Sidestepping Genetic Reality Denial by Manipulating Behavior for Overshoot Harm Reduction

It’s rare to encounter a new and constructive idea for addressing human overshoot that is not fatally flawed by a lack of understanding of either thermodynamic and geophysical constraints, or the strong genetic behavior to deny unpleasant realities that enabled the human species to emerge and dominate the planet.

For anyone still looking for technically feasible solutions that have a non-zero probability of success for reducing harms from human overshoot I recommend the most recent Planet: Critical podcast in which Rachel Donald interviews Joseph Merz.

https://www.planetcritical.com/p/urgency-action-and-ethics-joseph?s=r

There are no easy solutions to the climate crisis—most governments admit their hope lies in technology which doesn’t even exist yet. Science and “visionaries” propose increasingly mad ideas, like refreezing the Arctic, or sending humans to live in Space. But given the urgency of the situation, would we be mad not to consider these mad ideas?

Joseph Merz thinks we’ve run out of time to ask questions. He founded the Merz Institute to combat the climate crisis, gathering some of the world’s best scientists to establish what is going wrong and how to fix it. He says the answer is behavioural change—and they’re developing a programme that would manipulate mass behaviour on a subconscious level.

How? Well, using the same techniques as the advertising industry.

Key points made include:

  • It is too late to avoid suffering caused by human overshoot.
  • There may still be time to make the future less bad.
  • All actions we might take to reduce future suffering require changes in human behavior to consume less and have fewer children.
  • Information and education to date have proven completely ineffective at changing human behavior in a positive direction, and we are out of time to try new methods of education.
  • The advertising industry has developed technologies that are very effective at manipulating people to desire and acquire things they do not need to be happy, and in many cases cannot afford.
  • Merz proposes to redeploy these proven marketing technologies to manipulate people to desire happiness associated with lower consumption and fewer children.

Neither Rachel Donald or Joseph Merz appear aware of Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory but I’m thinking that Merz’s proposal might sidestep the fatal flaw in most other overshoot harm reduction proposals that require humans to first acknowledge the reality of their predicament, which appears to be impossible because of MORT.

The beauty of Merz’s plan is that it does not require reality awareness because it will manipulate humans at a subconscious level.

It will be interesting to see if the marketing technologies are powerful enough to override the Maximum Power Principle (MPP) which is another powerful genetic behavior that pushes us in an overshoot direction. I’m thinking (without any evidence or data) that it might be possible to override the MPP because we are such a strong social species.

Godspeed to Merz and screw the ethics.

P.S. I doubt it is true, but I observe that if you assume the WEF Great Reset has good intentions grounded in overshoot awareness, it is possible they are thinking along the same lines as Merz with their “you will own nothing and be happy” campaign. The WEF campaign does seem rather clumsy compared to say associating happiness with a Corona beer on a high-carbon long distance vacation. I think it is more likely the WEF is trying to prepare citizens for a Minsky moment in which much asset ownership will transfer to the state.

P.P.S. It’s fascinating that so many overshoot aware people are active in the small country of New Zealand.

393 thoughts on “Sidestepping Genetic Reality Denial by Manipulating Behavior for Overshoot Harm Reduction”

  1. Kia Ora from NZ! in response to “P.P.S. It’s fascinating that so many overshoot aware people are active in the small country of New Zealand.”.
    Possibly because we as a small population and large (ish) landmass country we see the issues of our team of 5m’s impacts on the environment every day, no swim areas due to pollution, plastics rolling in on our beautiful beaches, “die off” of our oldest trees (kauri), non-native species impact. All of this due to denial and selfishness, one of the most common kiwi phrases is “she’ll be right” unfortunately it wont!
    Noho ora mai!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I visited your beautiful country once in the early 90s. The human impact is also most visible to me on the beaches here on Vancouver Island. Not so much garbage but the abundant diverse life I remember as a kid is gone.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Godspeed and thank you to these 17,000 medical professionals for standing up.

