Collapse Is A Process, Not An Event

Look, I’m a systems guy. I think in systems terms. You should as well.


Because we’re entering a period of time when the major systems that have supported humanity are going to fail.

Or, put more accurately: they are already failing.

As just one example, our monetary system delivers outsized gains to the already stupendously-wealthy while piling up massive debts on the backs of we citizens, both born and yet-to-be-born. The US Federal Reserve is the unelected and unaccountable body that is most responsible for have made America’s billionaires nearly $1 trillion ‘richer’ since the pandemic hit.

These next three Fed-related data points are, in a word, obscene.

The first shows that the US Federal Reserve now “owns” more US federal debt than all foreign central banks. The second shows how billionaires are getting grotesquely wealthier from the Fed’s “rescue’” efforts. And the last shows how the Fed’s record-low interest policy has resulted in an explosion in federal debt:



This is obscene (and infuriating!) to anyone who cares about the future. Leaving aside the morality issues for a moment, we can at least conclude that the behaviors and values on display are thoroughly unsustainable.

Eventually spending more money than you have ends in ruin.

Speaking of spending what you don’t have, a similar story can be told about ecological overshoot and humanity’s extractive practices – it’s akin to spending both the entirety of the interest income as well as some principal each year from our environmental trust fund.

There aren’t many resources that one can point to which aren’t in some serious form of either concerning decline or depletion, or both. Already thousands, if not millions, of people in the American West are considering relocating because of the ever-present danger of disruptive if not life-threatening fires:

The climate refugees are here. They're Americans.

California, Oregon, and Washington are on fire.

At least 33 people have died in recent days, and more than 5 million acres have been scorched as out-of-control blazes rage across the American West. The 2020 wildfire season in California is already the most destructive in the state’s history — exceeding the record set in 2018, which in turn beat the record set in 2017. Experts agree that rising temperatures from climate change have turned much of the region into dry kindling, ready to spark in an instant.

“This is a climate damn emergency,” California Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week.

Disasters like these displace people. Tens of thousands of fire survivors have been forced to flee their homes, and more than 500,000 — half a million — Oregonians have been warned they might soon be ordered to leave. In the meantime, many evacuees are sheltering “in an assortment of RVs, cars, and tents.” Many do not know if their homes will still be standing when they try to return, or where they will go if those houses are indeed destroyed. The fires will eventually end, but for many residents of the region, the disaster is just beginning.

The climate refugee crisis has come to America.


I’m less certain that we can pin these fires entirely on climate change, as poor land use and fire suppression practices factor in prominently. But I’m certain that many of the afflicted people will be convinced that wide-scale annual fires are now a permanent feature of the region, and that will cause many to move to ‘safer’ places.

Once that perception is solidly in place, the masses will relocate. Similarly, we’ll see people abandon coastal areas which are already losing battles to rising sea levels, and other areas where droughts are getting worse and worse.

However you add up the data points, they coalesce into one theme: massive and disruptive change has arrived.

You can either ignore that reality for a while longer. Or get busy responding.

Man, It’s Hard

The hardest part about detecting collapse lies not with the data – that is clear as a bell ringing on a still morning – but with the emotional difficulty of accepting it (and then acting on it).

There’s a lot of science behind how we humans are wired to accept or reject information based on whether it confirms or refutes, respectively, the belief systems we are already holding.

Nobody desires harder times for themselves. Nobody wants to lose financial ground or leave behind a worse world for their children.

But what we want has nothing to do with the reality of the situation.

What we want is usually based on our preexisting belief systems. If those are out of alignment with the actual reality of the situation, then our best chances for personal success lie with adjusting our beliefs as rapidly as we can.

While our brains can come up with some clever delaying tactics and can-kicking technologies, the reality is that we’re just another organism on a crowded planet, subject to the same rules as every other life form.

When we have ample resources available to us, we’re peaceful, creative creatures. We do really cool things, like figure out germ theory and make computer chips.

But what happens when resources are tight, or even insufficient to support daily life?

