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YOU Can Be a BILLIONAIRE!!! Without Doing Anything!
Five Ways to Profit BIG from Global Collapse
 
(Author’s note: This is the Introduction to an inspirational / financial-advice / environmental / diet / dating / self-help / survivalist / humor book that I started to write—and quickly decided should never be finished. Maybe I shouldn’t have taken it even this far. You be the judge.)
 
What can you do to optimize your chances in the case of hyperinflation, a deflationary economic Depression, an oil crisis, a famine, or a series of horrendous environmental disasters? If you don’t already know, you’d better wise up fast—because some or all of these exciting opportunities are on their way to a neighborhood near you! In fact, one or two may already be tapping you on the shoulder and asking to make your acquaintance.
 
Pointy-headed intellectuals have been warning us about this stuff for years. Decades. Who cares? Who’s had the time for depressing, worrisome, gloomy, hard-to-understand statistics and graphs? There’s been work to do, money to be made, kids to put through college, new episodes of American Idol to watch.
 
Until now. We have finally arrived at the fabulous convergence of two Earth-shattering developments: First, real environmental and economic catastrophes are starting to happen and are tugging on our Comfy Cushion of Consumer Complacency, requiring us to actually Do Something. Second, someone (guess who?) has figured out how to frame these mega-scary events in such inviting, entertaining, and potentially profitable terms that the irresistible win/win euphoria of it all can make you almost completely forget just how abysmally awful our situation actually is.
 
Welcome to my book, YOU can Be a BILLIONAIRE!!! Without Doing Anything. In it, you will learn why the U.S. economy is now the butt of jokes in Chad; why the stuff that makes your car go is about to become as rare and valuable as . . . as . . . as something actually rare and valuable; why the global food system is making more and more people watch their waistlines (as they shrivel); and why Mother Nature seems to be puzzlingly mean-tempered lately—almost as if we had done something to annoy her.
 
And, best of all, you will learn how to anticipate and cash in on the lucky breaks opened up by these seeming calamities. You will thrill to the sheer ease with which you and your family can surf the waves of change lapping at the thighs of a dazed and sadly un-opportunistic world. You will adopt as your new motto: A crisis is a terrible thing to waste!
 
With this book you just can’t lose: If you decide not to take my advice and not to do anything to save yourself from the smorgasbord of apocalyptica to which we are all about to be treated—well then, you might as well chortle in the face of certain destruction. You can still revel in the fresh, snarky prose with which your grisly fate will herein be detailed. You still win!
 
But you stand to win even BIGGER if you get with the program! Each of the following chapters will inform you of fun ways to profit from global collapse—so get ready to get ahead!
 
Chapter 1, “How to Become a Billionaire Without Even Trying!”, will prepare you to thrive in a period of hyperinflation. Remember Germany in the early 1920s? Well, I don’t either. But I’ve actually seen an old picture on the Internet of a German lady heating her home by tossing bricks of currency into her furnace. How could money become so worthless? Easy: If the government decided to print gazillions of Papiermarks, or Dollars, or Euros, Baht, Drachmas, Guilders, Nakfa, Pesos, Pounds, Rand, Rubles, Rupees, Shekels, or Yen in order to pay for obligations it otherwise could not meet. With more money chasing an equivalent quantity of goods and services, individual units of currency would lose value. Soon a loaf of bread that used to cost only two Tugrik could cost hundreds, then thousands, then millions, eventually billions of Tugrik!
 
Of course, this could never happen TODAY, in our enlightened modern world run by politicians and economists with their profound scientific understanding of how to keep monetary systems oiled, tanned, and buff. Nevertheless, there is always the theoretical possibility that, in a poor and corrupt backwater nation somewhere, a power-mad Prime Minister or President could decide to borrow colossal amounts of cash to pay for social programs and infrastructure projects (knowing these debts could never be repaid), which would eventually cause the national currency to lose nearly all of its value. If you were to find yourself in such a country then, you could become a billionaire without doing anything!

