Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

After acceptance – some responses to anticipating collapse

Posted by jembendell on August 25, 2018

This year I have often been talking with people about the likelihood of near-term societal collapse, brought on by disruptive climate change. One reason for publishing my paper on Deep Adaptation was to invite such conversations and begin to explore more purposely what the heck this means for my own work and life. Once people move beyond the various barriers to generative dialogue on this topic, we then begin to discuss all kinds of ideas. I’ve found that people are responding in a variety of different ways. But one theme seems to be consistent – people feel nonplussed about how to explore what to do and who to talk to. People feel isolated. That can lead them back into denial.Red_and_blue_pill

To help me understand my own options and to help others to do the same, I have attempted to map out some of the responses I am witnessing once people accepting near-term societal collapse. What follows is my first attempt at some categories. For each response I have at least one person in mind, but to keep it short, I won’t the give proper examples in this post. I am not a psychologist, and rather than attempt a hack of psychological theories here, I just present these responses in layman’s terms. I have labelled them for ease of discussion in comments below (and for levity). The responses aren’t mutually exclusive – many people are responding in a number of these ways all at the same time, myself included.

I’d welcome input from psychologists, either in the comments below or in the Deep Adaptation Linked-In group. Also, please let me know which types of response that I’ve missed. Here goes:

  • Reading and talking much more about societal collapse, and all the issues it brings up, but without significantly changing behaviour. That can include being active on social media so your tweets and Facebook posts seem rather doom-laden. Let’s call this “SOS!” response.
  • Changing jobs, moving home, and starting to build a more self-sufficient good life, partly off-grid, usually in the countryside. Or researching and planning this process, actively. I’ll call that the “survivalist” response. In some cases, this response could be a form of denial, as it is going to be so difficult to isolate oneself to cope with collapse, as I have discussed elsewhere.
  • Seeking personal growth via therapy, and/or various forms of meaningful play, time in nature, spirituality, or deep conversations. Many people have expressed a massive personal transformation as they accept near term mortality and lose some of their deference to societal norms and expectations. Let’s call this a “transcendence” response.
  • Talking about societal collapse in one’s professional circles, to explore what could be done within one’s profession and beyond. I am now witnessing a few such attempts, and rather than walking away from own profession, decided to do the same, for now. Let’s call this the “professional sunk costs” response.
  • Taking more risks in one’s workplace and community, to express one’s views with less fear of repercussion. Often this involves speaking about purpose and values and not accepting the dominant assumptions about growth, profit and conformity. The “not hiding anymore” response.
  • Reducing workload to create more time for exploring the issue of climate chaos or societal collapse, in anticipation of making a major decision about changing one’s life. The “taking a breather” response.
  • Retraining to develop skills that may be relevant for being useful to oneself and others post-collapse. That could be learning first aid, horticulture, herbal medicines, musical instruments, or even learning how to use a crossbow. Though that last one doesn’t sound too gentle, as these things are done as much as pastimes as preparations, I’ll call this the “gentle prepper” response.
  • Seeking to repair or improve one’s close relationships, while smelling the flowers and being nicer to pets, neighbours and colleagues. The “palliative love” response.
  • Seeking to know how to deal better with confusion, fear, and anticipatory grief, for oneself and to help others with those emotions. The “emotional self-care” response.
  • Looking for networks of people who are creating self-reliant ‘Arks’, in order to support them and have the option to join later. The “all options open” response.
  • Deciding that the options to change one’s life and work aren’t attractive or practical now, so continuing as normal but with a greater focus on peace and joy while waiting for the collapse. This is the “keep a cyanide pill” response. Though, to be honest, I haven’t met anyone who has prepared that way…. or they haven’t told me.
  • A related response to that one is where people accept collapse, go through the range of emotions, consider a range of options and then consciously choose to try and live in denial to have a happier life for as long as they can. Sometimes this can include attempts at living the dolce vita, spending more on today that they might have, given the bleak outlook. This is the “return me to the matrix” response. Sci-fi nerds might call it the “blue pill” response.
  • Organising to get the idea that we face a climate emergency and should prepare for collapse, such as through preparing for food rationing, on to the political agenda. As it evokes the belief in national government and citizen sacrifice that we have seen during wars, I will call this the “war footing” response. I should note that people who respond in this way have a variety of views that are shaped by their existing politics and values and there is no consensus nor likely to be one.
  • Organising to campaign for geoengineering and/or carbon sequestration while we still have the capacity to act on these. Examples include Arctic cloud brightening, agroecology and kelp planting. Some call for these actions with the idea that while civilisation exists then we have the chance to reduce the speed of climate change and thus give the species a chance to avoid extinction. I’ll call it the “where’s Bruce Willis” response.
  • Turning to non-violent direct action to force changes in practices that are making matters worse. Most instances of such direct action appear to be within a carbon emissions reduction paradigm, but could be influenced now by an awareness of impending collapse. That would bring into view a range of new things to disrupt, depending on the values one holds dear after accepting collapse. I will call this the “climate peace activist” response.
  • Organising to promote a particular set of proposals, and develop certain capabilities, for how to adapt to the coming changes, in particular at local levels. Some have started focusing on practical grassroots initiatives to develop capabilities for deep adaptation. I’ll call this the “humanitarian” response.
  • Organising to promote the cultural concepts that will help us to find and express meaning after societal-collapse. It involves looking for beauty and meaning in a new context. This is one focus of the Dark Mountain group. It’s a “reframing collapse” response.
  • Evangelising about one’s views on life, the cosmos and human organisation. That evangelising can be religious, new age spirituality or a view on politics and social organisation. This response can be cloaked in stories about how becoming a believer, or more devout, will help reduce the harm of climate change (so that gets close to collapse-denial) or help with whatever form of human community may survive. Secular versions include people saying they are developing the blueprint for how humanity will be in future if everyone listens and does what they will be told. Collectively, I’ll call these the “follow me” response. One of the joys of lumping all these approaches into the same category is it will annoy the hell out of the people who respond in this way. Sorry guys, and yes its nearly always guys, but the common denominator seems to be an ego-driven need to hold the truth and be recognised for that.
  • Watching Guy McPherson videos on Youtube. The “masochist” response.
  • Sharing Guy McPherson videos with your Facebook friends. The “sadomasochist” response.

