into big trouble with his movement colleagues when he started addressing the root sickness, because that sickness is in all of us, and we much prefer to project it onto someone else. Like it or not, this is not an us-versus-them problem. It is an all-of-us-together problem. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few people who are benefiting from the system at the brutal expense of everyone and everything else, but it does mean we will get nowhere by projecting all of our fear and anger and blame onto them.

    J. Krishnamurti (1895 – 1986) said in his book, Beyond Violence (1970),

    “Because unless there is a fundamental, radical revolution in the psyche, in the very root of one’s being, mere trimming, mere legislation on the periphery, has very little meaning. So what we are concerned with is whether man, as he is, can radically bring about a transformation in himself; not according to a particular theory, a particular philosophy, but by seeing actually what he is. That very perception of what he is, will bring about the radical change. And to see what he is, is of the highest importance – not what he thinks he is, not what he is told that he is.”

    This still seems to me to be our best and perhaps our only hope. That we see things (ourselves included) as they/we truly are and stop deceiving ourselves. That in itself brings about a radical reorientation without any violence or coercion. I have seen this in action, and I known how powerful it can be.

  253. J. Krishnamurti
    “So what we are concerned with is whether man, as he is, can radically bring about a transformation in himself; not according to a particular theory, a particular philosophy, but by seeing actually what he is. That very perception of what he is, will bring about the radical change.”

    This reminds me of Naipaul’s observation of Brahman Indians and their love of uncontaminated abstraction. I think he felt separating from the stench of poverty stimulated that verbal bias.

    Not taking anything away from K but the call to look into our soul and find out who we really are is not an uncommon plea. My guess is if goes unattached to actions it kind of splinters into nothingness.

  254. “My guess is if goes unattached to actions it kind of splinters into nothingness.”

    Well said, David M. That is the very plum in the middle of the pudding.

  255. JohnC — Thanks for your thoughtful comments, many of which I am in agreement with. “This still seems to me to be our best and perhaps our only hope. That we see things (ourselves included) as they/we truly are and stop deceiving ourselves. That in itself brings about a radical reorientation without any violence or coercion. I have seen this in action, and I known how powerful it can be.”

    What you say is true, and it is a necessary cause for the changed world we seek, but it is not a sufficient cause. It is disheartening that most folks are unwilling or unable to accomplish this first essential step, but beyond that is the need to discern and carry out effective action to make real one’s understanding. And this needs to be done on a sufficiently large scale. A very daunting prospect. Only a spiritual movement could bring this off. But a spirituality that is not stuck in the errors of past movements, a truly post-post-modern spirituality. Ken Wilber and Aurobindo have tried to discern the outlines of such a world changing energy. Our time is very late, but such an inner groundswell of consciousness and real understanding is still a possibility. Without it we are truly without hope.

  256. David M and mike k —

    I am certainly not advocating withdrawing into an exclusively internal world. I revised my previous comment and posted it on my blog, and then followed it up with another that contains this clarification. At least I hope it is a clarification!

    “The whole system must change. For me, ‘the system’ exists both as external social, economic and political circumstances; and as an internal mindset — beliefs and unconscious thought patterns that usually govern our behavior. The inner and the outer aspects of ‘the system’ or what I sometimes call ‘the exploitation system’ are intertwined, mutually reinforcing, and extremely difficult to unravel. For ‘the system’ to change we have to be honest with ourselves about both the internal and the external aspects, or else it continues unabated. That’s what metanoia means to me: stepping aside from the exploitation system, both internally and externally. Stepping aside to where? That’s what is so hard to describe, because for most of us, what I am calling ‘the system’ is simply reality, or life as we know it.”

  257. JohnC — I agree with your understanding. As Plato put it, the State is the individual writ large, and vice versa. The inner and the outer are not two, but equal aspects of a dynamic system. Efforts at fundamental change will fail if they do not address both ends of this problematic entity. Sufi and Quaker thought and practice tries to maintain this balance of work on oneself and work to change society. I feel we need a new spiritual movement that transforms people deeply, so that as an integral part of their practice they can change our world deeply. We have enough of shallow people trying to change the world in shallow ways.

    The problem is how to bring folks to understand that real spiritual transformation involves often difficult work on themselves, including breaking addictions to old ideas and lifestyles. The flabby egos of most modern people unfortunately shy away from the real Work that needs to be done. That alchemy requires a fire and willingness to sacrifice that are essential to deep lasting changes, within/without. Thanks for your insights. I feel a kinship with you in longing for the Great Work to proceed in transforming our presently fallen world into a sacred planet, where all dwell in peace and mutual help together.