Think of the opportunities! Like the government, you could inflate your debts away! Your total mortgage of 1,000,000 Ringgit could easily be paid off with a single month’s salary . . . assuming, of course, that you still had a salary and that salaries were keeping up with prices. You see, there are some strings attached: when the waiter gives you a dirty look after you leave him what you thought was a generous 50,000,000 Dinar tip, you might start to think that being a billionaire isn’t all that you expected. Your savings would have been inflated away by this time and society might be shredding at the edges.
 
But . . . you’d be a billionaire!!!
 
As we’ll see in more detail later in the chapter, there are plenty of things you can do now to get ready for life under hyperinflation: Stop investing in Wall Street and start investing in your community! Stock up on things of real and enduring value that you can always trade or barter! And develop skills that will enable you to be useful to people in your community when the monetary system breaks down!
 
Naturally, you will only be able to benefit from hyperinflation if you haven’t already lost everything to deflation—which brings us to
 
Chapter 2, “How to Buy the House of Your Dreams for $1000!”
 
Deflation is in some ways the opposite of inflation: If lots of loans are being defaulted upon, if new loans aren’t being written, and if loads of people are losing their jobs, then money starts to disappear from the system. Money is worth more than it was before, but there is less of it to go around. This is what happened in the U.S.A. during the Great Depression of the 1930s, when 40 cents could buy a decent meal, a two-bedroom bungalow came with a monthly mortgage payment of $35, and a new Chevrolet could be had for $20 down and a series of $15 monthly installments. You could live well on $100 a month—but who had that kind of money?
 
Of course, this could never happen TODAY, in our enlightened modern world run by politicians and economists with their profound scientific understanding of how to keep monetary systems oiled, tanned, and buff. Nevertheless, there is always the theoretical possibility that, in a poor and corrupt backwater nation somewhere, a cabal of greedy bankers could create a set of bizarre investment instruments that appear to generate enormous amounts of wealth but in reality are nothing but an elaborate con game, so that at some point all these investments would lose their perceived value and several fantastigillion Taka’s worth of apparent wealth would just evaporate, causing the stock market to implode in a puff of smoke and leaving millions upon millions of people without jobs or income of any sort. If you were to find yourself in such a country at such a time, and you still had a few Taka in your pocket, you could buy yourself a Rolex, a car, a house, maybe even your own judge or police chief!
 
Naturally, that would only hold true if you did indeed still have those few Taka and hadn’t lost all your savings to hyperinflation (see Chapter 1). And, to be sure, there are some downsides to deflation: You might be out on the street, and society could splinter. But hey, does that Rolex look great or what?
 
As we’ll see in more detail later in Chapter 2, there are a few things you can do now to get ready to make the most of life under deflation. And some of them look a lot like ways to protect yourself from hyperinflation: Buy your support system ahead of time (hand tools, solar panels, and other items that will help move you toward self-sufficiency)! Develop and improve your tradable skills! However, in this case an additional strategy might be helpful: If your community starts a local currency now, then as your national currency collapses you’ll still have some basis for trade. Invent your own money—do it today!
 
In Chapter 3, “Pick Up Any Guy or Girl with Three Magic Words!”, you will learn that, in an inevitable future in which gasoline is unaffordable and oil shortages are commonplace, the words “I’ve got fuel” will make you instantly attractive.
 
You see, our entire transport system is petroleum-dependent: cars, trucks, trains, planes, ships—they all run on diesel, gasoline, or bunker oil (with the exception of about twenty Tesla Roadsters and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s hydrogen Hummer). But over the past century or so the petroleum industry has guzzled up all the cheap, easy-to-find Texas Tea and is now undertaking a Journey to the Center of the Earth to get those last few tasty slurps of light, sweet crude. Meanwhile, today’s remaining oil-exporting countries are using more and more of their precious petrol domestically, which means that oil-importing countries (like the U.S.) will soon be up a creek without a drill rig. How soon? We’re not talking centuries here, we’re talking a decade or so at best, maybe only a few years.
 