Then humans act badly towards each other and become tribal, but not in a good way. We squabble and go to war over dwindling resources. We do this not because it’s a dominant strategy with a proven track record, we do it because of our inability to wisely recognize the resource limitations in advance and cleverly avoid them.

During such times, the elites have a noted tendency to cling ever more tightly to their relative advantage rather than yield any of towards the common good:

"People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage."

– John Kenneth Galbraith

That’s what’s underway right now. Economic oxygen is in short supply and the elites are busy hoovering up for themselves a gigantically-larger share of that dwindling air (see billionaire headline above) even as tens of millions of their fellow citizens find themselves increasingly financially strangled.

On the political side, the only true political commitment I can detect (and it’s equal in both US political parties) is to defend the status quo. In other words, they are committed to keeping the causes of our problems fixed firmly in place.

As this all progresses, most will experience the changes as a series of shocks, perhaps coming at too rapid of a pace for some to absorb and so it will become overwhelming to them. The emotional costs involved will make it all very hard to accept, for myself included (even though I consider myself a very fast adjuster).

As our systems continue to fail, shrink, or even collapse, the pace of the changes will continue to be emotionally shocking. I wish it wasn’t so. Frustratingly, it didn’t have to be this way.

How To Get Ahead

The ‘prediction’ that stems from all this is not really a prediction at all but rather a simple extrapolation: things are going to continue on their current trajectories. Collapse is underway -- and it’s a process, not an event.

To protect their relative advantage, the elites will pretend the problems are difficult to address and resist dealing with them.

This means the future will consist of a larger wealth gap, greater social and political tensions, more violence, less nutritious food, fewer insects and other species, more climate change, and a hard date with future resource scarcity. And I mean hard.

None of which is actually all that unique in the human experience. Nor is it something to be necessarily feared.

As a species we’ve faced plenty of difficult times in the past and gotten through them. But some do manage to get through them better than others. That will be equally true this time, too.

How does one ‘get ahead’ during hard times?

In Part 2: My Personal Formula For Success I provide a no-holds-barred transparency into how I am pursuing preparing for the coming future, as well as what efforts are working most effectively for me thus far.

There’s nothing about my formula that you can’t adapt and make your own. But you do have to follow it. And to do that, you have to start using the time you have left with an appropriate sense of urgency.

Click here to read Part 2 of this report (free executive summary, enrollment required for full access).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

what’s in the trunk of the car? apart from that we need more leaders with a science background. if women want inspiration just look at Maggie Thatcher and Angela Merkel. in australia we have “Scotty from marketing” announcing 2 more gas projects. After listening to Saifedean Ammous, (i dont agree with his theories on fossil fuels, but his other stuff on hard money , i love), i’m not convinced that democracy works any more and that we would be better off with monarchical government and a hard money standard. both tend to push planning/thinking out to the long term. thanks for another great article Chris. i’m about to watch your vitamin D video.

Good post.

Collapse is underway — and it’s a process, not an event.
I very much agree nearly any collapse is a process - first slowly, than all at once. However, I remain extremely agnostic about anyone's predictive ability in a complex system like our natural world. So: when I can accurately predict the future in the shorter term, or meet somebody else who can, I'll become more open to believing in the predictive power of a theoretical collapse.

At any time in history, has a subsistence farmer with a shotgun been able to hold back the destructive political/economic/military tide washing over the land? I’m not anti-shotgun or resilience, but “rape and pillage” is a cliche for a reason. Fortified large scale political entities are the answer, not isolated homesteads. In other words, PP is peddling security theater. Change my mind.

