Blog post

The End is Near, Inc.

This is the title of the recent full-spread article in Boston Magazine about me, my work and our community. It’s due out in hard print on Sunday with the Boston Globe. It is already available on-line here.

Unfortunately, the article relies too much on sensationalistic stereotypes and includes some troubling distortions.  My chief concern is that the story told through a very few limited, out of context and edited quotes paints a picture of Becca and me as doomsayers with a bunker mentality.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

We somewhat reluctantly agreed to have our whole family included in this very public article, opened our home for several days for the effort, and are now wrestling with the impacts that will stem from the fact that our best efforts have now been tagged as “The End is Near Inc.” -an unfortunate mischaracterization that completely misses what we are really about while implying that we do this for the money. 

And though the editor has agreed to remove it in the online edition, the print edition contains a 100% Photoshopped creation of me in a bunker, instead of the actual photo of me in my (completely normal, albeit messy) home office that was taken. We did not have a chance to review the content or the images prior to publication, which will never happen again.

Look at what they did with a gray screen shot (before then after) without ever indicating that they'd do such a thing let alone seeking my permission:

Yikes.  To be completely clear; I do not have a bunker, do not know anybody who does, have never advocated that anybody build one, and utterly distance myself from the cultural stereotyping that is implied by the idea of a bunker and all associated imagery.

I can say that I’m disappointed, but I can’t say I’m terribly surprised. The article’s publication has been an important learning experience—it’s reminded me how difficult this story is to tell to the average person. It’s a challenge to get most people to understand that while change is inevitable, it’s only bad if we fail to adapt on time and on our own terms.

The irony here is that Boston Magazine intended this to be a positive piece on the impact of my message and the large audience it’s resonated with to-date. But in relying on easy “survivalist” stereotypes to frame the story (bunkers, Mad Max references, etc), they’ve succeed in missing the forest for the trees - conveying an image in polar opposition to what we actually stand for.

The work here has been so successful because I strive at every turn to leave my opinions and beliefs out of it, which helpfully clarifies the picture for people. In allowing belief-based slants about preparation to color this article, Boston Magazine has missed out on the fact that what people really want and need right now is truth and the facts. 

People are worried these days and have legitimate reasons to be. We need to meet that concern directly and honestly, while offering helpful information and guidance for building a positive future.

The most unfortunate thing about this is that Boston Magazine missed out on a really big story. The movement that’s building around this material is not a fringe thing. There are millions of people - from across the socioeconomic spectrum - thinking about this and changing their lives because of it.

My goal through this work is not to guide people to build bunkers and isolate themselves, but to invest in their communities, strengthen their resilience and create a world worth inheriting. Along the way there are indeed some necessary, but probably insufficient, steps that I think everybody should undertake as individuals, but only as a first set of steps along a continuum that moves us from being relatively isolated into connected, resilient communities.  I made this abundantly clear.

I am not a part of a group "devoted to spreading the preparedness doctrine," but a card-carrying member of a movement that seeks to build a national narrative that makes sense and that is sustainable.  We understand that awareness precedes understanding and that both must come before actions so, yes, we seek to raise awareness as a first step.  After all, somebody has to.

If you want to help us in changing the tired story that the mainstream media repeatedly chooses to tell about this message, then I’d encourage you to read the article and comment or write to the editor to tell them what this movement is really about.  If you do take the time to send along your thoughts, I would ask that you make them as factual, calm and collected as possible. 

Chris Martenson

Mailing Address

Boston Magazine
300 Massachusetts Ave. 
Boston, MA 02115
617-262-9700; fax 617-262-4925; editorial fax 617-267-1774

Letters to the Editor
Write to our mailing address, c/o Letters to the Editor, or click here to send an e-mail. Please include your full name, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address.

Originally published at . Reproduced with permission

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Reader Comments


Boston Ragazine

From: Kevin , Jul 6, 2010 11:49 AM

I must say you are incredibly naive to ever expect a fair and balanced approach from Boston Magazine, surely one of the sniffiest, elitist, glamour rags every to waste a tree.

Don't mean to blame the victim, but clearly if you had read the magazine from cover to cover, you most likely would not have wanted coverage from them!

Mr. George Harrison said, "Maintain and control your image at all times".

I know it's hard to do, but simply not letting them take you picture gives you the control over your image. You provide the photo, etc.

The good news? If Boston Magazine says "bad" shit about you, then you must actually be doing something right.

So, keep up the good work, and next time, hire a PR professional to help you craft your message to the media.


From: jibber, Jul 4, 2010 06:08 PM

Come on, guys, since when is it the business of mainstream media to portray us fairly and helpfully? Puh-lease... You want mainstream publicity? Ok, but then why act surprised and upset they do what they do?

Conflict of Interest is Real

From: Ed Straker, Jul 4, 2010 08:49 AM

Chris, at first I was very sympathetic to how badly you were treated by this magazine. After all, the author did spin things in a very deliberate way, but I think it's also fair to realize that there IS in fact an "End is Near, Inc." and that running a business that revolves around doom will set yourself up for accusations of conflict of interest, overstated or not. You certainly made more money as a corporate executive than you could ever hope to make on the Crash Course, so such accusations pointed your way have some serious logical flaws, but that's not the case with all your peers.

The fact remains that just about anybody of any stature in the peak oil movement has made money off of it through books, documentaries, speaking engagements, subscription sites (see CollapseNet for the most recent example), seminars and private consultations.

