Saturday, 27 February 2010

the futility of planning

How do we prepare for a future that is very uncertain? What do we know of the future? What do we KNOW of the present, even? Everything I write and say might be wrong. There may be no old paradigm and no new paradigm. Everything that everyone else writes elsewhere about the impending collapse of our financial systems, our political systems, our civilisation, climate change, peak oil, over-population, may be misguided also. Humanity has a long and rich history of predictions of a doomed and disastrous future which failed to materialise. In all probability, some of us somewhere will be correct in some of our conclusions and pontifications, but realistically the only thing we really know about the future is that we cannot accurately predict what will happen.

Now, planning for the future requires that we have a clear vision of what the future will bring, or at least that we can see a limited set of alternative outcomes that are reasonably likely. When we don't know where we are heading, we cannot plan our journey. All we can do is prepare for whatever eventualities we can envisage, and then hope for the best.

I argue that the current state of play in human "civilisation" on planet Earth has become so volatile and so fragile and so uncertain, that the only safe conclusion we can reach, rationally, is that there are going to be big changes, and soon. We cannot, rationally, conclude with any statistical certainty, what exactly these changes are going to be. Among those of us who think about such things, some predict apocalyptic outcomes. Others believe we can find technological solutions to all of our problems. Others, using history as a guide, take a middle ground and see a slow and bumpy decline in our civilisations down to a new dark age, from which will arise in due course a new civilisation. Meanwhile, most of the population prefer not to think about such things, and confidently expect "business as usual" to resume any day now, in line with what the mass media keeps telling them. None of these predicted outcomes can be proved. I believe that any simple rational and scientific analysis will tell us that a resumption of "business as usual" is simply impossible - in other words that change is inevitable. But, beyond that, rational analysis only provides fodder for intellectual discussion and argument - it does not produce any certainty, or near certainty, or even substantial likelihood, of any one outcome over another.

We cannot plan meaningfully for such an uncertain future. All we have to go on are vague ideas of what a solution might be like. Success or failure can be known only in retrospect. Meanwhile, we can only prepare ourselves in such a way as to maximise our resilience to catastrophic change. Improvisation is the order of the day, and we should focus on the basics of survival - sustainable water, food and shelter. If those who predict apocalypse are right and the end is indeed nigh, then it really won't matter much what we do in the interim. On the other hand, if the dreams of the technologists are even valid, then where is the resource and political will going to come from to build these imaginary technologies in time to save us from ourselves? I don't see the magic wand. It is already far too late - we have passed the tipping point. We have sleepwalked our way through the last few decades and missed the train of "sustainable techno future". In the more distant future we may evolve an advanced lifestyle based on sustainable technologies, but our children and grandchildren will have lived their lives and died long before we get there - meanwhile we will have to somehow cope with the collapse of our existing way of life. So the technologist dream becomes just one of the possible outcomes of the middle way, whereby we are heading into a century or more of decline and disintegration of our "civilisation", out of the ashes of which a new civilisation, largely unimaginable to us, will eventually blossom.

No amount of planning and rationality can tell us the detail of how things will go. My own proclamations about the future and our way ahead, are based on the irrational - on visions and realisations attained through meditation. I put much more faith in feelings and intuition, than in judgement and rationality. I believe that we are transitioning, as a race, from rational thinkers who have deluded ourselves that we are in control of nature (old paradigm), to intuitive beings who know that we are at one with nature (new paradigm). I cannot back up what I say scientifically, not least because I have no interest in doing so. I may be completely wrong, but it feels very right! I see golden light where others see black smoke. You must read my writings and judge for yourself - hopefully I will touch a chord in some of you, or light a spark. Others will simply shake their heads and will move on to graze in more rational pastures and I wish them good luck - we all have different paths to tread.


Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Our current extravagant, energy-wasting lifestyle is not sustainable. We have to move now towards a more sustainable and holistic way life, and we already have a range of technological options available to us to help achieve this. Perhaps the simplest and most accessible of these is composting: a practical, and ecologically elegant way of boosting and maintaining soil fertility, which also highlights key principles central to a new paradigm economy and society.

