Richard Heinberg at Lone Bobcat Woods

080607_rheinbergj.jpgRichard Heinberg and I sit on the straw bales forming the corner of our newly-prepared compost pile here at Lone Bobcat Woods. I was really pleased to have Richard and his partner Janet Barocco come here to tape this Peak Moment Conversation. It felt like we were deepening the connection we’d made last year when Robyn and I taped their suburban permaculture home in Santa Rosa (episode 100). They’ve inspired us to begin some permaculture at our place.

In front of us, Robyn, Carolyn and R.C. tweak camera positions and mic sound before we began rolling. Outdoor tapings are always tricky — accounting for the movement of the sun while taping.

We’d taped a conversation with Richard in May 2007 (episode 63, Peak Oil, Peak Coal and Beyond). Now in June 2008 I ask for his update on where we are — because a lot has happened in this year.

Richard remarks how surreal it feels to have the things he’d been thinking and talking about for many years now unfolding much as he’d imagined. There’s a distance when it’s abstract, just ideas, he says. But now it’s real and immediate, especially the economic impacts. I feel a jolt — it feels surreal to me, too.

We talk about outer events, activities and attitudes. Richard brings in a notion from “How Do You Like the Collapse So Far?” published just days earlier. This excerpt speaks deeply to me:

As the Great Unraveling proceeds, there may in fact be only one occupation worthy of our attention: that of identifying the qualities that make our species worth saving, and then celebrating and exemplifying those qualities. If we concentrate on doing that, perhaps we win no matter what. Outwardly, it will probably look a lot like what many of us are already doing: working to save a species, an ecosystem, a human community; to make a village sustainable, or to halt a new coal power plant.

Taking in traumatic information [of collapse] and transmuting it into life-affirming action may turn out to be the most advanced and meaningful spiritual practice of our time.

As our conversation closes Richard observes, “The calm before the storm is just coming to an end. You can hear the thunder on the horizon. It’s a good time to take in breath, center ourselves, and prepare.”

I take a deep breath.

It’s been only three years since Peak Oil hit my radar. When I read Richard’s The Party’s Over, I felt like I was living in two realities at once. In my imagination I was living in the energy-scarce world he described — everybody mindful of energy use, in a contracted economy. At the same time I was living the ordinary life, where energy isn’t much of a factor in most peoples’ lives. Now both of those realities are merging, playing out before our eyes.

It’s been life-changing for Robyn and me. We’re trying to prepare ourselves and others for what’s unfolding right now, largely through Peak Moment Television. But through straw bale compost piles, too, inspired by Janet and Richard and other guests we’ve taped.

* * *

(You can watch this conversation, “Calm Before the Storm” here.)

That evening we videotaped Richard’s excellent presentation on Peak Everything for “Kiss Your Gas Goodbye: Living Well in the New Economy” sponsored by APPLE (Alliance for a Post-Petroleum Local Economy). The DVD can be ordered here.


  1. I’ll certainly admit to being conflicted about guns. I wasn’t raised around them, and I wish we lived in a world that didn’t have them. I was pretty stunned to learn in “Bowling from Columbine” what a huge proportion of Americans have guns, and then how readily we turn to them for conflict resolution. So much better if we can find more peaceful ways to settle things.

    But I recognize the desire to protect one’s family and property. Here’s where I’d prefer to have allies among my neighbors (who are hunters and comfortable with these tools. But then I may learn how to use something that would stop but not seriously hurt someone. My prayer is that such measures won’t be needed. But when people are scared and desperate, they’ll do anything.

