Making It To The 4th Second

Our work here at focuses on raising awareness of the serious challenges facing humanity as we continue to live well beyond our economic, energetic and ecological means.

Through the Three Es framework presented in The Crash Course, we’ve engaged millions of critical thinkers around the world. And we’ve inspired many of them to invest in a more resilient lifestyle, for their sake as well as the planet’s.

But at this point, we’re still only talking to a small minority of the people in the world. And we’re always looking for new channels, new approaches, and new partners that can help get this message out to a wider audience: If humanity wants a future worth inheriting, we need to become agents of regeneration, not destruction.

We especially keep an eye out for effective vehicles that resonate with a younger demographic. The millennials and the generations behind them are the ones who need this information most, as they’re the ones who will experience the full brunt of the Three Es during their lifetimes and on whose shoulders the responsibility of finding solutions will rest.

But as older guys in our forties and fifties, Chris and I realize that we’re probably not the most compelling messengers to this segment. So we’re constantly looking for others who can be.

In that vein, this short video below from Prince Ea recently caught my attention. It delivers a hard-hitting emotional call-to-action for sustainability and resilience using much of the same data we frequently cite here at Peak Prosperity:

If there are people in your life, especially younger ones, whom you think would benefit from watching this video and contemplating the existential question it poses (Will we adapt our behavior in time to make it to the 4th Second?), please share it with them.

And if it succeeds in opening their minds to the importance of taking action now, send them a copy of our freshly-released 2nd edition of Prosper!. It’s been specifically edited to guide folks new to this message through the steps necessary to develop resilience in their lives.

Because, at the end of the day, information alone is not enough. Informed action is what the world needs now.


Those wishing to purchase multiple copies of Prosper! can contact us here to receive the following price discounts (paperback version):
  • 2-9 copies: $12.95/ea
  • 10-24 copies: $7.95/ea
  • 25-99 copies: $6.45/ea
  • 100+: $4.95/ea

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

If you want to reach a younger demographic with all of the excellent material on this site, how about taking on a millennial as the third-in-command at Peak Prosperity?

Great presentation, Adam.

He’s got a lot of it. Thank you Adam.

Sounded like Bill Ryerson’s model worked pretty good. Think he said he had a successful show that ran in the U.S. a few years also. His input might be helpful.
Be interesting to see what Timothy Wilson, and Robert Cialdini would have to say about getting your message out there too.

If you’re serious about getting real leverage and traction you need to make PP a ‘movement’.
PP is currently limited by the capacity, skill- and mind-set of the ones at the driver’s seat. Don’t get me wrong, the PP team is extremely productive and very good within their niche, but a limited set of persons can only do so much and are only able to use a limited set of approaches (they feel at ease with). Turning PP in a movement does mean less control, in the beginning less effectiveness and profitability, but IMHO ultimately it is the best way to get traction with the 3E message in the larger public.

Afridev wrote:
If you're serious about getting real leverage and traction you need to make PP a 'movement'. PP is currently limited by the capacity, skill- and mind-set of the ones at the driver's seat. Don't get me wrong, the PP team is extremely productive and very good within their niche, but a limited set of persons can only do so much and are only able to use a limited set of approaches (they feel at ease with). Turning PP in a movement does mean less control, in the beginning less effectiveness and profitability, but IMHO ultimately it is the best way to get traction with the 3E message in the larger public.
I've never created a movement before. There is this instructive lesson?
But seriously, what does it mean to "start a movement" and what are the steps that need to be taken? It seems to me that a movement consists of three things; (1) the right idea (2) at the right time with (3) the right people involved. Out of those three, if the time is not right the other two cannot overcome the barrier of the time just not being right. In many ways it feels like the "time was more right" back in 2008 and 2009. But perhaps that's just because TPTB have gotten so good at falsifying ""markets"" and controlling the message across all major media platforms?

