What’s Possible?

As we look at the multiplying signs of failure across our economy and the environment, society is slowly realizing that we need to start doing things very differently. At least if we want a positive future in which we can believe. Those awakening to this are asking: What should we do?

I think a better question to ask is: What’s possible?

That’s the question that has been waking me up early in the morning for the past few weeks.

It springs from Ben Falk’s book on whole systems design and permaculture entitled The Resilient Farm and Homestead. It’s a great book, packed with lots of useful ideas and systems to consider.

It’s opening line reads:

“Regeneration involves seeing things as they could be, while resiliency requires dealing with things as they are.”
I like that pairing a lot. It’s ‘what is’ AND ‘what could be’ Resilient AND regenerative. It’s combining what you already have with what’s possible.

Why Regeneration Matters

Regeneration is about the future. In working with living systems, the soil, the microclimate, the sun and a dozen other major variables all come into play. To be of a regenerative mindset, one must be able to see both what’s there AND what isn’t there yet, but could be.

Each acre of land or water source is more capable of doing certain things than others. The same is true with people, communities and cultures.

Where Joel Salatin found a farm with ruined soils (listen to our podcasts with Joel on regenerative farming and on ‘rogue farming’), he knew it was possible to rebuild the soils to incredible depth and abundance without using any outside inputs. He showed that a whole new approach could yield results that had entirely escaped the previous owners of that land. He saw what they didn’t, or perhaps, couldn’t (all hail the blinding power of belief systems!).

Where the founders of Singing Frogs Farms saw local organic competitors grossing $17,000 per acre, they showed what’s truly possible by ‘farming the soil’ and yielding $100,000+ gross revenues per acre. Their operation is regenerative for the landscape, their workers, and their many loyal customers. (Listen to our podcasts with Paul and Elizabeth Keiser here and here).

To place this concept within a business metaphor, if resiliency is having multiple jobs, regeneration is about starting your own successful business after noticing what wasn’t already there (but could be).

Business resilience is having a deep inventory in case of supply disruptions, or a solid balance sheet to weather the inevitable downturns. Regenerative businesses have cultures that allow for fresh ideas to emerge and change the company even if they challenge existing products or services. More than that, regenerative managers value these innovative ideas, products and practices because evolution is the lifeblood of longevity.

Resilience: The Critical First Step

For a long time, my fellow co-founder Adam Taggart and I have been all about helping people become more resilient.

That’s a worthy goal, one we’ll continue to promote. Resilience is critical to future prosperity, and it must be cultivated. Full stop.

However, it’s not an end point. What is the overarching goal driving our efforts to become more resilient? This is a question we’re hearing from the cadre of Peak Prosperity members who have successfully built up resilience across all the 8 Forms of Capital.

Once you’ve achieved resilience, then what? What is it exactly that we are seeking afterward? What problems are we hoping to solve? What would the world look like if we could design it exactly as we wished?

In his book The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible, Charles Eisenstein asks, “In a time of social and ecological crisis, what can we as individuals do to make the world a better place?” The answer, at least in part, is to begin to allow ourselves to imagine ‘what’s possible,’ without necessarily having a single clue as to how to achieve that or even what the next steps might be.

Whatever is going to come next, by definition, will emerge. And it will require the deep dedication of passionate souls to envision ‘what’s possible’ long enough for it to take root and grow.

'I Can’t Go On, I'll Go On'

Is there any more worthy goal in life than to make a difference, especially in trying times?

Those of us who can see the broad outlines of the coming difficulties society will face have a choice to make: Do we want to play an active role in the recovery?

This has been a refrain around here at Peak Prosperity for a long time. One resonant moment for me was back in 2016 when I first had the chance to interview elder wisdom scholar and philosopher Stephen Jenkinson.

We were discussing the tyranny of hope; specifically how to be in these troubled times, when Stephen said:

Samuel Beckett, the great Irish writer. He has a book title. And the book title says what you and I are talking about right now. The name of the book is; I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

Now, if you do not pay attention to how he has phrased it, you think what he is saying is I cannot go on; I can go on. But he doesn’t say that. See, that is hopeful and hopeless again.