  2. i think janaia deserves respect for the fact that she is getting the word out about this issue. also her views should be respected. she is concerned with getting people to wake up. that is a big enough job. she can hardly be held responsible for the inmates of pelican bay.

    just so you (mosby) dont jump all over my case about being a hippy and all of that, i want you to know i am that demographic you are talking about. we live in the country, we own guns for protection and for hunting. we also practice martial arts. and i imagine my family will one day be forced take on the role you have described.

    and yet my husband and i have respect for what janaia is doing. it doesnt hurt my feelings that she might not like guns. maybe she has had a bad experience with them, i respect that. i refuse to let myself be a victim, and get mad about peoples ideas about gun control and whatnot. i have guns already.

    i guess im trying to tell you not to let that bother you, buy guns if you want them, but not everyone is going to see them as necessary. so you be the sheepdog and protect the ones who dont think like you, they might know something you dont,or have a skill you dont. i butcher chickens for my neighbors because they dont like blood, and they give us firewood. should i get mad that they dont like blood?

  3. I read an article from the Washington Post that said it now costs $8000 to ship a 40 foot container of goods from China to the USA, a jump up from the price of $3000 only a few years ago. When I worked for a distributor back in 1997 as a Purchasing Manager, the cost for a 40 ft. container was about $2000. The article went on to give many examples of American companies that are bringing back their manufacturing operations to the USA, thanks to the high cost of shipping. Maybe Peak Oil also has some good effects! The high price of oil is probably the nail in the coffin of globalization and the ability of domestic companies to search fo cheap labor. However, service industries like banks, IT and education are still very much subject to globalization, thanks to the ready access provided by the Internet. Maybe factory jobs will be safer than service jobs in the future!

  4. “Or actually, your story is a newer version of the Japanese movie “The Seven Samurai.”

    Actually, Al bates makes that annalogy, in a pretty disjointed way, that that was the solution for community security. Find some “Gun nuts” and make them your Samurai.

    With more time, I could have added details that would have shown that these guys on the checkpoint weren’t anyone other than the people of the community. Nothing special about them, just folks who said, “Well, it’s on us.” and took some steps to rise to that.

    Courage is nothing more than putting your own self interest below that of others and stepping up to do whatever has to be done.

  5. Stuart M. says:

    Hey, that was a nice story. You should become a novelist! Have you read “The Postman”? Or actually, your story is a newer version of the Japanese movie “The Seven Samurai.” Have you ever seen it? Wikipedia has a nice write-up on that movie.

    David Grossman actually doesn’t use “sheep” in a bad sense. Sheep are simply people who are law-abiding and peaceful, and for whatever reason aren’t aggressive like wolves and sheepdogs. I certainly hope I would have the courage to at least call the the police when I see injustice happening. As a matter of fact, I lived six years in Germany and once chased down a train conductor to report two Skinheads harrassing a Turkish train passenger. The conductor came with me, saw the Skinheads and said to one of them, in German, of course, “Ahhh, Bertie, it’s you again. Now leave the Turk alone and tell me about your mother. I hear she just came home from the hospital…” and the situation was defused!

  6. Damn that was long!

  7. “…ignore everything after the first two sentences!”

    Yes, I think so.

    But first, on guns and so called “Gun Control”; the reason the NRA is so virulently opposed to any more gun control measures beyond what already exist (literally hundreds of statutes, not to mention real basic ones such as “It is against the law to hurt someone and take their stuff without their permission”) is that anymore these new thrusts at legislation have very little to do with the mechanics of crime and punishment and really only reflect either A. political positioning or B. genuine attempts to disarm people for what many see as sinister reasons.

    Never mind that there has never been one successful gun ban in history, and the first one was in 1536 in Florence Italy (I might be off a year or two). Small, concealable wheel locks…

    Even Hitler didn’t achieve total gun gun control and he had the gestapo working that angle for him. Contrary to the movie, the real ending in the real Schindler’s List involved Oscar’s jews handing the SS way more trouble than they wanted to deal with when they rolled up into the factory to “liquidate” them.

    Seems that Oscar had illegally procured a bunch of clip fed, semi-automatic “assault” rifles on the black market and set his people to learning how to use them. The wolves, it turned out, didn’t really dig getting into that kind of mix up and kept on going down the road.

