Charles Hugh Smith: Will You Be Richer or Poorer?

Prolific and exceptionally perceptive author Charles Hugh Smith returns to discuss the insights in his just-launched book Will You Be Richer Or Poorer? Profit, Power & AI in a Traumatized World (the first chapter of which can be read for free here)

The current narrative that our standard of living is not only the best it has been in human history, but thanks to modern technology, is now improving at an accelerating rate.

Smith turns this belief on its head, pointing out the many and various ways – many of them “intangible” and not currently measured in dollars – the human condition is fast worsening. Health, purpose, social connection, civil liberties, access to natural resources, career mobility; these are but a few examples.

And technology is actually fast sending us down a darker path. One that empowers the central state, decimates jobs, destroys privacy, and has created today’s “landfill economy”.

I've written on these big, long dynamics of cycles, where there's not just economic cycles or business cycles, but also social cycles where people find fewer reasons to cooperate with each other and society is fragmented. They often are associated with inflation or high unemployment, a decay of the real economy, resources becoming scarce and expensive, and so on.

Well, we’re clearly in that cycle – a Kondratieff winter, a Fourth Turning, one of Peter Turchin’s long cycles. And it’s only beginning.

Things are not going to resolve themselves quickly. There’s going to be a reset or a reckoning where we’re going to have to downsize and live within our means, and find some new social structures that are sustainable. It’s not just a physical, material world adjustment where we have to use less energy and fewer resources, we’ll also have to psychologically change. To not fear the changes ahead, but find ways to step into them positively.

Starting by trying to calculate the value of all the capital that we don’t measure is a very powerful first step. Realizing that you have all these forms of intangible capital that no one taught us to measure–or even recognize-- is a very powerful process psychologically. If you start trying to prioritize the forms of capital that are important to you, it’s a kind of psychoanalysis because you really have to dig down into yourself and ask, “What forms of capital do I have that I can invest in another way of living, another livelihood, another form of community?”

There’s always going to be trade-offs. You’re not going to be able to get rich speculating in the stock and bond markets–and run a farm, and build a community. You’re going to have to give stuff up. You’re going to have to sacrifice some things in order to get what’s really fulfilling to you.

That’s wrenching in and of itself, but what’s worse is when people wait until bad things happen and then they realize the trade-offs have been imposed on them. Like they eat a highly-processed food diet, and they have a heart attack, and then they suddenly realize, “Wow, I’m going to die if I don’t change.” Or you get fired from your job or your corporation gets rid of your entire division. Then you’re forced to look at a different lifestyle and a different livelihood.

But we really do have the power to make those changes before catastrophe strikes.

I’m actually trying to deliver a positive message: that anyone can do this. You may not be able to revolutionize your life in one fell swoop; but you can certainly make progress towards what’s important, and get busy building and accumulating the capital that truly is meaningful to you.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris’ interview with Charles Hugh Smith (51m:20s).

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Good discussion guys. Very interesting and it kept my attention to the end. CHS has a way of putting things sometimes that really hits the nail on the head. The one thing that was not mentioned, which kind of blows the entire conversation up is the over-population problem.
Its not our consumption of resources or energy, none of which would be a problem if the human population were down to about a billion. The fact is, it is impossible to feed 8 billion people using 18th century farming methods. The destruction of the soil, the chemically cultivated foods, and the huge infrastructure of fossil fuel powered production, storage, and distribution of just FOOD is the only way to sustain the massive numbers of human beings on the planet.
Throughout history the number of humans on planet earth was balanced at about 1 billion or less. This was the carrying capacity without the use of fossil fuels and chemical fertilizers. The correlation between all the things that you rightly point out as dangerous and destructive [ fossil fuels, chemical fertilizers, pollution, certain types energy production ], and the population is direct and incontrovertible. Those things allowed the population to explode 7-800 % in a very short time.
So the idea that we can do away with those things without a massive die-off of 80-90% of the population is just not practical. No other way of maintaining the population is known to man. We cannot simply all ride bicycles, recycle, and reduce our consumption and everything will be alright. At best this is just buying time with the population growing EXPONENTIALLY and doubling every 30-40 years. What happens when the population is 16 billion? 32 billion? 64 billion? Even if every human only consumed half the resources and energy that we do now it is impossible to sustain.
My opinion [ and that of many others ] is that the conversation is really just an exercise in intellectualism without discussing population control. The problem is this is a very unpopular subject that people do not want to seriously consider. When you get down into the nuts and bolts of it, you realizeat it isnt really going to happen voluntarily. You’d need to forcibly sterilize 80% of the population, at which point you become a monster.
So, lets face facts,there is no real long term solution to what we are talking about. No HUMAN solution. Nothing that we can decide to do about it. Humanity is going to play out it’s destiny according to it’s nature [ and we are part of nature, just a manifestation of the universe as we know ] and the chips will fall where they will. Most likely we will pass a critical mass of population, will run out of resources and die back. Just like frogs in a pond. The idea that we control our destiny was always an absurd illusion. Our nature is what it is, and that is our destiny.