C’mon. Is that the only alternative scenario you have to the current status quo? You think some poor schlub on an “isolated farmstead” will not survive Big Military, but some fortified redoubt will? Dude, that fort is the first target in the region.
(Is “isolated farmstead” even a thing - outside of Montana, I mean? This ain’t the old West.)
How about I spot you your Big Military Gone Wild scenario, 'cause obviously you’re right about that. I’ll say only this: that’s one very good reason to also plant a food forest of perennial foodstuffs that can take care of themselves. If Big Military rolls through and keeps going, there’s still survival rations during the rebuild. Of course, if Big Military comes to stay, things are more difficult, but that forest is still not pointless to survival.
But how about some different scenarios? How about Big Military doesn’t go wild? Or, what about the period between now and when Big Military goes wild, if it does? What about short-term or interim supply chain breakdowns? What about finding a family of climate refugees from the west coast wandering down your country road this winter, looking mighty desperate? What about if your neighbors are among the first to lose work as the economy fails? What about your own family in economic distress? What about any number of scenarios other than Big Military Gone Wild?
In all of those, a functioning farm is a help. Even a serious suburban backyard garden and a few food forest plants in the corner can make the difference in very many ways.
Tell ya what: during this year’s late spring-early summer shortages and rolling outages of food at the local grocery stores I was completely untouched. Nothing in my life changed. Why? Because I always have a deep larder, dry goods storage, and a greenhouse in addition to vegetable fields, and I have near neighbors who grow good organic beef, chicken, and sheep. Short of Big Military campaigning through my quite rural neighborhood, we can live outside the fragile economy and doubtful supply chain as a mutually-reinforcing community forever. Very many of us don’t even need utilities piped in.
In addition, we do happen to have a lot of hunters around here, with some mighty fine weapons. And they’re used to moving quietly and blending in. I would not rule out their ability to wage a guerrilla campaign if Big Military got to thinking it could write its own rules on our backs. You don’t have to win a guerrilla campaign, you only have to cause the other side to decide the price of their win is too high.
Now maybe if you can convince your whole county to fortify against the state or federal government, just maybe you’ll be big enough to withstand your state government’s militia. But you still ain’t surviving the determination of the local branch of the US Army and/or Air Force. Some scenarios are not winnable; that does not mean no scenarios can be improved or tamed.
Hell, if I listen to you, there’s finally no point making any preps of any kind. Might as well pack a bag and wait for FEMA to come cart me off to some safety center, and hope I don’t starve while waiting for rescue from that increasingly thread-bare operation. And forget about even thinking of being able to provide resources to my neighbors and family. Might as well all roll over and die.
Or, what the heck, I’ll tilt at windmills. If nothing else it’s good healthy exercise today, and I enjoy it as a lifestyle. So, I’ll go ahead and make the preparations I can make while I can, so that I’m in better control of my life and circumstances if SHTF than I would be if I didn’t, and so that I can help others from a half-full cup, and so that I can work from a position of strength with my neighbors to harden our community when the current structure goes soft and starts disintegrating.
Here’s the thing: if the local community calls a meeting to figure out how to work together to survive, some will show up with skills and resources, others will arrive with nothing but empty hands. Who do you think gets to sit at the grown up’s table and make plans? I want a say in how that conversation goes, because when all else is said and done, I care about the humanity of our relationships with each other and I want our community to evolve through hope and charity, not devolve from fear and the reactionary impulses fear engenders. The very last thing I want is for us to all throw up our hands and not try 'cause, who knows?, the big old Army might come stomping through any day now.
Beyond all of that, even if nothing big and bad ever happens and all of us on PP are deluded, there’s this: my grown kids know that if their personal lives get hard (just as if everything does collapse) this is their Plan B. There’s room, there’s food, there’s resilient infrastructure, there’s scale-up abilities, and there’s even a succession plan they all participated in developing, and approve. If I do nothing else, I leave them an ark of tangible wealth. They can live and thrive here if they choose, or if they must. So I will die contented.