Most of the compostable food, garden, and farm waste we generate currently goes into landfills, rather than being recycled into fertile soil. In "Little Steps that Matter", and "A Theology of Compost", John Michael Greer writes about this potential resource, contrasting between the "monumental absurdity of industrial society’s linear transformation of resource to waste, on the one hand, and the elegant cycle of resource to resource manifested in the humble compost bin on the other":

Those of my readers who have compost bins know how much of their own kitchen, garden, and yard waste goes into it; my wife and I generate between two and four cubic feet of compostable waste in an average week. All of it goes into a compost bin of black recycled plastic in the back yard. So does another cubic foot or so per week from a friend’s kitchen; his living situation doesn’t permits him to have his own compost bin, so he contributes to ours. All the peelings and scraps and moldy bits from the produce that passes through our kitchen and his go into the compost pile, along with garden weeds, plants that have passed their season, and other forms of yard and garden waste, leavened with double handfuls of dried leaves saved from last autumn. Those are the only inputs, other than a little labor with a shovel once a month or so to keep the pile turned and working. Once a year, the hatch at the bottom of the compost bin disgorges the output—black, damp, sweet-smelling compost, ready to be worked into our garden beds.

This output is potent stuff. The first garden my wife and I planted started out as a patch of bare dirt on the north side of an urban apartment building, so poor and barren that even the most rugged of the local weeds made only half-hearted forays into it. Two years of double-digging beds with home-brewed compost turned it into a lush cottage garden that yielded shade-tolerant vegetables and medicinal herbs three seasons of the year, and supported some of the biggest earthworms I’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering. Given a reasonably good mix of raw materials – which an ordinary kitchen and garden provide quite well – compost is a balanced soil amendment that works over the long term, improving fertility, tilth, and pH balance while providing a good mix of soil nutrients.

Properly handled, the composting process also takes out unwanted seeds and pathogens. Decomposition generates heat – 150° to 160°F is a fairly common temperature for the core of a good compost pile – and that sort of heat over weeks or months will kill anything in your compost you don’t want there.

It’s possible to make compost on an industrial scale — and there are businesses and public utilities that do this — but compost is not well suited to the industrial model of agriculture. It works best when applied in intensive small-scale gardening, where it can be combined with other low-energy but labor-intensive techniques for maximizing soil fertility and productivity. Composting is… a bridge – or part of a bridge – that reaches beyond the end of the industrial age… (With) soaring fossil fuel prices turning industrial farms and their far-flung distribution networks into economic basket cases… local micro-farms and market gardens, and the co-operatives, farmers markets, and community-supported agriculture schemes that give them a market outside the existing system, are guaranteed steady and dramatic growth.

In a decade or so, in fact, American agriculture may well resemble nothing so much as the agricultural system of the Soviet Union in its last years, with huge and dysfunctional corporate farms filling the role of the sprawling industrialized kolkhozii while a large proportion of the food people actually eat comes from backyard garden plots.

It’s in that secondary economy of small gardens and micro-farms that composting has its place – and just as the collapse of the Soviet Union would have been far more devastating in human terms without the underground economy that kept people fed, the downward arc of the industrial age can be made less traumatic if technologies such as composting, relevant to an underground food economy already being born, become widely distributed and practiced in the near future.

Thus the homely, humdrum, and vital art of composting offers a model for the kinds of adaptive, flexible, and scalable responses… we need to locate and deploy… If the twilight of the industrial age is going to be anything but an uncontrolled crash, it’s one of the little steps that could actually make a difference.

What makes composting such a useful template for a (new paradigm) society is precisely that it highlights the ways such a society would have to differ from the way things are done in today’s industrial civilization. Some of the crucial points of difference that come to mind are these:

First, where industrial civilization converts resources into waste, composting converts waste into resources. The core dynamic of today’s industrial economies is a one-way process in which fossil fuels, other energy sources, mineral deposits, soil, water, air, and human beings, among many other things, are transformed into waste products – directly, in the form of pollution, or indirectly, in the form of goods and services that go into the waste stream after the briefest possible useful life... A society that burns through its supply of necessary resources while heaping up progressively larger volumes of toxic wastes is going to run into trouble sooner or later. Composting reverses the equation by turning waste into a resource and meeting crucial needs – and there are few needs more crucial to a human society than food production – using wastes that would otherwise be part of the problem.

