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368: Limits


C-Realm_368KMO welcomes Jay Smith back to the C-Realm to discuss his impressions of the 2013 Age of Limits conference. Many repeat C-Realm Podcast guests were in attendance at the conference, and while they all have reputations as being "doomers" of one stripe or another, none are paint quite as grim a picture of the near-term future as Guy McPherson who is predicting the extinction of the human species before the end of the 21st Century. KMO and Jay talk about the allure of doomsday forecasting. Later, KMO reads and responds to a short essay by a C-Realm listener and talks about his upcoming couch-surfing tour.


Music by the Formidable Vegetable Sound System.

11 comments to 368: Limits

  • […] at the Age of Limits conference, Jay brought up my name as a topic. KMO ran with it. Catch it all here, starting at the five-minute mark and running to the halfway point of the podcast. Disparagement […]

  • Pauline Panagiotou Schneider

    What a pleasure it was to meet Jay at the Age of Limits conference. I really enjoyed listening to him on this interview, and thank him for his particular perspective and comment on the Orlov talk which was not received well by many of us women present. Jay makes an excellent point in this interview that the vision of post collapse is consistently Eurocentric, white and male, while there are so many other models available(outside the tent I was able to google dozens even while Orlov continued to ramble on).

    As a child of the planet first, a student of Anthropology second, and a life long Feminist, it was that same observation that Jay made in this wonderful interview that I had during Orlov’s talk that urged my feet to remove me from the presentation. And other women soon followed after asking Orlov the pointed question of matriarchy vs patriarchy. Orlov seems unable, even now, to stop digging the hole he’s found himself in. Eurocentric Patriarchy is so very hard to leave behind.. Like Empire.

    We have no more use for outmoded patriarchal models, no one does. It is after all the patriarchal model that has brought our planet to the edge. Dr Guy McPherson is keenly aware of this patriarchy, aka Empire and the difficulty of escaping it, so there really is no point for us to EMBRACE that which is causing our demise the way Orlov seems to be encouraging. It’s not only disingenuous and insulting to all other cultures, it’s downright dangerous.

    Great pod cast and interview! I must thank Guy for sharing this link with me. :)

    • PlantinMoretus

      I think Orlov really outed himself as a narrow-minded sexist at AoL, among other things. I re-watched the video and his rebuttal to American feminism is “my Russian wife doesn’t care for it”. Um, yeah, maybe he could have done a teensy bit of research on it? Or even just frankly admitted that he doesn’t know a lot about it and thus is in no position to comment?

    • David Macgregor

      So, to your suggestion, here is a link to a detailed working description of a native North American sustainable agricultural system garnered from a Hidatsa woman, born in 1848, reported on in about 1911, and unbelieveably complete. Just google: Buffalo Bird Womans’ Garden. This 100 page “report” was compiled as a pH D dissertation. It describes a system of agriculture, practiced in North Dakota, that not only could, but did, sustain a people for at least a few hundred years without fossil fuel imputs or metal tools or cooking pots. Crop varieties, planting times and techniques, location and clearing of gardens, cultivation, harvest, drying, storage, and meals prepared with this food are all described well enough to replicate. This invaluable resource was linked on a corn breeders blog, and some of the corn varieties [listed as Mandan in origin] are available through the National gene repository. The intelligence and clarity of the interviewee shines through the intervening century and numerous interesting and pithy observations about the tribal culture are contained.. KMO may be interested to hear that in contrast to Andean shamans who regard tobacco as health enhancing, in the Hidatsa villages, tobacco gardens were only cultivated, and tobacco used, by men over 60. The shortness of breath caused by tobacco was recognized and avoided by younger men, whose speed on foot may occasionally have been life saving. Submitted by another old white man.

  • Jay's Fan Club

    Enjoyed the conversation.

    As an attendee of the Age of Limits Conference, I commend 4 Quarters for hosting this event and creating a platform for like-minded people to commune. I thought is was a great conference and next year should be even better.

    Jay’s insight and his level of awareness on the environmental issues facing our society are on point. In knowing him personally, I can say that his knowledge and level of understanding supports his personal commitment in educating others whenever and wherever possible on being better stewards of the environment. He definitely walks the talk and soon hopefully will be writing on the same in the very near future.

    As noted in the conversation, a global environmental crisis is upon us; however, a lot of people in America are still insulated from the water rising. Lots of people will have to come together to make the difference required to change the current direction of our human global suicide because for now ‘we’re headed for self-destruction’.

    We need to ‘learn’ to ‘see’ one another and the environment with truly open eyes and listen to one another and the environment with truly open ears so that communication, healing and understanding can truly take place.

    Thanks to KMO and Jay for bringing higher levels of consciousness to the realm.

  • PlantinMoretus

    “How come they’re [indigenous societies] not models for a post-collapse society?”

    Because they’re not white. A significant part of the collapse community is white heterosexual Christian males who long for collapse so they can regain the ground they believe they “lost” to feminists, people of colour, LGBT, etc. They see collapse as an opportunity to return to the “norm” or “baseline” that placed them at the top.

    • KMO

      That’s a mighty broad brush you’re painting with there.

    • Eric

      As an educated “southern” white male I have say that, as KMO has pointed out several times, making broad assumptions and using derogatory language toward white males is the EXACT SAME THING as saying “you know how those (Jews, Nigs, Feminazis, faggots, liberals, etc.) are.” It’s prejudice plain and simple and it gets us as a species exactly nowhere.

