Three Types of Doomers and Fantasy Collapse

In previous entries, I poked fun at Panglossians, the merry among us who are content to spin yarns about the magic of technology and pontificate about human ingenuity as the key to saving us all. I’ve engaged in an angry rant about those espousing the “power of positive thinking” in solving the Earth’s serious problems. It is now time for me to turn my attention back to my own world view, and more closely examine the payoffs and foibles of viewing the world through a “Doomer” perspective.

Chris Martenson, who brilliantly explains in video clips how we got to where we are, prefers the phrase “serious survivalist.” Zachary Nowak is also uncomfortable with the label, but nonetheless believes that it is prudent to err on the side of being overly grim, than being overly optimistic.

I, myself, am affectionately attached to the label, and I suppose, as the pejorative “Dike!” hurled at lesbians, has been reclaimed for use within the lesbian community (dyke), I’ve adopted “Doomer” as a descriptive label among my friends. When it is used by “the other” as an insult, it is usually followed by the chestnut: “Don’t talk about ‘doom and gloom.’” I use it here in the descriptive, not pejorative sense.


A Doomer Manifesto

“Doomer” is a provocative word, meaning one who expects a disastrous destiny. It’s a term that does not appeal to the “mainstream media,” and Doomers seldom craft messages based on “popular appeal.” We live in a commercial world that tells us “if you cannot bring good news than don’t bring any!”

Doomers are accused of being “irresponsible” or “irrelevant,” because we aren’t trying to conform and “reach out” to the masses. We’d argue that conventional thinking itself has brought us to this state, and our message lacks “mass appeal.” Mainstream media is not a source for “factual information,” but actually a barometer for how bad things really are. When the phrase “Peak Oil” finally broke through into popular culture, Doomers knew it was very, very, late in the game.

What’s there to be “doomy” about and why do Doomers expect tomorrow to be worse than today? The very structure of the system, itself, is quite impervious to change. It was aptly put by Dutch economist Maarten Van Mourik: “It may not be profitable to slow decline.” The profit motive fuels the engine of this “runaway train heading for the abyss,” and most of the passengers don’t have a clue what’s happening. The end of this ride will bring “calamitous” results. Massive scale “quick fixes” only serve to shovel more coal into the engine.

With such powerful forces propelling us forward, Doomers anticipate no “Big Daddy” or “Mommy” jumping in at the last minute to “save us,” or the planet we live on. “Growth” in every sense of the word, remains the unquestionable goal for most of our world leaders. The world financial system demands it. The businesses that feed our mainstream media outlets require it. Even modest solutions like “conservation” are commercialized and require still more consumption.

In the USA, Dave Cohen points out that “we are dealing with multiple failures regarding America’s status in the global economy.” Doomers reject the notion that most Americans can absorb skyrocketing oil prices and remain unaffected, or that simple solutions will emerge. Industrialized countries are already greatly affected by rising oil prices and the rest of the world is suffering. In the French revolution, Marie Antoinette purred: “If they’re hungry, let them eat cake!” Here in the industrialized world, politicians offer: “Let them burn biofuels!” Eating, itself, has become subordinated to the industrial need to fuel the world economy. This is crazy.

Therefore, Doomers doubt the likelihood of an intentional change happening on a global level. Is it “impossible” to stop this collapse? Many thoughtful scientists whisper to each other what they can’t address publicly for fear of spreading panic, but what they see is terrifying: hundreds of species dying each day, a vanishing polar icecap, areas of the world, now unrecognizable, are deserts or flood plains. Vast plastic “islands” in our oceans have become “dead zones” or worse. Part of the frustration is the incredible senselessness of it all.

Yet Doomers are the ones that are considered “crazy,” while magical thinking (“We’ll come up with something. I know…let’s trade ‘carbon credits!’ That way, the market will resolve it all!”) passes for a sane and constructive discourse.

“Doomers” of all stripes can agree on the severity of the situation outlined above. But what are the differences between Doomers?

The Fuzzy Sets of Doomer Descriptors

Just as there are many sorts of Panglossians, there are many sorts of Doomers.

These aren’t “hard and fast” categories, but rather “fuzzy sets” that often overlap.

We Doomers observe unfolding events, and respond along a continuum that ranges from malaise to massive action. We also differ in the extent to which we’re interested in the Philosophical/Emotional/Spiritual implications of global collapse. Therefore, we can place ourselves on a intersecting axises where X axis = Action to Inaction and Y axis = Philosophical to Aphilosophical Perspectives.