It would be sensible for towns and cities in the U.S. to ready themselves for that fast-approaching future by building robust, energy-efficient electric public transit systems that could potentially run on solar or wind power—but instead most are using Federal stimulus money to build or widen highways. Why? It’s because urban planners are required by law to assume that the future will look just like the 1960s, only more so. Smart! Well, that’s bad for cities, but good for you if you’re looking ahead!
 
People need to travel. If they have no alternative to cars but can no longer afford to own and operate their own vehicles, then ingenious new sorts of carpooling services might pick up the slack. Start now to plan how you’ll run your informal jitney business—gathering up carloads of passengers along semi-regular routes, dropping folks off one at a time close to where they need to go, while collecting nominal fares (a couple of eggs, a few potatoes) to make it all worthwhile. Form friendships now with the people most likely to have access to fuel (including home-made biodiesel) when the shortages hit. Figure out what kind of vehicle you intend to buy (don’t purchase it yet!—wait until nine-passenger vans and SUVs are virtually worthless due to deflation and fuel shortages). When the time comes, if you’ve followed these simple instructions, you’ll be picking up guys and gals on a regular basis!
 
Yes, there are some trade-offs and risks attached to the impending oil crisis. Forget that yearly vacation at Disney World—or anywhere else that requires air travel (sorry, there will be no electric 747s in our future). And you might have to deal with a bit of social upheaval from time to time. But why dwell on the downside? Just think of the bonuses! You will get to know your neighbors better and we’ll all get lots more exercise riding bicycles—as long as bike tires are available (too bad they’re made from oil).
 
Chapter 4, “How to Lose 40 Pounds Without Even Trying!”, offers advice on a sure-fire way to beat the obesity epidemic. It’s called global famine!
 
Now, I know this one sounds terrifying at first. But remember: the more enormous the crisis, the huger the opportunity!
 
A whopping big famine is a safe bet sometime in the first half of this century. That’s because we have a still-expanding human population (nearly seven billion of us now and counting) with growing appetites; but we’re eroding or salting our topsoil (losing 25 billion tons a year), we’re facing water scarcity (so much for increasing food production through irrigation), the amount of arable land available globally is starting to decline, we’re depleting world rock phosphate supplies (phosphorus is essential to modern industrial agriculture and there’s no substitute for it), bugs and weeds are becoming resistant to nearly all our pesticides and herbicides, and—to top it off—our entire food system is totally dependent on the use of depleting petroleum to fuel tractors and to transport farm inputs and outputs. Oh yes, I almost forgot to mention that we’re over-fishing the oceans, so that by mid-century most wild commercial fish species will be depleted, endangered, or extinct. It’s a food system that’s virtually designed to fail!
 
You think it’s going to be tough to find the bright side to this one? Think again! We’ll be swimming in silver linings!—those of us who are prepared, that is.
 
If you can figure out how to grow food sustainably, starting now, you are guaranteed to become a Very Popular Person. In fact, your biggest problem could be TOO MUCH popularity! Your whole neighborhood might want to start hanging out with you every day to share meals. Some neighbors might even want to visit you (or your garden) in the middle of the night. Cozy—maybe too cozy! But if you plan ahead for all of this popularity, you could find ways to put all your new friends to work weeding, planting, and harvesting. You could turn this into a system—a feudal system, to put a name to it—with you as the, um, facilitator!
 
And you thought global famine was going to be a big downer. Silly. There’s always an upside for those with a smile and a can-do attitude!
 
And that brings us to the concluding, inspirational
 
Chapter 5, “Ten Ways YOU Can Change the World!”
 
Not all profits are financial in nature; sometimes the best things in life come simply through knowing that we’ve made a difference. We all want to leave our mark; we want future generations to remember us. Often, this longing gets frustrated along the way: when we’re young, we have dreams of doing something great and being famous, but the requirements of making a living tend to mire us in mediocrity. After we’re dead, we might be remembered for a while by a few close relatives, but then it’s off to oblivion. Gone and forgotten. Meanwhile the world shambles on as before, not much different as a result of our having been here.
 