I hear you Brushhog on the underlying stressor being population numbers.
One of the things I can do is to put “Low Population Density” on my list of things that makes my life feel rich. Along with natural beauty, simplicity, family, trees, streams, physical health, agency–the power to make personal choices.

I also think many of the same things. I have been saying in reaction to the man made global warming religion that it is not the size of your footprint or mine but the fact that there were fewer than 3 billion of them when I was born and now fast approaching 8 billion. None of the actions proposed or taken so far will do any good if the breeding community just use the reprieve to copulate another billion or two billion new footprints into existence. And this is not just about warming, it is about every negative externality we deal with in our modern world. We scramble for answers and practical solutions, but what can we solve that does not result in just more problems and a sense of license to create ever more people which the world in one way or another can’t carry?
So, I was born in California in 1958, population under 15 million. In my memories of the early sixties it was paradise. A happy place. Now, with 40 million people it is unlivable for the majority, and is only happy for the top few percent that can afford the enclave lifestyle of gated communities. Though I can’t be sure since I was priced out of the state in 1993. Last year I wanted to meet some Australian friends when they were touring the SF Bay Area for a few days, I could not even find fleabag accommodations for under $300 per night. I have found that hotel and motel room rates are a great indicator of local housing price, a few years back a heating problem at my apartment forced me to stay at a local Motel 6 for a couple days, I saw families who were homeless sharing a room, two or three families, would rent a room and wash their clothes in the motel laundry, bathe their kids, watch some TV, sleep in a bed for a change, with heat, order pizzas, etc. and use the motel as babysitter. As a result motels have begun charging a lot more, because when they were charging 39.99 or even 59.99 per day this use was attractive to homeless to use them as a substitute for housing they can no longer afford. And the price will keep rising till that is no longer true. The facilities have to do this when they see multifamilies sharing a single room and using water, electricity, and other included items far in excess of what is normally included. As a result a motel room here has climbed by 100% in just a few years. They no longer advertise their prices on the big electronic signs out front anymore.
So many serious problems, and solutions may come but people never learn, they cannot see the connection between their reproduction and a whole new set of problems, or aggravating old ones. SNAP has not made it easier to keep poor people alive, it has though made it easier to feed kids you can’t afford. I am not arguing that we should not have a system of social safety nets for people in danger because of the inherent flaws in capitalism, but, there has to be a way to stop the upward cycle of overpopulation because the first answer to all serious economic and environmental problems is first STOP MAKING IT WORSE! It is the old adage about finding oneself in a deep dark hole, I can’t tell you how to get out, but I can tell you that it can’t get better till you stop digging.

I agree with your basic analysis Brushhog though I’m uncertain when the human die off will begin in earnest and how fast it will progress. I’d be pleased if it didn’t start in the next 15-20 years (my approximate expiration date maximum) and for the sake of everyone else I’d like to hope it would take us 200 years to “gently” return to a world population of 1 billion. Obviously it hasn’t begun yet, though all the conditions are seemingly in place for it to start.
There are five elephants in the adjacent room that we CAN discuss. These are elephants we CAN do something about.