I agree with Chris that to start a movement requires more than just words. Don’t we hear that a lot especially on the internet? You learn of a cause and you begin to say phrases such as “we must do something, let’s go to Washington and march”. That’s all nice but you need a collective group to stand behind an idea to push it foward.
I have learned so much from PP/Crash Courses and that’s even before I found out about Gail Tverberg’s and Steve St. Angelo’s work on energy.
The approach that both Chris and Adam utilize seems to work and the traffice to this website. If one is looking to start a movement based on a cause or set of ideas, there is a way to do that. Politicians always talk about the grassroots level. Peak Prosperity could engage the college kids and hold lectures or speaking engagements at various colleges/universities to try and wakeup the future generation. Those kids would learn that if we continue on the current course they will have to deal with the mess in the future that our generation has created, if there is even going to be a future with the damage we have already done to this planet.
Right now the talk is space exploration such as living on Mars or the Moon, why? Because humans are beginning to figure out that we have totally F-up this planet and are looking for a new home to screw up next.

If you continue to run your regional seminars, you could become intentional about leaving behind a locally connected group in each place. With some pre/post online activity and minimal support with keeping connected (dedicated forums, for example), you could get little patches growing here and there. Some will take hold and flourish, some won’t but there are natural patterns there - distriution over a wide area followed by differntiation and selection - that have proven very effective over the eons.
I know I’m not the only teacher or professor around here. If I were in local community with people who see what I see, I can imagine lots of opportunities first to work together/support each other, to set an example for others, and begin to expose lots of other people (teachers and profs have contact with lots of people) to these ideas.
I’m in Denver but was out of town for the seminar here. (I’m out of town 1 day in 10 months and it’s that day, right?) If people are wanting to stay connected locally, please make me aware of it. I’m connected to the world of Permaculture and sustainability in schools but I don’t find many people taking in the big picture or at least not as a well structured model like the 3 Es.
I teach a Financial Algebra course and have used Crash Course materials before (using the old DVDs). That material could be presented in a way more engageing to and digestable by adolecenets. I had this idea a couple of years ago - we have a very good video production course at my school. Maybe students could digest some part of the CC and, working with people who know about developmental phych, brain based learing, etc. (we have that in house and connections to universities), could put together their own presentations of the ideas. This is a typical format for high school projects - learn about something and integrate it through creating and delivering a presentation to someone else. The output in this case would be curriculum rather than just a slide show. Maybe there needs to be a template for what counts as a fully developed curriculum model that’s open enough to give kids broad lattitude in how they get information across (doesn’t have to be video but must be digital) but with assessment guidlines that lead to a coherent overall collection.
With a couple of interesting segments produced, maybe you start a competition where groups all over do the same thing and submit their work. Multiple entries on the same topic could be evaluated by the community based on known criteria (a rubrik in edubabble) and the top entries showcased. Maybe specific topics are called for plus a “wild card” category. I’m thinking along the line of Yes! magazine and the quarterly student writing competition they have or some of the economics competitions I’ve seen. You could convert the entire CC to student engaged form Wikipedia style. Imagine the directions kids would take that.

I understand Chris’ point about 2008/09 being a good opportunity to push for change; the PTB and their media were caught off balance, and there was a definite opening. But I disagree about the timing not being right anymore. There is so much pain now, evidenced by the record levels of self-medication going on (don’t mean to self-promote, but there’s a list of data points at People are suffering; they just don’t know what to do about it.
The only thing missing is the idea - something small and tangible that causes a small but noticeable change in their lives, and opens up the possibility of new options and a new vision. I don’t have that piece - but I did want to put a marker down that the time does in fact seem to be right.

Thanks for the video, Adam. I shared it with my daughters.
I took an online course, this winter, offered by the University of Arizona, entitled something like: Biosphere 2: Science For the Future of the Planet.
I’ve included a subset video below that talks about how much water we use per person, per day in the United States.

What blew me away, is how much water we consume indirectly, by including meat in our diet. It hit me extra hard, because I was residing in the Sonoran Desert, South of Tucson, at the time. The Southwestern United States is in an ongoing multi-year drought and is not using water anywhere near a sustainable level. It was enough to make me consider becoming more vegetarian in my diet choices. A week ago, I started reading "The China Study," from the Peak Prosperity list of suggested books. Let me just say WOW! Enough said. I'm shopping for veggies and selecting vegetarian recipes as we speak.

