Mass deception and the quest for a more sustainable agriculture

Friday, February 16th, 2018

Most of our society has fallen victim to a spectacularly successful, century-long effort of mass deception. The idea that organically certified farming is making a significant difference is just one of the many myths. To explain how that happens, I will first sketch a more general, historical picture that provides the necessary context.
The advent of [...]

The Pace of Descent: A Long Emergency vs. Sudden Collapse

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

Students of the energy descent continue to debate the probability of different rates of industrial decline. Sudden collapse advocates focus on the increase of many kinds of fragility in the global industrial economy. Risk analyst Nassim Nicholas Taleb (Antifragile, The Black Swan) and others argue that increasing fragility is inherent with increasing complexity in systems [...]

What is Sustainable?

Monday, January 8th, 2018

Answers to this question that are rooted in the relevant scientific disciplines – primarily systems ecology, the physics and economics of natural resource science and the world-system method of the history of civilizations – are so unsettling to most people in their implications for the future of modern civilization that they are met with denial. [...]

How the Maximum Power Principle affects living systems

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2017

I make no claim to expertise on the subject, but here is how I understand it. The laws of thermodynamics are central for understanding how the universe operates. One of the aspects of the second law is that gradients of energy or matter will try to eliminate themselves. This is important because of all the [...]

Biochar – a Critical View Through the Ecosystemic Lens

Monday, October 30th, 2017

I have been following the biochar story since it began to gain visibility over a decade ago. I view it from the perspective of forty years of farming informed by study of systems ecology. My understanding of both of these pursuits has evolved over that time in ways that will inform this critique. I began [...]

Scenarios on the Downslope: Insights from Greer’s The Ecotechnic Future

Sunday, September 17th, 2017

Perhaps the hardest truth for modern society on the edge of industrial decline is to learn our species’ dependence, like other species, ultimately on natural laws, not human ones. The learning process has many layers, partly because it involves a revolution that takes us beyond reductionism to seeing reality in a more systemic and historical [...]

What Is the Deep State?

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Recently the idea that there exists some shadowy group called the deep state has begun to edge its way into the alternative news media, and occasionally into public discourse in the US. I see two major reasons for this. One is that people in power, whoever they are, fearing the declining public credibility in major [...]

The holarchy of rules and the problem of silos of knowledge in the quest for the survival of humanity

Friday, March 31st, 2017

Seen in retrospect, the failure of those concerned with the advancement of knowledge to respect the complexity of the world, and to move toward ways of doing science that account for its connectivity, may be one of the greatest causes of the ongoing collapse of Western Civilization[1]. As products of that civilization, we are all [...]

Clinging to the Titanic, or how to let go

Monday, February 20th, 2017

- “A world ends when its metaphor has died” – Archibald MacLeish
- “Don’t be fooled by the idiotic exertions of the Red team and the Blue team. They’re just playing a game of “Capture the Flag” on the deck of the Titanic.”- James Kunstler
Political ecologist William Ophuls has researched the unsustainability of modern industrial society [...]

Reality 101: Some Notes on Teaching Humanity’s Predicament

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Our species faces a predicament: the inevitable decline of industrial civilization as we know it, and possible extinction. Decades ago, a small but growing group became aware of the situation and began to create ways to communicate it to the general public. An ‘energy descent’ literature appeared that has described it using terms like overshoot [...]

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