  1. How should we respond to those “monsters,” as you call them, who ARE willing to take action to FORCE human population down? The tools they might use are a combination of intentionally starving parts of the population, incentivizing or forcing abortion on an even larger scale than is done today, war, intentionally infecting large numbers of people with fatal diseases, incentivizing or forcing euthanasia on a larger scale than today, etc. We could discuss our responses to those people.
  2. If it’s all ultimately hopeless, many will choose the ancient philosophy of “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” Many have already made this choice and are living (and dying) accordingly. How should we respond to them?
  3. Most people have gotten a glimpse of these issues and decided they are emotionally unable to deal with them. Instead of dealing with the issues, they studiously ignore them and focus on the practical details of every day life and survival. We often discuss our attempts “to reach” these people here at PeakProsperity, in fact that’s part of the mission of the founders and many participants.
  4. Another subject we regularly discuss here at PeakProsperity are the actions we who are “in the know” can take today which are healthier, more sustainable and more likely to enable us to successfully survive the massive changes in the Three E’s that are barreling towards us. But even here we who are “in the know” rarely ever discuss The Fifth Elephant (not to be confused with The Fifth Element ?).
  5. How should we prepare for the possibility that some or all of us will unfortunately get sucked into the maelstrom of a vigorous, massive die off happening at a speed we could barely imagine or cope with? For instance, we don’t often mention the fact that if we literally need the nutrition we get from our gardens and farms to survive we are going to have to guard them from petty thieves and armed gangs of raiders. We discuss gardening and intentional communities without talking much at all about protecting them from criminal or even governmental theft and violence. We talk about the collapse of our monetary system without discussing how we would survive the deprivation and violence that could very well accompany them. Some of us are going for more firearms training again this week at Front Sight, so it does get discussed a little and some are preparing in a variety of ways. Maybe many have decided to accept their death, if it gets that bad, without fighting back. Maybe that subject is beyond the scope of this electronic community and can be found on other sites anyway. Maybe some who CAN deal with the darker implications of The Three E’s CAN’T deal with possibility of personal violence.
    “Happy Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor.”

I have also put low population density at the top of my list and ten years ago I moves from a crowded suburb to a rural farm here in the Adirondack mountains. It is the best thing I ever did. When I moved the quality of my very existence increased tenfold.
In the interview, Charles Hugh Smith touched on this and pointed out that many people are making the choice to move away from high density cities and settle into smaller communites. On an individual level, this is usually a positive step. Looking at the subject from a broad view, however, there is a glaring problem with this…obviously, if everyone moves from a high density area to a low density area, the low density areas will no longer be low density.
If the problem is people, then people cannot outrun themselves. How many of us, like pokjbv, grew up in small quiet communities which became over-run and ruined by large influxes of city people trying to escape themselves? Most of us agree that living in a place with a more balance ratio of human population is generally “better”…but the second we all go there it isnt good anymore.
On the individual level there are many things we can still do to improve our lot in life…but on a macro-level I don’t see the human animal as capable of changing his nature, and I don’t see any viable solutions to the real problem which is that there are just too many of us.

…Is what Chris has written about many times in the past, putting it in a very easy to understand manner. Climate Change, sorry Greta and AOC is really on the back burner.
We need to concentrate and do something about all the plastics we are dumping into the oceans. There’s over fishing to the point commercial fisherman are scooping up what little is left to sell all the while taking with it fish they can’t sell then dumping it.
We need to stop using pesticides that are killing in mass the insect population.
We are now being warned that we are depleting Phosphorus at an alarming and exponential rate which according to experts say we have less than an 80 years supply. How are we going to grow food to feed 8 billion humans without this stuff?
We are also being warned that top soil erosion is a big concern if we want to avoid mass starvation if we continue on our current industrial farming practices.
Then there’s all the nuclear waste that’s generated and Fukushima still won’t go away. TEPCO is running out of room at their waste site and are considering dumping all that radioactive waste water into the Pacific Ocean.
There’s probably a few that I missed but I think it’s safe to say Climate Change may not be our biggest problem heading into the 21st century.