Second, where industrial civilization works against natural processes, composting works with them. At the center of contemporary Western ideology is the vision of progress as the conquest of nature, and this way of thinking has backed industrial societies into an approach to natural processes that sees them as obstacles to be overcome – or even enemies to be crushed. The result is the sort of massive misuse of resources visible in modern agriculture, where conventional farming methods convert soil into something approaching a sterile mineral medium, and farmers then have to buy and apply an ever-increasing volume of fertilizers and soil additives to make up for the fertility that natural cycles in healthy soil provide all by themselves. Composting, by contrast, works because it fosters the natural processes that break down organic matter into healthy humus. There’s no need to add anything extra, or to go shopping for the lively mix of bacteria, fungi, and soil fauna that makes the miracle of compost happen. To borrow a Hollywood slogan, if you build it, they will come.

Third, where industrial civilization requires complex, delicate, and expensive technologies to function at all, composting – because it relies on natural processes that have evolved over countless millions of years – thrives on a much simpler and sturdier technological basis… Set the factory complexes, energy inputs, and resource flows needed to manufacture NPK fertilizer using conventional methods, (against) the simple bin and shovel needed to produce compost from kitchen and garden waste, and the difference is hard to miss. Imagine that your small town or urban neighborhood had to build and provide energy and raw materials for one or the other from scratch, using the resources available locally right now, and the difference becomes even more noticeable.

Fourth, where industrial civilization is inherently centralized, and thus can only function on a geographic and political scale large enough to make its infrastructure economically viable, composting is inherently decentralized and can function on any scale from a backyard to a continent. Among the many reasons why a small town or an urban neighborhood would be stark staring nuts to try to build a factory to produce NPK fertilizer is that the investment demanded by the factory equipment, energy supply, and raw materials would be far greater than the return. A backyard fertilizer factory for every home would be even more absurd, but a backyard compost bin for every home is arguably the most efficient way to put composting technology to use.

Fifth, where industrial civilization degrades exactly those factors in its environment that support its existence, composting increases the factors in its environment that support its existence. In a finite environment, the more of a nonrenewable resource you extract, the more energy and raw materials you have to invest in order to extract the remaining resource; and the more of a persistent pollutant you dump into the environment, the more energy and raw materials you have to invest in order to keep the pollutant from interfering with economic activities. Thus industrial civilization has to climb a steepening slope of its own making, until it finally falls off and crashes back to earth. By contrast, the closed loop that runs from composting bin to garden plot to kitchen and back around to composting bin again becomes more effective, not less, as the cycle turns: rising nutrient levels and soil biota in the garden plot lead to increased harvest, and thus to increased input to the compost bin.

Finally, where industrial civilization is brittle, composting is resilient. Earth is not a safe place. In a time of turbulence, systems that are dependent on uninterrupted access to resources, unimpeded maintenance of intricate technologies, and undisturbed control over geographical areas of the necessary scale to make them economical, face a much higher risk of collapse than systems that have none of these vulnerabilities.

Now of course many other sustainable technologies embrace one or more of these same factors. As yet, however, not many of them embrace all of them. Even technologies as promising as metal recycling have a long way to go before they become as scalable, self-sustaining, and resilient as composting.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

the new agriculture

In this third set of extracts from John Michael Greer blog posts on organic agriculture, he elaborates on the inherent superiority of this new paradigm approach over the established industrial methods of feeding ourselves.

It’s extremely common for people to assume that today’s industrial agriculture is by definition more advanced, and thus better, than any of the alternatives.

(But) in a crucial sense – the ecological sense – modern industrial agriculture is radically less advanced than most of the viable alternatives.

In any field you care to name, sustainability is about closing the circle, replacing wasteful extractive models of resource use with recycling models that enable resource use to continue without depletion over the long term.

The first known systems of grain agriculture emerged in the Middle East sometime before 8000 BCE, in the aftermath of the drastic global warming that followed the end of the last ice age and caused massive ecological disruption throughout the temperate zone. These first farming systems were anything but sustainable, and early agricultural societies followed a steady rhythm of expansion and collapse most likely caused by bad farming practices that failed to return nutrients to the soil. It took millennia and plenty of hard experience to evolve the first farming systems that worked well over the long term, and millennia more to craft truly sustainable methods such as Asian wetland rice culture, which cycles nutrients back into the soil in the form of human and animal manure, and has proved itself over some 4000 years.