He says I can’t go on, I’ll go on. And at the risk of cheapening an elaborate and well accomplished book just by making a phrase of the title, I believe his title says this:

I have an obligation in a troubled time to go on, not being able to.

If you let that stand and you do not try to resolve that, and you recognize the inability to go on is no more predicting of the outcome than the ability to go on is. Neither one of these foreclose on what may yet come to pass.

However, the depths of the trouble mean that there is such a thing as not being able to go on and you turn away from that at your peril. The recognition that you cannot go on is a real time in people’s lives. It is not a failure, moral or otherwise, it is not a collapse. It is a true thing, and it takes courage to know that you are at a time when you cannot go on. And what Beckett is saying is, there come times in our lives when we go on not being able to.


He described exactly how I feel; that I have an obligation in a troubled time to go on, and not being able to. Obligated, but with little more than a push from behind that says “Somebody has to do something, and that person includes you.”

There’s not a lot of instruction beyond that.

So we can’t go on, yet we will go on. Such are the troubled times in which we live.


The tides are turning. The social mood darkens. The Fourth Turning is upon us.

Despite all the attempts to force happiness on society based on record stocks and bonds prices, fewer and fewer folks are feeling the joy.

“More of the same” is no longer compelling.

Instead, people are increasingly hungry for new ideas and new paths that offer compelling solutions

Don’t look to the government to help. It’s proving it’s dominated by mainstream politicians who aren’t aware of exactly what’s at stake or how to go about addressing it.

Don’t look to the private sector, either. Corporations are mostly locked in a battle for a pie of profits that has stopped growing.

So, it’s up to us. You and me. We’ve got to figure out what new models will yield a sustainable, prosperous and happy future.

Though to be truly compelling and sufficient, these solutions will have to go beyond ‘resilience’. If a storm is coming, resilience is exactly what you want. But if a hundred years’ drought is settling in, you’ll need more than well-stocked supplies. You’ll need regenerative systems to weather through something that long in duration.

We’ll need each other in new and more profound ways. Ways that combine both resilience AND regeneration.

It’s time to find out what’s possible.

Now, a number of you readers are aware I’m hard at work on designing a living community that is both resilient and regenerative.

In Part 2: A Vision For Living Regeneratively, I share my current notes on the process. What key success requirements am I settling on? What models make the most sense? Beyond the physical factors of the land and housing, what community and cultural factors need to be adopted?

To fail to plan is to plan to fail. To successfully transition to a sustainable, happy and prosperous future, we need good plans (the more the better!) and I am making the development of this one a top priority. Both for myself as well as society – as anyone who wants to borrow (and improve upon!) it will be more than welcome to.

Are you willing to join us in developing the answer to: What’s possible?

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 https://peakprosperity.com/whats-possible/

Hi Chris,
I’m excited about your community project and I wish you great success. I know you’re a very thorough researcher, so I’m sure you’ve read all the piles of literature about existing experiments like the one you’re describing, from the long lived ones like the Amish to the short lived ones like Oneida. The hippie ones like the Farm and the modern ones like Earthaven. I just want to encourage you to spend some real time in existing intentional communities like I have (weeks or months at Findhorn, Tui, Riverside and Matamata). Functional community you can stand to live in is a surprisingly difficult thing to achieve (especially if one of the metrics is getting at least some of the children to come back), and the challenges are unexpected, but there are heaps of failed and semi-successful attempts to learn from. I know whatever you do it’ll be fascinating.

