In Denial: We Pursue Endless Growth At Our Peril

[quote]If anyone here has children then "you were not thinking" about anyone other than yourself! Having children is one of the most self consumed actions any human can take and yet somehow we are all brainwashed into believing it has some noble purpose and that we deserve huge accolades! The IRS even hands out tax credits for your reckless behavior! I think you deserve huge tax credits for NOT having kids! Anyone have kids out there? How much of the Earth's resources will it take to get your child from a baby to 80?
Clearly not everyones parents were thinking when they had offspring.

After 4 kids, yes, that's definitely something to consider.

The Sunkist operation … great juice and no seeds!

We took that step after our third child.


You can tell what's true by what is angrily opposed. Thanks for the verification.
Eh, that's not a method of analysis I'd rely on.  In the real world, everyone has their own hot button issues - push hard enough, they will become angry, regardless of truth or falsity of the statement/accusation.
How do we make "progress" on reducing the population?  What actions can we take?
Chris has always said, "be the change you want to see."  Seems like that applies here.  That doesn't mean we all run around trying to impose change on everyone else - although that sure is tempting, it flies in the face of the whole "free will" thing.  Educating everyone as to impact of population growth seems like a good place to start.  Kaimu's baby article was - if accurate - pretty neat.

Understand the impact of everything we do.  Then we can all decide for ourselves if its the "right thing" or not.

Your four kids are already a done deal.  All you can do is educate them on the impact of each of them having four kids in turn.  Up to you what you tell them, of course.  Just like throwing litter out the window, no one individual is responsible for all the trash on the side of the road, but if we all stopped throwing trash, there wouldn't be any there to clean up.

We have a population problem.  Will adding more people to the problem help or hurt?  All else being equal, it will hurt.

"But my kids are a good addition."  I'm sure.  Yet here we are, in an exponential growth situation.

We all agree that something needs to be done.  Our resolve falters however when courses of action are suggested.  Here's a few to get you started and that you can all deride.
1.  End child support and child subsidies.  Penalise larger families through the tax code.

2.  Introduce energy rationing.  Everyone is allocated a 150 kWh per day credit card. This allocation to be gradually reduced over time to 100 kWh by 2030 and then further still.  (bear in mind that it is estimated that we consume about  200 kWh per day each, on average, in the US and Europe).  If you want to go above your allocation you can buy part of someone else's.  Children under the age of 16 have no energy allocation so it comes out of the parent's allocation.  (rather than energy rationing you can call it carbon credits if you like)

Not so keen now, are you all ?

Ha ha  best to forget about it then !!

in their soils sequestered carbon.

I knew that when I began to write more specifically about the Environment "E" that not only would more pessimism arise, but something deeper I'll call grief.

I'm not totally clear on the right word, because for me the feeling is a mixture of dread, shame and sadness. 

The dread from the sense that all of this is unstoppable, which is itself rooted in the profound gap between my complete faith in the individuals I know and my utter lack of faith I have in the big blob of humanity to do the right thing (without being forced to).

The shame comes from the feeling that everything in the entire world, human and natural, is magical, spiritually derived, and the manifestation of consciousness and energy dancing in ways I can barely detect but struggle to describe.  This quote comes close to articulating the source of my shame.

"Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature. Unaware that the Nature he is destroying is this God he is worshipping." - Hubert Reeves
It seems beneath us to be so unconsciously and carelessly destructive.  We can be more, so much more than we choose to be.  Maybe shame is too strong, perhaps I am just embarrassed for how we are behaving, as if one of my children went into a beautiful temple and carved their initials into a previously unblemished 1,000 year old elegantly carved wood panel.  My god child, what were you thinking? weren't...

My sadness, I now realize, comes from the awareness that I am connected to everything and all life.  As the strands of the web of life break something breaks inside of me.  When I read about the loss of the Rhino species, sadness arises, but I wonder if I did not already know that information on some level before reading about it. 

To me this helps to explain the deep seated anxiety that so many people express, in so many ways, rich or poor, S&P at new records notwithstanding.  We are all aware on some level that the very container in which we were formed is being destroyed by our own actions.  Imagine waking up one day and discovering that in a heroin induced haze you had irreparably harmed your own mother in body and spirit.