That all may have been true a few decades ago, but not anymore! Haven’t you heard? It’s the New Age of globally interconnective instantaneously hyperactive feedback loops! In other words, we’ve arrived at a point in our development as a species where we can change the world in truly dramatic ways, just by each of us doing our own little bit. No, it’s better than that: it has gotten to be so easy to change the world that today it’s actually much, much harder NOT to! What an amazing species we are! What a time to be alive! Yes we can!
 
Massive oil spills, climate change, species extinctions, resource depletion, deforestation, air pollution, water pollution, rapid population growth, widespread reproductive disruption among vertebrates due to environmental toxins, ocean acidification . . . the list could go on and on. These are BIG changes—so big that their traces would be obvious to alien geologists visiting our world millions of years from now. With global warming alone we are turning the Earth into a very different planet from the one on which civilization developed (author Bill McKibben says we should give the planet a new name, “Eaarth,” as a way of celebrating our collective achievement). And all we have to do to contribute to these great smacking big planetary changes is to continue doing exactly what we are doing right now! Fly and drive! Use plastic bags! Eat fast food! Turn up the air conditioner! Have lots of children! Buy stuff and throw it away! It’s so fun and easy to change the world!
 
Sure, those space-alien geologists may not credit you personally for making such a big difference to our world. But rest assured: You’ll have been part of a socio-economic phenomenon that future human generations, if there are any, will remember intensely. In fact, they will probably think about us every single day of their lives!
 
* * *
 
Okay, enough with the cynical sarcasm. It should be fairly clear by now why this book should never be finished. (My publisher: “Keep it to one category, please. Two, maybe. Three, absolute tops. This—this is ridiculous!”)
 
Of course, the main reason the book shouldn’t be written is that, rather than reveling in planetary collapse or trying to profit from it, we should be doing everything in our power to prevent or minimize it. That means not flying and driving, not using plastic bags, not eating fast food, not turning up the air conditioner, not having lots of children, not buying stuff and throwing it away.
 
Nevertheless, the tough truth is that hard times are on the way regardless of what we do at this point. Over the past century or so we humans have set processes in motion that cannot entirely be halted even if we change our ways dramatically and instantly. During the next few decades, humanity will (one way or another) make the transition from a mode in which it relies primarily on the extraction of non-renewable resources and giddily grows its population and per-capita consumption rates, to a mode in which non-renewable resources are mostly depleted and population size and per-capita consumption rates are constrained by the availability of the world’s remaining renewable resources. Along the way, we will reap the unintended ecological consequences of our Big Binge even as it passes into collective memory: climate change, habitat destruction, soil erosion, and aquifer depletion will be gifts that just keep on giving.
 
Our economic situation doesn’t look any cheerier. You see, during those last couple of centuries, while we were developing our ability to extract Earth’s fossil fuels and minerals on a grand scale and transform them as quickly as possible into carbon dioxide and landfill, we got the idea that this could go on forever. We developed economic dogmas that said growth is good and normal. And we created currency and finance systems that only work properly when the economy is expanding. Now that it’s getting harder to extract Earth’s remaining non-renewable resources, economic growth is no longer a given. Indeed, year-over-year world aggregate GDP growth may already be a thing of the past—over, done with, extinguished, extinct, kaput. Whether or not we’ve already reached that inevitable point, when we do our economic system is going to careen either into deflation or hyperinflation—there will be no middle ground to cling to.
 
All of this is fairly plain when you stand back and look at the trajectory of human history with the laws of thermodynamics in mind. Yet most people are so invested in business-as-usual that they simply can’t allow themselves to contemplate the possibility that time has run out on our current round of Wheel of Fortune. Some environmentalists are painfully aware that nasty impacts are in the pipeline, but don’t want to frighten away their potential audience. So they focus on easy, painless, little things that average people could do to reduce those impacts (even though hard, painful, big actions by governments and corporations are actually necessary), and they daydream about how abundant life will be in a promised eco-groovy future (while in fact the best way to describe what’s in store is austerity compounded with more austerity).
 