    Link includes a 1 hour video press conference.

    https://globalcovidsummit.org/news/declaration-iv-restore-scientific-integrity

    1. We declare and the data confirm that the COVID-19 experimental genetic therapy injections must end.
    2. We declare doctors should not be blocked from providing life-saving medical treatment.
    3. We declare the state of national emergency, which facilitates corruption and extends the pandemic, should be immediately terminated.
    4. We declare medical privacy should never again be violated, and all travel and social restrictions must cease.
    5. We declare masks are not and have never been effective protection against an airborne respiratory virus in the community setting.
    6. We declare funding and research must be established for vaccination damage, death and suffering.
    7. We declare no opportunity should be denied, including education, career, military service or medical treatment, over unwillingness to take an injection.
    8. We declare that first amendment violations and medical censorship by government, technology and media companies should cease, and the Bill of Rights be upheld.
    9. We declare that Pfizer, Moderna, BioNTech, Janssen, Astra Zeneca, and their enablers, withheld and willfully omitted safety and effectiveness information from patients and physicians, and should be immediately indicted for fraud.
    10. We declare government and medical agencies must be held accountable.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To me Covid is just the first good example (if you skip the economy) of the corruption and accompanying propaganda of a group of elites in collusion with other elites (medical profession, academic scientists, government bureaucrats and big Pharma) to profit and control the populace at the expense of their (the populaces) health. It appears that the elites have now shifted to Ukraine/Russia because they were starting to be outed by numerous parties (such as the above noted group). The problem is we still have Covid and have no protection from the vaxs and no approved preventatives – all the while the mainstream is shifting to a War/Nuclear Armageddon posture. At the moment I’m burned out on Covid and only hope we survive the War stupidity so the planet can survive.
      On a personal note I’ve decided to prophylactively start Ivermectin (horse paste) – at least for a few weeks.
      AJ

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      1. I hear you. My brain is also fried on covid. But we can’t let the criminals get away with it like we did in the 2008 GFC. The covid crimes are worse than the GFC crimes. And the crimes are global, not just Wall Street. The health minister in my little province switched her brain off and colluded with big pharma for god’s sake.

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        1. Covid could blow up in the MSM & Big Pharm’s face in the U.S. if the Republicans take over Congress at the mid-terms. Ron Johnson and Rand Paul seem to be aware of some of the Covid crimes and sure seem intent on making Fauci et al pay for it. My fear is that Obama (and his puppets Biden, Hillary) will not let that happen even if it means courting nuclear annihilation. Some people say that the dems have Trump derangement syndrome (and Russia is responsible for his election – yeah! (snark)). What they don’t understand (and I thought all along) is that Trump only got elected because NO ONE went to jail because of the 2008 Financial Collapse. Obama and his friends (Clintons, Bidens, et al) made out because they were or intended on being part of the monied elite. Dems have been screwing the little guy (working class that used to be dem) since Bill did in the 90’s. The little guy finally had enough and elected Trump (who also screwed them – but he still channeled their rage against the elite Dems). So, will Covid payback happen in the U.S.? Only if we survive a real possibility of WW3.
          AJ

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Holy crap. Thanks for the link. Bought the iodine tablets last year, and hope the wind patterns will be in my favor.

      It’s so frustrating that there is no telling what the truth is anymore. I don’t necessarily buy all he is selling either, but it points out how many narratives sound plausible, and they all seem to say the other takes are false.

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      1. Yes, the truth is elusive and very few people are willing to say they’re unsure.

        You should watch this discussion with Chuck Watson if you’ve not already seen it. See also 2 previous interviews.

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  3. After two years of building his customer base via excellent daily covid reporting, Chris Martenson recently increased the burn rate of his business and has returned to discussing his peak oil/human overshoot roots.

    I’m curious to see if his customer base now grows or shrinks. I’m betting shrink thanks to our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realties.

    Nate Hagens once observed that discussing peak oil is like eating a bad oyster for most people.

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    1. For the record Chris does an excellent job in this video of communicating the overshoot problem without sugar coating it too much. No mention of population reduction policies but of course that would kill his business overnight regardless of how carefully he worded it.