Good point brushdog about the pickle we’re in – it’s not possible to sustain 8 billion without fossil fuels and artificial fertilisers; regardless of how unsustainable those practises are.
But population is predicted to level out around 10 billion or so, maybe a bit more. Most countries have gone through this cycle where as they “develop”, people have less children. Here in Canada, the natural birth rate is not sustaining. But that hasn’t stopped our central economists from counting on population growth to drive the economy. They have explicitly set a target of 90 million of us over the coming decades, up from 35 or whatever we are now; all from immigration. Where these people are going to go, I’m not quite sure. I guess more condo towers in Vancouver. They try to spin a positive light on “micro-living”, like we’re all better off living in apartments than houses, and that this is “the new normal”. They have actually modelled the growth of Vancouver after Hong King. It’s sickening how fast the skyline changes here and the level of resiliency of the city decreases with each new tower. Those people living in sardine cans are completely dependent on this artificial economic system that’s being created. And anyone who criticises immigration is branded a racist. Unfortunately it’s the main driver of our economy, since these newcomers bring money with them to buy condos and this provides jobs for the people who already live here, to build new condos; otherwise they’d be unemployed and screaming to the government for jobs. So what seems stable socially – lots of jobs from new growth from immigration – isn’t in the long run. It really is an ugly intractable situation that cannot possibly end well.
Personally I think there will be two phases to the die-off. The first will be when the financial system gets reset. The worst country in this regard will be the US as they won’t be able to continue with their consumer driven economy and import so much oil. The shale oil will dry up as the ponzi finances available to extract it implode. As unemployment skyrockets, social order will be lost and those most vulnerable will die first – elderly, disabled, medicine-dependent. Big cities will be hit the worst. Outlying areas will fare better. Those in the sticks can only hope that the hoards from the cities won’t make it to the outskirts without fuel to drive their SUV’s. This crash is likely to happen suddenly, probably within 10 years. It’s the big crash we have all been anticipating right around the corner that never seems to materialise.
But after this initial financial collapse, which will basically just be a re-organisation of society, there will still be resources available - coal, gas, and still decent amounts of oil production from stripper wells, oil sands etc., so we will still be able to maintain a decent population in terms of food production. After this there will be further gradual decline in society as these remaining resources get used up, with population reduction likely to happen in periodic intervals through wars etc. I see this next phase taking many decades up to a couple centuries, up to the point where the global human population reaches its sustainable level without fossil fuels, probably a few hundred million.
On a brighter note, I saw this video the other day and thought it was pretty cool, on how to live off the land in remote areas without modern technology. These people aren’t doing so because they choose to but because they are in remote Tajikistan and need to. The traditional technology starts at around 15:00
I’m building up a 1982 Toyota Land Cruiser for the very reason that it has minimal electronics. I’m going to try to rip out as much electronics from the critical components (engine) as I can and replace it with mechanical systems. This will be more resilient in an EMP, and just be easier to fix if things break. And it’s diesel too which lasts longer than gasoline and will be easier to come by if SHTF since commercial transport will mostly stop in such a situation so demand for diesel will be less after SHTF, easier to scavenge from idle industrial equipment, and the masses in their gasoline powered SUV’s trying to escape the cities can’t use diesel.

And you talk about the Green Deal and all that stuff. It's like--well, so you know what the Green Deal is, is we're going to take all 400 or 500 million petroleum-powered vehicles on earth--maybe it's more than that, it might be 600 million--and we're going to throw them all in that landfill--never mind recycling, they're not that easy to recycle, folks, and that's why China gave up. [Chuckling] "Don't send us any more junk to recycle. It's expensive and it doesn't pay financially." So, we're going to throw out 600 million vehicles and we're going to build 600 million new ones that are all-electric, and that's going to solve everything. And then what happens when those things die in five to ten years--because you've got to replace the batteries? "Oh, then we're going to throw those 600 million away and build 600 (million) more."
I was one of the first to buy a Nissan Leaf in 2011. I'm hearing reports that Nissan is gouging the original customers on battery replacements because they don't make money on them. They'd rather they just buy new Leaves and throw the old ones away. Well they won't be getting my repeat business! Aftermarket alternatives are not materialising. Luckily I live in a cool climate and take care of my battery so it's still holding up.