  258. I think if we are going to achieve a sustainable life on earth there are going to have to be some kind of agreed upon international rules. Then I think kind of anarchist style folks will need to self-deputize themselves to see that those rules are carried out.

    An example of that would be Paul Watson and the Sea Shepard and he and his crews defense of the whales.

  259. David M — OK bring on the vigilantes! But it is going to take a lot more than that….

  260. mike k I’m thinking post breakdown when strong technological and social infrastructures will be in bad condition. In a sense we will be on our own. Positive collective action at that point will be around whatever the prevailing ideas are about achieving a better future. And I think it will be bottom up, thus the self-deputizing.

    It would seem to me coming together and getting those ideas ie rules in place would be a useful endeavor. Bring whatever spiritual resources to the table, by all means.

    Mine as I’ve stated before center around:


    That may suggest a negativity towards people but it’s really not. It’s only folks who worship people as ‘in vacuo’ abstractions that don’t get the positive vision of less people living in a more enriching nature friendly sustainable community environment.

  261. Take heart. In the human culture words are actions, and words that paint a better world have a power, tugging at us to leave the current ways behind and to fashion rafts of many designs to move toward the other shore.

  262. Are words actions? I have thought about this for some time… my inclination is to say that while words unquestioningly have power, and can influence actions, they themselves are not actions. And only actions can move us to the other shore.

    Talking about rowing will not do it, only actual plying the oars.

  263. Even if we construct an Ark big enough to hold all known species, the scurrilous human crew will fight with each other, mutiny, and find a way to scuttle the whole shebang! Only better people can make a better world…

  264. Paul T — In spite of what I just posted, I totally agree with what you commented. Let the verbal imaginative ship building continue! First we think, then we do (or not). Words and ideas have got us where we are, let’s use them now to extricate ourselves and find a better way.

  265. Without language we would still be a bunch of (probably long ago extinct monkeys) lacking the ability to get into the complex mischief we have gotten into. The wisdom of India says that now we must use a thorn to pluck out a thorn. We are really stuck with the blessing/curse of words. May we use them for our deliverance.

  266. I think there was one linguist who concluded that one of the main reasons for the evolution of language was the escalation of the ability to obfuscate. If I secretly want to kill you I’m going to peddle myself as a pacifist.

    Hitler was a great practitioner of “just give me one more piece of territory and I will be satisfied.” He translated each agreement or accession as weakness.

    If someone says that they can jump 10 feet high then the appropriate response is “let’s see you do it.”

    Words without actions have no integrity. Unlike other professed pacifists Gandhi had cred because he put his principles into action.

  267. Is atomic energy good or bad? No, its just a feature of cosmic reality. But how we choose to relate to it can produce good or bad effects. Probably our best bet at this stage of our very imperfect moral development and wisdom, is to leave it alone. Language is somewhat like that, but we really don’t have a choice to leave it alone. We would not have survived up to this point without it, and we need it even now for our survival. So, learning to use language in constructive ways is one of the basic initiatory koans we face, The price of failure to accomplish this will be our extinction.

  268. It strikes me we are trying to be diplomatic about fighting language. We are calling public discourse a curse and a blessing at the same time. We are talking in fatalistic terms, or highly spiritual conscienceness, or political action ideas not unlike Edward Abbey or Che’

    I don’t think it’s language, as much as its literacy and literate behavior, that we are seeking. The word literacy is thrown around more casually than meaningfully. An intimidation tactic. What do we mean by literacy? Only now are we (educators) talking different kinds of literacy – computer, technology, financial, political – and by doing that we recognize the meaning of literacy is much larger, and always was larger, than the small fraction of intelligence and cognition called reading and writing.

    For me, what’s of greater power and of more importance is literate behavior. Literate behavior is what public education should be completely about and imperative that its understood, it is a process, not a skill, which is the biggest mistake public education makes. And that makes a huge difference. Some will see me playing a game of semantics but I am not. The social change movements of history had many parts – violence, breakdowns of society, unexpected leadership, restoration of peace and justice – but what they always had was literate behavior. People melded together ideas, justice, injustice, government, religion (I personally think this element is misnamed and misused. Read the “Hunger Games as an example) but they also had an eloquent, articulate process with a set of rules and ethics. In our connected but disjointed discussion of “self-evident truths” we are seeking the literate behavior of environmental activism. Perhaps all of it’s parts are here, it’s just we can’t see them yet. And there’s the rub, the path that leads to literate behavior and sustainable change and the path of self-destruction run in opposite directions, And we can’t figure out which path we are on. Although most of us think we know.

