How Should We Act?

by AntiGrav

As I look at the situation I’m in at this point in life and the world, I see a lot of people trying to find analogies for what is happening and looking for the right actions to take as their adrenalin gets pumped more and more with each day, with each hour of bad news, with every gust of wind that didn’t seem to be so strong LAST year….

We won’t find one. Oh, there are some similarities with previous
climate changes, previous civilization failures, previous culture changes and economic disasters, but they aren’t all together and they aren’t self-amplifying as the current compounded factors.

I’m a Doomer. Let’s get that right up front.

In John Michael Greer’s terms, I BELIEVE HARD in the Myth of Apocalypse. I don’t see any evidence that we are trying very hard to ensure it is only a myth, though, and I also don’t think that we as humans are generally able to understand the concepts of delayed instrument data and delay tactics combined with denial of our own science. We have now seen enough data to know that the CO2 is rising
exponentially, not linearly. The ocean acidity has changed measurably.
It doesn’t really matter what the actual quantification is at this point, because if we have dumped enough CO2 into the atmosphere to change the acidity of the entire ocean, and we are just now measuring it, then we are probably way beyond being able to remedy the massive impact of dumping millions of years’ worth of carbon into the atmosphere during a single century.

My life has been one of technological miracles. I am not so very old
(47), but I started on one of the last frontiers with a father who still believed in using animal power and hand tools and a plethora of free
labor (children) to farm the frozen rocks of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
I went from learning to rivet harnesses to operating machine tools and
overhauling engines to the military and electronics, aerospace and physics. As I moved out of government service to the private product
development sector, I started to feel something was going wrong with me or the world or both. The technology wasn’t working like it was
advertised. It wasn’t saving the world, it was eating people’s brains.
The new digital age which claimed to save time and make life easier
simply forced people to act in simpler ways on the job and follow
programs written by specialists in programming. Jobs became ‘positions’,
assembly areas became ‘stations’ with poke-a-yoke and other systems of
systems to keep people from making mistakes that normal people make. Our devices became so complex that they are no longer repairable, and thus, no longer understandable by someone of intelligent means with useful tools. The modern cellphone factory is an organism that produces fruit. That fruit can no more be repaired than an apple with a bite taken out of it. Humans are relegated to ‘facilitators’ of greedy wants. It is the consumer’s lot to transform the wants of the marketers into desires, while the moneylenders transform desires into products and debts payable against one’s future existence. We don’t go to jobs because we WANT to do those jobs. We go to those jobs because we have chains around our necks that have been forged with an imprint called “free choice” (Collect all five, trade with your friends!).

The world does not need everyone to have a job. It needs people to
maintain the natural systems that people chose to remove pieces of life
from. As we expanded the human population through farms, we interfered with the natural world’s systems of interaction. Humans have been part of those systems more significantly than profiteers want us to know. It is one thing to imagine we killed the buffalo and now we have to put some back and pay token tribute to the grasslands they roam, but it is quite another to admit that human beings created much of the grassland in the first place by spreading fire everywhere and keeping the
shrubbery cleared for the grass. In doing so, we would have to admit
that anthropogenic responsibility is much larger and deeper than we are
willing to purchase or provide to the world which we steal from. It is
one thing to allow a few buffalo to have some scrub land in South
Dakota, but impossible to believe we should tear up the freeways and
fences on the entire Great Plains, thus allowing the grass and buffalo
to grow and feed people who don’t need to drive.

We have a long way to go to reach reasonable levels of consumption
and become a Net Useful species in the eyes of nature. I don’t think
we’ll do so before we see our own destruction (already seeded and
fertilized). Perhaps this apocalyptic view is one born of my depression
and just an excuse to avoid the truth. That truth is that I am too tired
to fight the mobs anymore. To pretend that I can save the world is a
delusion I can no longer endure. “But you don’t have to do it alone!”
some will say. Perhaps that would be true if I was one of you, but I’m
not. I’m the fringe: the person who actually learned things instead of
memorizing the rote answers to pass the test. I UNDERSTAND THINGS. I don’t pay lip service to discussions of climate or alternative energy or
economic policy. I KNOW what needs to be done and I KNOW that the human race doesn’t have the ability or motivation to take the necessary steps to solve their problems. Our food and schools have made us stupid and lazy and now we’ll never find out HOW stupid and lazy we collectively are. It makes no sense to measure the parameters if nobody is going to be around to read the report or be smart enough to understand it.

Welcome to the Stoned Age, and good luck with that ‘recovery’ thing.
The problems we are facing are based on our giving up our senses in
exchange for imagination. There is not a way to give up imagination in
exchange for senses without direct situational evolution (catastrophic
population change). Imagination always imagines a world of more
imagination and perpetual growth of imagination. It’s a one-way ticket
to self-consumption.

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.


  1. Christine S says:

    Like you, I think that I ‘get it’. I belive I understand. I see the big picture that so few do. And I am a ‘doomer’, if that means seeing the destruction that is coming.
    And yet, unlike you, I am not depressed. Funny, I know I am not likely to survive a sudden collapse, being dependent on daily medication, so I hope for a slow collapse which will give me a few more decades of state-sponsored industial healthcare, while I put into action all the ‘survival tactics’ I know. My emotional reaction is of disbelief that it will really ‘happen to me’. It is denial, the human incomprehension of one’s own mortality.
    So I have an intellectual fascination with reading the blogs, the scenarios, the theories, but emotionally I am not affected. Perhaps it helps that I enjoy my job and enjoy our garden.
    I think Doomerism and depression are not causally related, they are likely to be just coincidental when they persist together in a person for some time.

  2. Hello,
    Great post! Well written. Welcome to the Stoned age, indeed.
    So true that technology is not performing as advertized, it is rotting people’s brains, and stealing from our cultures much of what was good, like meaningful work.
    And stopping this industrial juggernaut is just not going to happen no matter how much wishful thinking we apply. The vast majority of people are behind the current system whether they know it or not, and a few dissenters will not affect much. I would even go so far as to say that the dissenters are making things worse in a way. They are presenting false hope of “sustainability”, or other myths that reinforce the idea that we will be ok if we just tweak the system a bit.
    As George Carlin used to say ” If you think there’s a solution, than you are part of the problem.”

    I have had some depression over this doomeristic world view, but I see that as a reasonable reaction, and overall am a cheerful, helpful person and try to use my insights to help friends and family , eg. Are you sure buying a second condo would be a good investment at this point? Not that anyone listens to me, mind you. So far I think I have a perfect record, exactly no one I know has changed any behavior or world view as far as I can tell.
    Best, Randy

  3. Dave Dann says:

    Hello. It’s Dave here from Devon, England. Another ‘doomer’, but just popped up to offer ‘solidarity’ to you all. I’m following your conversations from this side of the pond – wish you were here for a pint and a chat in the local pub.

  4. auntiegrav says:

    Sorry I didn’t respond earlier. Just didn’t think of looking after Kathy said she posted it.

    Thanks for the comments. It is interesting to read something like this after a period of thinking and then think about more things that could be said.

    The randomness of the universe tends to wipe out anything that gets into a comfortable niche, like our industrial juggernaut. It’s like thermodynamics: resources flow toward places of lower resources, and if too big of a hole is formed, everything gets sucked in. Our System of systems is worshiped by most people who see it as a spire of scientific hope for the future, whereas those of us who built it see it as a black hole of consumption. It’s all in your marketing view, I guess. “Marketing is all about Keeping the Faith: and vice versa.”

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