……………..Philosophical
…………………. |
Action———————Inaction
……………………|
………………Aphilosophical

Here we are talking about adaptive strategies, and not “pathologic typologies.” When we are discussing how to survive what is coming, folks, it makes little sense to talk in terms of pathology. Humanity has never witnessed the enormity of change coming, so how can we define what constitutes a “healthy” attitude towards it?


Philosopher Doomers

What is humanity’s place in the world? What is our essential nature? It’s common to ask “can we survive” but “should we survive?” Would our extinction benefit non-human life on Earth? These are the types of questions that engage a Philosopher Doomer, and these aren’t the rarefied debates that happen in undergraduate philosophy class. Their struggles with the meaning of planetary devastation puts them in the throes of a crisis that they can only resolve by intense personal struggle. debate, and self-reflection.

Ecosophic Subtype
Philosopher Doomers can be powerful advocates for environmental and species preservation, once they have asked and answered (for now) profound questions, and have made some sense of what’s going on around them. While the resolution to that struggle may be personal, the actions they choose to take may not be. They can be mighty warriors in the fight to save the Planet. They don’t see the goal as “personal survival,” if the planet itself becomes unlivable. These Ecosophic philosophers among us speak of a respect for non-human species, and possess a fierce critique of conventional scientific and religious thought. They dwell on deep and universal truths, and we do well to reflect on their words, if we are strong enough to bear the message. They help us see our place in the world as only a tiny part of the ecosystem.

Nihilistic Subtype
Others are asking whether life has any inherent meaning. Those new to Peak Oil can often struggle with these themes and we do well to hear them out, rather than jump to reassure them that “everything will work out…You wait and see.” They can disturb our own sense of “what’s normal” to think, and their pain is deep and moving. We might consider this subtype the “Nihilistic” Doomer, and it can either be a stage of awareness or be adopted as a philosophical framework. There are many other subtypes of Philosopher Doomers, and some may reject the “Doomer” label, itself. These include ones we might label “Primitivists,” “Neo-Luddites,” and “Neo-Pagans” to name but a few. What they have in common is an attempt to develop a perspective on life that captures within it the most pressing questions facing all life on Earth.

Deadbeat Doomers

Philosophical Doomers examine the deepest questions of what is the meaning of life here on Earth, and what our place should be in it. Some have faced deep discouragement, and struggle with the senselessness of it all, and have taken the posture of truth-sayers, prophets, advocates, and provocateurs.

Others have reached the decision that nothing can or should be done. This decision may have been reached after varying degrees of thoughtful reflection. Among them, are those who prefer not to think on these things deeply at all, but see the Nihilistic position as an easy way to avoid struggle, or having to motivate themselves to do anything inconvenient at all. “It’s all hopeless!” is an excuse that allows them to avoid changing anything in their lives, and to direct their anger against other people who try. I’ll call these Doomers “Deadbeats.” Deadbeat Doomers, mock and ridicule even the discussion of direct action: “You talk and plan because you are hairless apes and that’s what hairless apes do! Talk on! It’s pointless!” It is “too lame” for a Deadbeat Doomer to ask “what should be done?” because they’ve decided that no action promises guaranteed success. They’ve comfortable with the position that “nothing can be done,” and proudly proclaim “I don’t store food!”

Their inaction is a logical consequence of their hopelessness: “We’re all screwed, so don’t ask anything of me!” A Deadbeat Doomer might happily write about how hopeless everything is, but often they don’t bother. “You all suck anyway, so it isn’t worth my time.” They are the snipers, flaming others in Peak Oil chat rooms. More frightening, they are the folks encouraging those in the grips of nihilistic despair to “Go ahead. Kill yourself! The planet will be better off!”

Not all are hostile, however. Some simply choose to carry on the same way as before their Peak Oil awareness. Why? Despite the “Nihilistic” facade, it comes down to the fact that it’s simply easier that way. Others find the resolution to “hopelessness” in the pursuit of hedonistic pleasure. “If it’s all going down anyway, I’m gonna get mine, while it’s still here.”

Feelings of futility and hopelessness are not the sole purview of Nihilistic or Deadbeat Doomers, and neither is using hopelessness as an excuse for inaction. We may all seem like Deadbeats when we first learn about Peak Oil, and are struggling with our place in it all. We often ask not only what “can” be done, but also what “should” be done, if anything. We feel like throwing up our hands and proclaiming “It’s hopeless!” during setbacks. But most of us wear these feelings uncomfortably, and prefer to believe that “doing something” is preferable to “doing nothing.” We can bear the discomfort of being wrong.

While Philosopher Doomers question essential notions of our place in the world, Deadbeat Doomers challenge the utility of action itself. We all have inner nagging doubts about which actions will be the most constructive, and Deadbeat Doomers highlight fears that we may be wasting our time. They can be the provocateurs, the angry dissenters, the nay-sayers of hope. They speak to our deepest fears of hopelessness, and futility and the industrious next type, the “Do More Doomers,” especially, resent them for it.