There's been a lot of debate lately as to the true motives of Matt Simmons, for instance. Was he only ever into playing Cassandra for peak oil as a way to drive money into Simmons and Company, or now, having left, his wave-power company? Could this explain some of his unfounded statements about the Gulf spill which probably led to his ouster from the company that bears his name?

I don't really have a solution for escaping such conflict of interest. If you eat drink and breathe doom then it makes sense that your career wouldn't be more than one or two steps removed from doom, but I'm afraid it goes with the territory.

People are initially defensive whenever you drop the red pill on them, and if they can conveniently disregard it by blaming the messenger (think climategate for instance) then they will seize the moment.


From: John Mack, Jul 3, 2010 06:11 PM

I think the problem with Mr. Martenson's web site and his crash course is that it does not focus on the core problem -- Peak Oil. Are the financial problems he discusses important? Sure, but if it were not for Peak Oil they would in fact be no more serious than previous financial problems. It is Peak Oil that raises these financial problems to Biblical proportions and this reality is lost on uninformed people because of the diffuse nature of Mr. Martenson's presentation. I don't mean this as criticism -- I applaud Mr. Martenson's work -- I'm just suggesting this may be the reason for the magazine article's portrayal of Mr. Martenson's web site and work.

Keep up the good work...

From: Donald Belk, Jul 3, 2010 12:42 PM

....sounds as if Boston mag hasn't heard of the new Sustainable Communities Partnership (HUD-EPA-DOT), which promotes the so-called 'preparedness doctrine'. They've missed the message terribly. Everybody involved in this movement understands that only citizen participation, individual responsibility, and local community self-reliance and end our addition to oil, etc. Love PCI and am spreading the word..


Donald R. Belk, AICP


From: Tod Brilliant, Jul 2, 2010 11:37 PM

Of interest to some, perhaps:

The end is not near!

From: Chris Martenson, Jul 1, 2010 07:11 PM

Hi, Chris here.

We've been thrilled with the reasoned yet impassioned responses to our work, approach, and mission that the article has elicited in the comments section on our site and at the article.

The good news is that the BM [sic] article raised awareness in more people that 'something is going on out there.' Yes, we wish we could have elevated the conversation even more, but we'll take what we can get is the seasoned advice we are getting.

The story is much larger than *me* or us, or any particular person or group of people - it is about a set of ideas. People come and go, but ideas can ripple through history, so I wish that more ideas were presented.

Yes, I would have preferred that the article focused even briefly on the actual data that the Crash Course presents, and I would have really enjoyed having our ideas transmitted with better fidelity, but that's not quite where media is in America today it seems. Oh well, lesson learned.

So we'll carry on, letting people know that it's possible to be both realistic *and* optimistic; that change doesn't have to be 'bad;' and that only by working together with an honest appraisal of the issues facing us can we hope to engineer a better future.

And, hey, I've never been accused of being a 'profiteering evangelist' before so perhaps I'll find that I actually enjoy this new designation. :) :)

If it doesn't involve buying new clothes, I'll try it.

What? I have to buy a robe?!?


The End is Near foolishness

From: Philip Anderson, Jul 1, 2010 10:43 AM

Brush is off, Chris. Slander and attack is the lot of those who take a stand, follow the truth and their heart, but all that is of no consequence - it will not hurt you or your work. Time will show what is what.

Here's my response letter to the editor of Boston Magazine:

Regarding Boston Magazine article “The End is Near” by Pagan Kennedy, published online June 24 2010:

I cannot understand how Boston Magazine came to the conclusion that Chris Martenson’s motives are personal financial gain and that his service is designed to destroy confidence in the status quo, promote doomsday thinking and encourage survivalism.

On the contrary, he is clarifying an understanding that people everywhere are increasingly sensing is the reality: that the old economic model and human ecology is no longer relevant or positive, and that a bright new paradigm is rising, including a better economy and a higher quality of life. He suggests how to get there gracefully and, in case the road there is rocky, how to stand on our own feet and help our society.

I would call his motives and service a sincere concern for humanity and the Earth, basic common-sense risk management, intelligence and vision for positive outcome through positive, cooperative action at the grassroots and government levels.

If this article was meant to be objective, why didn’t it mention the recognized limits we are exceeding in all aspects of our life support - especially manageable debt, natural resources and fossil energy - which the establishment is ignoring or not addressing adequately in favor of maintaining the status quo?

Why didn’t the article mention the abuses of the fiat monetary system and apparent attendant manipulation of the markets through distorted government data to create false confidence?

Why didn’t it mention that at the recent G20 meeting the majority of countries chose to bail out of the Fed’s bailout strategy, in consonance with Martenson’s objective assessment, or that Martenson recently presented his big picture assessment on invitation to government leaders at the UK House of Commons?

Why did the article not state that Martenson’s assessment of the significance of Peak Oil on our way of life is shared by prominent oil geologists, economists and the DOE’s own risk assessment efforts in the 2005 Hirsch report, apparently shelved to maintain “confidence” in the status quo?

In publishing this article did Boston Magazine consider that America might indeed be going down the wrong path, that we may be caught unawares and that this could be tragic? And that the primary reason for this is ignorance due to the failure of the press in its sacred role to make the truth available to the people. Is Boston Magazine on the status quo and ignorance bandwagon?

What a disappointment! This article distorts the truth and slanders a truthful person and servant of humanity.