    So when people come on with gun control, well, they’re either ignorant to the ways of this planet or up to something…

    Speaking of being up to something, we’re back to gov’t and bureaucracy, who have a stellar record at managing things (Not) and take a mile when you only intend to give inch. So when they argue for “Common Sense” “Limitations” what will really occur is eventual ban and confiscation. That’s just how history has played out again and again. they start with a little and they take it all. It’s just the nature of it.

    This is true in other sectors as well. Look into what’s going on worldwide in financials, taxes and personal privacy; more and more erosion every time we turn around and invariably chalked up to keeping us “Safe.” Defenders of free markets and civil liberties from them ‘Terr’ists, indeed.

    That’s why the NRA is the way they are, they’ve been having their own version of “Groundhog Day” for decades now. First it was “Saturday Night Specials,” Then it was “Assault Weapons,” Then it was “Sniper rifles.” Either way, it was always keyed off the fears of a public ignorant of the real mechanics of firearms or use of force and rarely off hard facts or technological study and always paired with a photo op. “See, we’re protecting you!” Oh Really?

    Regarding Sheep, Sheepdogs and wolves.

    You refer to yourself as a sheep. Why? Would you not go to the aid of an elderly person who was being mugged? Even if it was to only get close enough to yell at the person and call police on your cell phone? If you saw someone dragging a child into a vehicle while it’s mother stood there screaming, would you not at least run close enough to yell and get a tag number, keeping your head long enough to give PD a good fix on them?

    You might not have the sharpest teeth in the kennel, but that’s a sheepdog action.

    Not every sheepdog is a cop or a soldier. (and Grossman tends to go a little goo-goo over that particular demographic)

    Sheepdog isn’t what kind of gun you have in your locker or what kind of folder you carry in your pocket, it’s the mind that says I’m not going to stand here and do nothing.

    The Basis of What Makes a Sheepdog

    The sheepdogs, armed or otherwise, simply stand in opposition to the wolves (which come in different flavors, by the way), wherever quarter they may hail from. That’s all.

    It’s not an equipment list, this sheepdog thing, it’s just a simple set of morals one follows. Are you willing to stick your neck out, or aren’t you? Are you willing to stick up for someone who can’t stick up for themselves even at hazard to yourself? That’s all.

    The point I try to drive in is that it will make for a longer lived sheepdog if he or she has the ability to bring some sharp teeth to the table if that’s the game that the wolf wants to play.

    What Makes a Sheep

    Sheep, on the other hand, are those who have by choice absolved themselves of A. grappling with the grimmer realities that wolves present to civil society, and B. place their own interests above those of their fellows. IE; Not me…

    That’s why you don’t get many sheep carrying guns around. It’s an uncomfortable proposition to begin with and it’s an inconvenience that requires certain expense, commitment to acquiring certain skill sets and perceptions and somewhat of a responsibility. Actually, a rather large one.

    Then There’s the Wolves

    Wolves are similar in one way to sheep in that they operate on pure self interest and damn anyone who gets in their way. They come in many flavors; from the street tough who mugs an old person by force, to Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria. Each runs on “Me First at any price and to hell with you.”

    The big thing with wolves is that they tend to be proactive and have no problems hurting people who get their way. (The sheep just sort of move along)

    The other characteristic is that they rarely modify their approach unless compelled in some way to do so. (the sheep can usually be convinced if you talk long enough to them)

    Read; “Forced.”

    Shell is a great example. Their practices were abominable and they victimized large numbers of people without any care in the world, apparently. One man who stood up and tried to engage in dialogue, tried to be reasonable. The wolf paid no attention to his reasonable approaches whatsoever and he was killed for his trouble.

    Enter the one thing the wolf knows, understands and respects…”Right back at’cha!” You can bet those boys down in the Niger River Delta have the wolf’s attention now. The wolf rolls with force, it’s usually the only thing he’ll have any respect for. An RPG rocket flying flying past certainly got their attention.

    Same same a patch ball winging past a column of Brits on a spring day outside Boston a couple hundred years back. Seems there was a Brit gov’t official who wasn’t hearing what the folks in Mass. was trying to tell him. They made themselves heard from that day forward.