Do-More Doomers

The final type are the “Do-More Doomers.” In contrast to the concern that adopting a “doom and gloom” outlook will lead to hopelessness and inaction, these Doomers see the serious state of the world as a call to action. To the Do-More Doomer, all is not lost and even if it is, there’s still lots of work to be done!

Although discouraged at the global level, Do-More Doomers can be optimistic about the capacity of a small group to create meaning in their lives, and promote sustainable communities, often called “lifeboats.” They may vary in the degree to which they believe such efforts will bring about meaningful community change, but nevertheless, put effort toward that goal. They are founders and volunteers of local sustainability groups. They write books and ebooks that help frame the nature of the problem, and encourage all to lead more self-sufficient lives. They try to create a new focus, a “decentralization team” that favors all the diversity, variety, contrasts, and struggles that such a notion suggests. They want less “stuff” in their lives, however, as we will learn, “Do-More Doomers” are the Peak Oil “shoppers.” They can be easily overwhelmed by the scope of the task, become impractical when assessing what are “essential” skills, and admire those who have constructed elaborate plans to change the entire world, and become easily frustrated when the world fails to cooperate. They are vulnerable to feelings ranging from expansive grandiosity to a profound fear of inadequacy.

Most of us like to imagine ourselves as “useful” and “industrious.” We hope to scare away the horror that we deeply fear, by putting up enough wheat, planting a big enough garden, or motivating our community toward constructive actions.

Do-More Doomers can often times escape into “doing” in order to avoid “feeling” the overwhelming sense of despair and hopelessness that the Nihilistic Doomers are well acquainted with.

Andy of Mayberry Disasters: Kunstler Style

Hard to imagine for some, but when hopelessness and helplessness overcome us, sometimes the charm of a Doomer novel often lifts the spirits! We feel a bit brighter when we read Fantasy Collapse novels. Despite knowing its a fiction, we are nonetheless irrationally reassured that we are on the right track! Ones we favor, however, may reflect our deepest wishes or the “shadow,” unacceptable parts of ourselves.

J.H. Kunstler has written a novel sure to become a Deadbeat Doomer classic: World Made By Hand. Some of us prefer to think that once the “collapse” finally happens, we’ll all be freed of daily drudgery, and will be able to hang out with our friends in fields of pot and clover. This novel promises just that. Yes, there will be hardship, and hunger, but at least we’ll get to dodge all of this meaningless, boring work we have to do today, to keep our daily lives going. The credit card and mortgage bills will stop coming. We’ll finally be “out from under.”

Kunstler’s slacker hero gets to sleep until the sun wakes him up, take leisurely strolls, fishes with his best buddy, and even gets to go on an exciting journey to fight bad guys with Mennonite Ninja troops. The Mennonite Ninjas are clearly the Do-More Doomers and thank goodness they came to town!

It is a sort of Andy of Mayberry Post-Collapse, except even better, because, in the end, he got the young Babette, not just Aunt Bee. Plus, he gets to tell the Babette “Don’t move my stuff.” And she smiles and doesn’t. No nagging Babette. Now that’s a collapse men can only dream about!
aunt bee

In contrast, Deadbeat Doomers will hate the real collapse, if it doesn’t happen quickly enough, because the reality will be one continuous hassle. The Babette you’ll be living with had your three kids 10 years ago, and they didn’t die of anything. She’s furious that you still haven’t found a job, and won’t be so understanding when you are leaving all your stuff everywhere. You can’t go fishing, because you can’t afford the permit or the gas to get there, even if you did believe the fish wasn’t contaminated. And your best buddy would definitely have an issue with you sleeping with his wife, Dude, even if he can’t “get it up” anymore. So would Babette.

It’ll be that sucky kind of collapse where the electric bill just gets bigger and the commute to work gets more expensive month-by-month, if you even get to keep your job. The raises will stop, along with the bonuses, but the credit card bills won’t. The supermarket will have less variety, but everything will cost a great deal more. “Mr. Necessity”, as Chuck Willis says, is just a big drag, and he’s hanging around us more and more, suggesting we skip the organic for the store brand labels, and buy the cheaper tires. Talk about a drag. And no Ninja Mennonites to point the way and provide inspiration and timely fire-power!