In short, we live in a state of denial. The mainstream media occasionally scare us into paralysis with CGI-laden disaster documentaries, but then proceed to label people who talk rationally about the coming challenges and how to prepare and adapt as “survivalists” and “prophets of doom”—that is, as individuals so far outside the mainstream as to be worthy objects of derision.
 
So it’s a challenge to get across to policy makers or the general public any sense of what’s ahead and how to respond.
 
Those of us in the business of trying to do so have to accomplish many things at once: Get real about the scale of the problems and the risks, and avoid freaking out. Be hopeful and deadly serious. Help people improve their own survival prospects and work for institutional change so as to minimize impacts.
 
It’s a difficult balancing act. In fact, it’s more than anyone can do. What are the natural human responses to situations that require us to stretch us far beyond our capacities? Often we either laugh or cry.
 
So here’s to laughter (we’ll do the crying thing another time, I’m sure). My final advice, offered in all seriousness: Adopt a cheerful and helpful attitude. And cultivate a sense of humor during this trying period—doing so will not only preserve your mental health, it could help you and your family survive.
 
Remember: When life hands you a lemon, don’t just make lemonade . . . make limoncello, and make enough for friends!
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 
Richard “Sunnyside” Heinberg is the author of nine books including Blackout: Coal, Climate, and the Last Energy Crisis, and The Party's Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies. He is Senior Fellow-in-Residence at Post Carbon Institute and is widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost Peak Oil educators.
 

 

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17 comments

write it.

From: anonymous, Aug 23, 10 09:01 PM

I support the other calls for you to write this book. Something has to change the public perception. This could be it. Write it.

Neville jnr

From: an dorrington jnr, Aug 23, 10 10:46 AM

please make me a proper billioinaire
worth 4 billion

regards neville jnr

From: VangelV, Aug 6, 10 06:05 AM

Simple lesson.


Stay away from fiat money printed by governments. Buy gold.

A note to Richard: laugh or cry or ?

From: Phil Anderson, Aug 2, 10 07:48 PM

My comment below is for you, Richard. I wrote it last night upon my first reading of "You can be a billionaire without even trying".

I wasn't sure I should post it because we humans may indeed be dumped rudely on the shore of the post-carbon world. But whatever comes (and we do indeed seem incapable of affecting that at the momoent) we can individually choose to laugh and love -"four walls do not a prison make", nor does hardship -"chills the body but not the soul" ...we can still enjoy love, the freedom of the spirit, the wealth of the heart, fellowship. And if we choose to think of an ideal outcome, we can better approach it. Your work has laid this clearly before us.

So anyway, however corny and naively pollyannic here's a tribute to Richard Heinberg in gratitude for a great labor and love:

Dear Brother. "Nothing is lost in Nature" - every effort, every action has due effect throughout all eternity, and changes the flowing pen of Nature and Nature's God, and that includes the care and sweat and perseverance and forbearance of passionate lovers of humanity and life like you, Richard.

You cannot gauge the effect of your work by the dinosaur of the old paradigm still loping grotesquely forward on sheer momentum and leering from a few last drops of crack -falsehood and greed. Nor by the unnatural sleepiness of the opiated and naive people.

The press and government have generally failed to follow and give us the truth, but you haven't. And the common hardworking person cares, CARES, REALLY CARES! and will rise to the occasion when the time is ripe (or rotten?).

More and more people are feeling a growing uneasiness, a rising mistrust of the status quo, and a will is groping to take shape. This is the beginning of awakening and it is due to your care and will, and many others' sparked greatly by your efforts. This will and care is flying through the collective consciousness, shouting, singing "Wake Up! Wake up! dear sisters and brothers!" And when they finally open their sleepy eyes they will discover the work of right understanding and vision and care already done by you and others, and that will catalyze their will and spur enlightened action.