It seems to me that a movement consists of three things; (1) the right idea (2) at the right time with (3) the right people involved.
Out of those three, if the time is not right the other two cannot overcome the barrier of the time just not being right. In many ways it feels like the “time was more right” back in 2008 and 2009.
But perhaps that’s just because TPTB have gotten so good at falsifying ““markets”” and controlling the message across all major media platforms?

It also was not the right time back in the day when the first oil crisis arrived in the 70s. Even with powerful research and documentation (Limits to Growth, M.K Hubbert and political action such as Jimmy Carters national energy policy, the ideas went into hibernation. The financial crisis of 2008-9 seemed to get a few more to wake up but it still was not ‘the right time’. But it also seems like the right people were not involved which IMHO is the ‘average working class person’. Politicians, scientists, economists, MSM and so on can banter on endlessly about the pros and cons of an idea which seems to neutralize the average Joe and any desire they may have to take action.
Sadly, it seems to require a crises before widespread action happens at the scale needed to effect a general change in sentiment and a willingness to take action. That does not tend to support the concept that mans intellect sets him apart from other species in that knowledge of a particular threat would drive the actions necessary to avoid it prior to the occurance.
We planted our annual Foothill Collaborative for Sustainability potato patch this year on the weekend following the PP seminar. We had about 13 people on hand and planted 1200+ potatos. Each seed potato can produce 10 or more potatoes so our Fall harvest will be in the range of 12,000 potatoes. That is enough to feed a small community for awhile and they are grown without any use of pesticides or fossil fuel derived fertilizer. In 2010 we had about 50+ people show up. But the potential for crises is apparently over so interest has waned.
I had a fellow in the office the other day ask me “Why would you bust your ass growing potatoes when you can get them so cheap in the store?”
I responded… " I like growing potatos!" Several years ago I might have tried to convert him with a one hour lecture on the crash course. Now I value my time much more and taylor my more detailed response to those that show interest. They are out there and the idea is growing but the time delay is quite frustrating.
Now I am preaching to the choir!!!

Spuds are no longer cheap at the store - or even obtainable; when the tap is turned on and nothing comes out; when the switch is flipped and no lights come on; when the fridge ceases to keep things cold, and the washer ceases to wash; when the car is a rust bucket in the yard, a long forgotten mode of transportation.
As has been said on this site many times, even if people are aware, it is not enough to change behaviours. Humans are not known for proactive strategic planning. We are reactive. And thus we will only act when we have no other choice. Nothing else can rationally explain to me why all of the highly intelligent people I know who have good awareness remain some of the biggest gluttons of all.
I see the can being kicked much futher with the advent of blockchain technologies, which is already being touted as the technological messiah that will save humanity. It is something new which will support the erroneous beliefs that we can overcome our problems predicaments. Until this ‘new’ game peters out (perhaps when there is no electricity to power it all…) there is no hope, at least from my perspective, that anything other than the status quo will continue.
There is no shortage of people who care, just a real dearth of people who care enough to actually DO something.

Don’t get me wrong, I keep preparing for a dramatically different (less) future and I keep trying to influence others who are open. But I am of the firm conviction now that a significant course correction for a large number of us is NOT possible (there is not going to be a Movement at this point in our civilization’s cyle of birth-life-death). The damage has been done, the minds are closed and we’re going to crash into The Wall at full speed. I’m more interested in increasing the small number who are going to be at least a little prepared and in being among the relatively small group of survivors who are given the task of starting over and building something better (a world worth inheriting). I want to have credibility among the survivors as one who saw this coming in advance, took appropriate action, and tried to warn others. I don’t see that as pessimistic but realistic, fact-based and historically informed. I optimistically expect that The Crash is going to create a marvelous, powerful teachable moment for those who are still around, and I’m expecting a Movement will begin there. In history, that’s how Movements get going: right in the deepest point of Crisis. See the whole Fourth Turning ideology. Read the Bible.
“Welcome to the Hunger Games. And may the odds be ever in your favor.”