    Here’s an example that comes out of the current political battles raging around the country. The whole political/electoral circus soils itself constantly by attempting to hold itself as being on higher ground. We widely and incorrectly accept the notion that opposing candidates conduct political debates. They don’t! Either they don’t know what a debate is or they don’t care. It’s impossible to tell where the high ground is because there are no rules or ethics in current political debate.

    What politicians do is conduct an unregulated, unmanageable public argument hoping to find or create a sound byte that lifts them above the cacophony of the other “debaters”. Literate behavior recognizes that any form of inquiry, or democratic dialogue has rules and ethics. And as appealing as a great sound byte is, it cannot be the principal sign post on the road to literate behavior. Not knowing, or not using those rules or ethics immediately drops the issue and all it’s tangent parts into the waste bucket. Literate behavior learns that throwing away everything that doesn’t seem to fit, is not problem-solving although that’s what it’s usually called. Literate behavior knows that failure is just as powerful a learning tool and success is.

    For those that understand the rules and ethics of debate, what is played out every couple of years is nothing more than a very poor “mystery play”. The goal of this pseudo-ritual is to create a national/world platform where lies are treated as the truth, and the truth treated as lies. Those who understand literate behavior don’t see you are debating when your are arguing rudely, interrupting other speakers and using up their time, and hurling character attacks as if they were water balloons hopefully filled with something stronger than water. Which, of course, they are not.

    This discussion of “self-evident truths” frequently falls off the path of literate behavior. But at other times, to quote Lt. Caffey,(Tom Cruse) “…it’s making an argument…it’s making a case…” . It’s the job of activists to make that case, not in front of the converted, but the unconverted. Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Rachael Carson we some of the best at converting the unconverted.

    I don’t know why we don’t have more Muir’s, Leopold’s, and Carson’s. The level of wisdom, experience, and articulateness that’s come out of this discussion of self-evident truths just swallows me up. I often think how can I have the arrogance to even dribble my scrawny thoughts on the same pages with Derrick and all you others.

    I would like to see this discussion, “self-evident truths”, coalesce into literate behavior aimed even more directly and much more confrontational to the people blocking the way to healing and hopefully recovery. If I could choose a leader, it would be Che’ over Gandhi.But that’s just me.

  269. Don H — “I would like to see this discussion, “self-evident truths”, coalesce into literate behavior aimed even more directly and much more confrontational to the people blocking the way to healing and hopefully recovery. If I could choose a leader, it would be Che’ over Gandhi.But that’s just me.”

    You are right that words will be ineffective in dealing with the power wielding individuals who are a great source of our problems. The only language they understand is power. As for persuading those who should be awake and active in opposing those pushing our world over the edge, unfortunately they are not only asleep, but will actively resist well meaning attempts to waken them. They resist the truth as though it is the real enemy. What profound shock will be needed to coerce them to finally turn from their games of pretense and denial and face the unpleasant truths we need to deal with is unclear. And even then it is a long shot that they might deal with our grim realities in a loving and intelligent fashion. More likely they will react with scapegoating and senseless violence. Most of our neighbors have unwittingly bought into the kind of inverted misunderstanding of words that Orwell wrote about in 1984 and elsewhere. The Tower of Babel teaching story was not only about the diverse languages on earth, but the failure of people speaking supposedly the same language to have a common understanding of what it means. A very tricky business to sort out. The only way to do that is to have a real educational system in society, something we do not have.

  270. “I think there was one linguist who concluded that one of the main reasons for the evolution of language was the escalation of the ability to obfuscate.”

    Do you remember who it was, David?

  271. Vera
    ““I think there was one linguist who concluded that one of the main reasons for the evolution of language was the escalation of the ability to obfuscate.”

    Do you remember who it was, David?”

    It was the theme of a book I perused at a book store a long time ago. Sorry I don’t remember the title or author.

    Fortunately we have google and found something that might stand in.

    Here are a couple of excerpts from a fairly long pdf.

    “I particularly focus on the social aspect of language use, namely that the function of language is to foster and maintain social relationships and also to manage one‘s reputation in order to achieve certain social ends. Burling identifies examples of how and why humans use language strategically. He states, ―We constantly use language to persuade or to manipulate others into helping us. We use language to try to gain an edge over others, just as they use language to try to gain an edge over us. We constantly seek to persuade, to convince, to cajole, to seduce. Skill with language brings tangible rewards‖ (Burling 2005:213).”


    “For the purposes of this thesis, I will focus on strategic language use in the context of deception. Although people use language strategically in other contexts as well, I will be looking at how language is used to deceive and detect deception. I have chosen deception, because as Euclid O. Smith explains, ―deception is a subset of behaviors that evolutionary biologists have come to view as strategizing behaviors‖ (Smith 1987:51). Furthermore, my hypothesis is that language may have evolved to help humans successfully navigate the social milieu through deception and deception detection in order to survive long enough to attract mates and reproduce.”