OK, that’s an in-joke. “Doomer humour” will be a fast-growing genre. And, by its own admission, fairly fast-ending.

There are other responses that I have not come across yet in person, but have heard about. These are worrying forms of response and are sometimes cited by people who don’t want to talk about these issues. They include:

  • Anger and anxiety turning into depression, sometimes leading to suicide. I have read about a couple of suicides related to anxiety caused by awareness of climate change. These were famous cases, so I don’t know of how widespread climate-influenced depression has become. It’s the “depressive” response.
  • Turning to violent direct action to either take revenge or attempt to impose change or force action. I have only heard this discussed in abstract terms, mostly when people wonder why we haven’t seen this kind of action yet. It’s the “violent” response

Mentioning these responses makes me realise that we need psychologists and others who provide counsel to people, such as coaches and religious leaders, to engage actively in this field and develop the relevant support.

Having listed the range of responses above, what does it make you think about or feel?

Does it make you ask any questions?

Might it help in any way?

Please take some time to reflect on those questions, perhaps by returning to them after you finish reading this post.

By listing the range of responses, I have begun to see some of the weaknesses in my own responses. I have begun to wonder if what I think is an informed “response” is actually just another form of denial. I am left wondering what my response might become. And what kind of response from other people do I welcome and want to associate with. And what responses I think we should actively help people to avoid.

Summarising all these responses also makes me wonder where and how we may begin to find a shared agenda and identity, so that we can begin to learn from each other, coordinate better and sustain our simple human need to belong. That is one area where it would be useful to have more conversations, online and in person. They could include a discussion on what it is we share as principles and priorities as we face collapse. In my own reflections, I have not been drawn to the survivalist or prepper response, which seems to be fear-based and maintains an illusion that it is possible to calculate and control one’s future, through one’s own individual power, amidst future turmoil.  Also, it is based on a view that it is good to survive a bit longer than your neighbour when collapse occurs. For me, that is open to debate, as the values and behaviours we believe in have always been as relevant as how long we last on this Earth.