    That’s a couple of examples of the wolf on a large scale. Lets see what he looks like in our approaching world.

    Remember, his base motivation is self interest. Getting hurt is not in his self interest, thus, when that potentiality enters the equation, he takes notice.

    Wolves Meet the Greenies; A Bedtime Story

    There’s a small community out in a rural area that devotes a great deal of sweat and labor to getting in the fall crop. They need that to live through the winter and it’s back breaking shit but things are pretty good, they’re even trying to jury rig an old motor bike to turn a genny so they can plug in a couple of old Marshall amps and a super fat Gibson hollow body.

    Enter some wolves from the now pretty defunct town down the road. Now, the last thing on the Wolf list of things to do is back-breaking agricultural labor. That’s no fun at all and if these “Hippies” are going to do it for them, well then there it is.

    Common knowledge is that Hippies won’t stand up to Wolves, they’ll want to talk all kinds of Huddah-Buddah bullshit and thus are lesser creatures anyway in the eyes of the wolves. So, the wolves figure to roll on up there to get some grub and, because if you’re a wolf, pushing around some hippie sheep and taking their shit is, well, downright fun. You get a big old hit of primal adrenaline and food. What could be better and who’s going to stand in their way? It’s not like there’s a functioning justice system the likes of which we were used to anymore. 911? Ha!

    The wolves have also heard that there’s some decent looking hippy chicks up there too, and that’s definitely a bonus, so they roll.

    But wait…what’s that…looks like someone’s got a gate of some kind across that road and there’s some guys who’ve dug themselves an earthwork or something off to the side. WTF? The leader, Alpha Wolf, takes the binos and has a look.

    Sure enough, there’s some sort of checkpoint or whatever and it’s manned. They’re dug in too and he sees a couple of serious, real deal rifles up there. The hippies actually look pretty disciplined too and appear to know what they’re about.

    Made sense when Alpha Wolf thought about it. After all, this time last year his group of wolves heard about some brother wolves who rolled up here and it apparently it was quite a show. They heard that the old grey one’s crew, who used to run meth and ride Harleys, had themselves a real good time for about three days. Beat down the one guy who was the kinda sorta sheriff and tore the place to hell.

    Looks like the Greenies learned their lesson, though…so Alpha Wolf turned to Beta Wolf and asked,

    “What do you think, Beta Wolf?”
    “Well, Alpha Wolf, I don’t know, looks to me like if we roll up there to do what we do, we’re libel to get shot. And getting shot sucks.”
    “Sure does Beta Wolf. And these cats don’t seem to be really scared of much. See the one looking back at us through binos, he’s got like some kind of uniform on and he’s talking to that other guy who’s talking into like an old telephone or something.”
    “Yea, and if you didn’t notice, see that log pile looking thing off to the one side in the brush? Well, it looks like a dugout or something and there’s a couple more in there with something large and black on a tri-pod.”
    “Yea, you’re right Beta Wolf. Hmmmmm. I don’t know if we should fuk with them. We might get hurt.”
    ” I think you’re right, Alpha Wolf, and getting hurt would suck.”
    “Sure would, Beta.”

    End Act 1, Start Act 2

    “But hey, Alpha, I’m hungry.”
    “Me too Beta. Do you think if one of us went up there and asked them for some food they might just give some to us?”
    “OK, cool, get walking.”
    “But, ah, but…”

    Beta Wolf walks up the road towards the hippy checkpoint.

    “Halt, who goes there?”
    “Uh…um…I’m ah…Beta Wolf.”
    “What can we do for you, Beta Wolf?”
    “Well, uh, we’re kinda hungry and wondered if you guys had any food.”
    “You part of the crew that rolled up here last fall and hurt our girls?”
    “Uh, no man, that wasn’t us. We heard about it, but it wasn’t us, honest.”
    “You sure about that?”

