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Imagine bamboo skyscrapers and biochar sponge cities. Imagine the Spruce Goose.

About 4000 years back, a breed of upright, thinking apes, having mastered fire, then pyramids, then nature (or so they imagined), redirected their energies from their daily allowance — from firewood, wind, rain and sunlight — to their billion-year fossil sunlight trust fund, which, as small withdrawals emboldened them and grew ever larger, they raided and spent.

Since 1088, when the scientist and statesman Shen Kuo coined the word 石油 (Shíyóu, literally “rock oil”) in his book Dream Pool Essays, wiser men have warned this sort of extractive economy…


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What we need to do will cost less by one-third than what we currently spend on fossil fuel subsidies.

A short while from now all of the President’s cabinet nominees will be confirmed and a first cabinet meeting will be convened. We’d like to imagine that after the usual banalities and formalities, it might go something like this.

PRESIDENT BIDEN: We face a great many challenges as a nation — the viral pandemic; an economy that will remain in dire straits for much of this year with consequences that will linger long after; serious security threats from both state and…


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Joshua

To reach a carbon footprint of net zero, we will need to cut the US pet population by some 10 million dogs and 10 million cats every year for a decade and then by some 200,000 per year in the out years towards mid-century. We’ll have to get to one dog and one cat for every 300 people.

For most of my youth my family had a pet beagle, Nero. He was loyal, friendly, curious, funny, and loving. Nero was my reference dog. When I left home and went off to school, I didn’t have any pets and after graduation…


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In 2020, federal protection for the gray wolf was removed entirely. Now the entire species teeters on the brink of extinction.

In August 2019, seven game wardens in black Kevlar body armor descended upon a remote mountain valley home in Northern California to issue an arrest warrant on a 23-year-old, sixth generation rancher. Mobile phone signals from local cell towers had placed the young man near the location where a wolf, tagged with a GPS collar, had been shot and killed. …


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Capitalism is a system that centers capital and wealth. Socialism is a system that centers society and people. Theocracy centers God.

In a long string of investigative reports for The New York Times, Katherine Stewart, author of The Power Worshippers: Inside the Dangerous Rise of Religious Nationalism, explained why so much of the money and manpower used to storm the Capitol on January 6 came from churches:

In multiple speeches, an interview and a widely shared article for Christianity Today, [Senator Josh] Hawley has explained that the blame for society’s ills traces all the way back to Pelagius — a…


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Forbidden from attending the annual rites of football in facepaint and cheesehead-hats, frustrated masses bused to Washington to chant in unison and smash tribal effigies in their nation’s marbled HaDvir.

It is not particularly difficult to position the Capitol Riot of 2021 in the timeline of the life and death of complex societies. Were we to apply Orlov’s Six Stages of Collapse to this moment, we might find ourselves hovering over some midpoint in the implosion sequence:

Financial
Commercial
Political
Social
Cultural
Environmental.

Ideally, it would start with a global financial collapse triggered by a catastrophic loss of confidence in…


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On a hot summer night in 1992, or so we are told by a writer for MIT’s Technology Review, two particle physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory were staring out over the moonlit desert and sipping cold beers. Given the story that followed, I kind of wonder whether something more aromatic than beer was involved.

“What if,” Klaus Lackner wondered out loud to his companion, Christopher Wendt, “machines could build machines? How big and fast could you manufacture things?” It was not a new idea. Science fiction writers had been drawing from that meme for half a century to populate…


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Clemens said, “History never repeats itself, but it does often rhyme.” It may also have meter. One century ago there was a rhythmic beat of discontent in Germany following the surprise announcement of surrender on the Western Front.

People were shocked. They were totally unprepared for that news. German generals had known for most of 1918 that the war was lost. Soldiers were being overtaken in the trenches by an influenza that was horribly lethal and easily spread in the wretched conditions of the battlefield. …


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Desiderio Hernández Xochitiotzin, Murales de Tlaxcala

Haaland’s very existence is proof that the collapse of Chaco culture did not augur extinction of the Pueblo peoples.

The popular science writer Jared Diamond defined “collapse” as “a drastic decrease in human population size and or political/economic/social complexity, over a considerable area, for an extended time.” If we conceive the Covid Pandemic of 2020 in these terms, it was pretty mild. It caused, as it now seems in December 2020, a temporary drop in the rate of increase in human population accompanied by slight reduction in political/economic/social complexity, over a considerable area, for a short time. As collapses go…


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Bil Baird, Detail from Christmas Card sent to Bates family c. 1955

There is no more evidence Russians were behind the SolarWinds hack than that Donald Trump was reelected President.

Because those of my advanced age are under general quarantine orders now in the State of Quintana Roo, I did not venture out to any of the usual Christmas Eve festivities with children batting piñatas and candles set before the Virgin of Guadalupe, but made an early night of it and arose to my usual routine, watering my garden while the espresso steamed on the stove.

Coffee made and fragrant cup in hand, I sat at my desk and dialed up the…

Albert Bates

Emergency Planetary Technician and Climate Science Wonk — using naturopathic remedies to recover the Holocene without geoengineering or ponzinomics.

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