Do-More Doomer Novels

In contrast to the relaxed world of the Deadbeat Doomer, Do-More Doomers, will find comfort in “Patriots” by James Wesley, Rawles. There are no Deadbeat Doomers in “Patriots.” Instead, we learn that these exceptionally insightful college co-eds decided that collapse was inevitable and put themselves on a survivalist regime that continued religiously for almost a decade. These physically fit, gun-savvy men and women have done their homework and their preparations pay off. They don’t spend their time in chatrooms and writing blog entries. They don’t announce their preparations, to others, either. They carry out their normal lives (interspersed with week-end Boot Camp) until the final moments of “Collapse.” Then, like Clark Kent, running for the telephone booth, they G.O.O.D. (Get Out Of Dodge) and head back to the retreat location where one of their clan has been maintaining the spot. They aren’t “Prepar-asites”, or “Doomer Tumors” (someone you are responsible for, but contributes nothing towards their own survival). Over the years, they bought their own equipment and freeze-dried food, and stored it away in secured lockers until they needed it. Boy!

There are no Peak Shrinks in Rawles’ fantasy, either, because they don’t need them. In the worst of the depressing times, when one freedom fighter speaks harshly to another, our hero gently and lovingly guides them into another room for a quiet talk and a moment of prayer. Each has their role and area of specialization developed over time-the medic, the gun expert, etc, with diligence and fortitude. Their nerves are as solid as their stomach muscles.

Anyone who said “Scrub the Armageddon, let’s play ‘Beer Pong’!” never makes it to the retreat in Idaho, and neither should they. This “how to” book disguised as a novel, is the perfect Do-More Doomers dream, and we take copious notes.

‘Shop Til We Drop’ While We Still Can

Sometimes we attempt to find relief from our overwhelming feelings of inadequacy by buying stuff. Do-More Doomers are at the forefront of this. All those ads in the survival blogs are counting on us loading up on books (my favorite) and freeze-dried food. We are overwhelming the tiny “survivalist’ food stores by suddenly getting into the swing of Do-More Doomer Shopping (no ‘financial collapse’ happening there!) There are tons of lists on the internet we can refer to on what to buy. Nothing quells the anxieties of the average American like shopping and collecting things. We get to imagine just what kind of cool stuff we’ll need when TSHTF.

Even our Doomer shopping, however, reflects our hopes and fantasies. We’ll be really popular in our collapse communities because we’ve been clever enough to put up a decent whiskey (or vodka, if we fancy the Soviet collapse). With enough liquor in our basements, we can even bounce back and forth between Do-More Doomerism and Deadbeat Doomerism. If we are feeling hopeless, or in a slacker mood, we can drink that decent whiskey conveniently stored in our basement. There is nothing sexy about storing lousy whiskey. And you can’t drink white cotton socks.

Mainstream Media Doom
It took me by surprise when the mainstream media began to report its own version of personal collapse, (devoid of any real context, naturally). There are a lot of boring details in the real collapse, of course, that won’t make it to TV docudramas. There are the days or weeks when the month stretches on, after our paychecks are gone. There are the canceled vacations and pitiful milestone birthday parties. There are all the extra hours we waste working menial jobs, just to pay the utilities.

No one would write a news report on The Joneses’ eating more chicken wings instead of chicken breasts, or serving meatless pasta several times a week. Instead, we like to watch Mrs. Jones, with her carefully groomed nails, dumpster diving. These stories are becoming increasingly common in the mainstream media. Here we watch as Mrs. Jones climbs into her SUV (she can’t “afford” to sell,) and drives 25 minutes to dumpster dive for half-eaten Snowballs and expired yogurt. Does she still have cable TV? Buy Frito’s and Diet Coke? Why is she still driving anything at all if she can’t afford to eat? These aren’t questions we are encouraged to ask. This is “bread and circuses” for those of us who are not quite that bad. Yet. It’s mainstream media Doomer sensationalism, and we’re all silently reminded that we could be next.

A Formula for Hopelessness

Hopelessness may be more common in people who are required to change a major portion of the way they are living, and less common in those that have already made (or didn’t need to make) huge life transitions. Here’s a formula I’m playing with:

Hopelessness = Uncertainty + A Belief in the Need for Overwhelming Lifestyle Shifts + No Social Supports

If you live on a thriving farm in an area with a huge group of active PO community members with lots of practical skills, you’ll feel more “can do” than if you live in a suburban locale and know only other techies that are planning their in-ground swimming pools, and you, yourself, have never seen a cabbage grow.