(In) industrial farming… the nutrients needed by crops come from fertilizers manufactured from natural gas, rock phosphate, and other non-renewable resources, and the crops themselves are shipped off to distant markets, taking the nutrients with them. This one-way process maximizes profits in the short term, but it damages the soil, pollutes local ecosystems, and poisons water resources. In a world of accelerating resource depletion, such extravagant use of irreplaceable fossil fuels is also a recipe for failure.

Fortunately… the replacement for this hopelessly unsustainable system
is already in place and beginning to expand rapidly into the territory of conventional farming. Modeled closely on the sustainable farming practices of Asia… organic farming moves decisively toward the recycling model by using organic matter and other renewable resources to replace chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and the like. In terms of the modern mythology of progress, this is a step backward, since it abandons chemicals and machines for compost, green manures, and biological pest controls; in terms of succession, it is a step forward, and the beginning of recovery from the great leap backward of industrial agriculture.

So there we have it: Greer promotes organic agriculture on the grounds of sustainability. But it also works on a spiritual level, as a holistic approach to feeding ourselves and nurturing the planet.

The old paradigm industrial agriculture tries to control and regiment and exploit nature, and in doing so it destroys the land. The new paradigm organic agriculture co-operates with nature, gives back what it takes, and promotes diversity and a vibrant living earth.

We should celebrate the timely emergence of this wonderful technology for the future - and we should embrace it joyfully and immediately - for, without it we will soon be starving.

organic food and farmers markets

The rising movements of organic agriculture and farmers markets are a prime example of new paradigm forces establishing themselves before the old paradigms of industrial agriculture and global food distribution hit the wall of diminishing energy resources.

In this second sets of extracts from John Michael Greer blog posts on organic agriculture, he describes how we are already evolving the means to feed ourselves sustainably.
One of the great gifts of crisis is supposed to be the way it helps sort out the difference between what’s essential and what’s not.

At the top of the list… are the immediate necessities of human life: breathable air, drinkable water, edible food. Lacking those, nothing else matters much. The first two are provided by natural cycles that industrial civilization is doing its best to mess up, but so far the damage has been localized. There are still crucial issues to consider and work to be done, but the raw resilience of a billion-year-old biosphere that has shrugged off ice ages and asteroid impacts is a powerful ally.

Food is another matter. Unlike air and water, the vast majority of the food we eat comes from human activity rather than the free operation of natural cycles, and the human population has gone so far beyond the limits of what surviving natural ecosystems can support that attempting to fall back on wild foods at this point would be a recipe for die-off and ecological catastrophe. At the same time, most of the world’s population today survives on food produced using fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources such as mineral phosphate and ice age aquifers. As the end of the fossil fuel age approaches, other arrangements have to be made.

This poses a challenge, because nearly every resource currently used in industrial agriculture, from the petroleum that powers tractors and provides raw materials for pesticides, through the natural gas and phosphate rock that go into fertilizer, to the topsoil that underlies the whole process, is being depleted at radically unsustainable rates.

If today’s industrial agriculture were to keep chugging away along its present course into the future, the results could be disastrous.

but this is not going to happen…
The industrial agriculture we have today … evolved as farmers and agricultural corporations took advantage of the abundant energy supplies made available by the exploitation of oil reserves in the 20th century… As energy and other fossil fuel products become more expensive, farmers have a strong incentive to use less of them, and to replace them with other resources.

Adaptations in the other direction are already taking place. The organic farming revolution, the most important of these, may be the most promising and least often discussed of the factors shaping the future of industrial society.

Because it uses no chemical fertilizers and no pesticides, organic agriculture is significantly less dependent on fossil fuels than standard agriculture, and yet it produces roughly comparable yields. It has huge ecological benefits – properly done, organic agriculture reverses topsoil loss and steadily improves the fertility of the soil rather than depleting it – but it also translates into a simple economic equation: a farmer can get comparable yields for less cost by growing crops organically, and get higher prices for the results. As the prices of petroleum, natural gas, phosphate rock, and other feedstocks for the agrichemical industry continue to climb, that equation will become even harder to ignore – and in the meantime the infrastructure and knowledge base necessary to manage organic farming on a commercial scale is already solidly in place and continues to expand.

As fuel prices continue to climb, tractor fuel and transportation costs are likely to become the next major bottlenecks.