Agreed that the human population is a key component, and there’s a couple of dynamics in play on this. One is that very poor people consume a fraction of the resources rich people consume, so if a billion very poor people die it is literally a signal noise reduction in global GDP and consumption–a couple percent. US median income of $53,000 or whatever represents not income but consumption. A household earning $500 a year uses 1/100th of the resources of the “average” developed world household.
Another dynamic is the birthrate is collapsing in previous high-growth countries such as China. This correlates to higher education and job opportunities for women. The big population growth rates are limited to places with low education and job opportunities for women, for example parts of Africa and the Mideast.
In other words, the “natural” way to reduce the human population is to increase the economic footprint of women, i.e. income and consumption. Once that’s done, birth rates fall to or below replacement. If we no longer have the resources to do this, that’s the problem.
Another issue few seem to discuss is the extreme vulnerability of modern Big Ag that generates the cheap grains that support the 8 billion people and most of the animals they raise to eat. We’ve become so accustomed to ever-larger grain harvests that we’ve lost sight of the systemic vulnerabilities–to blights, viruses and pests that GMO and chemicals can no longer control, to extremes of weather, disruptions of global trade and so on. It takes months of care and capital investment to get a crop close to harvest, and only an hour of hail, heavy rain or wind to ruin the entire crop. Fresh water is entering decline in many places, and while drip irrigation etc. can reduce the amount of water needed, it requires enormous capital investments. Where is that money going to come from? How much will be left to the farmers after interest is paid? Farmers around the world are already going broke en masse.
History shows that not getting enough calories weakens immune systems, and that’s when plagues and epidemics sweep through the populace.
Lastly, we should note that metabolic disorder from over-refined food and lack of fitness will shorten the lives of hundreds of millions of humans in this generation. There are an estimated 300 million diabetics and pre-diabetics in China alone.

AI - There is no such thing. Computers do binary math. Period, end of story. Very useful and extremely powerful for some kinds of things. But a computer will never “think”. This the materialist confusion of the qualitative vs. quantitative, a bridge that will never be crossed.
To quote one of my favorite philosophers, J Krishnamurti, “if you are thinking, you are already confused”. All the posited solutions to the elephants on the room that come form the mainstream culture, that were properly critiqued, are an exercise in unintended consequences. Everybody loves to drop the buzzword, “wholistic thinking”, but rarely if ever is anyone capable of actually doing so. The true revolution is not a technological one, which causes an exponential increase in the type and number of problems that beset us, but one of consciousness. We need to start using both hemispheres of our brains. Oh, the absurdity of trying to measure “wealth”, as if it really has any meaning at all!
Great discussion.

Low population density is an interesting topic. As a thought experiment, which environment is more sustainable and represents more available capital-- one with low population density that’s a food desert, populated with people who live off food grown elsewhere, who contribute very little social capital to their community, or a locale densely populated with highly productive people on highly productive land, a place rich in social capital and connections? Clearly, we’d rather live in the higher population density community; the low density locale is a desert–a food desert, a capital desert, a social capital desert. So maybe what we’re actually discussing is a balance of population and the land and capital. I just finished a 1,200 page history of rural life in France from the Middle Ages to the present era, and it has helped me understand why some village / town / rural economies were healthy and thriving and why others struggled. I think these same issues exist today, and not all of them are material (energy, water, etc.) although obviously those are the foundation of sustainability / “wealth.”

I was kind of hoping to have grandchildren BUT I guess we parents can all hope to have an allotted two… I had 5 young Chinese visitors for dinner 2 years ago that were ALL only children of only children. No siblings, aunts or uncles. Four grandparent assets funneled to 1 kid. They did not seem spoiled but I have heard it’s a problem since families prefer boys… Perhaps some remember Dan Brown’s Inferno? A 2013 bestseller about a vector virus that randomly sterilizes 1/3 of the population so that the unaffected adults can only replace the population, not increase it. Interestingly, the book allowed the virus to escape and considered it a “good” thing. The 2016 movie preferred to successfully block the release of the virus and “save the world”.
As a coming up on retirement dentist, it is very hard to consider buying 40 acres and mule or joining a commune versus planning a top 5 world golf resorts vacation in Ireland, Britain, Spain, Hawaii, and California. I would sacrifice my happy retirement for “The future” if our pathetic leaders didn’t benefit. But how to get from A to B is the crux of the matter and it is not happening easily…

The book is a two-volume set titled “The Identity of France” by Fernand Braudel. The English translation was published in 1990.