I know very few people who are aware of our predicament. Between my immediate family and my spouse’s immediate family, none have bothered to adjust to reality. All of them take multiple trips throughout the US, Canada and the world. I have a sister-in-law who travels to Rome each summer (from Boulder) to give a 6-week architectural seminar. (The cost for students is $11000 plus.) Her bio indicates that she is a sustainability proponent. My Canadian brother-in-law and his wife travel every other year or so to visit their daughter and her offspring in Australia. These are all folks that came from modest upbringings.
We have to be aware that most of those who practice permaculture do not have the luxury of being adjacent to a market (Bay area) that has great wealth due to providing multiple distractions to the masses. Singing Frogs Farm is an anomaly. I challenge Charles Hugh Smith to come up with a list of folks who make a living at Permaculture outside of the Bay area. Of the 35 or so folks who took the first Permaculture design course in Spokane (2012), only 2 or 3 make a living (barely) at it and they were mostly committed to an austere life before the course. The majority of us still have one foot in the conventional B.S. paradigm.
If we as a movement are going to be effective, we have to acknowledge reality. How many of you live with an ecological footprint of less than 1?

How many of you live with an ecological footprint of less than 1?
We're not there but we're making progress in that direction. Sort of ... For instance, we've done a lot of work to make our household more energy-efficient. But the mission comes with some paradoxes; it takes energy to save energy, and there's construction waste along the way. Upgrading to tri-pane windows, adding more insulation in the attic, switching to more efficient lighting and appliances, water-saving toilet and shower etc. etc. all have their own embodied energy costs and depend on a complex industrial system. With that noted, I figure that as long as the system is functional, it makes sense to invest in things that will reduce our energy and material needs in the future. Also invest in tools and knowhow. Many signs point to a future of less but for the moment we have a window of opportunity for preparing. Take advantage! As for fostering a movement, we need to lead by example and make our households more resilient in every way we know how. Educate yourself, equip yourself, and have some fun doing it! Practical actions that others can relate to will do more to convince and motivate them than all the preaching and hand-wringing in the world. Although a movement does need some preaching! enlightened

Didn’t expect a reply so only saw the reply late yesterday evening…

cmartenson wrote:
I've never created a movement before.
Neither have I, but let's explore a bit with some loose thoughts that (hopefully) will help in digging deeper
cmartenson wrote:
It seems to me that a movement consists of three things; (1) the right idea (2) at the right time with (3) the right people involved.
Yes, that seems to be a good beginning. It would probably have to be an idea or concept about justice, survival, or something similarly deep-seated (I'm not looking at 'fun' movements here, though they may be some lessons too here). A strong imbalance would help galvanising people. It would have to be broad so that many are potentially affected/ interested. The movement is about getting solutions to the issue. The basis can probably can be quite complex, but the entry points need to be simple, appealing and broad. It needs a vision that many, from different perspectives, can identify and asociate with. To gain traction the message and how it is presented needs to appeal to multiple personality types. It needs to connect brain, guts and physical work. It needs to bring connection. Timing is important. I'm wondering if 2008/09 was a better moment. I have the impression that people are realising more that there are underlying fundamental issues linked to the system, and that we are reaching dangerous points (from my very limited perspective). I'm surpirsed at how many in my environment have heard of PP and talk about things that relate to self-sufficiency, risk of collapse, prepping... Dynamics and perceptions seem to have shifted over the last two years, but maybe that's just my antennas that have been tuned better... The right people. Yes, this is an outcome that depends on idea/ concept (and how it is presented), timing and how things are set up. I think organisation and the way it is set up is crucial to making it work. It seems that the basis for a movement can be made, and it can be steered to some extent, but it cannot really be planned in a systematic way. It grows organically, more like planting a seed in the right conditions, and see it grow and adapt/ evolve in its own way, than to build a shed based on a plan. It probably can't be a centralised system/ network, it needs to be decentralised. It needs to be local, it needs to be practical, It needs to give people identity, belonging, contributing to a communal goal, and recognition in return. The core needs to be a clear positive and inclusive vision and (operational) principles. From these there have to be multiple ways in which different people in different contexts can adopt and develop to contribute to the vision in their own unique way: 500 wildly different initiatives, 100 work, 40 successes, 5 front-page stories... Grass-root... While I'm not very familiar with the Transition network I think this is a good model to look at if PP would want to go 'the movement way' as it incorporates all these elements (and more). Hope this all makes sense. There is much more depth in these points to explore, but I have a deep bed to dig out today smiley. If there is an interest to pursue this brainstorm further I'm happy to contribute.