      Second. I would like to point out that regardless of Orlov’s underlying reasons for picking the groups that he did his points about why those groups have survived are still valid. I agree that his presentation would have been better served if he had extended his search for groups with completely different systems of arrangement such as matriarchal and especially some of the surviving indigenous groups. I’m not going to argue against that, it’s a valid point. It seemed to me, simply from my perspective, that the opposition to it was less about his need to expand his search and more of an attack about “Why didn’t you include us?”. It came across as an attack on him and it seems that the gathering itself would be stronger if it could have been given as a suggestion for further research. Most people would have become defensive if they had been on that stage. Just to state it again, the points are still valid and I have found that there is a huge amount of valuable knowledge to be learned from people that you may not agree with personally.

      I was the one Jay talked about standing up and asking that KMO be invited next year, and should apologize to Albert Bates because I pretty much hijacked his post-talk question and answer session to make sure everybody heard it.

      Jay was almost a non scheduled presenter in that when he had something to say, whether at a presentation or just around the fire, everyone stopped to listen. I hope he comes back to the C-Realm often.

      Eric the tall guy from TN

      • PlantinMoretus

        “As an educated “southern” white male I have say that, as KMO has pointed out several times, making broad assumptions and using derogatory language toward white males is the EXACT SAME THING as saying “you know how those (Jews, Nigs, Feminazis, faggots, liberals, etc.) are.” It’s prejudice plain and simple and it gets us as a species exactly nowhere.”

        Did I say it was ALL white heterosexual Christian men who feel that way? DId I call them a name that is remotely similar to “faggot”? No. I said the collapse community has a lot of white heterosexual Christian men who feel that way, and it does. It’s a small community so it’s easy to identify them, and the Orlov mini-drama outed a lot of them. Know how I know? Because they’ve spent a lot more energy defending Orlov’s weak arguments and evidence than just saying “we should talk about how post-collapse communities can be equitable and inclusive”. Which is really not a lot to ask.

        I think Orlov is intellectual slush anyway, never mind his views on gender relations. I’m thankful that most people have no idea who he is.

  • BruceW

    Jay’s quiet, considered observations on the conference and what he took away from it are greatly appreciated. There was also some interesting discussion that took place on a local blog by others who attended, which can be found here:

    On another note, speaking on behalf of the people of Los Angeles, we are disappointed that you will not be stopping in Los Angeles, KMO; but having just made that same drive myself, I completely understand your decision.

  • Marty

    KMO you refer the conversation you had in episode 313: Peak Oil & the White “We” In particular how few blacks seem to be concerned with the post peak oil collapse phenomenon. While the concern of a near future collapse is shared across the political spectrum. From Survivalists, Preppers, Peak oil Climate change Aware, to those concerned about the economic collapse. When looking at the people who aware of collapse there is a diverse cross section of Libertarians, Conservatives and Liberals. JHK is a proud Democrat, Matt Simmons was a Republican, as is Rosco Bartlet, even Glen Beck wrote a book with a chapter dedicated to Peak Oil. However in spite of the fact that concern/worries about a collapse around energy shortages is made up out of folks all around the political spectrum, the majority of people do not believe it and are ensconced in a deep normality bias.

    My own journey in this began when I read JHKs Rolling Stone article. After reading this article, I thought if true that this is the biggest story ever in humanity, the implications were that big, yet it was no where in the MSM, so bought and read the Long Emergency, then The Party’s Over, as well read books and articles by Colin Campbell, Jeremy Leggett, Matt Simmons, I read the Oil Drum and ASPO, point is I came on this on my own, after which for a year or so I would tell people, black, asian and white, about the problem humanity faced and how we were so screwed if the Oil peaked as it did. How Suburbia was untenable. How the planet with out cheap fossil fuels was screwed. Virtually no one payed attention.

    I no longer bother talking about this, not even among my family, because people either are dismissive or get angry. And if I discuss it with my one sister who agrees that there is a distinct possibility of a collapse, instead of calmly discussing how to deal with the situation, if suggest solution that she buy some rural land, invest in silver et cet. , she starts crying and talking about her children, so I gave up on even talking to her. Am I more obligated to try to engage others, who I do not know because they are Black, or White or Asian for that matter, to warn them, especially since the response I will receive will be, at best dismissive, and at worst anger. I may bring up Peak Oil in passing and let others pick it up, if not I let it go.

    Am I obligated to engage people I do not know? This is not about excluding others it is about reality, but because people do not want to learn or listen until they are ready to do so, people are not engaged.

    Is there an obligation of a person aware of the high probability of a collapse, of a future with out the energy needed to run our civilization or which is destroying capital formation.

    Is there an elephant in the room about the lack of people of color? I do not think so, the reason I say this is that people come into the awareness of what is happening on their own terms, and when they are ready. The burden is not on those of us who are peak oil aware it is on those who are not.

    There may be deeper reasons why certain groups may be trapped by a normalcy bias and others more more willing to accept that this is so. Closing in on almost a decade since oil peaked, as the economy bumps along the plateau, as we wait to enter the oil down slope which when reached will change every thing, as Hillary Clinton said, “at this point what difference does it make”.

    The real elephant in the room is that the ability of the planet to support humanity is vastly overshot, and without cheap fossil fuels, Billions of people will die, and die rather quickly. In fact because of resource depletion, environmental damage, and a over dependence on modern farming and transportation technology, (we have scrapped so much of our previous but more sustainable technology, even things like horse collars and scythes will be hard to find never mind manufacture) that it is unlikely that there will be the possibility to sustain even a Billion people.

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