  272. Thank you. It makes sense… though I think it goes too far to say that’s why language evolved… chimps deceive one another quite successfully without it… and so do many other animals.

  273. I just looked at the thesis, and her conclusion is as follows:

    “These points strongly support theories from evolutionary psychology—that language (particularly strategic language) was likely selected for its social function, used to create alliances and avoid cheaters, negotiate status, and attract mates.”

    My emphasis. I totally agree.

  274. Imho the effort to deduce useful information about our current human problems from the behavior of various early primates is a waste of time best left to PHD candidates in search of theses. Simply stated, a lot has changed since then. These changes have been so profound in human consciousness that the search for their origins becomes more of an intellectual game, and a form of avoidance of the complex issues we are faced with. Its going to take more than monkey smarts now to solve our situation.

  275. I would be the first to quite the rat race and live a simpler life but our social organization does not support it.


    1. Can’t work part weeks or flex schedule to leave time for bee keeping etc

    2. Can’t build or finance cheap shelter

    3. No support for natural living, too dense and neighbors not interested in pooling resources or support network – too busy

    Also mother nature is an unforgiving bitch.

    Our best hope is to reduce consumption while continueing to develop technology as strategically as possible all while improving quality of life.

    If people felt secure and safe and valued this would go a long way to reducing the hyper consumption and human activity we see. We need a constitution of the individual that guarantees a certain minimum lifestyle supported by technology and careful planning.

    Coercing people with starvation just so they work in factories under threat of immenent lay offs so a few people can be rich is the problem. Doing the same thing but at a less technological level will give the same result.

    I don’t think transforming people into less ambitious reduced humans is desirable or viable.

    However if basic needs are secured and protected supported by technology people will slow down and smell the roses. They will still compete but instead of a new BMW it will be how good your vegetable garden is or how good your cabinet making is etc etc

    No need for a revolution or destroying dams just get a handle on this hyper consumption and population growth.

    If people can’t feel secure and valued they will find a way. Men make war and women have babies. Sometimes these get mixed together. Also religion jumps in and does its best to exploit what it can of the situation. War, babies and religion are slowly being made obsolete by technology and modern society lets not go backward. Let us take the next step and spell out clearly what each individual has a right to and use technology to enforce and support this. Things like basic health, clean water, education, basic transportation and housing. Places to interact enjoy themselves work play etc. Access to community leaders of all types

  276. *** “Also mother nature is an unforgiving bitch.” Really? When you poison Her, she up and dies. You cut down her trees and She can’t purify your air. You destroy the topsoil, and she won’t grow your food. Who is being a bitch/bastard/idiot here? My impression is that She has put up with a lot from us.

  277. “No need for a revolution or destroying dams just get a handle on this hyper consumption and population growth.”
    When you get a handle on how to deal with hyper consumption and population growth, let me know.


  278. There are plenty of handles, but few hands willing to take hold of them. The solution to the population problem is so simple it would be laughable that people could not see it and implement it, except that their failure to do so is having such tragic consequences. Like so many zombies we march uncomprehending to our doom…

  279. One kf tbe problems with population control is everyone has to play. If a few don’t they eventually become the dominant population. There is a reason Mormonism is the fastest growing religion and I don’t think it is principally due to conversions.

  280. The Chinese pioneered methods to deal with those who chose not to conform to the one child policy. I’m sure we could come up with even better ways of persuasion. The real problem is that only a small minority now have voluntarily chosen to abstain from overpopulating our fragile world. Hubris on individual and collective scales still rules…

  281. I don’t expect any large portion of the population to become super wise. What does seem within the realm of possibility is to understand the exponential growth-death of everything so to speak. Some properly focused notion of less is better would seem to be graspable.



  282. David — Try to get Americans to realize that less is better. For them the ultimate heresy is to espouse less of anything. I will always remember the Phil Donahue show where he had invited a couple to share their ideas and practices of voluntary simplicity. The audience turned on them with intense hostility that was amazing to Phil and to me viewing this. Welcome to consumerdom.

  283. Mike, on the other hand I’ve seen programs on collection junkies who drive themselves and their families out of their homes by their inability to handle their obsession with owning things. It seems like a little intelligent extrapolation would be within reason. Clean air, clean streams and places to tramp around and go fishing would seem to be something you wouldn’t want to crowd out.