Sorry to poop on this feel-good party about regeneration… but if history is our guide then it’s not gonna happen! All civilisations have a life-cycle and expecting us to be “young and youthful” again (aka regeneration) then we’re going to have to reform to what we once were: a militant white patriarchy with an enforced Christian ethos that severely punishes dissenters. Any takers on this? Nah… women won’t give up their sexual freedoms or political power, men want to live like hogs, blacks want the fruits of whites and whites want the fruits of their forebears WITHOUT the “regeneration” mentioned above. Oh… and the Elites want to remain treacherous and keep stealing. And even then we have to reverse our advanced dysgenic decline. Any suggestions on a ruthless eugenics program anyone? Nope? So a Dark Age it is then.
I could go on… but hoping in regeneration is like expecting an aged, clapped-out alcoholic to regenerate into the former glory of his youth. It’s never happened to a civilisation yet. All of our “democracies” are well past their use-by date, like wearing disco bell-bottoms into a night club… ha, ha, ha… what a spectacle! Not the bell-bottoms (although that’s funny) but people’s belief in bankrupt democracies leading the world into regeneration… lol!
The world turns… this civilisation is done and dusted. We’re just four weeks away from the Decade of Disintegration. Our Decline is fast morphing into our Twilight… and then comes the Dark Age where 90% die, along with all that we held as precious.
Let that sink in: 90% will die, Die DIE! How? In abject poverty, starvation and violence. But Crapper always likes to end on a positive note: secure your Bitcoin and gold and brush up on your training for violence.
Regeneration will come eventually, but it’s after the Dark Age has done its work. The new civilisation will rise like a phoenix from the ashes of the long-forgotten past. And like all new civilisations that have “regenerated” from the past, it will be patriarchal, marshal in spirit, and militantly non-secular. But after it’s golden age it too will degenerate and decline just like we have… and it too will have its destiny with the historical rubbish heap for corrupted and degenerate civilisations that have reached their end.
My counsel remains… be chipper and prepare for the end with popcorn and beer… it’ll be the greatest show on earth!

And there is no part of my being that wants to admit that or give up. The deck is certainly stacked in that direction and I will by god cheat in this card game if I have to. I would rather choose my future rather than having one forced upon me, we have a plan and have been working on it for the last 11 years. Even if we loose, even if we get steamrolled, this has been the best time of my life. Hope? You bet, today I have hope and today is all any of us have.

Not the bell-bottoms (although that’s funny) but people’s belief in bankrupt democracies leading the world into regeneration…. lol!
I wasn't talking about saving the world or fixing dysfunctional democracies (actually, none exist, so none to save) I was talking about moving towards what's possible. I fully intend to go down swinging. I may not make it, but I intend to. At the same time I am not interested in trying to save what already is because it's mostly not worth saving. Will billions die? Maybe, even probably. So what emerges along the way? One path is the same old, same old. Warlords, bad actors, egos run amok, terrible behaviors. Another path says there is much worth preserving and we know how to do better. We know about how to treat PTSD effectively (but mostly don't), and we know how to clear out our egos and past wounds (but mostly don't) to live more fully, gratefully and authentically (but mostly don't). We know how to farm regeneratively (but mostly don't). This is all discussed in part II. The question isn't "can we save what is?" The question isn't even "can we do better?" because we already know that's the case. The question is how do we re-organize ourselves to allow the better parts to emerge? That's what's possible here. I know it can be done...the idea has grasped me by the neck and won't let go. So it's time to start trying. Many others are already surfing on that same wave. I think of it like suddenly finding oneself on one of those massive waves at Nazare Portugal. [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p63NEdTbaCM[/embed] Either we surf and make it to shore or we wipe out. There's no choice left to be made, only whether to give it our best effort or not.
"There is but one truly serious philosophical problem and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy. All the rest — whether or not the world has three dimensions, whether the mind has nine or twelve categories — comes afterwards. These are games; one must first answer."
Albert Camus

There is light when there is a vision. Some choose to see the glass half empty …others the glass half full. But it is a choice. Your posts tell about you, but not much about the world outside of you.

If we are headed for the Dark Ages again as Crapper alludes to then someone might want to save a copy on how to maintain all those spent fuel rods. Because if the Dark Age does arrive again, then we could be looking at 99.99% dead humans as well as everything else.
Fukushima, 8 years later is still not under control and Tepco is considering dumping all that radioactive waste water into the Pacific ocean.