Its makes my blood boil when I hear that the way to save the forests of the West is to “manage” them more. As a lifetime outdoor enthusiest and a invasive plant specialist for the State of Oregon I have worked in every nook and cranny of this wonderful state. Millions of acres of forest land in Oregon are under so called “management” whether they are part of the large private timber holdings or the National Forest/Bureau of Land Management systems. Take the time to obtain maps of our national forests and see how extensively roaded they are.Take the Willamette National Forest, the countries greatest timber producing forest next to where I live for example. This one forest alone contains 3.000 miles of forest roads. The motto for this forest historically was “a billion board feet or bust” And they achieved that. Currently 17,000 acres of timber sales are being layed out for sale in one Ranger District alone. (thats my daughters job by the way and part of my salary). Add this up with all the activities in the Deschutes, Umpqua, Rogue, Ochoco, Wallowa Whitman, Hood and more and you got a lot of forest management going on. Funny the most fire resilient forests are often the older forests, the most burnable are the younger ones. Weyerhauser’s tree plantations have burned very nicely during this current event. Climate change, for all its originating factors is the number one variable driving the current events.So if you want to continue to drink the “forest management” cool aid, go ahead. All I can say is when you hear that term, follow the money, its what its often about. Thanks for listening.

The phrase is actually no holds barred. Referring to wrestling.

Let me describe another scenario—one perhaps no more improbable than Kuntstler’s World Made by Hand.
—The USA becomes even more culturally and politically fragmented, tending toward a simmering civil war and continuous conflict.
— The national government has lost all moral credibility and political legitimacy.
— The era of US financial hegemony ends with the US dollar being replaced by gold backed inter-currency swaps. The clear victors: Russia and China, who had the foresight to accumulate most of the world’s gold and engineer the collapse of the US dollar as the world reserve currency…
—The USA sinks into third world economic status, having lost the ability to print dollars at will and to manufacture hardly anything of utility.
— The world wakes up to the fact that the US military has no ability to threaten anybody and extract their national wealth for the Corporations as they have always done.
As the USA fragments into culturally homogeneous blocks, the region of Cascadia declares it’s political independence. The knee-jerk US reaction is to warm up the bombers for a shock-and-awe campaign to coerce the separatists back into line as has always been national policy.
The long experience of the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the Sanctions War with Russia has shown that the only effective counter to an enemy determined to conquer your country is MAD-- Mutually Assured Destruction. Fortunately for Cascadia it chose to seize the entire Trident submarine ICBM weapons system based at Bangor WA on the day it declared independence. In one stroke the US military’s ability to deny Cascadia’s independence was neutered and the new country freed to go its own way into whatever future it can create.
Cascadia: The world Capital of Water----- Northern California, Oregon, Washington— eventually united by treaty with British Colombia.

More irrefutable evidence of the Federal Reserve Bank’s sins and immorality. Thank you Chris for relentlessly exposing the bad individuals and institutions that continue to be the root cause of the decay and fighting in our society today. History proves with certainty the negative effects on society that are associated with inflating and printing away the fragile fiat green paper. Does the Federal Reserve expect a different outcome? Or are they deceiving and bribing the US citizens? I am 99% sure that the answer is the latter. It is time for their reign of terror to end and restore an honest money as the backbone of society.

Entropy, entropy, how you torture me. The history of castostropic fires in the northwest over the last (say 1000) years, shows a regularity, and an inability of humans to change these events (while now living there). Is it any different than living on top of a volcano (Montserrat or Stomboli), or living next to the pacific (tsunami & earthquakes) and storm surges (me) + fires. The BC coast is littered with remnants of small cities, villages and homesteads that have returned to “virgin” forest (my passion was for years seeking out these sites), and for a test (the largest US naval base outside the lower 48 in WW2, now invisible).

Hi Nutgrower
I grew up within three miles of the point of origin of the Holiday Fire that destroyed the 150,000 acre watershed of the most beautiful river I have ever known. I was a wildland fire crew with the McKenzie ranger district during my university years. One summer we had a vague smoke in the high alpine that we could never locate by flying it. As the time to go back to university neared, the district fire ranger asked to requisition a couple horses and me to go put it out. He was turned downed since it was near the end of the season. I went back to school, a strong East Wind came up, and the smoker burned 127,000 acres including the Hoodoo Ski Area.
I’ve “managed” most of the timber in the Upper McKenzie area, driven the roads, built trails and burned slash piles. As the most productive stand of old growth Fir in the country I’m sure it has been “managed” to a far greater extent than when I was there.
However, in the Oregon Cascades the fall East Wind is a force of nature beyond anybody’s ability to control.
ps: My handle, “Thor’s Hammer” comes not from illusions of grandeur, but from a distinctive rock formation across from my home farmstead.
ps2: If you are a Nutgrower you may know my old high school ski buddy, Joe Goodpasture, owner of the large filbert orchard just across from the surviving Goodpasture covered bridge!