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      1. I was thinking about this on my run today, in what ways am I in denial? Perhaps about people’s ability to jump to the conclusion of an argument instead of needing to go step by step? Perhaps we need to walk people up a ladder, like:

        There are limits to growth
        Encountering these causes harm.
        Harms can be reduced
        For starters, let people live with the natural consequences of their actions
        Then, consider making people responsible for externalities

        We’re sooooo far from birth reduction. Why not start with a lower bar?

        How about making it illegal to own domestic pets, and euthanasia for shelter animals is mandatory? Or how about merely allowing poor people who have too many children already to experience abject poverty without government aid? Finally, how about refusing subsidized medical care to the elderly, those who already lived during the easiest time in human history?

        Until lesser policies like the above seem obvious and are widely accepted, jumping right to birth limits might be too much to expect people to believe as possible, let alone necessary. In terms of fairness, I think any young person who wants a family could justly point out the above.

        Why in the hell should a young person who sees childlessness as a sacrifice agree to such a thing when society spends inordinate amounts of resources on pleasure animals, bailing out our most burdensome citizens, and keeping people alive who already had more out of life than anybody else will ever have again? I wouldn’t blame such a young person for resorting to violence in that scenario – the priorities are askew if you assume having a family is literally the most important thing in life to most people.

        We can’t deal with limits to growth because we can’t accept limits on any of our crazy behavior. We are completely screwed, and the solution is going to be excess death, not reduced births.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. On some level I agree with you. I don’t believe people want to give up anything (what they are accustomed to and what they feel they deserve (airline trip to Tahiti anyone?)). Denial is in our genes.
          For the vast majority they will deny any overshoot, but on a subconscious level I think many feel it. Take the “right’s” focus on the southern border. Sure there might be some racism involved but I think most who want border control feel that we have too many people in this country already and those who are coming here only depress the wages of the working class (exactly what the elites want).
          I think that when one tells people of overshoot they should in that conversation mention over population. Sure it won’t be popular but by not mentioning it you defeat your purpose. I understand why the “green” arguments gave up on population – it wasn’t popular and it got tagged as racist. But by not bringing it up it takes even the chance of addressing it out of the conversation.
          All that said, I think you are right and there are going to be a lot of excess deaths – nature will win one way or another.
          AJ

          Liked by 2 people

          1. Good points, AJ. Perhaps another way to say it is that population reduction is a subset of what we might call “major sacrifices.” On the one hand, anyone advocating major sacrifices should be making these themselves, commensurate with the magnitude of what they are advocating. It should be noted that having families is the most important thing in the world to many people. Anyone who advocates for it should certainly be someone who already engages in a laundry list of overshoot friendly behaviors which could be argued to include (your mileage may vary):

            No pets
            No car
            Living in efficient multifamily housing, or in a very small house
            No air conditioning
            Vegan or vegetarian diet, or home raised animal protein
            No use of public assistance, including excessive or subsidized medical interventions
            No airline travel (sorry!)

            I submit that it’s irrational, and we’d be in denial to ignore the fact, that reproductive freedoms are much more important than the above list to many people.

            Many of the advocates of population reduction may not have children, but aren’t otherwise living low-consumption lifestyles and it begs the question whether their childlessness is perhaps at least partially a high-consumption lifestyle choice for themselves.

            The second major point to be persuasive is “Don’t jump right to the biggest possible sacrifice!”

            As individuals if we want to be taken seriously we would need to be: Living a low consumption lifestyles, eschewing materialism and excess in all forms. I know precious few people who come close to this, myself included.

            I need to keep my advocacy of low birth rates within the above context with some humility.

            Liked by 4 people

            1. Sadly, individual actions aren’t going to help. Even actions you envisage are within an unsustainable way of life (it’s a very long way down to get to sustainable). I hate to say it but humans will continue to act like humans until the species no longer exists. In some ways, we are no different to any other species except that our ability to use tools extensively has enabled us to go so far beyond what any other species does. For those who can contemplate it, the only response I can see is to try to prepare for a long decline, locally fast declines, and hope for the best.