You've been keeping the truth, keeping it for us. Remember how Aragorn and Gandalf were happily surprised in the end and beginning (the end of Middle Earth and the beginning of a new age) - Hail the Hobbit once awakened into action, for they are simple folk, but honest and good and true!

"Nature is irresistible" "Truth is irresistible". We will come to a better world - the post-carbon world - by hook or crook, no matter how much the transition there is denied or resisted, whether we ride the wave of change or are tossed rudely on the shore. I guess there's the rub, why care may at times turn to despair - it could be a rough ride to that bright new shore. So much suffering and loss could happen along the way.

You cannot gauge the effect of your work by the foolishness of media and government, and the apparent stupor of the people. Just like you cannot see the work of Springtime beneath the ground but you can feel it, so it is with the effect of your long labor and caring, and of others efforts. Nothing appears to be happening in the dead landscape then almost overnight Nature explodes in fresh beauty and abundance. Who would have thought the peoples of the Soviet Union were ripe for freedom? Yet everything changed overnight - the truth was always at work in the people's hearts,unseen.

Something IS happening now, and gathering strength. It's being cultivated by your understanding and care and will and that of others like you, and by Something Wonderful in every heart.

We are in a fundamental shift of the Paradigm of Civilization and the Earth. The converging Global Crises are driving the Shift by forcing us to change our ways, our human will and our human ecology which caused the Crises in the first place.

We are being required by survival imperative and impelled by our heart, to replace the Old Paradigm which was born of our Organic Ignorance and Lack of Universal Love, with a New Paradigm born of Organic Understanding and Universal Love. This new way of the human being will create a bright new world, and Nature will also play Her part as she adjusts to the planetary forces we have unleashed until she reaches a new Equilibrium.

The converging Global Crises are really a boon, telling us that something is amiss, what it is and how to fix it - by a new human paradigm of "life support and life style in partnership with Nature and in harmony with the heart" - the natural expression of Organic Understanding and Universal Love - the harmonious will and action collectively called "Stewardship of the Earth", our natural role in Nature. Given the circumstances of the Old Paradigm how else could we awaken to our natural role in Nature without the imperative of the Global Crises, without Her shaking us to wake up? We are about to be freed from a long estrangement from the Family of Life and come into our own as kinsmen and guardians of that Life.

There is more at work in the Paradigm Shift and in our mind and heart than changing circumstances, ideas, right and wrong understanding, right and wrong actions, the laws of physics, action and reaction.
We are not alone. We are Co-Creators. And you, Richard, are one of the truest and dearest.

I am neither laughing nor crying, but feeling the joy of the garden, the returning love and fellowship of my neighbors and the reunion of the Family of Life.

WRITE THE BOOK!

From: Ellen Rainwalker, Aug 2, 10 01:22 PM

This is the best article Richard Heinberg has ever written. We know we're going to hell in a handbasket, but thank you Richard for giving us something to chuckle over while we go!

unfortunately agreeable

From: jeffrey hausler, Aug 1, 10 07:20 PM

i think the article was sarcastically entertaining, but more to the point very realistic. i just came back from a weekend long trip from the Adirondack mountains where it is beautiful and peaceful. Coming back to the "Real World" put me in a terrible mood. Within one hour of leaving the park i was back into our little economic machine and my life on the hamster wheel. For me voluntary simplicity is the only way to go. I just have a hard time getting there. I mean I am thirty years old and my girlfriend wants to get married and get a house in suburbia and start keeping up with Jones. All i want to do is get a couple of acres and build my own is a passive solar house off the grid witha big veggy garden, losing the mortgage,cell phone and car payments. That type of life probably is not for everyone, but tomorrow i will get aliitle closer by consuming less. Richard i love reading your work.

Publish this thing!

From: Serious Andy, Aug 1, 10 05:36 PM

I'm not kidding, this thing should be published ASAP! Richard, you just might have your hands on a viral phenomenon. You just have to make it attractive to people such as the emo crowd or generation x or the punks. A lot of the people I talk to agree that the future looks dark, but everyone has a different reason for thinking so. The color of your 'How To Become A Billionaire" book matches the color of the future that many of us envision, so people might be willing to wear it, and I think it could become a cult classic.