PeakShrink’s Doomsday Dream…

      I, myself, would not make it as a character in James Wesley, Rawles novel, but I enjoy reading him, nevertheless. I often retreat into a more manageable fantasy I label “Little House on the Prairie Meets Martha Stewart.” I like the image of whipping up a loaf of crunchy peasant bread, after grinding a few wheat berries on my pedal-powered bike/grinder. I’ll then add a pat of local butter and the leavening saved from previous batches. Brushing the flour from my ruddy cheeks, I then pick a sprig of rosemary to grace the top of the loaf, on my way to my backyard solar oven. The real pre-collapse version isn’t half as fun or pretty. I’m allergic to wheat, and have never made a loaf of bread from scratch. And I hear a little voice screaming out from my subconscious saying “Kathy, you are no

Sharon Astyk

      !”

But then, again, The Little House was a children’s story and Martha, herself, ended up in The Big House.

******************************

* Links are not to be interpreted as my attempt to diagnose or label the individuals or categorize them in any way. It is our personal prerogative to adopt or reject any label or to reject the entire notion of labels as useful constructs.

About Kathy McMahon

Kathy McMahon Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist who is internationally known for her writing about the psychological impacts of Peak Oil, climate change, and economic collapse. She's written for Honda Motors, and has been featured in American Prospect, Greenpeace International, the Vancouver Sun, Freakonomics, Itulip, Ecoshock Radio, and Peak Moments Television.

Comments

  1. Thanks for the Field Guide!

    I guess I fall into the Philosopher Doomer fuzzy set, Ecosophic Subset, with sides of Nihilism and Do-More.

    Glad to see you reclaiming the word “doomer”. That’s my inclination as well.

    Having said that, I don’t really regard the situation as Doom at all. Ultimately, the collapse of this present insanity is the best news we could ask for. The End of Empire IS the hope for the Community of Life. It’ll hurt, but that’s how growth and evolution usually occur, as far as I can see.

    See… told you I was an Ecosophist!

    Peace,
    Tim

  2. geewhizpat says:

    mmm….thank you…now I get a sense of all the PO folks and their point of view…particularly the synopsis of the survivalblog folks…I read interesting stuff there even though they are a little bit over the top…I have to admit I have “shopped” till I put a year’s supply of nitro #10 cans from the overwhelmed supplier’s…but I also am using the local CSA, creating an “electric pedal assist vehicle” for my tranport and continued exercise. I lived for 5 years without electricity and with self-reliance skills in the 70′s and that frugality has stayed with me. I appreciate this beginning discussion on the “intersection” of all the PO transition folks…

  3. Pamplemousse says:

    I’m a Do-More Doomer, fully equipped with books, dehydrated food, rabbits, and a struggling garden.

    It’s much easier to keep busy rather than facing Nihilistic Doom, so much pain there.

  4. Hmmmmm…let’s say 80% Ecosophic with the remaining balance teetering between Do More and Deadbeat.

    My own most probable future scenario is accelerating decline culminating in an abrupt plunge off the edge of a cliff…probably sooner than later given all the wonderful economic news lately.

    On the one hand, I have been learning foraging and wilderness survival as a way of potentially sneaking past the bottleneck in lieu of buying a fixed piece of land (which I think would just make you a target for the first year or so)…but on the other hand I tend to lapse into despair and inactivity. I fall into a place where I contemplate my own utility post-crash. I have always been anti-materialistic since I was a teen and have a lot of survival skills, but I always come back to the same questions:

    1) If it’s just my own survival I’m worried about, then what’s the point? Am I so nifty that the world just HAS to have me living on it? Since I feel very strongly (for various reasons) in the continuation of consciousness post-death, dying does not worry me…I just don’t want it to be part of anyone else’s agenda.

    and

    2) If part of my life’s purpose is to help other people to get beyond this…then who are those other people and what would the nature of the rebuilding be? Is it just to mirror the same old mistakes that made our civilization untenable?

    So I tend to swing back and forth between periods of buying tons of cheap preps and sitting around brooding…and all the while trying to effective in my work and pretending to be a regular person who thinks that life will go on as it has indefinitely.

    It’s a bit of a headache…

  5. ChuckwKs says:

    Thanks for the thought provoking article. Unfortunately I have been tagged as a “doomer” for 22 years, being that I have been in full time contingency planning for that long. My nicknames on the job are Capt Disaster, and Dr. Doom, even have T-shirts with the logo that have been given me at times. Really does wonders for one’s ego!!

    The basic premise of contingency planning is what fits the category of the “do-more doomer”. Basically, you analyze a situation and determine the probability of occurance. Then you develop mitigation strategies based initially on the total loss of a function or operation, and from that develop strategies for subsets of total loss. Then you implement those strategies based on the finacial resources at your disposal. In our case, we don’t have an option for ignoring threats, the federal government imposes operating mandates on all financial institutions, so contingency planning is a fairly robust activity in those institutions.