  284. An unexpected corroboration of my point of view in #285 of this thread came in the New Yorker article “It Ain’t Necessarily So — How much do evolutionary stories reveal about the mind?” (In the Sept. 17 issue) This essay is an interesting exploration of this question.

  285. This seems relevant to the conversation.On ABC tonight. Folks might want to check this out.

    “Surviving Progress presents the story of human advancement as awe-inspiring and double-edged. It reveals the grave risk of running the 21st century’s software – our knowhow – on the ancient hardware of our primate brain which hasn’t been upgraded in 50,000 years. With rich imagery and immersive soundtrack, filmmakers Mathieu Roy and Harold Crooks launch us on journey to contemplate our evolution from cave-dwellers to space explorers.

    Ronald Wright, whose best-seller, A Short History Of Progress inspired this film, reveals how civilisations are repeatedly destroyed by ‘progress traps’ – alluring technologies serve immediate needs, but ransom the future. With intersecting stories from a Chinese car-driving club, a Wall Street insider who exposes an out-of-control, environmentally rapacious financial elite, and eco-cops defending a scorched Amazon, the film lays stark evidence before us. In the past, we could use up a region’s resources and move on. But if today’s global civilisation collapses from over-consumption, that’s it. We have no back-up planet.”

  286. Finding balance in a tilted world…

    To blame the poor for subsisting on welfare has no justice unless we are also willing to judge every rich member of society by how productive he or she is. Taken individual by individual, it is likely that there’s more idleness and abuse of government favors among the economically privileged than among the ranks of the disadvantaged. -Norman Mailer, author (1923-2007)

  287. Here’s a doozy:

    “Just in case you were beginning to think rich people were deeply misunderstood and that they feel the pain of those who are less fortunate, here’s the world’s wealthiest woman, Australian mining tycoon Gina Rinehart, with some helpful advice.”If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain,” she said in a magazine piece. “Do something to make more money yourself — spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working.”

    Rinehart made her money the old-fashioned way: she inherited it. Her family iron ore prospecting fortune of $30.1 billion makes her Australia’s wealthiest person and the richest woman on the planet.”There is no monopoly on becoming a millionaire,” she said by way of encouragement. “Become one of those people who work hard, invest and build, and at the same time create employment and opportunities for others.”

    Why are people poor? Rinehart blamed what she described as “socialist,” anti-business government policies, and urged Australian officials to lower the minimum wage and cut taxes. “The millionaires and billionaires who choose to invest in Australia are actually those who most help the poor and our young,” she said. “This secret needs to be spread widely.””,0,3323996.story

  288. Gina’s looks make her a shoo-in for the lead role in a Dicken’s type movie. Anybody up for submitting a script? With her ego, she would jump at the chance to play herself on screen… Beware Leona, your title of Queen of Mean is in danger!

  289. We all seem to varying degrees stuck in a corporate mode. Think of what you do throughout your 24 hours that doesn’t directly involve you with a corporation from cars to houses to food to roads to mattresses.

    So how do we think outside the corporate box? Maybe we can’t. So maybe we have to make the principal corporate box Earth Inc. and we’re all shareholders. The various affiliates would be called Ecosystem Services, whose job was to service the earth in the most sustainable way. We would reap the bottom line in clean water, stable climate, tillable earth, lots of photosynthetic greenery and a relatively steady state population and economy.

    I wonder if anybody has attempted to develop an eco-business-politics along those lines.

  290. we do not need to rewrite the constitution, we need to disrespect and destroy the entire premise. the only “men” it gave rights to were white male jesus praying landowners. these degenerates are so sick as to think that they can own land and people. we need but be Patient: MTHR Nature will wash herself of this white devil in her own Time and Way… that is, unless the caucasian barbarian does not kill himself with his murderous ways prior to. stop fighting this beast in disguise, for that is all that provides his STRNGTH. if not given ATTENTION this demon child will starve without its host body, and this evil parasite will finally die… and MAMA Earth will restore HerSelf and Her kin with jubilant quickness. we will purge this virus for We Becomings are resilient, proof: We Are Still Here! take courage, BRTHRs & SSTRs, and simply stop participating in their game.

  291. I do not know where else to place this query. Perhaps we could take a moment to discuss what could be real and self-evidently true about human population and demographic transition theory.

    For Tsimane, birth control access may not cut fertility

    What can we learn from this research about human population dynamics and demographic transition theory?

    Comments from one and all are welcome.

  292. We are learning once again that narrow cause and effect analysis doesn’t necessarily work as with the Tsimane. It would be interesting to know the Tsimane birth control story before the Europeans showed up. We act sometimes as if the notion of birth control was unknown to aboriginals before we introduced it. Any decent anthropologist will tell you that’s nonsense.