Especially if it becomes a TV show. Or maybe a web-video series. Or maybe a comic book. It has to be something that people can pass around and get a laugh from. Maybe you should contact Marvel Comics, or the UCLA school of video journalism or something, and see if anyone would be interested to help turn your book into a "media product".

Maybe if people read it, a few more will be aware that the message so obviously presented as humor is actually pretty darn realistic, and they might start thinking.

It's a way to change the psyche of the culture. Which is what needs changing. Rationality clearly isn't going to do it. We need an irrational way of changing our worldviews. We need new mythology. This book might create a new genre.

Danse Macabre

From: leigh, Jul 30, 10 10:50 AM

Thank you for the humorous writing. I had some good laughs. It is worthy to use wisdom to encourage "joyous participation in the sorrows of the world."

laugh or cry

From: rsed, Jul 29, 10 04:28 PM

Thanks, Richard. I laughed out loud many times. A welcome break from the frustration of struggling to convey to my students, friends, and neighbors the scope and scale of the predicament and the absence of silver bullets/dei ex machina/technofixes/etc. that always save the good guys.

Laugh or cry, or perhaps just survive while watching the this one-time experiment implacably develop, like Yeats' rough beast slouching toward the future.

Why no progress? We haven't NAMED the central problem

From: Edpeak, Jul 29, 10 03:57 PM

"Eat fast food!" And don't forget also: "eat meat! eat the flesh of animals who ate enough growing up to have fed far more people!"

And, "Drink that stuff which Mother Nature designed for baby cows, not for adult cows, not for baby humans, and certainly not for adult humans!"

And now to say something even less popular: why do we refuse to talk about changing the biggest obstacle to change, the economic system itself? Yes, we (sometimes) talk about needing an economic system that's not got a built-in need for never-ending exponential growth. But we don't talk about what to replace it with, or even what we're replacing. We're replacing Corporatocracy.

We're replacing Corporate Feudalism.

We're replacing a "one dollar equals one vote" economic system

We're replacing an economic model in which people serve the economy, instead of the economy being expected to serve people (and being changed when it doesn't)

We're replacing an economic system in which everything is commodified

We're replacing an economic system which knows the price of everything (or thinks that it does) but the value of nothing.

We're replacing an economic system in which human beings (and non-human life, and nature, and future generations) have no INTRINSIC rights, only rights they "earn" by what the "free" market which isn't free, puts (currently) as the (present) value on it (which will change tomorrow but still miss huge externalities)

We're replacing a system in which people are TOOLS of corporation, surely no better than being tools of a one party vanguard.

We're replacing a system in which the workplace is undemocratic and is the political equivalent of a top-down totalitarian dictatorship.

We're replacing the LIE that when government does not represent the people (which is its democratic duty) by protecting our interest, then it must be a "free" market with government "out of our way" when in reality it's a corporate-run world in which private profit-maximizing corporations decide what's in our water, food, soil, air, products we buy, and "regulate" themselves about drilling safety and more.

We want to build a bottom-up grassroots democratic economy that is also truly democratic (not just a more benign form of one-dollar-one-vote with non-democratic workplaces) as well as being sustainable.

http://economicdemocracy.org/alternatives-to-wallst.html

How does helping people work?

From: Cynic, Jul 29, 10 01:39 PM

If people and our nature are The Problem, and I'll challenge anyone who says otherwise, how does helping other people survive solve anything?

I say we need MORE plastic packaging to seal in the freshness of EXISTING plastic packaging for each and every stick of gum or AAA battery. That packaging should be wrapped in plastic and delivered in a gigantic plastic bag by UPS. By freight helicopter.

Those with common sense have already established themselves within a community, despite the wary attitudes of their conventional friends and relatives. That's a perfectly adequate response to what's unfolding.

