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As I've been doing daily for more than three years, this morning I was collecting news items documenting the ongoing environmental collapse (and adding punchlines) for the site I coedit.

I ran across a story in the Guardian (UK), entitled 71 months and counting. It's written by the policy director of the New Economics Foundation -- well worth reading.

It's part of a monthly series that began August 1, 2008, with The final countdown, which I revisited. He expected that we had about 100 months to change society dramatically if we were to avoid the 50/50 tipping point of runaway climate change.

It's a prescient article, which on the main is validated by all I've seen since then.

For me, the resonant passage is:

But does it have to be this way? Must we curdle in our complacency and allow our cynicism about politicians to give them an easy ride as they fail to act in our, the national and the planet's best interest? There is now a different clock to watch than the one on the office wall. Contrary to being a counsel of despair, it tells us that everything we do from now matters. And, possibly more so than at any other time in recent history.

That was true in 2008, and is even more true today, I'm sorry to say.

Over at my site, we created a "2010 year in review" of the 100 scariest stories pulled from the 1700 stories we bequipped in 2010. And then, because we could, we went back through 2009 and 2008 using the same methodology.

The results are appalling to read, and has stiffened my spine.

The dominant economic system is clearly suicidal. The dominant political system is clearly ineffective at confronting problems of the scale of worldwide environmental disruption and ecosystem collapse.

Everything we do from now on matters. Our daily acts of plastic use, our choices about what we buy, how we spend our time, what we value, how we know our neighbors, how we make new friends, how we build resilient communities, how we bring our bests selves forward -- every act matters.

One way or another, we will need to learn to live in new ways, in the places we spend our lives. We have to find ways to actively build resilience into our communities, as we transition from a world infinitely forgiving, to a world deeply damaged and wobbly.

In a city? Search out CSAs and farmer's markets, to strengthen the local agricultural economy. It'll make the transition better by having built an economic infrastructure so we can have food to eat. In the suburbs? Work on telecommuting, ride sharing, neighborhood bulk purchases, and in backyard vegetables. In rural communities? Develop tool-sharing cooperatives, diversify your crops, save seeds, explore CSAs, and make more music with your neighbors.

Everything we do from now on matters to our possible lives five years, or ten years hence. We will be living in a chaotic world of "faster than expected" and "unpredicted consequences," weather extremes and expanding dead zones, toxic buildup and invasive species, all at once, and with economic turmoil as a foundation: When the market finally sees only a bleak future ahead, a massive upheaval is inevitable.

It will hurt more if we keep acting as if it's not happening. The worst pain can be mitigated by personal choices and societal changes, by changes in economic habits and cultural trends.

It's clear we will have to do it ourselves. Perhaps eventually the politicians will follow along.

I'm not optimistic, but I have hope -- and I have a stiffer spine in 2011, having just passed through 2010. I'm ever more committed, because bluntly, time is short.

Resilience, via local communities, is about the only way to avoid a decline into desperate ugliness.

I'll be increasing my work enhancing my community's resilience this year. How can you?

Originally posted to mwmwm on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 08:30 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm gonna go eat a steak. And fuck my wife. And pray to GOD - hatemailapalooza, 052210

    by punditician on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:05:33 AM PST

  •  Damn. (5+ / 0-)

    Bleepin' reality anyway!

    Thanks for the link to your site, I'll be checking it out often.

    Why do they only call it "class warfare" when we are fighting their unquenchable greed?

    by The Uncola on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 09:11:11 AM PST

  •  Plant perennial fruit/nut bushes (8+ / 0-)

    Landscape with productive perennials, the drought - and flood-tolerant ones, with the widest temperature tolerance you can find.  Mulch and water them while you still can. Some will begin bearing within a year or two.  Many are very attractive.  

    Some vegetables are perennial, too:  asparagus, for instance.  The cabbage family is very tough (and nutritious);  kale leaves will freeze solid in winter, and if you snap them off then, will be perfect when they thaw.  Spinach can winter over, and so can garlic and some onions.  Plant a variety of bushes and vegetables, to improve the odds that at least some of your crop will do well in any given year.  Herbs for seasoning, fragrance, medicinal use, catnip for insect repellant, are nice to have.

    Plant more than you can use, for bad years and for sharing.  Plant them in raised-bed rain traps on slopes.

    Planting perennials helps with CO2 capture, too.

    Maybe add a few backyard hens for eggs?  If they can range at all, they'll eat a lot of bugs and provide fertilizer (composted) for your plantings.  Compost your household scraps with redworms and feed the excess worms to the chickens.  Incredibly delicious egg flavor, raised that way.

  •  Oh, I have bunches of things to do! (6+ / 0-)

    Put together the weatherization/insulation/repair projects I want to do for my house and yard, do the ones I can do myself, get bids on the others, see what kind of loan or loans I can get to accomplish this.  (My mortgage is paid off, but a smaller mortgage, maybe with a better interest rate, looks doable.)