I have met many more people who believe an imminent societal collapse invites personal and collective transformation with universal love at the core, than I have met people who become grim survivalists. “Preppers” have a label for themselves. What might be ours? I have wondered whether “collapsnik” could work. It invokes the term “peacenik” from the early 1970s, which described people who campaigned against the West’s war in Vietnam and Cambodia to an extent that it became a cultural identity for them. Similar to peaceniks, we are not apathetic, but principled, devout, counter-cultural and communitarian. Some wonder whether “collapsnik” implies we want collapse to happen. Not in my case – I like my life at the moment. But I could do with a simple way of identifying people who believe collapse is coming and have let that awareness change their lives.

Other ideas for labels are most welcome…

Photo credit: W. Carter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0

(Note I previously wrote about some of these ideas in an article for Open Democracy in 2014, though I was more agnostic back then about the situation we face.)

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25 Responses to “After acceptance – some responses to anticipating collapse”

  1. R said

    Hi, I think that’s an interesting typology of the possible responses people may have in anticipation of rapid ecosystem and climate change. I’m a psychologist, and I agree there needs to be a lot more focus on this field and development regarding this. However it’s not likely to be viewed well professionally, probably due to current narratives re anxiety and reactions to the media, and professional.preference to always be seen to remain neutral.on topics in which there is c9ntroversy. This is a shame, as psychology offers a lot in terms of helping people adapt to and survive, psychologically speaking, extreme events. I think you should include a typology that includes derealisation / dissociation (common psychological defenses to extreme stress), and one that includes the psychological impact of severe trauma (e.g. PTSD, lasting changes to neural structures related to hypervigilemce and emotions, particularly anxiety and aggression). I also think its useful to question the assumption that a ‘survivalist reaction’ implies denial. Most theories of psychology acknowledge that people have an instinct to survive, and taking pragmatic steps to try to improve survival would be seen as an adaptive psychological response from a psychological perspective. I guess it depends on whether the person involves acknowledges the sheer number of factors outside of their control when trying to adapt and organise themselves and their life, and the possibility that it may have little impact due to the sheer scale of the changes involved.

    • John Burnett/Redpanther said

      You are dead on about “survivalist reaction”, and also that there are NO guarantees. Impact here (for me), in the most likely scenarios, is what has the best odds of outliving the Collapse and regenerating normal/healthy human life.

      My benchmark for mental health is what exists in intact hunter-gatherer-permaculturist human societies – i.e. how our evolution as a life form designed us to live. This is what the enabled/intact Deep Structure of human nature looks like. The present (and doomed) “human condition” is the result, at a biological level, of a 5000-10,000 year accumulation of epigenetic damage.

      The backwoods sanctuary I’m planning is not primarily motivated by “survival”, but a radically higher quality of life – more fully free from capitalism and far more intimate with God and nature. Also a place where human young can grow up decently, (relatively) protected from what will come down. Myself, I’ll be dead by the time things get really bad.

  2. I would add what I call the “climate denialist response.” It is the response of those who know very well that we will pass crucial climate tipping points; pretend (& insist) the science isn’t settled; and, intend to take & consume & profit as much as they can, regardless of the costs. This response is deeply embedded in the belief that one can survive collapse unscathed and at everyone else’s expense.

    • I wrote about collapse-denial in my previous post here https://jembendell.wordpress.com/2018/08/20/barriers-to-dialogue-on-deep-adaptation/

    • John Burnett/Redpanther said

      See: How tech’s richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse, Guardian, 7-24-18. They (correctly) figure they won’t even be able to trust their hired guards/mercenaries. And the vast, global extractive/economic slavery infrastructure that enables the lifestyle they MUST have will have broken up and collapsed. There will be poetic justice here. Those who think themselves most able to protect themselves from the consequences of their sick values will die the most ugly, protracted death. The “lowliest, most backward, 4th-world savages”, the hunter-gatherer-permaculturists (and those most able to adopt this way of life), in the more remote parts of the world, are the best equipped to outlive the Collapse and thrive.