The renaissance of horsedrawn agriculture is one adaptive response moving steadily toward the takeoff point. After a long period when diesel was so much cheaper than feed that horses no longer made economic sense, the balance is swinging the other way, and farmers are waking up to the advantages of “tractors” that run on grain and hay, rather than expensive diesel fuel, and can be manufactured in a horse barn by the simple expedient of letting a stallion in among the mares.

Transportation … is a thornier problem (but) local farmers markets have sprung up over the last decade, and much of the produce sold in them comes from small local farms. In cities where the farmers market movement has set down strong roots, the economics of modern farming have been turned on their heads, and farms from 10 to 100 acres located close to the city have become profitable for the first time in many decades. Once again, the infrastructure and knowledge base needed for further expansion is taking shape.

Adaptation is always possible, but it’s going to come with a price tag, and the results will likely not be as convenient, abundant, or welcome… That can’t be helped. Today’s industrial agriculture, and the food chain depending on it, after all, were simply the temporary result of an equally temporary abundance of fossil fuel energy, and as that goes away, so will they. The same is true of any number of other familiar and comfortable things; still, the more willing we are to pay the price of transition, the better able we will be to move forward into the possibilities of a new and unfamiliar world.

the rise of organic agriculture

I have recently mentioned the internet as an example of a new paradigm force for the good. A more fundamental and "down to earth" example is the establishment and growth, over the past century, of organic agriculture. I now present extracts from three eloquent blog posts on the subject from the rich archives of John Michael Greer. We start with extracts from his 2006 account of the history and advantages of organic agriculture:
In the first decades of the 20th century, an English agronomist named Albert Howard working in India began experimenting with farming methods that focused on the health of the soil and its natural cycles. Much of his inspiration came from traditional farming practices in India, China and Japan that had maintained soil fertility for centuries or millennia. Howard fused their ideas with Western scientific agronomy and the results of his own experiments to create the first modern organic agriculture. Later researchers, notably Alan Chadwick in England and John Jeavons in America, combined Howard’s discoveries with methods of intensive gardening that had evolved in France not long before Howard began his work, and with the biodynamic system developed in the 1920s by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner, to develop the current state of the art in organic intensive farming.

The result of their work is at least potentially a revolution in humanity’s relationship to the land and the biosphere as dramatic as the original agricultural revolution itself. To begin with, the new organic methods are astonishingly productive. Using them, it’s possible to grow a spare but adequate vegetarian diet for one person on 1000 square feet of soil. For those with math phobia, that’s a patch of dirt 20’ by 50’, about the size of a small urban backyard, 1/45 of a football field, or a bit less than 1/43 of an acre – not much, in other words. (If you find this hard to believe – I certainly did, before I did the research and started using these methods in my own gardens – the details and documentation are in David Duhon, One Circle (Willits, CA: Ecology Action, 1985) and John Freeman’s Survival Gardening (Rock Hill, SC: John’s Press, 1983), among other sources.) These yields require no fossil fuels, no chemical fertilizers or pesticides, and no soil additives other than compost made from vegetable waste and human manure. Hand tools powered by human muscle are the only technological requirements – and yet organic methods get yields per acre far beyond what you can get with tractors and pesticides.

What makes this even more astonishing is that these yields are sustainable over the very long term. The core concept of organic agriculture is that healthy soil makes a healthy garden. Instead of treating soil like a sponge that needs to be filled with chemical nutrients, the organic method sees it as an ecosystem that will provide everything plants need so long as it’s kept in balance. The insect pests and plant diseases that give conventional farmers so much trouble can be managed easily by fine-tuning the soil ecosystem, changing the timing and mix of plants, and introducing natural predators – name any organism you need to get rid of, and there’s something that wants to eat it for you. Where conventional farming depletes the soil, requiring heavier applications of fertilizer and pesticides every season, organic methods produce improved soil, increased yields, and decreased pest problems year after year.

The third factor that makes today’s organic methods revolutionary is that they’re portable. Many traditional cultures around the world have worked out farming methods that are sustainable over the long term, but nearly all of those depend on specific environmental conditions and plant varieties. The growing methods practiced in the New Guinea highlands, for example, are brilliantly adapted to their native ecosystem and produce impressive yields, but they only work when you’ve got the specific mix of food crops, weather and soil conditions, and ecological factors found where they evolved. Intensive organic farming, by contrast, was developed simultaneously in the very different ecosystems of England and California, and has been put to use successfully in temperate, semiarid, and semitropical environments around the world. Like everything natural, it has its limits, but some 80% of the world’s population lives in areas where it can be practiced.