    Although you may not be able to completely plan for, or afford to, totally keep certain life functions at the level of operation we have grown accustomed to, some advance planning and preparation will leave us better off than 99% of the general population. As in the safety presentation given at the beginning of every flight “in the event that supplemental oxygen is needed, put on your mask first before attempting to assist others with their masks”, we must have many of our preparations in place before we attempt to help others. We base our actions in the corporate world on the “prudent man” rule. In other words, what would a prudent man do to protect his operation or enterprise within his finacial means. Knowing what is before us today, what would a prudent man do? For each of us, it will be somewhat different, but it will be comprised of many of the items in the first two levels of Mazlow’s Pyramid.

    I find myself in the shop till you drop mode at the moment, acquiring those things that may be difficult or impossible to obtain in the future, that will facilitate being able to sustain or supply one or more of the needs on Mazlow’s Pyramid.

    I would have to say after researching PO, I fit in the first two categories of “doomer” for several weeks or months. I just couldn’t seem to come to grips with what this would do to my life, my family’s life, my entended family’s life, and my friends. Being known as Dr. Doom already, most friends and relatives just smiled politely after hearing my message and went merrily on their way up and down the aisles of WalMart, over the hills and through the malls, on a cruise we shall go. After a while of wrestling with the issue, I decided on the do-more doomer approach, as being the most likely to have reasonable outcome.

    The guy who designs the lifeboats for a cruise ship, has no idea of the actual circumstances they might have to be used in. They are designed for 120-150 people, to be deployed from a reasonably upright ship in seas of waves x feet high, and winds no higher than z mph. In actuality, they might have 208 people crammed on them, in freezing waters, with waves x+10 feet high, and winds z+20mph, from a greatly listing ship. Some may die on the lifeboats because they weren’t designed for the actual event they are encountering. But without them, everyone will die. The same thing applies to our preparations for PO. The actual event may swamp our “lifeboat” all we can do is design it to the best of our abilities and means to meet what we might guess the real conditions could be, and be prepared if additional survivors beg to be in our lifeboat, or the waves of life are higher than we thought possible. The comfort for me is not in knowing if I will possibly survive the PO problems, but in knowing that I did what a “prudent man” would have done to protect his family, his friends and himself. “If Only I had…..” will trouble many to an early grave.

    Dr. Doom aka Chuckwks

  6. Sirblunthead says:

    You present a clear gamut of responses to the long emergency.
    This article is extremely timely, concise and useful.

    How do I react, how do I describe my point of view?
    What should/could I do?

    Thank you so much for providing a wonderful framework.

    Now at least I can ask myself the right questions.

  7. Clifford J. Wirth says:

    I am a professional doomer. I started out as a scared to death Peak Oiler, and got more mortified as I researched the gloom and doom that I faced. Then I got a plan to live in a very sustainable place and got a sustainable agricultural direction. Now I am a happier doomer, and I have put my research into a handy package for everyone. Here is a summary:

    Global oil production is now declining, from 85 million barrels per day to 60 million barrels per day by 2015. At the same time demand will increase 14%. This is like a 45% drop in 7 years. No one can reverse this trend, nor can we conserve our way out of this catastrophe. Because the demand for oil is so high, it will always be higher than production; thus the depletion rate will continue until all recoverable oil is extracted.

    We are facing the collapse of the highways that depend on diesel trucks for maintenance of bridges, cleaning culverts to avoid road washouts, snow plowing, roadbed and surface repair. When the highways fail, so will the power grid, as highways carry the parts, transformers, steel for pylons, and high tension cables, all from far away. With the highways out, there will be no food coming in from “outside,” and without the power grid virtually nothing works, including home heating, pumping of gasoline and diesel, airports, communications, and automated systems.

    This is documented in a free updated 48 page report that can be downloaded, website posted, distributed, and emailed: http://www.peakoilassociates.com/POAnalysis.html

    What I suggest to all doomers is understand the problem (my report is the best on the net for this) and then work on a solution.

  8. Dear Peak Shrink,
    Thanks first for having made us doomers feel less, well, gloomy in the last two years. It was liberating to find out that I wasn’t the only one worrying about the right side of Hubbert’s Peak. I have been uncomfortable with the moniker “doomer” but I think you’ve hit on the right strategy, that of reclaiming it for ourselves.

    Like many others (I’m sure) who read this blog entry, I had fun locating myself on your spectrum. As a natural list-maker and planner, I would be the Do-More Doomer, I suppose. It’s still overwhelming as I am trying to buy a mix of Things That May Be Useful (a grain mill, old Atlas jars, gasket material) as well as barter items. Whiskey and soap are high on my list.