      Nature ultimately eliminates anything that damages what it depends on. – Jag Bhalla, Scientific American, 7-12-13.

    • f nord said

      That, I believe, describes the mindset of our politicians. Even those who pay lip service to adaptation seem to believe that all they need to do is to promise to do better tomorrow. And the people believe that it’s someone else’s responsibility to “take the heat” — to bear the expense, discomfort, whatever. So crank up the AC, get out of town with the SUV (ever further away from the city ‘cuz the price of cottage real estate gets crazy, eh?),

      Otherwise how to explain the Canadian federal government buying pipelines, their most populous province electing someone who says he “believes in climate change and that it’s man-made” but, it seems, that it’s nevertheless appropriate to cancel existing mitigation measures, let alone do anything else.

      When I grew up, it was not “the good ol’ days.” But while some things were worse, some *were* better: one piece being the acceptance of community responsibillity and actual facts, another being that one could rely on one’s neighbours. In remote northern villages, at any rate. Neither were the pioneer days “the good ol’ days,” despite that both basically involved self-reliance of communities.

      Neither do I buy that humans used to be genetically superior — and although epigenetic damage due to “modern living” is pretty much a given, we do have the knowledge now and the technology to delve into individual particulars, and to fix a lot of it.

      Including things like tendencies to anxiety and depression. It’s another matter, though, to address what our general way of life, including education of the young, has wrought: an increasing inability to deal with anything unpleasant or “negative,” and an increasing sense of entitlement to “fun” and having one’s own way at all times.

      Personally, that we’re basically at the edges of a tipping point is not a surprise: it’s just another phase of disillusionment. The what to do about it, to help make useful change and to increase the odds that those dear or near to me “arrive intact,” is a puzzle to which I’ve as yet absolutely no answer.

      Suicide is not an answer for me, having committed to a decision against that half a century ago. Besides, it’s in the centre of the range of useless drama that leaves in its wake emotional desolation for others.

      Neither is denialism, generally: I’ve never been able to deny or even discount what I know, or to persist in behaviour I’ve realized is destructive. So I guess I’ll be looking for clues, till some kind of useful answer begins to gel. Hopefully something I can lend my efforts toward in a co-operative participatory way, in the years that are left to me.

      I don’t think Mr. Trump or Mr. Ford embody any answer … or that either even has a clue.

  3. Malcolm Waugh said

    Having listed the range of responses above, what does it make you think about or feel?

    Hey! Just what I’m interested in: categories of response, and figuring out my own response. I had a minimal list: denial, and three variants of post-acceptance – activism, party-on, hospice, suicide. And my own rough position is a combination of party-on and hospice, with intent and hope to end with suicide. I’m in many of the categories above.

    Suggested term, not snappy, but, I think, on-target: transition-aware.

  4. Dave B said

    Count me in the “keep a cyanide pill” group. I am severely disabled and would not want to live through significant events. I can barely make it through the day the way it is. My wife would join me if the time comes. We are in our 60’s, living in the States, so there is a chance that we may not see things like food shortages or rioting in our lifetimes. I do wonder what will happen to those disabled who would want to survive but find themselves isolated because of their disabilities. Will they be left behind?

    • greenholly said

      Rather than ‘keep a cyanide pill’; are these even readily available? ; there must be an argument here for dignified euthanasia. To come home and find a relative has used their own method of early extermination would be hugely traumatic to family, friends and neighbours at a time when they will already suffering enormous trauma.
      A calm, planned and peaceful exit would enable people time to say goodbye, mourn their loved one, and give them the reassurance that their loved one chose to go rather than just died or was killed.
      Mental health will become so critical, families should do everything to protect each other and those around them.
      Knowing that such an option would be readily available if everything really became too much may give people the confidence to carry on if possible to a better form of life if they knew they wouldn’t have to plan and execute a self termination strategy.
      Personally, I am more in the ‘climate peace activist ‘ at present but could change.

  5. tylerdisney said

    I’ve been exploring the gradations of denial in myself for about a year now, after I became aware of it, and this list of responses nicely clarifies some of them. I’m moving further and further from any certainty regarding the appropriateness of response the more I think about it, for a variety of reasons.