Yes we know how to farm regeneratively, and we can adopt many other best practices so long as we have a humble attitude, yielding to those who know better than we do in particular areas. If the leadership is too strong or the decision-making process is too opaque, then others will feel slighted when their suggestions aren’t heeded. But there needs to be some division of labor for efficient use of resources, and that means some will be left out of the decision-making loop to various degrees. A sense of entitlement can creep in, for those lower on the hierarchy it might start out as a complaint of unequal treatment or a poorly-informed sense that they could lead better, while those higher on the hierarchy might come to think their wisdom is unassailable. So much turns on what we don’t know and how collaborative we need to be. If efficiency is not as important, then everyone can be the master of his own house and suffer the consequences of poor decisions, but I don’t think there will be enough energy for that in the coming years.
I have been thinking about the principles of healthy community for years, not only because it particularly interests me, but because my understanding of theology is thoroughly relational, finding explanations that resonate with what we have all experienced as husbands, wives, daughters, sons, fathers, mothers, employees, and employers.

Crapper or CM, would you please explain this a bit, as I hear a lot of this talk of possible Mad Max ending and I just don’t get how it comes about, absent a nuclear war, asteroid strike or other highly unlikely event.
Riots, martial law, wars, and general trouble I can foresee, but billions dying?
A hundred years from today, yes 8 billion plus people will have died including most everyone alive today.
I agree with you wholeheartedly though in terms of not giving up. Not going to die of shame.

I skip all crappers posts, but the population decrease to 1B is consistent with a number of scenerios. I think it lines up with The Limits of Growth. Resource Wars and the after effects of infrastructure destruction is one. I have two teenage sons and sure hope they aren’t drafted some day.
edit: But it doesnt have to be that way. ?

Fair question from “gkcjrrt” ("Billions will die how exactly?).
Depending on one’s interpretation, there’s been about 20 to 30 civilisations before us - every single one was completely and utterly destroyed along with catastrophic population decline in the vicinity of 90%. But why?
What the history of civilisations can tell us is that there’s a life cycle to each and every one that is strikingly similar. They all start with great vigor, a martial spirit, patriarchal leadership and have absolute certain spiritual belief. Toughness, bravery and manly traits are admired while the heroes are usually generals and warriors. Conservatism (in the context of that culture) is mercilessly enforced. Clearly this is NOT where our civilisation is today.
Fast forward a few hundred years and great achievements are made in architecture, art, science, trade, etc. This is the golden age and it’s a great time to be alive!
The decline that follows is slow at first and then rapidly ends in collapse. I was personally startled at some of the the hallmarks of a civilisation in decline: the spread of universities and learning; women’s rights; consumption overtakes production; human rights taken to a high level; social concern to the point of universal welfare, etc. Previous social mores are abandoned and then ridiculed. Conservatism is trounced by liberalim (so next time you hear “we’ve won the culture war” see it as a harbinger of doom).
But why should all civilisations then go the way of the dodo? My own opinion (and I may be wrong) is that dysgenic decline plays a huge role. Bluntly speaking, once resources are secured, the stupid begin to out-breed the intelligent because famines etc are no longer so severe. Also as the society softens it pulls back on executions. Stealing a sheep or same-sex acts got you executed 150 years ago. Today?.. lol! (Just don’t use the “N” word!!!)
In 1800 AD, just as the invention of steam power enabled the industrial revolution to begin, the British population had an average IQ 115 (about the level of an engineer, doctor or lawyer).
The average white today has an IQ of 100 (about the same as in 1650… when we invented the lateral axis windmill). To put that 15 points loss into perspective, that’s the difference between an average white person today and someone of IQ 85 (who will struggle to read a bus time table).
At present rates of decline, by the end of this century we’ll be down to IQ of 1450 AD (the Magna Carter era).
But it’s not just IQ. Along with loss of general intelligence comes maladaptive genes. Eventually the civilisation can no longer continue the institutions that were bequeathed upon them by their former, more intelligent and able forebears. Technology is NOT the foundation of a civilisation, it is institutions. And everywhere you look you find institutions in rapid decay: politics (kleptocractic), marriage (for looting), education (degenerate), capitalism (cronyism), agriculture (depleting), legal systems (laws by the rich, for the rich), the church (irrelevant), etc.
Without these institutions civilisation cannot function. When the tipping point is reached… civilisation collapses from a rapid institutional disintegration which results in a huge die-off. That is why it is critical to grasp that technology is an irrelevancy in preventing collapse! Typically about 90% die and the survivors live in abject poverty, deprivation and violence.
Only the few, the very few, who had the forethought and initiative to prepare beforehand escape the worse of it. And that requires one to forsake the ideals and values of the ascent. For the white, middle class (a large portion of this website) it means embracing violence, racism, sexism and wielding murderously raw power (or seeking allegiance with those who do). How else will you deal with the brutalized hoards that spill out of the defunct cities who’s only hope of survival will be killing your group and taking your stuff?
A final thought. Historians have found that at the twilight of every civilisation there arises the phenomenon of ubiquitous war bands. These are roaming bands of young men who were given no stake in the failing system and so have nothing to lose in a collapse. They thrive by murder, rape and pillage. They are warlords and heroes within their own tribe. They are the product of telling our boys from the age of four that “Girls are best at everything and boys are just shit!”. When a whole plethora of jobs and promotions are distributed according to “diversity” and not merit, it becomes a rigged game. And the winning move in a rigged game is not to play. So joining a War Band will be a winning strategy for a multitude of disenfranchised men of military age. We’ve sewn the wind… we’ll reap the world-wind.
As for Crapper, he’s got his beer and popcorn ready for the greatest show on earth.

