Realistic Expectations

A recent email came around about a free-energy initiative to promote and protect inventors and their technologies. I wrote in reply:

New energy sources, even if implemented, beg the question of overshoot. Energy supports food production, which supports increased population, which supports ecological collapse.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t work on energy research, or rebuild soil, re-localize communities, plant gazillion trees to sequester carbon, massively conserve energy, water and other resources, and the million other responses. Yes, we need to address the problems of impending peak oil, potentially catastrophic global climate change, and the effects of a greed-based “cannibalistic” economy.

But with human population in overshoot, and population and consumption rising exponentially, we can’t expect our efforts to do more than soften the landing. They won’t “solve” the problems. We’ll still have increasing climate crises and world hunger.

Nor can we expect to transform the global mindset away from the dominator story whose effects have overrun the planet. But our efforts can allow more people, and more lifeforms, to make it through the collapse.

They’re worth doing for that reason alone. It’s just we need to have realistic expectations. There are no silver bullets this time around.


  1. Stuart M. says:

    Jacques, “free energy” is a very vague term. Energy from the sun is free, but converting it to some of the forms of energy we want to use, like electricity, is very expensive. Other forms of energy, like carbohydrates in plant material, can be gotten from sun energy for free.

    I checked out some “free energy” webpages with Google and they are equally vague. Some were obviously scams, “Send me $30 and I will send you some plans.” If there were any way to get free electricity or to power our cars for free, you know it would have been discovered by now. Nothing is free in this world, everything has a cost. Sometimes it’s money, sometimes it’s our health.

    I personally find the people interviewed here on very inspirational. They are showing us realistic, simple, small scale solutions to looming food and energy problems. You can go ahead and fantasize about free energy so that you won’t have to change your lifestyle at all.

    Or, you can can discover the free energy in your brain, arms and legs that can make something or power a bicycle, the free energy of mother nature that will feed us if we only we treat her properly, the free energy of wind and sun that we can harness close to our home. All of these require EFFORT and SACRIFICE, not just dreaming and complaining about conspiracies.

    Yes, Jacques, we all have to make choices about whom to believe. I believe the scientists, I believe Janaia. I don’t believe in $30 plans for “cold electricity.”

  2. Jacques de Grandpre says:

    I have given you several references. Look them up! And then decide. All I am saying is: don’t believe everything you hear on TV or see in the papers. When I first saw Al Gore’s video, my first reaction was that he had made a fantastic job. But then, I found some convinving evidence that he was wrong.

    Is CO2 harmless? No, of course! And we should do everything we can to reduce our output. And that includes getting rid of oil as soon as possible. Because wether you believe it or not makes no difference: oil is a fraud. It is being sold to us unnecessarily. The truth is free energy has nothing to do with wishfull thinking. It is a reality that has been suppressed for more than a century. But it is bound to emerge again very soon…

  3. Oh, Jacques, it’s all a big conspiracy, right? I agree with you that we live in dangerous times, but wishful thinking about free energy and vast new oil supplies isn’t going to solve anything. Do you really think two centuries worth of industrial CO2 emissions into the atmosphere is going to have less effect on global warming than some airplanes spraying “earth warming chemicals?” Well, I guess the solution to global warming is some airplanes spraying different chemicals, right?

    Let’s get realistic. The world’s population is headed for 9 billion+, we are having energy and food difficulties now. Even if there were some new oil to be found, how long would it last with China and India desperate to duplicate America’s lifestyle? What effect would burning all that new oil have on global warming? Will it make it better? I agree with the vast majority of scientists that global warming is real, man-made and getting worse.

    No, as Janaia says, there is no magic bullet that is going to save us. We best start thinking now about ways to live a more sustainable life. The videos displayed here at show people who are achieving that goal and are very HAPPY doing so. Conspiracy theorists only want to convince themselves they don’t have to change in any way, that someone else is to blame for all the world’s problems.

  4. Jacques de Grandpre says:

    Wherever you get your information, it is obviously incorrect. Forget about mainstream media because their goal is not to inform us, but rather to manipulate us. For instance: how much have you heard about Ron Paul from mainstream media? Not much, right? Why? Because he pushes all the right button, and goes after the real issues. The guys who control the medias need to push their own agenda. And this agenda is no secret. Ever heard of the Georgia guidestones? Google it! The fact is that reality is much different than what is being presented to us. Ok, let’s give a few more examples.

    Have you seen “Who killed the electric car” ? If not, have a look. It is available on YouTube and is an excellent video. And what it clearly shows is that automobiles are not meant for us. Cars are sold to create a market for oil, and that’s it!

    Regarding oil, there is no such thing as “peak oil”. This is a fraud, pure and simple. The world largest (and classified) oil deposit is in Gull Island Alaska. There is a very informative video on YouTube about it called “The energy non-crisis”. Furthermore, there is also more light oil in the canadian prairies than in Saudi Arabia. Same for the east coast of Canada.