Great podcast and good discussion here in the comments!
I wanted to add in a thought I’m seeing related to several issues people have brought up. Most specifically when thc0655 brought up the issue of needing to protect one’s garden when those calories/nutrients become necessary for life my immediate thought was that one of my strategies is to have a garden, and harvest from it if I can, but that this garden might function more as a sacrificial decoy. What most people seem to lack these days is a deep enough knowledge about the edible plants growing naturally all around us, without the need for chemical agriculture or phosphate fertilizers I might add.
To put this in terms of capital, I feel like it has been highly useful for me to have devoted all the years I have into building my knowledge capital of wild edible foods. This knowledge is something that can’t be stolen from me, and it in turn allows me to recognize a vast scope of extremely useful living capital that is all but invisible to the majority of the human population.
While this knowledge base tends to be more region specific just this past week I’ve had a powerful demonstration of how much it can translate to other regions. I live in the midwest, Michigan specifically, an ecosystem that sees 4 full seasons and has more free flowing fresh surface water than almost any place on earth. I’ve been slowly learning the plants of this region. Right now I’m visiting Arizona, a desert region that is starkly different. In many ways I feel completely lost here not even knowing the names of most plants. I few days ago I was out hiking and being a tourist in the Sedona/Flagstaff areas with those who do live around here. Looking more carefully at what was growing when in zones around rivers to my shock I realized I knew much of it! My first wonderful discovery was hackberries. I’ve been trying to find these, which do grow in my region, for years. I’ve even planted some hackberry tree seedlings which never made it. Hackberry has been a staple calorie crop for past cultures/civilizations. I finally got to eat some!
Later on while hiking around I was identifying and sharing knowledge about rose hips, wild grapes, non-edible Virginia creeper growing right next to the grapes that had similar looking fruit, black berries, currents, goldenrod, asparagus, cattails, and several other things. I, the non-local coming from a completely different bio-region, was the one acting as the guide to identify plants/trees and what was edible, what would be edible in different times of the year, and so on. A fair amount of my knowledge translated to this new place.
I think many people feel like this sort of knowledge is something that can be picked up quickly with a good field guide. In my experience only superficial things get picked up quickly. It actually takes a long time to really learn the plants, not just how to identify them, which are edible, and what might look similar but be non-edible or outright toxic, what parts are edible at what times of the seasons, but to be able to alter your personal food culture so you know how to prepare and cook with them in satisfying ways. The best time to start learning is now when we can still run to the grocery store, farmers market, or personal gardens to also get food.
If anyone is interested in pursuing wild foraging more the absolute best books I’ve ever found hands down are those written by Samuel Thayer. He set a whole new bar for quality in books on wild edibles. At some point I intend to write a post specifically about his books for my own blog, but the short and sweet of it is that he thoroughly covers identification, harvesting, and any processing that might be needed, plus he also adds little personal stories which I see as a small start in rebuilding a culture around wild food. These are the sorts of stories we should have been learning from our parents and grandparents as they passed on knowledge of the living land that surrounds us, except this all got lost when we began sourcing out food from grocery stores and restaurants. A future podcast with Samual Thayer might be highly interesting and inspirational to the Peak Prosperity community.

“In other words, the “natural” way to reduce the human population is to increase the economic footprint of women, i.e. income and consumption. Once that’s done, birth rates fall to or below replacement. If we no longer have the resources to do this, that’s the problem.”
Charles, the problem there is that first world countries with lower birth-rates end up importing massive waves of people from third world countries. Rather than all of the 3rd worlders being raised up to first world standards, we see a kind of “leveling” where first world people’s living standards are reduced while 3rd worlders’ standard is improved. Its becomes a sort of “averaging”. In Sweden many women have been attacked and sexual assault crimes have sky-rocketed. Not to mention the new wave of medieval diseases now on the rise in 1st world nations! Here in the US we have pretty much lost our entire 4th amendment protections, and we are in the process of losing the 1st and 2nd amendment rights. All under the guise of “keeping us safe”, mostly from the people that they are importing or from the victims of the policies that they have inflicted on us.
In part, as a result of the push to empower women, men have fallen behind in almost every metric. Suicides, opiate abuse, depression, alcoholism…it really is a silent crisis. So, sure, Somalian refugee women are getting college educated…I’m not sure the trade off has been advantageous to our society [ or Sweden’s ]
I dont think we can impart western values to everyone. So the idea that all we have to do is educate women in poor countries is a little too simplistic imo. The variables are, as usual, seemingly infinite, and our attempts to manipulate outcomes rarely end the way we plan.