    This makes me wonder about the time relationship of these responses. I recognize many of the responses in my life over the past several years, and in *my personal* introspection I consider some to be early/immature responses to my dawning realization of the inevitability of collapse, with others reflecting a growing amount of reflection and maturity applied to the “what the hell do I do now?” question. And, to be clear, some of those responses are still in the aspirational category – a response I hope to soon have the maturity to adopt, even though I’m at this moment resistant to it.

    So – can some of these responses be ordered on a timeline? The parallels to Kubler Ross 5 stages of grief are clear, but as you say, best left to the professional psychologists (I’m not one).

    I also am thinking about the concept of valuing dissensus, that is, admitting that besides a few edge cases, perhaps we aren’t capable of assigning value to any particular response. Furthermore, pushing for a variety and diversity of responses might be a best practice approach – encourage people to run with whatever makes sense to them, develop and nurture an ecosystem of responses, go easy on the judgement, and see what seems to work best with our unfolding environment.

    Which, of course, begs the question of what the hell “works best with” means, because it implies a goal. Is that measured by psychological well-being? Concrete results in terms of carbon sequestered, citizens mobilized?

    It took me months if not years of dealing with collapse inevitability to reframe my thinking – I was programmed to evaluate everything in terms of “can this help sustain our civilization and avoid collapse?” and it permeated my thinking in obvious as well as subtle ways. I had to do a lot of work to start thinking in terms of “What does this mean/what value will it have/what impact will it have in the context of a near-term post-collapse society?”

    I work in the green building industry. I’m pretty sure that most of the projects we work on have basically no utility in the post-collapse world, as most of them are predicated on the assumption of a grid, political and economic stability, etc. At best some of these buildings will function as shelter, but as an engineer none of the mechanical/electrical/plumbing systems I’m involved with will be working. I basically view my current life’s work as placing valuable materials like copper in obvious places for future generations (/me in a decade or two) to one day salvage for something actually fucking useful, like making pots or something.

    Thank you for the work you’re doing. I’ve been following you for about a year now and have gotten a lot of value from your writing. The isolation of these viewpoints can be very hard to deal with, as you know and wrote about, so your emails while challenging definitely provide a vector of comfort.

    Cheers, Tyler

    On Sat, Aug 25, 2018 at 5:18 AM Professor Jem Bendell wrote:

    > jembendell posted: “This year I have often been talking with people about > the likelihood of near-term societal collapse, brought on by disruptive > climate change. One reason for publishing my paper on Deep Adaptation was > to invite such conversations and begin to explore more ” >

  6. Paul Heft said

    The “collapsnik” label has been used for years. It seems appropriate, but expect some push back because many people interpret “-nik” as derogatory (as stated at https://www.dictionary.com/browse/-nik).

    Comments on the listed responses to anticipating collapse:
    • I’m sure that many of us collapsniks recognize the listed categories and realize we may have moved through several of them while trying to orient ourselves in anticipation of collapse. While each of us might currently identify with one or two of the categories, we probably also have reasons to condemn some categories. This might make for interesting discussions, but also might become rabbit holes to fall into, with minimal productive outcomes. Generally speaking, I recommend that we approach others with compassion and a lot of true listening when examining differences—but I realize that’s awfully difficult, especially in online forums or when time is pressing. Alternatively, have fun watching the blaming, shaming, and virtue signaling proceed! Whether anyone succeeds in explicitly helping others to avoid unproductive responses will be interesting for me to watch; it seems an attractive idea but I wonder if it’s realistic.
    • How should we behave in the context of collapse with other humans and nonhumans, as producers, consumers, citizens, neighbors, and so on? There are ethical issues that might be considered in some categories and completely ignored in others.
    • Survivalist: For some this is a recognition that collapse does not occur all at once, it stretches out two or more decades. Therefore they want to become as “resilient” as they can (without being able to finally shield themselves), hoping that during the descent they might have better options available than the masses of us.
    • Transcendence or Emotional Self-Care: Some are calling for “grief work” as a key part of accepting collapse and personally transforming. Examples: Carolyn Baker, Joanna Macy, Meg Wheatley.
    • Keep a Cyanide Pill: What distinguishes this from Palliative Love? Does the former just include less concern for others?
    • Return Me to the Matrix: I’m surprised how many people know that collapse is in the cards yet they prefer to push off consciousness of it in favor of more immediate concerns. (This might be considered a form of denial.) They turn their attention to rising fascism, the teetering financial system, threatened habitats, various injustices, and so on, or to personal matters such as raising their family, developing their career, or various personal challenges. They often explain their approach in terms of the future never being certain (the difficulty of predictions), so that other disasters and problems besides climate collapse also loom in importance.
    • Where’s Bruce Willis: I have seen this interpreted as giving more nonhuman species a chance to avoid extinction, even if humans become extinct.
    • Climate Peace Activist: Joanna Macy, for example, advocates “holding actions” and dismantling the “industrial growth society”.
    • Humanitarian: This probably includes some work by Transition Towns, which also respond with Not Hiding Anymore and perhaps Gentle Prepper approaches. Another example is Meg Wheatley’s “Warrior for the Human Spirit” concept, which can operate at organizational or local levels.