    Beta Wolf surveys the scene. The set up was orderly, there was one guy who had a badge of sorts and at least 6 others he could see who were apparently backing him up and they weren’t just hanging around, they had like, positions. No one seemed particularly worried. In fact, they looked pretty damn sure of themselves in a real easygoing way.

    It made Beta Wolf nervous. These weren’t the lame ass hippy pussies they’d been expecting, but he kept talking.

    “Hey, look man, we’re not angels, I’ll admit it, but if you got food we might have something to trade you for it. There anything you need?”
    “I don’t know, Beta Wolf, what’s your bag? Motorbikes and stuff?”
    “Yea, we do bikes…or did bikes till the gas ran out.”
    “Well, we’ve managed to get a rig up and running, but we need a clutch for a Honda 250. Know where there’s a clutch for a Honda 250?”
    “What year?”
    “06, Nighthawk.”
    “Oh hell yea, man! We got one with bent forks, but the engine and drive’s good. We could tear it down and bring it up here for you no problem.”

    So, Beta Wolf walks back down the road to Alpha.

    “OK man, what’s up with those people?”
    “Well, they’re definitely not to be fucked with, but they’re cool. Say that if we bring ’em the motor and drive from that 250 nighthawk we go they’ll trade us up and bunch ‘a shit, they even got some wine and stuff.”
    “No shit. Well, hell, I guess so. Beats the hell out of getting shot. Let’s get back to the shack and tear the bitch down and get it back up here.”
    “Sure. They told me that they’re totally cool to trade any kind of stuff we can find or make that they need and god knows we got access to the biggest junkyard in history back down in San Angelino.”
    “That’s a fact, lets roll.”

    Alpha Wolf waves to his band and they leave the way they came.

    And so, the Wolves met some sheepdogs who weren’t gonna play pushover and instead of getting busted up over it, the wolves found a way to get through it and get their needs met.

    Equals tend to be respectful of each other. Social groups can peacefully interact, even ones with opposing cultural norms, sometimes even fairly alien values. The key is that one doesn’t lend itself to ready victim status and the other’s not real interested in getting their ass handed to them.

    Now they can talk. I’ve watched it happen time and again.

    See how that can work out? But only if your community isn’t an easy mark. Humans, and especially wolves, will always take the easiest route to getting whatever needs they have met. Don’t be the easy route.

    Your sheepdogs are the ones who make the route not so easy, and funny thing about it is that just about anyone can be a sheepdog, you just gotta up and say…I guess I’m gonna be a sheepdog and go from there.


    Sorry so long winded, I kinda got into my own narrative. 🙂

  8. Stuart M. says:

    …ignore everything after the first two sentences!

  9. Stuart M. says:

    Well, you have convinced me. If one should prepare for Power-Down and Supermarket-Empty, then one should also be prepared for Police-Gone-Criminals-Here, too. But I hope I am not endorsing some NRA agenda of banning gun control.

    I checked out some David Grossman writings in the Internet. He divides people into “sheep” (the vast majority), the “wolves” (the bad guys who prey on the sheep) and the “sheepdogs” (police, soldiers, etc.). He says the sheep are too often in denial about the danger of the wolves and don’t “respect” the sheepdogs. He also says the wolves and the sheepdogs both have an aggressive nature, which only the sheepdogs try to harness for the protection of the sheep.

    I think that is part of the “respect” problem. Too often (even if that IS rarely) the police have been caught behaving like wolves. Check out this video:

    But that is beside the point. I (a sheep) do respect the sheepdogs and hope they will always be around to defend me. Therefore, I think it is still a little too soon for the sheep to start carrying weapons on the street. I think that would just make the sheepdogs’ work harder. Pretty much all Police Departments (certainly the ones in high crime areas) will tell you they are for gun control. I suspect the wolves would love to tell the sheepdogs, “Hey, I’m just exercising my legal right to bear arms!” and then bag an inattentive sheep or two (and their guns).

    If I am misreading you, then

  10. “How are these rural people going to form a militia? Where will they meet? Who will they know to trust?”