    I’m embarassed perhaps to say that I enjoyed World Made By Hand as much as I did. Your analysis is right on: it’s exactly what many doomers (especially the men among us) would love to have happen, a wishcasted world where women are much more subservient and we can, well, build Stuff. It’s made me reconsider my own wishcasted fantasy future.

    Thanks again for the entry.

    Proud to be a Doomer,

    Zach

  9. Pellice says:

    Loved the quote from Maarten Van Mourik. I’ve been struggling with the idea that he so concisely expressed.

    I’ve never had a problem with figuring out my or humanity’s place in the cosmos – we are here to celebrate, defend, and if possible to enhance this planet. Perhaps even to evolve along with it.

    However much I want to be an ecosophic doomer, it’s hard to take the broad and long view that mindset would seem to demand, because whenever I raise my head, I see humanity determined to destroy any non-human species that inconveniences them. And I don’t know what to do, though nihilism or depression isn’t part of my normal emotional reaction.

    I think that the nihilism has an effect, though, in that it prevents me from a sustained, “do-more” effort.

  10. “go on an exciting journey to fight bad guys with Mennonite Ninja troops”

    To the best of my recollection, Kunstler’s New Faith cult is not Mennonite. Mennonites are pacifists. The idea of “Mennonite ninja troops” is ludicrous.

    Otherwise, an interesting and useful article.

  11. If there were an award for the most pretentious peak oil article ever, you and Sharon Astryk would be front runners.

    About halfway through I had to quit due to nausea.

    The effect of your little DSM classification ploy for “doomers” is about like those Kellog’s variety packs for cereals–a whole lot of nothing.

    My only consolation is knowing psychoanalysts are probably the first over the Olduvai cliff…

  12. Do you really believe, as a trained psychoanalyst, that pulling the rug out from under one of the most violent societies that has ever existed is going to be a benign event?

    Having been to places in this world where men with machine guns are on the roof of the food warehouse, I would advise you to become familiar with the concept of “guard duty”.

    Best Wishes,

    Barney Fife

  13. Undifferentied Pyle Spawn says:

    Oh Barney, you never could get your gun to work right, even when you were a young killer ape. Lighten up for a moment. What kind of collapse are you gonna have if you can’t laugh at folly now and then?

    the love child of Gomer and Goober Pyle

  14. We get to choose what kind of collapse we’re gonna have?

  15. Thanks, all, for the comments.

    I want to tell you that I did NOT set Mike up as a frontman to demonstrate a “Deadbeat Doomer” comment: (“You suck so bad, you should win an award. You make me so sick, I stopped reading halfway through, and barely managed to write this comment telling you that I’m glad you’ll be the first to die!!!”) That was a real comment from a genuine person. I’m sorry, Mike, that you didn’t like what I wrote.

    Iowan, thanks for the correction, and Zack, I liked Kunstler’s novel too. It was an emotionally complicated tale that highlighted many important issues for us to consider about one possible future. I was poking fun at both novels as a reflection of our fantasy life, not an attempt to review or pan either one. Never be apologetic about the novels you read or your sexual fantasies. Be curious, instead.

    Xhalor, I also wasn’t proposing HOW anything is going down, just how some of us imagine it’s going to happen, and how that speaks to our fantasies and worldviews. For another look at how the future might shape up, see “Peak Toil” in today’s post.

    And for the record, I’m not a trained psychoanalyst. I’m a clinical psychologist, and my theoretical orientation is systemic (if that means anything to anyone…)

  16. no need to guess what this busy urban farmer is…very inspirational

  17. Am glad to have found your blog today.

    I also am writing about my peak oil journey tho I am not a psychologist (am a cell biologist). I do the psyche stuff at http://www.peaknix.com .. thats the psychological philosophical stuff.

    When I want a good doomer read I go for Brunner – am re-reading Sheep look up right now.. enjoying it more than before (I know, its not well :-) Stand on Zanzibar MAY be next tho that book mostly depresses me to zero. I have ZERO tolerance for submissive female male-fantasy crap so I fear World Made By Hand would just get my glucocorticoids in a bunch and who needs that?! When I need to destress I go to my garden, I hug my kids, I watch the goats and chickens, I fantastize about what needs to get done next.

    My biggest downer is having to commute to work and not work on my refuge (I am working on biofuels at the moment so the cognitive dissonance is at a pretty high index these days :-).

    My do-more doomer stuff gets posted at http://www.humblegarden.com .. follow that and you will see how we are progressing with our food-independence (garden, permaculture, diary goats, pastured chickens, llama for the zoological appeal and protection from bears, fox, coyotes, and weasels, oy my!). We will be getting our breeding triplet of piglets soon and I am angling for a jersey cow tho I need to get the neighbors more interested in my “my cow will trim your lawn for free” concept.