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  4. Hello friends,

    Well, it’s a Friday the 13th and I believe the only one for this calendar year. Unfortunately, it truly seems that the unlucky designation has spread to every other day of the year as well, as we hurl headlong into our rendevous with our denial destiny. Thank you Rob for the latest podcast suggestions, so important to keep the conversation going and keep opening eyes, ears, and hopefully minds to our situation. I have been trying from time to time to open up the topic of resource overshoot to assorted selected friends who haven’t seen the light, but when it comes to the population crisis, I am finding that a taboo topic as much as everyone else. My husband and I chose to not have children for a multitude of reasons, and being only children, we also don’t have nieces or nephews, but we have been blessed to have been adopted as auntie and uncle by many families over the years. How to approach the topic of population control when your friends have children or grandchildren (many times the kids are also in the room and privy to our conversation) and you can see the families are already struggling with every ounce of their energy to keep their households going through these times of change and challenge? It just seems bordering on cruel and heartless to say, and not at all in a smug self-righteous manner, but knowing that it would be interpreted that way, “there’s way too many people on this planet and especially those of our self-indulgent consumeristic class”. I can pretty much bet that we would instantly be “family” non grata in many instances and that is not something we think would be helpful for healthful for anyone at this time when we need to establish more community ties. Has anyone among us had that conversation with your own children or grandchildren advising them not to procreate? How did you approach it and how did it go down? Do you say to your child and grandchild “On hindsight, we wouldn’t have had children, even though we are glad you were born?” And truthfully, we can admit that we think it’s only other people that should reign in their birthrate, just as long as our family can make its own decisions. Even though we know it’s ultimately the most necessary tool in the kit, we tend to treat it somewhat like a nuclear bomb, untouchable and when if and when we finally get around to using it, it will probably be too late. It’s just the ultimate control over humans to be able to dictate who can breed and I can’t ever see any government (other than the CCP, but even so, they allowed for one child) making it an above board policy, however, that is not to say it cannot be a subversive one, and we already have history to prove this has happened. Education or even financial/societal incentive may not be robust enough to guarantee the desired effect of severe birth rate reduction but mandating IUDs/shots/sterilization would make mandating vaccines look like a picnic in the park. I would be very interested to continue this conversation on how we can break through this barrier starting with our own families and friends, because the only way I see is this must be an individual/partner choice which must be so motivated to override any other consideration and also be effective against lapses of contraceptive vigilance.

    I may be off radar for a few weeks as I make my migration to my subtropical nest, and here I do again apologise and accept the 10,000 lashes from a wet noodle for my transgression of air travel. However, and please feel free to imagine just a slight hint of self-righteous smugness, I refer to my childless state as apt penance.

    All the best, friends, and I look forward to sharing news of what’s growing in the jungle that awaits me. Thank you all for this forum which has been a lifeline for sanity, reason, and yes, I still believe, hope.

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  5. Many interesting thoughts above on population…

    One thread is we should ease into the overshoot conversation and start with smaller, easier to accept actions.

    Another thread is that our entitlement and denial are so strong that easing won’t work.

    My view is that the goal should be to reduce suffering, and that it’s too late for small things to reduce suffering. We must get the population down.

    The good news is that with suffering reduction as the goal, any progress is success. Reducing the population from 8 billion to 8 billion minus 1 means 1 less person suffers and that’s a success. Get it down by 2 and we’ve doubled our success, and so on.

    We need to get a dialogue going on the severity of our overshoot predicament and the consequences of doing nothing. An honest discussion about oil depletion and climate change are obvious low hanging fruit. No need to jump straight to proposing solutions. If the overshoot discussion is honest and clear the actions we must take will become self-evident.

    I think about a cattle ranching family that has spent generations building their herd and then is confronted with a persistent drought. They see the pasture turning brown and the well running dry. No one has to force them to do the right thing because they don’t want their animals to suffer. They stop their breeding program and sell off enough so that the remaining cattle can survive.

    Later, after overshoot awareness has been achieved, if the majority still vote against population reduction policies, many citizens with their new awareness will choose not to have children, which means despite losing the vote we still succeed in reducing suffering.

    So the focus should be on awareness of overshoot.