    Get some new EnergyStar appliances to replace my old ones, which are getting to the point of needing replacement anyway.

    Get a bike for good weather transportation, and try out our local bus system.

    CSA share and my own veggie garden, put up some veggies with my sister Mimi (share the work and equipment).

    Follow up with my new farming nephew-in-law about trying out biochar.  Use it in my veggie garden and yard.  Bury charcoal when I have excavations (see first paragraph above).

    "Plagiarize" WarrenS's letter writing (see diary and website. is unfortunate that the opposition to the Democrats in this country now consists entirely of crazy people. - NNadir

    by RunawayRose on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 11:14:39 AM PST

  •  I agree with your feelings and (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, mwmwm, WarrenS, nannyboz

    there are ways to do better.  Unfortunately, the message isn't getting through to as many as we need.   When I talk about "peak oil" or more emphasis on farm to market transportation, or community gardens and a community greenhouse, and a community chicken farm, most look at me as if I have a third eye.  One of my neighbors said it well:  people are too busy living their lives to get involved or care.


    The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

    by Persiflage on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 11:48:53 AM PST

  •  Glad I saw this diary. (4+ / 0-)

    This should be on everyone's hotlist.

    A real problem I can see is the issue of building sustainability and local resilience in the suburbs...housing set up to minimize local commerce, lots of driving required, all that stuff.  This is going to be plenty tough.

    But, as you say, it all matters from now on.  All of it.

    Thanks for this.

    Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

    by WarrenS on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 12:56:34 PM PST

    •  Thanks, WarrenS (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RunawayRose, WarrenS

      One of the biggest challenges for suburbia is mindset. Too many suburban enclaves have restrictive guidelines prohibiting, for example, hanging out your clothes on a clothesline, in the belief that having the mister and missus's underwear hanging on a line would decrease property values. Ditto with backyard gardens.

      But some suburbias could, with a little zoning change, become quite vibrant small towns. With a little application of smart bartering and skill sharing, who knows what might happen.

      All of it matters. Yep.

      Laughing at the horror of environmental collapse:
      5100+ news items be-quipped.

      by mwmwm on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 01:08:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Hi, WarrenS! (5+ / 0-)

      This may be a good place to reference your diary on how you turned a steep hillside in your yard into a series of small veggie gardens. is unfortunate that the opposition to the Democrats in this country now consists entirely of crazy people. - NNadir

      by RunawayRose on Sun Jan 02, 2011 at 02:22:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Good save - good reminder - thanks! .. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, mwmwm

    Will check this site, too, going forward.

    Handy collections of data to help get the point across are always a good thing.

    Doomiest, indeed..

    Now, where did I leave my torches and villagers..

    by FrankSpoke on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 01:05:14 AM PST

    •  Thanks! we post a handful every day (0+ / 0-)

      and have more than 5400 news items referenced and abstracted back to December, 2007.

      It's a painful labor we chose to undertake -- but the more people who read the site, the less it hurts.

      Laughing at the horror of environmental collapse:
      5100+ news items be-quipped.

      by mwmwm on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 06:06:27 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  most likely too late (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

     The Earth's atmosphere has been 180ppm - 280ppm CO2 in 100,000 year long cycles for at least the last 600,000 years.

     We pushed it 100 ppm outside the norm in just 200 years. The tundra is drying, there is evidence that the clathrates on the Siberian shelf are breaking down, and the methane output from these processes, at 23x the effect of CO2, will spike the warming we're experiencing. A replay of the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum is likely. Read: tropical species in the Arctic in a millennium or two.

     There are 6.5 billion of us and I've long thought Mother Nature was going to do something about this population overshoot. We won't be permitted to climb down to the Earth's solar maximum gracefully - we're going to get knocked flat.

      I gave up on remediation. Now I'm mostly interested in not seeing the U.S. slide into a ring wing authoritarian government ... I expect authoritarian rule, but a left leaning, development oriented one would be preferable.

    •  I tend to agree (0+ / 0-)

      as you may recall, Stranded, from other diaries. Most of it is worse than we think.

      But "remediation" is not just of CO2, or toxic buildup -- it's also cultural and social.

      Finding ways for humans to be kind to each other while surviving may require things we've never imagined -- the eventual dissolution of nation-states, the decentralizing of energy, the need for physical labor from everyone.

      A large proportion of folks have been trained to be followers -- meaning those of us who see what's happening need to be leaders of one kind or another. And we need lots of them.

      Laughing at the horror of environmental collapse:
      5100+ news items be-quipped.

      by mwmwm on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 05:30:58 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I believe that global warming (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, mwmwm

    is the seminal issue of our day. In 50, 100 years, people will look back and care little for economic woes, wars, internet censoring. They will say either "Thank the stars that they had the foresight to stop the problem when they had the chance!" or more likely "Why didn't those fools do something when they still could???"

    Thanks for your diary.

    picking off right-wingnuts at the ballot box, one vote at a time

    by JohnMac on Mon Jan 03, 2011 at 03:28:12 AM PST

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