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An excellent and very comprehensive article/post Dave. When you know this shit is going on out there, it just makes all the whiz bang techno crap seem so f#%cking pointless. Progress? This is what they call progress?


Darn I thought of us as fleas but it looks more serious than that. I guess a flea bath isn't going to be the solution. Kidding aside, we need a new kind of paradiegm, a new storyline where we see ourselves as stewards/shepards on this earth.


David Quammen is one of my favorite authors. "Monster of God" is a great read. It seems the only way to maintain some optimism in the face of all this is to take the geologically long view. Otherwise, for the short term, I'm reminded of the Ashleigh Brilliant quote, "I feel so much better now that I've given up all hope."


Nice article, Dave. I'd like to take issue with one comment: "But the power of positive illusions is that “people who remain optimistic in the face of insurmountable odds are healthier and finally more successful than those who have a more realistic attitude.” Thus friedmanism is almost universal among high-functioning, successful human beings. It thus afflicts almost all of our society’s leaders and elites, i.e. those people who are charged with keeping the growth machine running."


I think that optimists get much more reward/reinforcement for focused left-brained optimism during growth stages of the cycle, as things tend to work out as expected, with no planning needed? During descent, will some judicious right-brained broad vigilance be more adaptive for changing times and needed attitudes?

We can't all be economists . . . ?


After watching all this for 3 decades, I have become "accepting" or apathetic to some. So we disappear, who cares?

Long ago, I discovered that optimism in the face of disaster is, in itself, a disaster. Hope can be a killer as can be hopelessness. It's the individual with the ability to look reality in the eye that survives. It is the individual who is persistent, able to evaluate the situation and to adjust their coping mechanisms accordingly that survives.

All the crap I read now about "going local", pretending all is well so as not to panic the masses, the hip, hip hooray we can do this and the blind optimism bred from discussing a catastrophe over a Sunday morning cup of coffee that will, in the end, end us. I figure it there are survivors, it will be people from the poverty striken areas who are paranoid, suspicious and ask questions after they shoot. They know trusting the system is a deadly mistake. The rest of us live in the fantasy land of "there's an easy, painless solution". We just have to wait for someone to discover it.


Wow. That was incredible, you wrote this a couple of years ago? Great job man.


@Wanooski - "This is what they call progress"? I've often pondered what is meant by human 'progress'. In my mind, 'progress' indicates that there is a goal or set of goals and such 'progress' may be suitably measured. As far as I can tell so far humanity, as a species and based on our actions, have no discernible goals other than consuming and procreation. We have platitudes aplenty but ultimately our actions tell the tale.

Mike Roberts

Great post, Dave. I'm sending it to my family to try to wake them up.

I'm not so sure about Homo sapiens's ability to survive, in the midst of the Sixth Extinction. I don't think we know what the impact of such an extinction event will be on us. We tend to think that we can survive even in artificial environments and without a biodiverse biosphere. I'm neither optimistic nor pessimistic on that; I just don't know.

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