    Unfortunately 99.9% can’t see overshoot because of our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities.

    Which means we must start with awareness of MORT.

    Which is why this blog exists, and why I’m very optimistic that the 5 people who read this blog will make everyone in their respective countries aware of MORT and together we’ll save humanity from unnecessary suffering. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. P.S. If you disagree with the goal I propose, please let us know what you think the correct goal should be. I’d like the goal to be to protect other species but it seems we’re too late for that.

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      1. I’d first like to protect the knowledge of the vastness of the universe. Then I would like to protect the knowledge of physics, thermodynamics, and evolution. Next I would like to protect the knowledge of the improbability of complex cellular life evolving sentience and a reality denying brain. (See how the first three are only knowledge – the greatest fruits of our evolution and civilization.) Losing that will be the greatest tragedy of humanity (maybe even of the universe?). But, even if that is lost, losing multicellular life would be a greater tragedy -as long as multicellular life exists on this planet there is a faint chance that intelligence could evolve again – would it repeat our mistakes? Would it even have time enough (considering the lifetime of the sun)?
        AJ

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          1. The trouble is that we know too much. What knowledge do we need to live sustainably? Probably a lot less that we have. It’s often said that it’s not this or that technology that is the problem, it’s what we’ve done with it. The same could apply to knowledge. We can’t unlearn what we know, though. To be honest, I have no idea what the answer is, other than going back to living like we did 200,000 years ago, but that’s impossible with 8 billion of us. Sometimes, I hope that the vaccine die off which is sometimes mooted on blogs actually comes to pass. I won’t be here, in that case, but at least the world might have some chance of healing in a collapsed global economy.

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        1. Upon gazing up at the starry night sky thoughts like these come to my mind–there must be some sentient life form and civilization somewhere in this vast universe that broke through this barrier of denial that causes suffering to self, other life forms, and their ultimate destruction of their planetary home. Just being able to internalize this gives me much peace and acceptance of my infinitesimally small but still conscious being. If I keep gazing, sometimes I can lose sense of self completely and just melt into a time/space/no and every mind. Fermi’s paradox may be the most probable explanation for our seemingly unique manifestation but in a near infinite cosmos, there is still a chance that we may not understand everything!

          If we are not here, or even if we were never here, the vastness of the universe continues to be, the ultimate laws of physical construct still stand as foundational building blocks to all matter and life, and life forms will continue to evolve even if given the most minute opportunity. In light of these critical truths, our knowledge of it is an ego awareness and recognition of what always was and will be and which has been already recognized by eons of cultures in their own way of expression. From creation myths to quantum equations, it is all a finger pointing at the moon, a way of reaching the untouchable but the real mystery and awe lies in the experience of just being. I suppose what is most tragic to our species is that we may lose our own consciousness to reflect back on our understandings of our world, in a word, annihilation. But can we take solace in the knowledge that we are elemental stardust to begin with and will return to that state, and since our guiding laws tell us matter and energy are constantly changing form, that is what we must be also, moment by moment, if even there is something called time. Then it is not a far reach for me to accept death, but suffering is another matter. Our ability to experience suffering ourselves is the prerequisite of consciousness and to be aware of suffering in others and make a choice for relief is the core of our humanity.

          I have of late, at this crossroad of our civilization, find myself asking “Has it all been worth the suffering?” The knowledge gained, the art expressed, the structures erected, the technology exploded, has it been worth what we have also wrought with the same force and energy, the destruction and injustice to our planet and other life forms, starting with our own species, closer kin than any other stardust in this vastness of space. For example, for JS Bach to be born and for us to experience the incomparable beauty of his music, was it worth whatever else had to pass for our civilization to bring forth such genius? Can another member of our Homo sapiens family, in destitution and hunger for generations oppressed, can they say our enjoyment of our highest pinnacle achievements was worth their suffering and their ancestors suffering and their children’s suffering at the hands of our dominant culture? What of their choice to relieve suffering if only we had used our energy in a different way that may have allowed them to reach their own developmental potential? I cannot lie to a deepest truth that it is only my judgment that deems one being more worthy than another, the universe has none. If we are uberconscious, then we will also know that the universe has no judgment on our beingness or existence, it is only us looking at and contemplating ourselves in the mirror for this briefest of constructs called space and time. But since we have developed this mind and we have created our microuniverse within the macro, it is our responsibility to finish what we began, on every level. Overshoot and its repercussions is the stage set for our generations, we cannot shirk from finishing the show we have written, directed, and acted in. But there is also more to our human existence, and from the earliest times our inner desire has been to find our meaning and place in this cosmos. The present is the only time we ever have to continually seek and refine for ourselves what resonates, only now it seems of greatest urgency, at least to me. Maybe being born in the age of overshoot collapse has refocussed this for all of us here. And I do agree that reduction of suffering is a noblest goal and can manifest in myriad ways; kindness is always our choice.