    That’s just it mate, most everyone already knows each other. They’re the volunteer fire dept, the church auxiliary, the Rotary, the 4H, etc. Everybody usually knows each other from grammer and high school if they’ve lived there their whole life. New comers are welcome, but there will be some standoffish-ness for a time. But if you kick in and show you’re not afraid to break a sweat or get dirty, that won’t last terribly long.

    Bring skill sets when you come…

    But being part of any community takes time, you don’t just show up and say here I am. Hence Janaia’s exposure of this community building is critical, regardless of where it is.

    The funny thing is, those communities already exist…outside the suburban mess we’ve built. People still know their neighbors out there.

    Regarding defense again…it is the skill sets and attitude that count most. While I wouldn’t recommend to anyone to get caught out unarmed and under supplied in that area, int he communities Janaia talks about, putting in 20,000 rounds would come across as excessive. (despite the old adage about never enough!).

    What I’m talking about is not shying away from these issues, getting skill sets in place and some basic tools. When things get rolling it is no time for OJT. Occasionally you get a second chance, but not often…

    A good place to start is with the excellent psychological studies on the phenomena of inter-species predatation that humans haven’t seemed to manage to outgrow. Dr. David Grossman (Col. West Point), check Amazon.

    As far as I’m concerned, standing up and standing too if nescessary is everyone in a community’s sacred duty. It would help the situation greatly if one was truly ready.

  11. Stuart M. says:

    I worry that relying on a “demographic” to defend you, even if you define it as “rural,” is unwise. How are these rural people going to form a militia? Where will they meet? Who will they know to trust? Someone facing them with a loaded weapon?

    To prepare for a Peak Oil “meltdown”, I think the building of tangible communities that will provide us not just with food, shelter, and social interaction, but also defense, if necessary, should be our main concern. I think is doing the right thing to emphasize the importance of strengthening our communities. In over 100 “conversations”, Janaia has interviewed people with great ideas on local solutions to Peak Oil problems. Maybe, she should do an interview with someone on “defending your community”! Mosby, would you like to volunteer?

  12. Hi Stuart, (ironic the correlation between our two names)

    The community I refer to is not nescessarily a place you can find on a map, it is more along the lines of a demographic. Now, of course you find these people more heavily represented in certain geograpies, rural for example, but largely it’s a question of perceptions that they hold.

    The key one is that every once in a while, despite the hot and cold running service society cheap energy has allowed us to build, you are on your own and must take care of yourself for the moment.

    Another key perception is that not everyone out there subscribes to the same values that we subscribe to and sometimes there’s going to be no talking them out of it. That’s just a fact of life. Sometimes those values are diametricly opposed. When they meet, there will usually be one outcome…the one who wins and the one who loses. In a post-petroleum world, being on the losing side of the balance sheet is going to be a bad propositon indeed.

    That’s not to say that one doesn’t talk first, but in the end if talking doesn’t remove the threat, other means will have to be applied.

    Thus the community I refer to is that group of people, who above and beyond what they do day to day for a living, hold fourth skill in the use of arms and vocally oppose anyone who would remove their right to freely practice or exercise those skills.

    In no uncertain terms, I might add, because in addition to the other two perception sets I have noted, they also see and understand the proven principle that if you give “leaders” or “authority” an inch, it will take a mile.

    These people see anyone who would actively deny their right to bear arms or pooh-poo the role of firearms in a free society for what they are….rats up to something sinister or Polyannas. History is replete with examples.

    Therefore, in a map driven sense, I will prefer to take my chances with a rural demographic, well armed, when this gets rolling.

    Now, I’m unlikely to encounter many lively discussions about the merits of the New York Philharmonic or the deeper principles of contemporary liberal thought out there, but I know that they’ll still be standing when the commune whose solution to predatory incursion involved singing Kumbayah while they awaited their fate is not.

    In short, I’m going to stick with people who do not suffer a disconnect from certain unpleasent realities. (for a good example of what this disconnect looks like, refer to page 193 of The Post Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook, by Albert Bates. Rarely have I read such a befuddled and fantasical take on how security plays into this future.)