    It appears when niches of economic opportunity are unleashed somebody is going to step forward to fill it. A serious politics of sustainability rather than growth will need to become part of economic ethics. A lot of managed public parks would seem to be part of that. Rewards for child production restraint would appear to be another part of that.


  293. Getting folks to honor their ethical responsibility in bringing new human life into being is part of the deeper need to persuade people to engage in spiritual practices to elevate their consciousness and become responsible partners in creating a more loving and intelligent world wherein all beings are helped to realize their maximim potentials.

  294. It appears to me that the story of the Tsimane is simple. For thousands upon thousands of years they lived within the carrying capacity of the place they inhabited. There numbers could not grow larger than the available food supply could sustain. They did not systematically and annually produce, store for long, or commodify food. Human population numbers went up and down according to the vagaries of the natural food supply.

    Perhaps we are missing the point, or certainly missing a point? There is one issue that is not being given the attention it deserves. I want to focus on human exceptionalism as it relates to population dynamics of the human species. How are we to grasp the gravity of the human predicament, much less gain consensus about how to go forward, if we cannot share an adequate, scientific understanding of the ‘placement’ of the human species within the order of living things. Specifically, is the population dynamics of the human species essentially similar to, or different from the population dynamics of other species? In terms of our population dynamics are human beings actually exceptional? If so, where is the science for an assertion of human exceptionalism vis a vis its population dynamics. The population dynamics of non-human species are routinely and immediately understood. Food is the independent variable and population numbers is the dependent variable. More food equals more organisms; less food equals less organisms; and no food, no organisms. But the minute our focus shifts to human organisms, everything we know from well established scientific research about population dynamics is turned upside down. We widely share, consensually validate and automatically broadcast via the mass media the notion that the human species must grow food in order to meet the needs of growing human population. All of sudden human population numbers is the independent variable and food is the dependent variable. Where is the scientific research for this distinctly human exceptionalism with regard to the population dynamics of humankind? I cannot find sufficient scientific support for such exceptionalism.

    Assistance from one and all is welcome.

  295. SES — By this time you know better than most that the population issue is impacted by huge economic, political, religious, and scientific, entrenched interests whose continuous propaganda has clouded people’s simple understanding of this issue. They have every intention and massive ability to turn this question into one that lies outside of the range of dispassionate, objective consideration. It reminds one of the huge corporate investment in PR firms to cloud the issue of human caused global warming. People just cannot hear your position based on real and unrefuted science in the midst of the smokescreen of lies and phony “debate” that these powerful elites have paid for and put forth. It reminds me of the duplicitous lawyers in the OJ Simpson case. They knew the truth — that OJ killed his wife — but they were paid to invent all kinds of lies and deceptions to obscure the obvious truth. That was (or should have been) an introduction to many observers of our fractured judicial system, which like all the other basic systems of our society is delivering the exact opposite of what it pretends to dispense.

  296. We’re kind of stuck as co-managers with Mother Nature of the natural system. We are going from the Holocene to the Anthropocene. You can run but you can’t hide from that.

    So how we manage things becomes more the question. If there was a way of bringing us back to the population dynamics of other wild species that would be fine. But homo sapiens are out of that bottle for now. How we manage things is presently the issue.



  297. Dear Mike K and David M,

    May I take this moment to express my gratitude for your reality-oriented comments. At least to me, one of great tragedies of our time and my generation is the way dishonest leaders have deceived the public and self-proclaimed experts with appropriate expertise in vital fields of study like population dynamics have consciously chosen to remain silent rather than speak truth to power. Never in the course of human events have so few taken so much from so many and left so little for others. Never have so many movers and shakers with responsibilities to science and duties to humanity been so derelict in their performance, so steadfast in their unwillingness to do the right thing.

    There may be times when a case can be made for staying silent, but the dire global ecological circumstances looming ominously before humanity call out for a different response, for telling it like it is, according the ‘lights’ and best scientific evidence we possess. People with wealth, power and influence are ‘fiddlin while the Earth begins to burn’. These last words are to be taken literally because climate destabilization is already evident. The reckless overconsumption, relentless overproduction and rampant overpopulation activities of the human species can be seen changing our planetary home, but not for the better. Much of what leaders are claiming to protect and preserve is actually being destroyed. Earth’s limited resources are being dissipated faster than it can restore the resources for human benefit; its frangible environs irreversibly degraded; its biodiversity massively extirpated; and the children’s future threatened because the Earth is being ravaged by a single, greedmongering generation who operate according to the mantra, “I got mine. Get yours. To hell with the rest. Be assured that your willingness to play along and keep silent will make you golden.” The birthright of children everywhere and future generations to a planet fit for human habitation is being stolen by their elders on our watch.