    I have been working on organizing the relocalization efforts here (relating to food, cant help it, I really FEAR starving my kids) but its HARD. People may complain about food prices but they just do not want to get out and go to organizing meetings to get the ball rolling. Very frustrating!

    Thanks for that last link.. the guy and his precious little girl, learning from him as he preps his family for post-peak.

  18. It would be very interesting to see what people said and did in the 1973 and 1979-80 oil crises.

    As much as we complain today, we’re not faced with “no gas” signs or “odd/even” days.

  19. Nice analysis. Here’s another spin on why folks are not getting it:

    http://samadhisoft.com/2008/07/19/emotional-non-negotiables/

  20. Thanks for the guide, Kathy. This is really good. I don’t think most (even doomers) can grasp the depth of what you have written here, and how it could bring tears to my eyes. I have been through all of these, I think (except maybe the happy ones), in my lifetime because I grew up in a part of the world that is always in Orlov’s Stage 2 collapse (not trusting finance or media). It is hard to explain. Currently, I am probably somewhere oscillating between Do-more and Deadbeat. My wife supports my farming habit, and I tell people that the most important things they can do are to keep their money in their pocket and to grow food with their neighbors (If your neighbor is hungry, you are not secure). When I philosophically looked at the purpose of all life (which is the only thing you can really do if you want to understand what to do as an individual), I decided that Schroedinger’s essay, “Life as Anti-Entropy” (find it at dieoff.org) is the start, and that any species survives on it’s net creative usefulness. That means that a species survives when its behavior promotes its own future without consuming its resources. Humans are not sustainable in the current form. If a survivalist is simply a human trying to preserve the competitive, consumptive mindset in some isolated area, then they will eventually die off also.
    Once we realize that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ in the randomness of Nature, and that the ‘average’ of a species is actually a delusion, we start to appreciate the diversity of others. The current form of ‘civilization’ is one which forces people to compete for space and resources within a very tight bandwidth of behavior and performance. Technology has squeezed Nature out of that narrow band human conformity except as some kind of novelty entertainment.
    I am trapped exactly between Nature on my farm and technology in my ‘normal’ life, trying to find out where or when I can cut the umbilical between the two and either live with a psychotic break or choose one or the other.
    If it’s the former, I’ll let you know, if the latter, then I may not have a computer anymore.

  21. Perhaps youall forget or don’t know that there are about 200 BILLION stars in the milky way gal; (turnes out I have no idea of how to spell our local spiral place). Back of the envelope calculation indicates that there are about 20 million, (one in ten thousand) Earth like planets in this gallaxcy(sp?) alone. Twenty million is a really big number. So bear with me, there are at least 200 billion gallexies in the part of the universe that we can see. These figures lead me to ask you ever so hubristic, and self centered creatures, WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE, That you would consider your actions on this little speck of insignificant dust significant?

  22. Dan Treecraft says:

    Kat,

    It’s past midnight, here on my side of the rock, so I won’t be staying up long enough to finish your latest sizzler tonight ( gotta get up again in 6 hours), but I read into it far enough to find myself in it.

    A proud DEADBEAT, to be sure. That would be: “Deadbeat with latent deadbeat tendencies”.

    I’ve read enough Albert Bartlett, Bill Catton, Derrick Jensen, Jared Diamond – to know how this movie ends. Not real sure just how long it runs, but know the projector will run out of ribbon soon, and that the forest will run out of trees to heat the building pretty darned quick. The Weaponized Plutonium might hold up for a little longer, though.

    I’ll get back and see what else you’ve come up with, when I have more time – in a few days.

    Always a pleasure – so far – to read what you’re thinking Dear Sweet Shrink.

    Kismet.

    dan

  23. bugjackblue says:

    I will argue (for amusement, as that is all there is left– and that is more than enough, thank you– to the Deadbeater) that in the face of almost certain devolution and doom, the nihilistic enjoy-the-ride-in-the-handbasket-to-hell perspective is both rational and rewarding.

    If the Do-Mores are successful, even locally, in their work to build manageable and renewable oases/ecosystems for After the Fall, there will be plenty of opportunity to join them later and they will be grateful for the strength in numbers the formerly disenfranchised can offer them. In the meantime, they will enjoy engaging in their constructive efforts while those of us who sincerely doubt anything will come of it can enjoy indulgence and dissolution to our hearts’ and libidos’ content.

    Ever read the “Decameron?” That should be the model for the Deadbeater. Personally, I enjoy driving aimlessly around the back streets of Vegas with a 40 in my lap blasting Turbonegro. Or maybe Devo. Q: Are we not men? A: Who gives a fuck?

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