I think if one were to look at the most recent movement OWS probably had the closest to the three components you will find. It spawned the “bernie” movement.
Both were failures. Of course this time it will be different

The video by Prince Eo is amazing and powerful. And the problems that Eo describes, are calling for a movement to fix them. It’s clear that Now is the Time, and the sooner the better. And to deal with problems on this scale, it needs to be a movement with a big vision, and a big tent. It needs to call out the issues, and identify real solutions, and seize the powers needed to implement those solutions. It somehow needs to transcend barriers of race, nationality, religion, gender and culture, to pull together a grand coalition.
It seemed incongruous to me, that the video ended with an appeal to make a contribution to The monumental problems described in the video cry out the need for a movement to take on the challenge, and “Stand for Trees” just isn’t it. I went to that website, and took their “footprint calculator” quiz. It said my carbon footprint is 17 tons, and offered to remediate the problem by sending them $170. And they’re affiliated with the infamous USAID, so I’m not sure if my donation wouldn’t be used in some way to support our US government’s imperialist and colonialist foreign policy. So I’ve decided not to send them my $170.
It seems completely inadequate to the task, even if I did trust USAID. Save the planet, for $170? Really?
So, we need a movement. We don’t want to wait for the right time for our movement – we need a movement that’s designed to work right now.
thc0655 says it’s impossible to solve the problems, and he wants to build a core group of survivors. But a lot of the attitudes and actions that lead to survival, are the same as the attitudes that could save the planet. Any movement has to start small, maybe with just one leader, as Chris’s video from Derik Sivers points out. Could a “big tent” movement be broad enough to attract survivalists like thc0655? What’s the harm in a movement that starts now, but with big plans?

This discussion is touching some of the core issues that have been brought up here for years regarding putting knowledge into action. My impression is that most of us here are living in two worlds: the business as usual world that puts food on the table today and that we actually inhabit, and the future world each of us has in mind that is worth inheriting that we would like to inhabit.
I think the problem with getting people to adopt behaviors that would be consistent with a sustainable future is that you have to give up all the cheap goodies the world offers today.
A movement has to offer tangible benefits that exceed the risks to be widely adopted. Think of historical examples of successful revolutions - the pain in the moment had to be intense, and the potential payout (political power, voting rights, independence, etc.) had to be worth risking it all. I think there also tends to be a tribal monkey brain ‘us vs. them’ mentality that takes hold and acts as a kind of social glue to keep a movement together. It’s easy to have enemies.
I don’t see those things present today. Some people are in intense pain as they get left behind by the BAU model, and that pressure is ratcheting up. But for so many the practical reality still favors the BAU model in terms of reliably putting food on the table today. Once we are all energy poor again in the future, a subsistence lifestyle with lots of hard work may offer a better quality of life than we now enjoy - real community and healthy living. But to voluntarily give it up now and put both feet in that model makes you vulnerable today and the payout is maybe there for your children or grandchildren. How do you cover a $100,000 medical bill if you’re not in some way participating in the BAU model today? Sorry kids, dad was an idealist. Also, who is the enemy today?
Needless to say, I find the crisis model more likely. When we cast about for an enemy, someone to blame, and see only ourselves… how many will gracefully accept personal responsibility and how many will look for a scapegoat?
The only positive model I know about are medieval monastaries - religion was the social glue in that case, which has its own issues, but there may be an opportunity to use that social programming going forward based on reverence for nature which would better align human values with ecological realities.
Anyone here have any touch points in Puerto Rico? Is a crisis on that scale sufficient to make something like the 3 E’s accessible to a wide audience?