    Rather than speak out as each one of us is a million voices, because silence is killing the world we inhabit’, many too many have deceitfully, arrogantly, selfishly chosen adopt a code of silence that is golden. Greed rules the world and rules it absolutely, I suppose.



  298. S E Salmony

    “The birthright of children everywhere and future generations to a planet fit for human habitation is being stolen by their elders on our watch.”

    One problem is there are a lot fairly educated folks who believe that things aren’t getting worse, only changing as they insist they always have. They like to talk about matters at a molecular level. Molecular arrangements are changing and that is neutral. Assemble the molecules right and we can grow forever: convert fossil fuel into food, desalinate ocean water to handle water shortages, farm fish as the oceans die, for unlimited energy set up advanced nuclear power plants that are virtual perpetual motion machines, grind carbonate rock into powder that will then absorb the extra CO2 – their solutions are endless and they are quite confident about them. They even have the answer to possible earth limits – colonize space.

    Since I’m not technologically sophisticated I can only express my doubts and apply common sense. But the ideology of a technofix for everything appears to be quite powerful and widespread with for example the catalytic converter and the moratorium on CFCs(Blowing a hole in the ozone layer) thrown out as examples of worldwide solutions to serious environmental problems.

    This technology as God business is a hurdle that seriously needs to be confronted.


  299. Steve, David — The source of our more and more complex problems goes right to the depths of the human heart and mind. Unless there is a widespread awakening at that level to the true meaning and aim of our lives here on Earth, piecemeal patches and supposed fixes will truly avail us nothing but more extended mutual misery. The danger is that we will go to our doom as a species desperately clutching to ourselves the very hubris that is poisoning all our affairs and ourselves. Embrace the truth of humbling spiritual practice or reap the terrible karma of your refusal. Return to the simple truths of love, peace, sharing, sacrifice, and mutual help — or be destroyed by your own stubborn pride and egotism. Sound familiar? Maybe, but perhaps we don’t hear this message often enough to think about heeding it. We really do have a choice in this, but too many of us are lost in unconsciousness and delusion. Alas, but this is so. And how to change this and promote widespread awakening is the chief business we should be about…

  300. Dear David and Mike,

    The popular “ideology of the technofix for everything” (hat tip to David) is based upon two fantasies. The first notion proclaims that the Earth is not only maternal presence, but more than that: Earth is like an eternally expressive teat. Everything the human species needs for survival will be made available and actually provided ad infinitum by the ‘colossal Earth-teat’ at which humankind suckles. The second notion suggests that human beings with feet of clay can become masters of the universe; that these masters of the universe actually possess the knowledge and power to rule the world. The widespread adoption of these fantasies by leaders and followers alike appear to be leading the human community toward some sort of unimaginable global ecological wreckage, I suppose.

    I find appealing the idea of striving for a “widespread awakening” (hat tip to Mike), and referred to elsewhere as a transformation of human consciousness, that occurs once a critical mass of people see the finite Earth and its frangible environment in a new way… see the world into which all living things have been placed more accurately for what it is.

    There is another world, a new world, that is for sure. But what is harder to communicate is this: the new world is actually the old world seen anew, a world to be found now, here, in every present moment before our eyes. Imagine awakening early one morning at daybreak. Everyone else is still asleep. You walk out of the house into nature. Nothing about the landscape or environs you entered has changed from the day before, and yet everything is different because the world is seen somehow in a new light. A new relationship to that world is perceived and becomes established. In all the mornings before this good morning, everything was a certain way. But on this good morning, things changed. There was no going back.



  301. mike k

    “Return to the simple truths of love, peace, sharing, sacrifice, and mutual help”

    I wouldn’t call these truths. I would call these feelings and practices that most experience in their daily lives. All but the peace part could apply to the SS and of course peace in a twisted way was their goal. It would seem odd to call common practices and feelings an answer.

    A goal to me is living in a sustainable relationship with our surroundings under conditions of community. All the good feelings and practices come along for the ride.

    I don’t have much faith in folks becoming sensitive first. The hard mathematics of Malthus seems more to the point. Population limitation becomes a sine qua non whether you are a nice guy or not. Understanding that is as simple finally as rallying against somebody pouring poison into the community water system. Ultimately everyone except the deranged can get it and that in the case of population lays the basis for hard thinking about a comprehensive design solution built around peer pressure.


  302. I am weirded out… no new discussions since, what, August? What is happening to Orion?

  303. Odd timing vera. A whole bunch of links from the nov/dec 2012 issue was just posted.

  304. Dear David,

    The timing of a disruptive comment like the one of Vera is indeed odd, but she has a history of commenting in the Orion blogs that helps explain her unfortunate intrusions.