  7. “This year I have often been talking with people about the likelihood of near-term societal collapse, brought on by disruptive climate change.”
    Anyone paying attention to my public comments knows that I have been speaking like Jem Bendell and Meyer Hillman for the last 5 yrs after I spent two years trying to deny the conclusions of Guy McPherson and then accepted the science after joining the dots few seem capable of linking.
    The shit has hit the fan folks, my time speaking out about this is drawing to a close as is habitation on this planet.
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/apr/26/were-doomed-mayer-hillman-on-the-climate-reality-no-one-else-will-dare-mention

  8. Tiziano Gianni said

    My answer is:
    “Humanity has lost wisdom (for various reasons) and does not deserve to live on planet Earth (only the indigenous peoples, they deserve). I am sad and I think of the wild nature, which has no faults of this kind.
    I feel guilty about people and exploited human beings and wild nature.
    When I can, I express my pain with the people I talk to. “

  9. uilyam said

    Personally, I have been dealing with this problem since I first articulated an initial formulation of it in 1969. One of my multiple responses is to laugh a lot. I also try to expand my awareness in small ways, fighting against what I currently call “cultural solipsism.” I still retain one assumption from my initial problem formulation: A human being is incapable of understanding the problem humanity faces, while keeping in mind the dictum that assume makes an ass of u and me.

    Because I favor wider discussion of these issues, I have shared the following on my FB page and in two closed FB groups (“Whistling In The Dark” and “Doomer Humo(u)r, Art, Poetry, Cracker Barrel Philosophy and Bombing Society”):

    A professor has identified 22 types of response to near-term collapse: “SOS!” “survivalist” “transcendence” “professional sunk costs” “not hiding anymore” “taking a breather” “gentle prepper” “palliative love” “emotional self-care” “all options open” “keep a cyanide pill” “return me to the matrix a.k.a. blue pill” “war footing” “where’s Bruce Willis” “climate peace activist” “humanitarian” “reframing collapse” “follow me” “masochist” “sadomasochist” “depressive” and “violent” responses.
    =====
    He also notes: “‘Doomer humour’ will be a fast-growing genre. And, by its own admission, fairly fast-ending.”

    For details and discussion, see .
    =====

    I particularly recognize “an ego-driven need to hold the truth and be recognised for that.”

  10. uilyam said

    Edited:

    Personally, I have been dealing with this problem since I first articulated an initial formulation of it in 1969. One of my multiple responses is to laugh a lot. I also try to expand my awareness in small ways, fighting against what I currently call “cultural solipsism.” I still retain one assumption from my initial problem formulation: A human being is incapable of understanding the problem humanity faces, while keeping in mind the dictum that assume makes an ass of u and me.