Not sure why you took exception with what I wrote, but here it is again:

I’m less certain that we can pin these fires entirely on climate change, as poor land use and fire suppression practices factor in prominently.
Note the use of the word "entirely" and the phrase "poor land use." It's an incontrovertible fact that people are building homes in places that tend to burn, new forest growth or old. As more homes are placed in those combustible spots, we're going to have both more fires and more damage. Why more fires? Because you have to run power lines to those homes, which are apparently a fire hazard, and sometimes the idiots in those homes hold gender reveal parties that utilize fire-starting explosives. As well, forestry management does come into play because, well, we do tend to use lumber. Because of this it means that you aren't going to have all old-growth forests everywhere. But even if you did, the ancient fire scars in old tree ring patterns say "fires were a routine part of life" and were to such an extent that various tree species made fire a part of their life strategy (e.g. thick bark on redwoods, and pine cones that only open up after a fire, etc). Regardless, as long as people are using lumber trees are going to be cut, and now forestry management factors in hugely. Any regrowth needs to be thinned. That's management. You can manage it aggressively and well, or not at all and poorly...either way that's "management." From what I'm reading, both PGE line maintenance and the forestry management practices in some areas are sub-standard and could be improved. So, yes, it's definitely a factor and not "BS" as you say.  

I love being prepared but I am an optimist and we will find new solutions and it will all work out in the end without our society collapsing. Most of us do get along, most of us are not rioters or socialists and just want peace. When I was in college, a professor showed slide after slide how we would run out of a lot of natural resources before the year 2000. None of that happened because of new technology. We will find a way out of this. The late 60’s early 70’s our nation felt like it was collapsing, then the pendulum swung the other way. Such is the way of life!! Stay optimistic!!

Guys, please understand the military of the USA is made up of citizens of the USA. They are your neighbors, relatives, coworkers etc. the US military is not one monolithic entity. Military members are not mindless robots. They are ordinary people that do a job their country asks of them. However, if called upon to hurt citizens there would be a definite rift in the military and “Big Military” would fragment. The national guard and reserve force straddle the divide between the military and civilian worlds. Being part of the communities they serve, they would be much less likely to abuse the civilian population than people imagine when they put forth these scenarios.

Since our communities are so divided, with hate and toxicity on both sides, I’m not sure if the military is part of “the people” any more. Which people, living and working where? I might say well, the national guard is part of my local community right here. But so are the local police and so are the pretend “demonstrators” here engaged in vandalism, looting and intimidation.
We can’t form a community these days. So, who will the military fragments side with? Would we simply have an endless cycle of provocations on both sides, like Portland has seen? It becomes harder and harder for rational heads to prevail as violence increases.
As a society, the US has found it impossible to reach a consensus on unacceptable behavior. The left claims words are weapons [they are] and then proceeds to use those weapons to intimidate anyone who disagrees with a left position. So, is there really NO DIFFERENCE between you making a crude sexist joke at my expense and you placing your hands on me? Well, sorry "me-to"s – there’s a big difference.
Many on the right have claimed there are no peaceful protestors, just criminals, anarchists and vandals, hiding behind some fancy rhetoric. They want violence to be met with force, regardless of the level of the infraction or the escalation implications. Again, is there really no difference between fire-bombing a car or building with people inside and a spoiled brat throwing a single rock while calling the police names? On our rational days, we know there is a difference.
“The people” can’t decide from what the military/police should be protecting us or what “protective” behaviors are acceptable, under what conditions. How can we possible expect military units to know what to do if they’re ordered to take action against the local population.
Maybe a positive action would be to get to know the commanders of your local military and national guard units. If calmer heads in the community are familiar to them, we might be able to intervene to de-escalate violence. Our local politicians were supposed to be this restraining force, but in our politically hostile world, we can hardly expect restraint from them if large parts of a local population refuse to recognize a politician’s authority. And I’m not talking about young, radical demonstrators refusing to respect political authority or KKK units running around with AK’s. With the inept responses to Covid, larger and larger numbers of people are losing respect for local political authorities, and it’s not just extremists on both ends. At least around here, responsible, thoughtful people in the middle 2/3 are getting disgusted with the stupidity at the local and national level.
Of course, most mistakenly blame the “other side” for the problems - not a good sign for a peaceful resolution. And most of the military has a side also. You probably think the military’s side is conservative, but I know many sophisticated, thoughtful career military people who have ended up more middle of the road.
I hear more and more thoughtful people remarking that this election cycle has a high probability of ending in violence, since both sides have set the expectation of “tampering” and the looser will invoke that instead of admitting that nobody, especially in their own party, wanted them on the ballot in the first place.