A study reveals that the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors play an essential role in the choice between running and eating chocolatey food.

Physical inactivity is a common factor in lifestyle diseases -- and one that is often linked to the excessive consumption of fatty and/or sugary foods. The opposite scenario of excessive physical activity at the expense of caloric intake can also be harmful, as cases of anorexia nervosa illustrate. These data therefore point to the crucial need to research the neurobiological processes that control the respective motivations for exercise and food intake. A study by Inserm and CNRS researchers published on March 7, 2019 in JCI Insight reveals that the cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors play an essential role in the choice between running and eating chocolatey food.

The authors of this paper had previously reported that the cannabinoid type-1 (CB1) receptors, present on several types of neurons, play a key role in performance during physical activity in mice. A conclusion based on the performances achieved by animals with free access to an exercise wheel -- a model in which it was not possible to distinguish the mechanism involved (motivation, pleasure...). Given that the motivation for a reward can only be estimated by measuring the efforts that the individual -- whether human or animal -- is prepared to make to get that reward, the researchers devised a model in which each access to the wheel was conditional on a prior effort. This involved the animal repeatedly introducing its snout into a recipient, an essential prerequisite for unlocking the wheel. After a training period during which the level of effort required to unlock the wheel remained the same, the mice were confronted with a test in which the effort required was gradually increased. When exposed to this test, the mice lacking CB1 receptors showed an 80 % deficit in the maximum effort they were prepared to make to unlock the wheel, and without a decrease in performance during their access to it. This finding indicates that the CB1 receptors play a major role in controlling motivation for exercise. The use of other genetically-modified mice also enabled the researchers to demonstrate that these CB1 receptors controlling motivation for exercise are located on GABAergic neurons. The researchers then examined whether the CB1 receptors in the GABAergic neurons control the motivation for another reward: chocolatey food (like humans, mice love it even when they are otherwise well-fed). While the CB1 receptors also play a role in motivation for food -- albeit to a lesser extent than in motivation for exercise -- the CB1 receptors located on the GABAergic neurons are not implicated in the motivation for eating chocolatey food. In our daily life, we are faced with an ongoing choice between various rewards. A fact which has encouraged the researchers to develop a model in which following a learning period the mice had the choice -- in return for the efforts described above -- between exercise and chocolatey food. The motivation for exercise was greater than that for chocolatey food, with the exception of the mice lacking CB1 -- whether generally or just on GABAergic neurons -- whose preference was for the food. In addition to these findings indicating that the cannabinoid receptor is essential for the motivation for exercise, this study opens up avenues for researching the neurobiological mechanisms behind pathological increases in this motivation. One illustration is provided by anorexia nervosa which often combines the decreased motivation to eat with an increased motivation to exercise. (at the request of fellow commenters, Cut&Paste will replace links, which hurt his thumbs)

The anti-Sagan has spoken, now go and get the broom from the Wicked Witch.
Correction: EVERYONE Dies. (sooner … or … Later) The important question isn’t all of them with die, it’s how will I die, but for now, How will I live, seems more relevant:
a) fear
b) stoned
c) short one pancake
d) lover, magician, warrior, king?