  13. Stuart M. says:

    You paint a very realistic outcome that is very worrisome. Could you maybe describe some of the communities you “feel more comfortable with”? Do they already exist? Is security their main concern or do they also emphasize other aspects vital to a sustainable community, like those things that are discussed here at

  14. Indeed, Mr. Stuart, I concur completely with your views on community vs. individualistic approaches. I have counseled others against the “Lone Survivalist” on a mountaintop approach. It is impractical at best from a labor standpoint and disasterous at worst from a being outnumbered standpoint. And in the final analysis, humans are communal creatures. Staging a one man bluegrass harvest festival, for example, would, in my estimation, most probably prove to be a very lame time.

    In that, you are correct, it will not be lone people with shotguns…it will be communities with the means to protect themselves against those who would engage in predatory behaviors against the community. That’s what a Militia is. (admittedly, that word has been hi-jacked by quasi extremists, but in it’s literal sense that’s all it really means…individual members of a community coming together for collective defense. Back in the day it was the local militias who fought fires, for example. They all drilled together and were capable of organizing quickly.)

    I too do not believe in an overnight meltdown. I tend more to Richard’s veiw of a “Power Down.” The problem lies with the symptoms of the Peak Oil power-down, which we are already experiencing as an economic contraction (helped along by the unregulated, greed driven mess we see unfolding in the markets).

    As the economy powers down, so does the tax base and the tax base is what keeps energy hog facilities like prisons up and running. Sooner or later, “Cutbacks” are going to spell the release of lots of people who may not share our values in certain areas, some of them perhaps quite sociopathic (which quite possibly could have been caused by their incarceration in the first place, unfortunate as that is). Combined with “Cutbacks” in professional police forces, the gaps in the fence open wider. More and more, communities wind up being “on their own.” I have seen it happen.

    At the same time, the process of relocalization that you point to occurs by default. Like most every other sweeping change humankind has gone through, I don’t expect it to be as orderly as I would like it to be.

    There are also any number of cards in play that if they turn up could spell an even more rapid, less controled descent and that would prove to be less than pleasant. Our infrastructure is more fragile than we would perhaps like to believe. Like a three legged stool, pull one, over it goes. There are any number of threats, very real ones, that could spark that.

    In the end, however fast or slow, I can guarentee that sooner or later security will become an issue. Failure to consider it before hand will nescessarily turn it into a crisis for which there will be few safety nets.

    That is why I feel more comfortable with communities who have hedged their bets for all contingencies as much as possible, to include collective defense with some teeth. It shows me that they don’t shy away from the less appealing angles of our nature and face certain realities squarely.

    Like medical insurance; you hope you’ll never need it and you act prudently to avoid events that would nescessitate it, but if the dice roll against you, you’ll thank god you had it.

  15. Stuart M. says:

    Mr. Mosby is certainly giving us lots to think about. Will government services we have come to expect vanish overnight? Will the prisons empty their cells of violent criminals who will descend on us? This is a worst case scenario to be sure. But if it were to come true, would a lone man with a shotgun really achieve anything? I think’s emphasis on building local community is the answer. One person can’t do anything by him/herself, they will need the food, the products, the skills and the security that a strong community can provide.

    Second, in his conversation with Janaia, Richard Heinberg, modifies his previous dismissal of biofuels to now say that he can see a need to power “emergency vehicles” and that biofuels could play a role there. I think it is too pessimistic to expect an overnight “meltdown” from Peak Oil which will result in prisons opening their gates. I do think, and hope, that a gradual intensifying of the world resource crisis will lead people to adopt less wasteful lifestyles. Globalization will be stopped in its tracks by Peak Oil, globalized jobs will return to local communities. This is a more optimistic outcome, one that is also possible.

  16. I believe too that Peak Oil gives rise to the storm within whose eye we CAN find calm. What else can we do? What else is it greater to do?