There’s probably a few that I missed but I think it’s safe to say Climate Change may not be our biggest problem heading into the 21st century
100% incorrect. If you want the bleakest view, try this:
I have been saying in reaction to the man made global warming religion
"The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it." (Neil deGrasse Tyson) “Climate change is not a belief system — it is a fact. This is science,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

There was a bit of conversation in the podcast concerning wanting to work surrounded by nature and beauty. My wife and I have both worked in the medical field for years and have seen pharmacy and medical imaging become increasingly demanding jobs with stagnant pay. Much of this has to do with the glut of graduates the professions have allowed. That is paired with advancement in technology and cutting staff wherever an ounce of blood can be squeezed.
That said, the last few years I’ve mainly just run a small farm stand because all the orthopedic offices in town I worked for were bought up by the hospital. It was easier to just stay home and work a little while my kid was young vs taking a job with the hospital where I would have to stay in town for call occasionally and work shifts at all times of the day. To get to the point, I live in North Idaho and there is currently a massive influx of people heading this way. The numbers show at least 60% are from California and they like building places out in the woods with a stove. I’ve been trying to think of a novel business idea and am strongly leaning towards starting a chimney sweep business. It would free up plenty of time in the spring to shape up my property and get everything ready for harvest. Additionally it would leave me free time to ski in the deep winter.
Wondering if anyone here has any input on taking a spin at this business? I’m in my mid forties and still very mobile. Sound like a decent career change to you guys? The few places that sweep here are back logged well over a month right now. So I know the demand is there. Besides, a robot can`t sweep a chimney…yet.
Thanks, TJ

“Climate change is not a belief system — it is a fact. This is science,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy
"The air is safe" - EPA administrator/head Christine Todd Whitman in the days after 9/11 If you want to cite the EPA you have to understand that the organization is so political as to sacrifice 9/11 responders and local residents by lying about air quality in the days after 9/11. I'm not even sure why they did this...maybe simply because telling the truth is anathema? Lying was the more natural response?

Mrs. Whitman knew that the towers' destruction had released huge amounts of hazardous emissions, Judge Batts found.

But as early as Sept. 13, Mrs. Whitman and the agency put out press releases saying that the air near ground zero was relatively safe and that there were "no significant levels" of asbestos dust in the air. They gave a green light for residents to return to their homes near the trade center site.

"By these actions," Judge Batts wrote, Mrs. Whitman "increased, and may have in fact created, the danger" to people living and working near the trade center.

The reason the judge allowed the suit to go forward is because, in fact, the EPA had tons of data that the air was very much *not* safe.

Whitman tried to skate off on the technicality that her statements about asbestos were, technically, narrowly, true, but she neglected to mention the hundreds of other toxins the EPA had detected and knew were wildly unsafe.

A whistleblower from the EPA lost her 30-year career by raising dust toxicity publicly.

A government scientist sacked for exposing the dangers to firefighters from the caustic air at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11 got her job back on Monday. A federal court ordered that Cate Jenkins, a chemist at the Environmental Protection Agency, be reinstated to her job with back pay. Her lawyer said the decision, although based on matters of legal process, amounted to vindication for Jenkins's claims that the EPA had covered up the danger posed to first responders and others in lower Manhattan from the asbestos and highly corrosive dust that rose from the wreckage of the World Trade Center. It was also a rare victory for whistleblowers, said lawyer Paula Dinerstein. "This doesn't happen that often." Jenkins, who has spent more than 30 years at the EPA, was the first agency official to warn of the dangers of the caustic dust rising from the ruins of the World Trade Center. The dust, which had dangerously high pH levels, was so corrosive it caused chemical burns to the lungs of firefighters and other rescue teams. Hundreds of workers spent weeks at the scene without protective gear such as respirators. Subsequent research has shown as many as two-thirds suffered permanent lung damage. Medical experts now believe much of the health effects could have been prevented if workers were issued proper safety gear. At the time, however, Christine Todd Whitman, then head of the EPA, claimed there were no readings to indicate a health hazard. Whitman has since said the Bush administration did not want to cause panic.
So...the EPA, knowing full well that something as simple as respirators would have saved the lives of hundreds of 9/11 responders decided screw it, let's lie. And for what? With years to think it over the best Todd-Whitman could come up with was "we didn't want to scare the public" by stating the air was foul. Whut? How could the public be any more scared by the sight of responders in respirators than they already were by the horrific failures and crimes of 9/11? At any rate, when people quote government "scientists" I have to admit...if there's any chance politics are involved I discount the statements heavily. After all, it was FDA "scientists" that gave us the food pyramid and toxified the US food system with their metabolic disaster zone of recommendations...mostly because of the agribusiness lobbying, not science.