If you look at the data charts and I believe Chris has posted them before, I know Gail Tverberg has used them many times. The correlation between the use of fossil fuels and the human population count is literally, striking.
You can overlay fossil usage and human population growth, one on top of the other and the lines almost become one.So if that’s the case, if you take away fossil fuels then you can expect the human population to go in reverse rather quickly.

First, let me apologize to the haters for being so devoted to sharing counter-narratives on PP’s comments pages, but here we go again. So, why is it that we can come down on or ignore Prof. McPherson’s (hard Science!) projections but can’t use some critical thinking when it comes to statistical pseudosciences like: https://qz.com/970646/the-world-has-already-bought-into-steve-bannons-apocalyptic-ideology/
(Any offense is only located in the frontal lobes)
Chao, chao.

Fossil fuels are the key, at least up till today.
Heck, the only reason we are where we are today re standard of living, etc is b/c of oil. No disrespect to human ingenuity or labor but all that free energy is a sine qua non to where we find ourselves re technology and industrial development. If fossil fuels “dried up” and were not replaced with similar quantities of energy we all would indeed be doomed to watch, and I dare say participate in the rapid decline of populations. I for one, don’t want that
Couple the “unlimited” availability of oil with the ability to print and direct “money” or “capital” where you want, which includes of course buying or securing via wars oil, and those that control how that capital is deployed can effectively run a command and control economy, which is like we have increasingly today, ultimately leading to complete tyranny. Of course most people won’t see it as long as the money and oil flow, and they are conditioned to love their enslavement (akin to Huxley’s Brave New World).
It’s not oil that’s the problem, it’s those with control of the money, who direct it, usuriously, toward “unlimited” growth which would not be possible w/o the ability to print currency.
This is why the recent actions of the Fed and other CBs is so disturbing. They are truly taking over the system and directing the global economies. And are elected leaders are complicit in doing nothing about it

@Rodster … Without being argumentative and intending to be constructive… there are typically two sides to every story … the correlation can go both ways or either way. But one side is generally the instigator in the cause and effect relationship. So, one can also state “if you take away the human population then you can expect fossil fuel usage to go in reverse rather quickly.” Did the use of fossil fuel drive-up the population? Or did the growing population drive-up the use of fossil fuel? Are they equally correlated? Or does one side contribute more greatly as the “cause.”
And what happens with you add to the equation greedy profiteers with the ability to influence/manipulate worldwide monetary policy, control the media and instigate wars? Whatever it takes to sell our product while maximizing profit from those sheeple who are willing to be harvested… On my, what if they stop using our product, what then?
Maybe the human population can survive the reduction in availability of fossil fuels more robustly than the usage of fossil fuels surviving a reduction in the human population. That being the case, the oil producers may prefer an increasing sheeple population until those trillion barrels in the ground are finally exhausted.
Just saying… … and Epstein committed suicide, lol.

At the bottom I posted a link to the Limits to growth BAU chart. I realize that this is a study done before I was born but it has held up fairly well see here : https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/looking-back-on-the-limits-of-growth-125269840/
According to the chart we will begin depopulating within the next decade or so. Now please bare with me as Ive not done this kind of math since high school. From the chart Ive inferred that the population of 2100 will be roughly the same as 1970 (3.7 billion) peaking in 2030± at around 8.2 billion then descending over 70 years back down to 3.7 billion. So that works out to about a 1.1% yearly decline in the worlds population right? Obviously this will vary widely from place to place and year to year but baring a black swan landing does it seem manageable? If I understand it correctly it will be a slow decline at first then a speed up and finally a taper down. Kinda like those really steep water-slides but without the wheeeee! factor. Seriously though, how bad is that? Is it Russia in the 90s bad or Venezuela? Maybe somewhere between Cuba and North Korea… Location is a big factor…

Here’s an interview of Dr Graham Turner. He’s an Australian scientist who reviewed the original Limits to Growth results and found that its “Business as Usual” scenario accurately predicted what actually happened in the last 40 years. He then reran that model with the latest data in 2009. The results are not pretty. I think he set up an off-grid community somewhere in what’s left of the wilderness there. I wonder if all of those forest fires near Sidney forced him out.