Regret, sadness, shame…those will be the legacy emotions that our species will need to process as a result of our fossil fuel induced haze.

So yes, this material runs deep and I am extremely proud and encouraged by my association with the people here at PP who are not afraid to wade into those turbulent waters, look the demons in the eye (even if that means looking in the mirror), and taking the first steps towards recovery.

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.


Thankyou for putting into words what I have felt for quite a while. Having the advantage of six decades of observation, it is indisputable that Mother Earth is suffering from our treatment. I applaud your willingness to address the third rail of religion even though the knives will undoubtedly come out. Prior to reading your post I read a blog article that basically denied that any climate or overpopulation issues exist because humans aren't in control of this precious planet, it is God's plan and we mere humans can relax and enjoy his ride, no worries ! Your quote from Hubert Reeves is simply the most eloquent expression of how this thinking misses the "forest for the trees", I have ever encountered.


I live in the rural foothills of the Sierras and am currently helping friends in northern and central Idaho with plans to improve their properties. You can contact me via this site. 
I have been working with local folks here for the past 6 years to improve primary and secondary forms of wealth and I am always amazed at our dependence on the good old fossil fuels. Every time a milestone of sorts is reached I know another ah-ha moment is just around the corner.

An example is the broadfork. It is a soil decompaction tool and we fabricate our own to suit a persons body size and so on. Yesterday I was musing about how nice it was that the iron ore had been mined and turned into steel of a convenient size, that the tools for cutting and welding it were readily available. So simple yet so complex and so dependent.

That said, it is a far better use of resources than some other things I observe going on!!


You comment this morning Chris reminded me of the drive we took one afternoon several years ago across the Central Valley farmland of California. As we passed by the town of Manteca where housing developments were covering the farmland at a record pace I said something to you about my own shame as regards the practice of architecture. I felt as though I had failed my profession in not doing more to prevent that from happening.
I think the root of shame perhaps dwells deep inside all of us and is triggered by our desire to perhaps make things better or somehow to do more of the right thing.  But in recalling that moment I will not forget that along with the shame was also the desire to do something different and perhaps that is where a new narrative is created.

Thanks for keeping the light on here at Peak Prosperity Chris. I like the direction you have taken things recently and while the subject is difficult, it needs to be discussed.


Thank you for this article. A new awakening/movement has begun in the US midwest based on "resettling" all that has been "unsettled" (reference to Wendell Berry's works). Galen Chadwick of Missouri has launched the Farm Resettlement Congress, and it features a rigorous and inspiring 20 Year Plan to put land and land management back into the hands of We the People, resettle our youth, veterans and displaced farmers into a productive ecological and societal restoration. It is organized by biological regions as opposed to political boundaries, and focuses on sustainability and regeneration in food, economy, community and environment.

Jack Spirko has just posted an excellent interview with Galen on his podcast:

Chris, I strongly suspect you will want to have a discussion with Galen yourself. He is quite an amazing individual with a character and a message that is rapidly building energy in the communities becoming organized under the FRC. Everyone please check out this very deep interview, and Chris I can put you in direct contact with Galen should you be so inclined. He would deeply value the opportunity to talk with you.


for the change of focus.  This is exactly what we need to be looking at.  I'm glad that PP has become another avenue for me to focus on the important inner and outer work it points towards. 
When you posted the video from Andrew Harvey a few days ago in which he describes the 5 communal and 5 personal shadows, it was so spot on that I listened to it over and over, transcribing it so I could internalize it more fully.  It was a very well thought out description of just what stands between us and facing the predicaments that are so obviously in front of us with eyes, heart and mind wide open.

I've found myself more motivated to focus on both personal work and reaching out to others in a way that works for them over the past few weeks, at least partly due to the inspiration I get from your recent posts.  Thank you.

One more thing - I have lots of lettuce in the garden - and I was bringing an extra head to my next door neighbor yesterday evening.  She had a friend over and her 23 year old son - it just so happens they were making a salad at the moment, but that's another story.  They invited me to hang out around the fire in their backyard later.  After the kids were in bed I stopped by and got into a conversation with her son.  He quickly turned the conversation to the subjects we discuss here  - and he had a very balanced and well thought out view point like many people here.  He told me that just seeing me bring the home-grown head of lettuce over, he knew that I would be a good person to talk to.  I invited him to the event that Chris, Becca and Charles Eisenstein are speaking at in Connecticut on June 12, so maybe some of you will get to meet him.