    Because I favor wider discussion of these issues, I have shared the following on my FB page and in two closed FB groups (“Whistling In The Dark” and “Doomer Humo(u)r, Art, Poetry, Cracker Barrel Philosophy and Bombing Society”):
    =====
    A professor has identified 22 types of response to near-term collapse: “SOS!” “survivalist” “transcendence” “professional sunk costs” “not hiding anymore” “taking a breather” “gentle prepper” “palliative love” “emotional self-care” “all options open” “keep a cyanide pill” “return me to the matrix a.k.a. blue pill” “war footing” “where’s Bruce Willis” “climate peace activist” “humanitarian” “reframing collapse” “follow me” “masochist” “sadomasochist” “depressive” and “violent” responses.

    He also notes: “‘Doomer humour’ will be a fast-growing genre. And, by its own admission, fairly fast-ending.”

    For details and discussion, see .
    =====

    I particularly recognize “an ego-driven need to hold the truth and be recognised for that.”

  11. Malcolm Ayles said

    Initially I tried to change things, fighting for action on climate change, even starting my own NFP. Since then I have come to accept we won’t take any action significant enough to prevent or even delay collapse. Initially this was really depressing but have moved on to accept it.

    Now I keep my goals short term, not looking too far ahead, avoid conversations about long term plans. Not worry about long term finances / health so much.
    I look to enjoy my life as much as I can today, take more holidays, work less hours and party more.
    Also have taken steps to stock food, water and off grid power in a dependable location. This will give some short term ability to insulate those I love from the suffering of the madness of initial collapse I hope.

    Live for today, party hard but be prepared for the horror to come.

    I share the truth with those who want to hear and discuss it but no more. I don’t see the point in convincing anyone of anything, serves no purpose now.

  12. John Burnett/Redpanther said

    I recently skipped thru a thick book that just came out: “We’re Doomed. Now What?”. Lots of philosophizing/thinking out loud. And the author has a 3-year-old daughter. I thought – I don’t have time for this. I have the PRACTICALITIES of “Now What?” to take care of.

    A practicality: I just finished working out the sequence for rotated lentil/wheat permaculture. Rain-fed, and will work with less than half of the 70″ of annual precipitation the Land I’m interested in now gets. Nearly all the fertilizer, and all the compost/crushed charcoal will come directly from cleaning up the existing forest to restore it’s health (and from the nitrogen-fixing lentil slash). This also greatly reduces fire hazard and greatly raises acorn yield. Lentils, wheat, and acorn (which must be pounded and leeched to eat) together provide complete protein. One old-growth black oak, with space for mid-day sun to reach the sides, will provide 500 lbs. or even more acorn every other year. As for the permaculture Land, it will over time become a more temperate version of the tierra prietta found in the Amazon, which was created over time by the Original People (“Indians”) there.

    The author of “We’re Doomed. Now What?” says he’s a bad environmentalist and a worse meditator. 300 mcg. of LSD, taken in the backwoods with appropriate intent, can take care of THAT.
    A body of what is (badly) called mystical experience, IF applied to one’s life over time, is what makes solving this BIG problem possible. A word the Ju/’hoansi use for mystical experience is Seeing Properly. I have used the word Direct Knowledge. One of the results is a very powerful life instinct fused with little fear of death – EXACTLY what the coming times will require.

  13. Arthur Noll said

    I suppose I could be categorized in the “follow me, guys” slot, since I’m trying to give a blueprint of how to measure value and behavior, that I think would have better odds of survival, and would work better in the future. I can’t be absolutely sure I’m put in this slot. One way I don’t fit, perhaps, is I’m not looking for everyone to follow me, just people who agree. I’m doubtful that is enough to take me out of this category, though.

    I find it interesting that if I am in fact being put in this category, you get some joy in lumping me in with others with blueprints I don’t agree with because you think it would annoy me. And yes, of course it is a little annoying to be rejected, though the lumping isn’t what is most annoying to me. It is more annoying to be dismissed as ego driven to be the one with truth, to have it implied that it is wrong to think you have superior ways of thinking about something. I have to wonder, since when is science more concerned about how someone thinks of themselves, than with the validity of the observation and logic given? And that would apply to everyone put in this category, not just me. But that is certainly how I want to be judged here.