  17. Your work is outstanding. I am, however, concerned with a certain disconnect I detect. In one breath you sort of sneer at the people with “shotguns” but in the next breath you concure with Richard that catastrophy is inevitable, the question will be the level of casualties. That seems to imply that there’s going to be a meltdown of sorts as the social and industrial infrastructure we’ve come to enjoy runs out of steam.

    Your discussion of community based creativity and the various solutions to problems that crop up is admirable. I wonder, however, how you intend to keep those communities intact. As you must know, the petroleum age has been a short one. The industrial leverage it allowed has enabled societies to exercise a great deal of social secruity measures. I refer to the 911 system and professionalized, highly mobile police forces and a system of housing facilities that contain the inevitable predators present in any society.

    So what happens when these structures, themselves highly dependent on energy to function, encounter the same power down the rest of the structures experience? How do you intend to keep a place like Pellican Bay up and running?

    From my own experience as a war correspondent I can assure you it will be difficult as the fabric begins to tear. When that happens, we’re looking at not only a predatory population that will undoubtedly continue to hold onto their world views…views that don’t much involve love, cooperation and singing Kumbaiyah. Add to that an entire generation of young men who’ve been tatooing up their bodies like late Roman period germanic barbarians and whose primary entertainment outlets revolve around one sort of violence or another (thank you Hollywood and the entertainment “industry).

    So when these boys get ready to roll out, what do you intend to do? Calling the police won’t be much of an option. Even if it was, without the entire structure that backs them up they will be outnumbered at the very least. As this system represents the only consequences for certain behaviors, once removed or degraded what do you think will stand in the way of inherently predatory elements and check their behavior?

    Shotguns come to mind, in the hands of people who place great value on stability and the better angles of our nature and who will be willing to stand as a whole and protect it from those who would ravage it.

    This is what the founders referred to as “A well regulated militia” (regulated, in the vernacular of the day, to mean equipped, and militia referring to all able bodied members of a community who could be called upon during events that threatened the security of the community).

    I notice with alarming regularity that questions of physical security get entirely glossed over in discussions around the power down that all say is coming. I see this as a byproduct of the petroleum age that has allowed the intellectual classes to sub-contract out their physical security to people who are essentially armed mercenaries…armed men, paid by the state to protect it.

    When these questions are brought up, the prospect of assuming responsibility for that security with the best available means gets tossed aside with a resounding “Icky-poo” air.

    I then must ask….if not you and your fellows, then WHO?

    I am terribly sorry that such issues offend the senses and emotion of the sensitive. I am sorry that thinking of such possibilities generates discomfort. I can assure you, however, that while you may not want to address such issues, these issues will be inbound to address you, sooner or later.

    I know, because I have witnessed the dynamic first hand going on 20yrs. Failure to accept your role in this critical aspect of responsibilities will very quickly bring all your other efforts to naught. It is simply the way it is.


  18. Thanks for your sensitive perceptions, Corey.

    I’m glad that this conversation encourages viewers to touch into their feelings. I think we must grapple with this enormously challenging information first in our hearts and our feelings, before we move into action. An inner resilience will help sustain us as we work to build community resilience.

    I think Richard’s background in deeper reflection (I’m reading his superb 1996 book A New Covenant with Nature) permits him to come from that centered place. You can get a sense of where I’ve come from in the short video of my talk “Stories for the Locker Room” a few journal entries back.

  19. Corey J. Conn says:

    What a fine piece you’ve made here. To have grappled which such gravity, and gracefully remained centered must have been challenging, yet the ease and interplay between host and guest really invited the audience to open up to their natural feelings, and to see a way forward with positive community actions.

    Very rewarding to have found you here via I’ve seen and read Richard before, but you Janaia, are engaged in Good Works as well. Thanks!!!


    Corey J. Conn
    Logan Square Coop
    Chicago, IL


  1. […] For a DVD of Richard’s presentation that evening for “Kiss Your Gas Goodbye”, go to Janaia’s blog about this Conversation is at […]

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