Coop, my moment came when I was driving north into the Adirondacks 20 years ago to lead my first wilderness expedition with a paying customer.  It was a warm Columbus Day weekend.  Monarchs were still common them and they were migrating southwestward en masse.  It was so beautiful until I realized the shoulders of the highway were littered with butterfly carcasses.  And then I realized I was contributing to the carnage.  I did the best I could, driving slowly and even trying to avoid them, but wasn't 100% successful.  It wasn't lost on me that here I was taking people to learn wilderness living and nature connection skills and we were killing these beautiful creatures in the process. 
Since then, I've come to realize how important it is to be aware, really fully emotionally aware, of how our lives contribute to the destruction.  It is only through this awareness and the skills to process the emotions that come up in a healthy way that will will motivate us to live differently and set an example that others will be able to follow.


This should help too (in a round about manner), by cleaning up a backlog of pensioners (along with the requisite social benefits and caloric requirements).

Potential downstream solution to an upstream problem.

Carousel anyone?



Pessimism : noun - the tendency to see, anticipate, or emphasize only bad or undesirable outcomes, results, conditions, problem, etc 
Realism : noun - the tendency to view or represent things as they really are

Predicament : noun - an unpleasantly difficult, perplexing, or dangerous situation that may not have a solution.

People who have labeled some of the comments as pessimistic do not fully comprehend the predicament that mankind is in. 


On a related theme, Hariri ’ s Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind argues that humans basically make fictions that we place on top of the natural world. Whether that is Laws, Ethics, The Corporation, or Money. Some of these can persist as long as the underlying natural world supports us, but it does seem like our fictions are in for a rude awakening.
I have 2 great kids who are smart and questioning, but I can’t share some of my deeper concerns with them yet. As for me I often flip from being optimistic to pessimistic / stoic all the time.

There's a very good reason almost everyone's in denial:  most of us are wired that way.
And I'd be very surprised if most PP followers are not INTJs too.

Maybe it would be better if we were suspended in a larval state, given minimal nutrients for survival and lived out our lives in a simulation, like the movie the Matrix. Or perhaps we could dream about shopping for non-essentials rather than putting the planet through a Pacific gyr to satisfy our weird fads and neurotic obsessions. Consumers should be shipwrecked on floating islands composed of styrofoam, empty Pez containers, croc shoes and plastic water bottles. Bleccchhh!  Just for a day.  It might help. The future is going to be spartan – either imposed on or embraced by the masses.  


Did you really just equate China's one child policy to the industrial genocide of WW2? I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt and believing that's not what you intended,lots of people wouldn't. I'd be a bit more careful with your linguistic analogies next time…

I'd say that China's policy was the most responsible piece of statecraft there has ever been! How man extra consuming and despoiling and polluting humans did this policy prevent? 100 million, half a billion? However many it was, I thank their foresight everyday. How many tons of carbon unburned? How many tons of fertilizer unused? How many tons of fish saved and uneaten? How much pollution avoided? How many species still extant?


It's never going to happen, but I would go along with the other poster who suggested that all subsidies to have children be cut today and penalties be introduced( perhaps through the tax system). A coercive 1 or 2 child policy, with the option to have more if you can win them in a lottery( as some people won't have any…and perhaps be compensated for that). If this sound authoritarian, that's because it is! Time to get ahead of the predicament…

From the man himself;

Guardians of Gaia? Sign me up!


Imposed limits on population, of you want to go there, would be a wonderful opportunity to cull the herd of anti-socials, too.  Witless hedonists who drink, become wife beating drug addicts, could be easily persuaded to have vasectomies. Those not already killed in the closed loop of murder by Big Mac and Big Pharma would be offered a life supply of liquor, in exchange for a vasectomy and given 5 minutes to make up their mind, with no turning back. As impulse control is comorbid with personality disorders, most would choose the vasectomy. Everybody's happy. No coercion involved.  No muss, no fuss.