    I think that when someone wants to annoy you, you have probably first annoyed them. I’m sorry about that. People have hounded me for a long time to shorten up my presentation of ideas, but when you do that, it can make things a lot harsher. I’m 63, have made a lot of mistakes in my life, making mistakes was a big part of learning what I’ve put together. Having made such mistakes, I know how easy it can be to make them, and I don’t feel superior to others making similar mistakes. I very much doubt I’m beyond making more mistakes either, but at my age and what I’ve lived through, and the condition of the world, I think the time I have left to make more mistakes is probably growing rather short. To give what I’ve learned and die, is the most realistic outcome I think I can hope for. If I could do that, I’d really like to know how it all turns out, but some things we can’t have.

    .

    .

    • Paul Heft said

      “It is more annoying to be dismissed as ego driven [if you are] the one [claiming the] truth, to have it implied that it is wrong to think you have superior ways of thinking about something.”

      Arthur, I think you hit on something that doesn’t just involve the “follow me” category. At least a few of the other categories’ proponents may raise suspicions about motivations.

      Let me use the “emotional self-care” response as an example. Say that a psychologically-trained person wants to inform the world about how we need to deal with difficult emotions while navigating collapse. Those who don’t like the advice may question whether anyone should listen to the “self-proclaimed expert”. They might argue, “It’s not adequately backed up by scientific evidence,” or “It’s so self-serving, she expects to make a living as a collapse expert,” or “It’s just ego driven, he needs to have the world see him as an expert.” Humans are expert at cooking up rationalizations for resisting a new idea.

      I think what Jem was getting at is that we need a category to describe people who claim, “If only everyone thinks or behaves as I advise, together we could manage a better outcome. Let’s make it so!” I suspect that you fall into such a category, using science as your main analytical method. Others may fall into the category coming from other angles, such as religion, or a particular sociological theory, or anarchism or Marxism, or based on an earlier tradition, and so on. I think the “follow me” label is appropriate.

      These proponents aren’t necessarily ego driven–some certainly seem to be–but, as you suggest, why should we bother questioning their motivations? We should be able to evaluate their claims or decide whether to join their movements using a variety of truth-testing criteria, scientific or otherwise.

  14. Jem, I agree with you and greatly appreciate your writing this and making it available to all of us. Over the last five years I’ve come to a similar conclusion.

    If you’d like to audio record this, I’d love to feature it on my “Grace Limits/Deep Sustainability” audio page, here (as you can see, you’ll be in good company 🙂

    http://thegreatstory.org/sustainability-audios.html

    You can ignore the blue box. I only added it so folk coming to my page would not be immediately frightened away. The green box is my attempt at prioritizing the more than 1,000 hours of audios on this page.

  15. dannybloom said

    Another category to consider , the cli-fi category, for creative types who write write cli-fi novels such as Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver to communicate near societal collapse issues. See my website since I coined the term cli-fi.net

  16. RogerCO said

    Good post, much food for real life discussion. Here I just wanted to share a lovely webirony that put an advertisment for life insurance at the end of your text. Has the interweb developed a sense of humour 😉

  17. I want to add a piece that carries quiet attention to what is actually happening and how to be with this. Being with my mom in a prolonged process of dying, I learned deep lessons about how to be with imminent death. Towards the very end I felt inadequate along side of a sense of urgency. She had been in a dementia blur for any months. Instincts told me to begin with being very honest. I told that her time had come and she was going to to die. And that I wanted to be sad together, in the truth. Her eyes opened and cleared for the first time in many months. She popped out of the dementia. We cried together, holding hands very gently. And in the flow of things there were some things she wanted to say that were snagged in her about the past. I listened and spoke my own truths, simply. A great stream of love opened between us after a lifetime of challenge in our connection. It was precious beyond words, changing a checked past, and opening the gates for the purest expression of love. Her last words were, “take care of the water.” She died the next day.

    What I want to say is that I think we have to learn our way into this time. Each one of us is confronted with a different and unique channel of listening and the opportunity for completions and profound connection with life. What humility it takes to stand in the face of what we have wrought and not know what to do. Somehow women innately know how to give birth. We can do this end of the cycle too. And we need the support of one another. This site is important, thanks Jem and each one.

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