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      2. I think our major focus should be on preserving biodiversity and healthy ecosystems. Because that is of primary importance to humans and non-humans alike. And also because life is beautiful

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ve been a reader of Dave Pollards blog, howtosavetheworld.ca for a long time. Here’s his latest statement on coronavirus

    “What more is there to say about this horrific pandemic and how it’s been managed? If you’re not still wearing a proper medical mask whenever you’re indoors or in a crowded place for an extended period, you’re being reckless. If you’re not vaccinated and boosted, you’re being reckless. You should no sooner be going around unmasked and unvaccinated than you should be driving a car without wearing a seat belt. But the governments have all abrogated their responsibility for dealing with this ongoing emergency, and in many cases are no longer even reporting the data, or are doing so in an inconsistent, imprecise, untimely and unreliable way. It’s up to us, now, folks, exactly as the conspiracy theorists wanted all along.”

    I have agreed with Dave’s views on many things over the years but I can’t with the above statement. I really struggle to understand how he has reached the above conclusion. I think denial of an unpleasant reality might have something to do with it.

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      1. I’ve put several comments on his various postings, I had a funny experience as i read a few of his posts agreeing strongly and then came across some of his corona BS and I couldn’t believe how far off course he gets.

        How is it that everyone in my unvaccinated household is just fine?, we’ve been exposed multiple times through kids at school. What was the quote from Biden “a long winter of death and despair” ?

        I can’t be bothered with Dave Pollard anymore as I have been pushed out of my job due to mandates and he appears to be some kind of true believer in every government dictat re coronavirus.

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          1. You do realize that there are also many stories of harms from vaccines.

            To make sense of it all, and to choose health policies that maximize benefits and minimize harms, you need statistics that have not been manipulated by people with agendas other than truth. You also need a sound understanding of the underlying science.

            Our leaders just make stuff up based on pressures from scared citizens and the power of pharma dollars.

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                1. You could make the exact same website with vaccinated people who died of COVID. It’s silly. There is also no proof that these are real people. Plenty of AI out there that can make fake photos and profiles

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  7. Kurt Cobb today…

    http://resourceinsights.blogspot.com/2022/05/just-hint-from-mainstream-that-limits.html

    One executive told Bloomberg: “Whether it’s $150 oil, $200 oil or $100 oil, we’re not going to change our growth plans.”

    If oil executives are not responding to high oil prices the way that they used to and insisting that even prices twice today’s will not move them, there might be another force at work, namely, geology. It is becoming more and more expensive to extract the oil that is left.

    Deep shale oil wells, tar sands, the Arctic and deepwater offshore oil are the new frontiers for oil exploration. That new frontier is more expensive and more technologically challenging. The recent comments of oil executives may be a tacit admission that limits are upon us in oil. And, there may be no better illustration of those limits than the fact that world oil production—using the standard definition of oil which is crude oil including lease condensate—peaked in November 2018, long before the COVID pandemic destroyed oil demand. Even with today’s renewed red-hot demand for oil, production remains substantially below that peak—79.6 million barrels per day (mbpd) versus 84.5 mbpd at the peak in 2018.

    It’s true that oil prices substantially higher than today’s might change these executives’ minds. But prices of say $150 or $200 per barrel would almost certainly induce a deep recession that would result in plummeting oil prices. And, that means that such price levels are not sustainable. It’s a pretty good illustration of the limits we now face.