I just cut my vacation short by a few days due to the smoke enveloping British Columbia from fires in the US. I couldn’t see any views of majestic mountains. YOU RUINED MY VACATION!!! lol.
I was exploring the backroads and wilds of the Chilcotin. Gawd it’s beautiful up there, not necessarily in-your-face grandeur, but nice pastoral / wilderness expanses that go on for hundreds and hundreds of km. I’m lucky I live here, I could easily get some homestead land in the middle of nowhere and disappear. Except I have no money. It would be nice if pet rock prices went up more, then I could do something useful before the reset happens.
Regarding forest management, it all depends on the particular forest. Some forests like Douglas fir tended to burn more frequently with less intensity so that the big trees survived. With our fire suppression activities we have let them get choked out with unchecked growth and become dangerous ticking time bombs.
On the other hand, much of central BC is lodgepole pine which instead tends to burn less frequently in massive catastrophic infernos. This is a natural process but our previous fire suppression has allowed a lot of stands to reach maturity which then makes them vulnerable to mountain pine beetle. It seems that climate change may also be contributing as the cold winter temps needed to kill off the beetles are less frequent now. So if you look on Google Earth you’ll see massive expanses of harvested forest with roads everywhere. This was to salvage the trees that had died from the beetle and were a major fire risk. Now they have been clear cut and new forests started.
In my opinion the true evil against nature in our forests is not from poor forest management (although the extent of clearcutting in coastal rainforests was a disgrace), but selling off forest land for rural real estate. Even though it may look pastoral and pretty, this is a permanent destruction of natural forest with major impacts on wildlife and invasive species introduction. By contrast, a 10,000 hectare barren clear cut represents prime wildlife habitat and will soon revert back to a new forest stand with all the access roads deactivated and reverting back to nature.

Yep! BOB

i like it when chris quotes things like we each have about 200 slaves working for each of us every day and just how much it would take to reduce oil use. it would be good if you had links to these facts and the supporting material so we can copy and paste them into, in my case the local government media outlets. thanks

Hi Chris:
I’m in accord with your statement that forest management is one part of the fire picture in the California and Oregon wildfire future. In some locations it can be pivotal, and in others like the Willamette National Forest it has little significance for the fire landscape. You are incorrect that “any regrowth needs to be thinned” — impossible and against good reforestation practice in a huge Douglas Fir forest like the Willamette—but very useful in a pine forest like that which grows in the foothills above Bend. (Grown from a small town 12,000 to a city of 150,000 by virtue of Californication)
When I first heard that the fire which destroyed the McKenzie Valley had started at Holiday Farm I recalled bucking hay bales for $3 per hour as a 14 year old kid. And I immediately knew that the fire was human-caused because I’d never see a lightening strike in the valley floor in 20 years of growing up there and fighting lightening fires in the surrounding mountains. As it turns out the fire that wiped out the town of Blue River was caused by inadequate electrical line maintenance exactly like the one two years ago in Paradise California. Americans, being the individualistic and profit-centered people they are, learned nothing actionable from the Paradise disaster.
Over the decades since I grew up there the McKenzie Valley gradually filled up with private homes hidden in the woods along the river. Virtually none were designed with any thought of surviving the wildfire that reduced them to smoking piles of rubble. And its not as if designing for survive-ability is rocket science or very expensive. Over the years I have proposed such houses to clients and met only rejection because they didn’t look like the homes of the neighbors or score high enough on the MC-Mansion scale. I’ve finally come 180 degrees in my beliefs from wanting to design homes that will survive anything Nature throws out and provide shelter for future generations to believing that homes built in woodlands should combust as readily as possible and disappear into the earth in the hope that another silly human will not come along and try to plant themselves where they don’t belong.