  305. David: Huh? I just double checked under “Orion Discussions” and the lead article is still the Fracking of Rachel Carson, with first comment posted on Aug 23. What am I missing?

    Steve: always delighted to dip your poison pen in revenge, eh?

  306. Vera, right in the center of the home page you have below a collection of recent articles with discussion opportunities. The title of the whole series is – “Featured Content from the November/December 2012 Issue”

  307. Thank you, David. I found it. I hope they add them to the Discussion list as well — that’s where I check. Maybe it’s just a bit delayed.

  308. Vera, Vera, Vera,

    How many times will you do the same thing over and over again? You see what you want to see, eh?



  309. I haven’t read anything written by Derrick Jensen before this but I had heard about him and his militant approach from friends who are heavily influenced by him. However, when these friends have talked about the wisdom in his philosophy, I have invariably felt that there were several gaps in the reasoning. I am aware of the fact that such gaps might seem manifest to me simply because of my own lack of knowledge or understanding but I believe that it is important for me to give voice to my dissent.

    In his ‘declaration’ here Derrick Jensen is advocating an extreme approach that makes several assumptions for which he provides no empirical or rational evidence. For instance he declares that ‘compromise is no longer an adequate way forward’. At best this can only be accepted as the opinion of one man, since it is not clear what claim to authority Derrick has to define what this way forward must be. Further, how is Derrick defining the idea of compromise? When our common sense tells us that in every aspect of lives, we are making compromises and, trade offs in order to operate as individuals and as a community, how can one make this blanket declaration that seems to indicate that all compromise must be rejected outright? Doesn’t this in fact jeopardise any effort to address sustainability issues in a democratic and inclusive manner, while presenting the danger of turning sustainability into a fringe group concern?

    Again his assertions about the privatisation of profits and the externalisation of costs are sweeping generalisations and presumptions. Even if there is a measure of truth to them, I think it is important to only make statements that can be, and are justified logically. I know that Derrick may have provided extensive reasoning and evidence for these assertions through his work and his writing elsewhere but he must take account of the fact that there might be first time readers of an article written by him to whom such blanket declarations that are not supported by logical arguments can only sound childish at best and arrogant at worst.

    The problem I have with the tone and underlying message in Derrick’s argument is that he seems to be postulating that consumerism is somehow inherently wrong or even sinful, thereby arrogating to him a certain moral authority that allows him to take this decision for the whole of humanity. For example, demanding that the US constitution be rewritten to prevent the ‘wealthy’ from externalising costs, presumes that all wealthy people are greedy and willing to indulge in unlawful activity to further their interests at any cost. This is not logical and he doesn’t have any evidence to back the claim that all or even a large majority of the wealthy are like this. All his recommendations are similarly extremist and absolutist, that would by default exclude the presumably moderate opinions of the majority, thereby defeating the very purpose of a dialogue.

    Another such example would be the demand that the US must only go to war if 50% of the people vote for it. If we examine this statement we will soon see that it fails to account for what will happen in a situation where 51% has voted in favour of a war while everyone else has voted against. Are you truly listening to the voice of the community if the decision is then taken to go to war? So is the implicit assertion that important decisions like going to war should be left to the people to decide through a direct vote mature and well thought through? By logical extension one can also demand that environmental laws be decided by a direct vote and in all probability such a vote in today’s world would not lead to the kind of drastic controls that Derrick wants. So there is an inherent inconsistency in what he is saying, where it becomes unclear whether he sees the need for an autocratic system that will force people to be more sustainable or he wants a democratic approach where he cannot judge anyone and has to instead convince the majority to change their attitude. And to be absolutist and inflexible is the worst way to begin if your hoping for a democratic solution.

    My criticism here is only directed at Derrick Jensen’s method of choice in addressing what he believes are important concerns. I am not denying the claim that we live in an unsustainable world or that there is an urgent need for both awareness and action to create controls that restrain vested interests from misusing social and legal frameworks for private benefit. I believe that we must act quickly and decisively to establish the truth in these assertions beyond any reasonable doubt, and if this has already been done, then we must act to develop the mechanisms that will prevent such harm and punish those who perpetrate them.

  310. I am all for the ammendment for change. We want what we have really never had and that is a life of freedom and nature instead of the killing and poverty, We call for education, behavior modification taught in our school systems. We believe that women and men should be educated on the population we have before making any more contributions to that.

  311. We hold self-evident, al’beit, inconvenient truths…including, but not limited to, too many damn dam truths.

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