    Global warming… another fairy tale. Not that the planet is not warming up, because it is. But higher temperatures are not caused by CO2. Fact is, CO2 only account for less than 25% of greenhouse gases, and man made CO2 is less than 4% of this 25%, so overall, it is a very small quantity. Warming is caused by other phenomenas. For instance, in order to open the north west passage north of Canada, earth warming chemicals have been sprayed for decades from airplanes flying at high altitude (chemtrails).

    You seem to downplay free energy. You even say “There are no silver bullets this time around.” Incorrect once again. Fact is we don’t need oil at all. Ever heard of Stanley Meyer? You’ll find very interesting videos on YouTube about him. He was killed, unfortunately. And so were Eugene Mallove from MIT as well as may others. You see, oil has a very precise and important role to play, and those who are behind that global purpose want to stay on track. Which is why we are still stuck with oil, more than a century after Nikola Tesla tried to give us free energy.

    So, now is the time to look at other sources of information. Don’t believe the media. Maybe you should start by having a second look at the 9/11 events. Evidence abound showing that there has been a huge cover up. For more information, I suggest you watch a video produced by Alex Jones intitled “Loose change, final cut”. When we start to realize that there is really an unofficial agenda, everything begins to fall in place.

    Most of the people now think the planet is in danger. Yes, we live in dangerous times, but it is by design. And we are the endangered ones, not the planet.

  5. I guess Americans like Wes Hagen always prefer “happy talk.” I think a little straight-talking is called for. I too have read Jared Diamond’s book Collapse. As you know, it details societies on Easter Island, in the American Southwest, Central America and even Greenland that have collapsed from overpopulation and degradation of local environments. As you say, he also gives some examples of societies that have survived by carefully managing their population/environment.

    I live in Japan, a country with 127 million people. On a caloric basis, Japan produces only 39% of its food. This figure was 70% back in 1960. Westernized eating habits, urbanization and an increasing population led to the decline. Cheap food imports thanks to cheap oil cetainly squeezed the Japanese agricultural sector.

    I was recently shocked to read an article in an English language newspaper which glibly said, “Japanese will simply have to go back to the boring food of their grandparents” because Japan was meeting with intense competition from China and India in the world’s food markets.

    The article listed these traditional foods as rice, fish, miso and tofu. Wait a second! Japan is maybe 90% self-sufficient in rice production, but this is only because average annual per person rice consumption has dropped from 120 kilos in 1960 to 61 kilos today! Switching from food based on imported wheat to rice isn’t going to be that easy. Japanese consumption of imported meat won’t be easily fixed by a return to fish consumption either. Fish catches have been falling at an alarming rate. Both tofu and miso are based on imported soy beans. Even with a declining population, Japan is heading for a collapse!

  6. Cooperation – yes!! Biologists like Elisabet Sathouris are revealing that the natural world is a complex network based on mutual cooperation. Yes, there is “competition” for limited resources, but most organisms co-evolve in a way that mutual needs are met by cooperating with one another.

    I think so much more is possible if we can work together. Lots of synergy, fresh ideas and creativity. And fun!

  7. Janaia:

    I pray that cooperation beats over-competition and greed.

    You should be applauded for forging ahead and leading the rest of us.

    (Peak Moment Rocks!)


  8. It may sound like a dooms-dayer response, but I mean them to bring understanding. Books like Jared Diamond’s Collapse show how collapse has occurred over and over again in multiple locations through history. He also notes some places where it didn’t happen, where people changed how they lived. So if we understand what can bring about collapse, we are in a better position not to repeat it.

    Similarly, not all economies are greed-based. That’s quite different from self-interest, which motivates how we live. But I feel it goes beyond self-interest to have ever more stuff, taking ever more resources. I think the overconsumption in most of our culture is a compensation for deeper needs not being met — belonging to a group of people caring for one another, feeling connected to the natural world, and more.

  9. wes hagen says:

    You write: “New energy sources, even if implemented, beg the question of overshoot. Energy supports food production, which supports increased population, which supports ecological collapse.”

    This sounds like a “dooms day sayer” that will attract no one, and infact minimize your audience. Motivation is about purpose, commitment, understanding and effectiveness.

    You write: “a greed-based “cannibalistic” economy.” Self interest in an inherent part of human history. History has also shown that many great things can be accomplished.

    I write: “Luck is what happens when opportunity and preaparation meet.” Pride and self rightousness are like a mountain range that insure they will not meet.

    War has always been a way to eliminate people, but I choose to “defend the weak and helpless” rather than exterminate them.

    wes hagen


  1. Weather Forecast Air Supply Cloud…

    I didn’t agree with you first, but last paragraph makes sense for me…

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