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    1. The same trend is happening with all/most natural resources.

      I retired a year ago working in reforestation and timber harvesting inspections for the BC Forest Service.

      Most of the high volume valley bottom old growth forests have been logged where I was working which was southern Vancouver Island. What we have left is mostly 40-60 year old second growth forest and high elevation old growth forest. The remaining old growth requires a great deal of very steep and expensive road building or even more expensive heli-logging.

      In short we need more energy to extract lumber

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Alice Friedemann continues to rave about the merits of the book “The Dawn of Everything” which we discussed above and I dismissed after reading a couple chapters. I respect Alice so maybe I’m wrong. If anyone reads the book and agrees with Alice please share your thoughts here.

    To my eyes it looks like Alice’s brain is desperately seeking a reason to deny what’s coming.

    https://energyskeptic.com/2022/states-do-not-evolve-from-bands-to-tribes-to-chiefdoms-to-states/

    The bulk of this book is dedicated to showing why the idea of the evolution from tribes to states is false. If the authors are correct, then the flexibility of societies to invent ways of living with more freedom and fulfilling lifestyles is far greater than we think, since we’re “stuck” now in modern civilizations (made possible by fossil fuels) and can’t see that other options exist.

    The fact that new and better societies may arise out of the ashes of overshoot gives me great hopes for the future after fossil fuels are gone. I just hope enough people read this book who survive to help build better societies in the future, especially for women, who suffer in agricultural societies where the muscle power of men leads to domination and backbreaking tedious roles for women.

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    1. I think Alice is a classic liberal (e.g., women’s rights, abortion, personal freedom, no racism, etc.) which I am fully on board with. We see that for most of imperial history, these weren’t the values people held. And it is unnerving looking to a future where these values are likely to be cast aside. Sustainable egalitarian societies have existed, which gives hope we could have a society like that again. But there is a kind of game theory problem with humans in that if a society does deplete their resources and go to war, they will win in the medium term. And the good societies get rolled. Strange world

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      1. Along similar lines this came up on my LinkedIn feed today. More good news 🙂 Too many formulas and unrecognized symbols for me so only read the abstract and conclusion.

        “In conclusion our model shows that a catastrophic collapse in human population, due to resource consumption, is the most likely scenario of the dynamical evolution based on current parameters. Adopting a combined deterministic and stochastic model we conclude from a statistical point of view that the probability that our civilisation survives itself is less than 10% in the most optimistic scenario. Calculations show that, maintaining the actual rate of population growth and resource consumption, in particular forest consumption, we have a few decades left before an irreversible collapse of our civilisation (see Fig. 5). Making the situation even worse, we stress once again that it is unrealistic to think that the decline of the population in a situation of strong environmental degradation would be a non-chaotic and well-ordered decline. This consideration leads to an even shorter remaining time….

        ….we suggest that only civilisations capable of a switch from an economical society to a sort of “cultural” society in a timely manner, may survive.”

        https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-63657-6

        I’m back to the garden. It’s fruit and nut tree planting time.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. So much horror & suffering in their dry clinical words “it is unrealistic to think that the decline of the population in a situation of strong environmental degradation would be a non-chaotic and well-ordered decline”.

          I say again, with full awareness the right things to do would be self-evident and not require coercion, but our denial aggressively blocks awareness.

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          1. Yes I agree. I have kids (prior to overshoot etc awareness). It’s hard to listen to their hopes and dreams for the future. Our focus is on connecting them to the land and very local community, teaching practical skills with the biggest effort going into growing food. My other big concern is for people in cities. So much celebration around urban intensification and public transport initiatives and I just think where will all the food come from. Jason Bradford’s The Future is Rural is one of my favorite resources to share / quote.

            Raising the population elephant is hard because I have kids and because it mainly gets shot down with the usual vitriol about eugenics and racism.

            Your frequent statement that “our leaders are idiots” sounds in my head often. Here in NZ our government has just released an almost useless Emissions Reduction Plan a week after announcing a new immigration policy designed to attract more “skilled workers”.

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