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In order for the optimists to prove themselves right in the end, they need to be right about three things. First, the solution they propose needs to be technically feasible at the necessary scale, second the solution must not provoke unintended consequences that will overwhelm it, and third, the 'political will' to actually accomplish it must be applied. Most optimists, for example, Lester Brown and Bill McKibben can be pretty convinced of the first point but they often overlook the second point and ignore the third.

Pessimists, on the other hand usually do take the second point into consideration and are realistic about the third. I tend to be a pessimist, given that I have a background in ecology. For a while I thought politics could work, if not to prevent catastrophe entirely, at least to spot it coming and soften its impacts. Based on what's happened in the US over the last few decades, I no longer think that's true.

Now, it seems to me, a multiple set of catstrophes will occur soon - depletion of critical resources, paralyzing pollution, economic collapse - and we will have to wait and see who survives these and what they do then. I don't think collapse will be followed by an egalitarian envlironmentally aware society. Rather I think people will continue to be as they've always been, prone to organize into a mix of small elites dominating large underclasses.

In the meantime, I think there will be plenty of violence in the near future from neighborhood flash mobs to wars of all scales in many places on the planet.

My pessimism notwithstanding, I think I'm pretty happy observing things unfold, and trying to be flexible, alert, and informed enough to survive for a while and provide my children and grandchildren some protection.

Mark Niedzielski

Looks like the Keystone project could be delayed, if not abandoned completely. We'll see. A small step in the right direction assuming the article is correct. However, as we all know once oil prices hit $125 or greater, this pipeline will be back on track.



I believe in The Story of Conned.

Tar sands mining will continue...Fracking will continue...Deep sea drilling will continue...Pipelines will continue...Import/export terminals will continue...

The Fossil Fuel Industry rules. It will continue until this great cycle soon ends and a new one begins.

Same as it ever was...


IEA says five years or worst case scenario irreversible global warming. We are totally screwed.

Dave Cohen

Obama threw a bone to his "base" constituency in delaying the pipeline decision until 2013.

One way or another, that pipeline will be built.

-- Dave


A local county here in PA is about to raise the sewer tax by almost 40% in order to meet a shortfall. Every state and local government is facing revenue problems because the economy is falling apart. Yet the super-rich are doing great and the Republicans refuse to tax them. There are very few decent jobs and most people cannot afford higher education. We have high price inflation that is completely ignored. Why else do you see the Occupy movement growing?

But the real question is whether our politicians, who are so damn corrupt, will do anything to help us? If you've been watching all those Republican debates, not a single one has talked about solutions for jobs and the economy. And P.S. I hate the gutless Democrats too, except for a handful of people, but they aren't enough to swing the votes.


I’m glad Ms. Leonard is arguing against this “we’re broke” nonsense, which is just that – nonsense. However, I think she fails to take into the account that the financial world is a centrally-planned oligarchy. Global finance has defeated democracy over the entire world. Thus, what “we” want matters not one whit. Capitalism is a system specifically designed to concentrate wealth into fewer and fewer hands. To be surprised that this is happening is like being surprised that a boat designed to sink actually sinks. This is why the latter video is sadly a more accurate vision of the future. As I’ve said before, if you want to know what America’s future look like, look at Mexico. I’m reminded of this Onion article: American people hire high-powered lobbyist to push interests in congress: http://www.theonion.com/articles/american-people-hire-highpowered-lobbyist-to-push,18204/

And since an open topic, I think readers would be interested in this blog, The Reckoning, which actually does relate to those videos:

And finally, this column by George Monbiot is one of the best darn things I’ve read in a long time: The 1% are the greatest destroyers of wealth the world has ever seen.


The 'Story of Broke' is naive in the belief that 'renewable energy' can fuel our current industrial civilization. Besides this fault, all the points it makes on the massive waste of the military industrial complex and the corporate lobbying club are on target. The second video of the 'budget crisis' from Yahoo does not even touch those subjects of the waste engendered by our Corporatocracy and crony capitalism. The 'Story of Broke' at least talks about changing a failed system.

The Practician

I couldn't handle any of the "story of stuff" crap, partly because I already have a pretty good handle on the information, but mostly because I couldn't stand being talked to like a small child. I also suspect that we might be a little more broke than they think, and that the people behind the story of stuff might be victims of the "something for nothing" mentality that affects so many of us. I mean, what happens when we stop exploiting the third world? what happens when our much reduced military is no longer around to exert the necessary pressure to make sure foreign governments see things "our" way? What happens when consumer goods are actually priced according to their costs in environmental degradation? The uber-optimists always seem to gloss over these issues, Probably because they know that the people that would be hit hardest are the poor and middle class, when we find out just how unrealistic and unsustainable our current standard of living really is.


The optimists are wrong. Humans cannot live forever in a utopia. The most we can do is delay the reckoning, hope that we go out in some quiet way, without too much pain and suffering. And that's only for the luckiest amongst us.

You can't beat entropy.


There's a reason why I shave my head in the morning. It's because I know when I wake up to face a new day in this open-air-nuthouse I'm gonna be faced with something... not unlike that happy horse shit video The Story of Broke, and having the bald head prevents me from RIPPING MY FUCKING HAIR OUT.

"I have had to work long and hard to eradicate the dangerous delusion that, in a bad position, I could always, or nearly always, conjure up some unexpected combination to extricate me from my difficulties." - Alexander Alekhine

Jo St

The system has a pause button. We just have to push it. The existence of that video ' story of broke' is gonna change everything. Tomorrow will be different. We promise.

It's a long road towards acceptance of reality.


The story of stuff wasn't horrible, albeit child like in it's delivery as noted above. But who is their target audience, Americans...so...

But right off the bat this whole "fair share" crap is just that, crap. Pretending like we've "earned" everything we have in this country, including this tool right here invented by DARPA, on a laptop made in China, designed by Indians, in a state stolen from Mexico, with an economy that got off the ground via slaves, on a ground stolen from Native Americans, you get my point...

Besides that "we are the 53% (who pay income taxes)" line, nobody here has paid their "fair share" in a global sense. We are the benefactors of the butt end of a gun, nothing proud and earned about it.

Not as if that is unusual in history, but, people like her probably aren't thinking from that perspective, because, again, her target audience is Americans.


I don't mean to say the 53% paid their "fair share" despite "paying" more, I meant the opposite, that nobody, them included, has paid.


I worked for a non profit environmental group for a day (half the donation solicited at your door goes straight into the solicitor's pocket, btw, without your foreknowledge) and they were like this lady's kids. Naive and idealistic to the bone. Half wanted to just be hippies and save the planet and the other half wanted to be politicians and save the planet...and they all believed in the wind and solar + zero waste recycling = up-to-par replacement for industrial civilization bit...

Mr. Roboto

A lot of what the narrator of the first video calls "money" is based on future industrial production that simply isn't going to happen. So when debt-driven deflation seriously sets in, most of this "money" will just go {POOF!} And that's some mondo-serious "no-duh" stuff.

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