I love being prepared but I am an optimist and we will find new solutions and it will all work out in the end without our society collapsing. Most of us do get along, most of us are not rioters or socialists and just want peace. When I was in college, a professor showed slide after slide how we would run out of a lot of natural resources before the year 2000. None of that happened because of new technology. We will find a way out of this. The late 60’s early 70’s our nation felt like it was collapsing, then the pendulum swung the other way. Such is the way of life!! Stay optimistic!!
Tonya, The implicit assumption in your post that optimism as a strategy is a superior approach to dealing with life’s challenges is well founded. This has even been proven empirically.
However I believe you are fundamentally incorrect that technology will somehow save us from the predicaments that frankly, are themselves the result of technology. Technology that is both a function of and that has allowed humans to exploit fossil fuels and massively overshoot and degrade their natural resource base. At their core, our industrial social, economic and political systems are incompatible with the natural limits of the planet. Your appeal to techno fixes also ignores the diminishing returns on complexity inherent in the equation.
Your argument that your professor was wrong on his timing of resource scarcity predictions and therefore some how proves that we are not ever going to run out of our resources or reach critical debilitating bottlenecks is built on several nested logical fallacies. Indeed one can make a strong case that the social and economic disruptions we are currently seeing increasing exponentially are at their core, a function of running short of the master resource, oil. Specifically as manifested in the rapidly diminishing EROI In a complex adaptive systems timing is hard to predict. Phase changes and end states, not so much.
Think of an avalanche. One can guage the snow amounts and conditions and accuratey predict that an avalanche is almost inevitable but it’s hard to predict the timing unless the ski patrol is loading and aiming their avalanche guns (or the Fed is Turbo charging their printer) and it’s of course much easier to predict that the snow will be at the bottom of the mountain when it’s over So does this mean the end of human civilization? Probably and hopefully not but the potential exists as we can likely survive the monkey’s with bulldozers dilemma but monkeys with hypersonic nuclear weapons is more problematic. But likely soon and certainly within most of our lifetimes there will be massive disruption to life as we know it that can only be classified as an acute phase change in the ongoing collapse of our current social systems and institutions. Which as Chris points out is a process (to which I’d add is also a function of location) and one which, if you’re aware of our overarching predicaments, we are currently in. Indeed if you take the historical view, encompasses the 60’s and 70’s turmoil you referenced. On an individual basis, optimism is indeed an important and integral strategy to adapting and surviving the emergent chaos. However blind optimism or techno hopium as a panacea to our predicaments is counterproductive to those goals and has the effect of constraining positive actions and adaptations you might otherwise undertake if you had truly internalized the scope and significance of those predicaments. Writ large, these collective delusions have theoretically prevented our civilization from making necessary adjustments and potentially a transition to sustainable steady state systems without the massive pain and disruptions that are headed our way. I think Chris and Adam’s approach embodies an optimal approach of optimistic and informed adaptive action in the face of realistic understanding of the true nature of our collective predicaments and serves one better than a Pollyanna perspective. You might want to revisit the crash course or watch it if you haven’t yet. Your form of techno optimism looks naive in the face of that data and analysis. Also I would recommend reading Overshoot by William Catton, The Collapse of Complex Societies by Joseph Tainter and for an ‘optimistic’ perspective on our collective journey down the back side of Hubbert’s curve read The Ecotechnic Future by John Michael Greer. All of which might reframe the context in which to deploy your admirable personal optimism. mm