So why isn’t this front page news? There are plenty of reasons. To begin with, organic intensive methods aren’t suited to cash crops – you have to grow a mix of different, mutually supporting plants, rather than a single crop that can be sold in bulk to wholesalers – and the diet you can get from 1000 square feet of organic garden is high on sweet potatoes and soybeans but low on the sort of food (most people) prefer to eat. More broadly, a society that measures all human values in terms of the abstract social game called money is very poorly equipped to make room for a means of subsistence that fills human needs but doesn’t do well at generating profits. Still, as the fictive economy winds down in the aftermath of the industrial age and modern chemical agriculture has to contend with the loss of its fossil fuel resource base, organic farming is one of the few ways we’ll be able to keep people fed. If enough people learn how to do it and start practicing it now, while there’s time to go through the learning curve, that is.

Monday, 22 February 2010


It is one thing to see what is wrong with the old paradigm ways of control,centralisation, division, and selfish greed. It is quite another to work out what best to do, now, in our own lives, to bring about the desired new paradigm economy, based on sharing, collaboration, and sustainability. How do we transition through the inertia created by the incumbent system?

The Transition Towns movement is a popular approach which aims to build bridges to the future, town by town, by raising community awareness of sustainable living, and by encouraging them to increase their resilience through becoming more self reliant.

Ted Trainer writes about this movement, praising the initiative, but raising his concern that resilience is not enough:
The goal seems to be to make the town safe from the coming storm but to go on living in it in typical rich world affluent ways, when those ways can’t continue without an unsustainable and unjust global economy.

He argues that what is actually required is to create new local economies capable of gradually replacing the old paradigm ways, as and when they collapse. As Ted puts it:
The first principle of a sustainable and just society must be the willingness to live very simply in terms of resource use. This does not imply hardship or deprivation; it is about being content with what is sufficient for a good quality of life.

The supreme goal should be building a new local economy, and running it.

We have to build a local economy, not a national or globalised economy, an economy designed to meet needs, not to maximise profits, an economy under participatory social control and not driven by corporate profit, and one guided by rational planning as distinct from leaving everything to the market.

Transition Towns and Ted both focus on "Peak Oil and Climate Change", but we face not just impending resource scarcity and ecological destruction, but a collapse of our entire old paradigm financial, economic and political systems. Centralised control, having long ago lost its moral compass, is now losing its grip entirely, and most people are sleepwalking their way to destruction.

Transition Towns aims to reform the existing systems, while Ted sees the urgent need for a more radical approach which will in time replace these failing systems with a new-paradigm approach. I certainly agree that the old ways are too rigidly entrenched in most people to be bent into fundamentally new shapes, especially in the very short timespans we have left to react to this crisis. We must "take it all down and start again".

Actually it is more a case of "start again then take down the old"! As Ted indicates, the practical approach for bringing in a new system is to establish it in parallel with the old. Currently we are too dependent on the old paradigm systems to survive their immediate removal, so we need to create the new alongside the old, before the old collapses completely.

This is analogous to building our new compact eco-house in the garden of our draughty and decaying old mansion: we are living in the old house while we build the new, but we are already dismantling parts of it to recycle the materials. The new house is much smaller than the old, and a radically different design. It faces the sun, and will provide comfortable shelter, while avoiding the waste and inefficiency of the old.

As Ted says:
If we don’t plunge into building such an economy we will probably not survive in the coming age of scarcity.

In another analogy, we are in an orchard where the few big old trees are diseased and dying and their yields are dwindling. We cannot save these trees - their days are numbered. We must plant new seeds right now, of a more resilient variety, and nurture them diligently, or we will quite simply starve before they can grow to fruition.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

take the foot off the accelerator

Jan Lundberg writes:
... the accelerator of the fossil-fueled growth economy is stuck, and we are speeding toward the wall of resource limits and ecological degradation... to take our foot off the accelerator of the fossil-fueled growth economy is to support local economies, stop commuting long distances, maximize local food production, establish cooperatives, engage in bartering and mutual aid, and love nature far more than accumulating dollars for hyper-consumption. These changes all have to come, but why smash into the wall at full speed when we can at least slow down and possibly lessen the impact?

why indeed?