A book I would read

From: Richard Eis, Jul 29, 10 02:59 AM

Dark, tongue in cheek but fact based books are not exactly ten a penny.

Perhaps a book should be written that cruelly and factually tells people how to survive and even succeed, but with a dark humour. Highlight that in different parts of the world people are already dealing with these situations now and it could be darkly refreshing.

amazing that people don't get it...

From: Carina, Jul 27, 10 10:51 PM

Many people tried to warn us about what is coming and nobody listens, not even the most educated people. We are now waiting, just waiting, many without funds or power to make the necessary changes even now. We are disconnected from out neighbors and they also don't want to know about the coming contractions we have to face economically, ecologically and as a humanity. I wonder, are we as a species actually not that smart but really really careless and stupid beyond measure. Ah, I know, I am supposed to be positive and brush all under the rug, pretend these problems do not exist. We are so great to invent our way out of this... leaving right and left only suffering behind?

The truth is that all through history humanity never really managed to create a well knit society in which we shared food, clothe, shelter, medical, care, education and art really honestly. There seems always to be exploitation going on in one way or another. We need to think about a new system in which we serve each other and the creation and not just us and our greedy little agendas. I come to think that we as a species are neither smart nor evolved but rather cruel and really really most stupid.

How could we let things go so far? How could We?

Fun and funny future

From: NetGenFun, Jul 27, 10 07:24 PM

Nice job Richard!

As with some others here, I have come to the conclusion that humanity can only change during change. It will attempt to adapt to anything that forces it to. It's like an electrical circuit - it takes the path of least resistance.

We are so inventive because we are so lazy. Farming is easier than hunting and gathering. Industrialization is far easier than farming. Can you imagine most of our population (pass the skin refining lotion please) going back to the fields for hard labor? I think they would rather die.

So, I don't worry about climate change anymore because I know the fossil fuel era is going to be but a blip in Earth's history and that after a few million years, everything will be back to normal, so to speak.

Peak Oilers have actually stopped talking so much and started to work more on what they are going to do to ensure that their family will survive. Even Gore has been quiet as of late, or is that due to the sex scandal?

I now look at geographical regions based on local resources, not on their current rating for best night life. Areas where most of the population are still farmers and the land is still rich and free from industrialization seem to me to be the best bet for a post carbon future. Heck, those population don't have far to fall back. Most of them are already living in a sustainable manner with little to no fossil fuel use. They are already localized, organized and confident they can get by, even if they still dream of a fine BMW. I wonder if they know just how lucky they are...

Realism

From: John Mack, Jul 27, 10 12:12 PM

I can understand your cynicism after having tried to explain to people for so long the disastrous course they are embarked upon. I too have given up trying to explain to people the consequences of their uncontrolled consumption of natural resources. To me, resource depletion is not rocket science, so at some point you have to wonder whether people care about the future consequences of their behavior, much like drug abusers don't care about the consequences of theirs. But I'm sure there are many people besides myself who are appreciative of your efforts so don't feel your work has been in vain.

From: doug, Jul 26, 10 10:39 PM

Nice try, Richard!! lol

I look forward to losing a few pounds in the coming global famine. ;)

The problem with being a limits-to-growth truth-teller is that nobody wants to hear how grim the overall trends are getting. No matter how you frame the facts, the truth will be too painful and too much of an emotional tsunami for 99.99% of us to deal with.

A few gluttons for punishment will always enjoy your work. But unless you change the subject to a more pleasant topic, you'll never win a popularity contest! ;)

Then again, using humor to frame your message will probably increase your odds of reaching a broader audience, e.g., John Stewart & Stephen Colbert.

So keep at it bro'. lol

laughing and crying

From: Cameron Smith, Jul 26, 10 06:20 PM

Nice work Richard. You're right, attitude is everything.

I've done my crying (except for the occasional bout of despair) and feel a lot better for having started to do something to make changes at home and in our community. This is going to take more than some new light bulbs!

Kind Regards

Cam