Why Should I?
(She looks a little worried, doesn't she?)
"Why should I?"
Its a question I get a lot when I discuss Green Wizardry with people, especially those who are not readers of John Michael Greer's blogs.
"Why should I learn the things you teach at Green Wizards?"
The idea that Society as we know it has an end date and that people should prepare for an eventual decline of resources and technology isn't on many people's radar. That the way we do things now isn't working and in many cases is actually making things worse. That people should learn to be more sustainable in their day to day lives and especially learn now how to grow some of their own food, NOW when they have some extra breathing room to make mistakes and learn from their experiences before it becomes really important not to make mistakes. That people need to learn now how to do with less and get more from what they do have, for when it does get tight, then they can survive and even prosper when other don't.
Sometimes though, the people you are talking to have an inkling that something isn't right with Society. Then they grasp it.
"Ok! Excited Now! Zombie Apocalypse without Zombies going to happen soon..."
Then you explain the Collapse Greer speaks of will take decades of slow drawn out decline. Some people will be fine for a while, with jobs and access to resources, while here and there someone will have their own personal Collapse. At the same time Society will grind downward a little bit slower and slower. The gadgets that Corporate Marketing push on us will get a little more expensive and do a little less each upgrade. That store shelves that were filled with every imaginable goodies, will slowly be replaced by less nutritious food and junk that isn't worth the over inflated price. That the cheap stuff will get cheaper, and the quality stuff will get more expense until its out of reach to only those of us at the top of the economic food chain.
That a smaller and smaller slice of the population will control more and more, and YOU aren't among them. That they will use every dirty trick and advantage their wealth gives them to keep what they have and take more and more AND from those of us at the bottom. That we won't be able to fight back at the root causes, just learn to adapt to the way things are.
Depressing when I frame it that way, isn't it?
People ask me then, "If your Collapse is going to take years, why bother? Nothing I can do will prevent it."
I hope I can answer that question with this post AND that you will see why its in your own interest to join us here on Green Wizards..
I was going to continue the discussion on "Thinking In Systems" this week, but Greer said in an earlier email that this Wednesday's blog post on Ecosophia would mention Green Wizards and this site, so I'm hoping that many of you who read "Ecosophia", and before that "The Archdruid Report" and who in the past participate in the discussion here will return and check the new site out.
And for some of you this will be your first time here, and that's good too.
Welcome both of you!
It seems like just a few months ago that John made the Archdruid Report post that started this project, "Merlin's Time", when in fact its been over eight and a half years. There was an desperate excitement then, as he laid out the facts that civilization as we knew it was heading into Collapse. An urgency that those of us reading him needed to prepare ourselves for "The Long Descent" to come and make changes our Live. For some it was small changes and for others, quite large.
We made those changes and waited.
Funny thing was that the middle word of "The Long Descent" hadn't quite sunk in for most of us, lol.
Greer really meant that Collapse of Civilization he was talking about was going to take a lot of time.
Decades of incremental collapse until given a century or two the global civilization would enter another Dark Age. Some areas, blessed with favorable economic, political and native resource connections might survive with a small measure of the tech base we now have BUT for the majority of the World's population it would be the wholesale collapse of the current tech level and a return to something similar to the 16th or 17th century, if not more primitive. That our children and their children would be living in a word vastly different than the one we live in now.
"Why Should I?"
If I'm not going to see horse drawn wagons in my streets or the end of airplane flight in my Lifetime, why should I make the changes you suggest?
"Why should I give up Wifi, cell phones, cable television, streaming video not to mention my car, my air conditioning, my pizza delivered hot on a Friday evening and all the trappings of Modern Industrial Society? I don't use plastic straws. I put my plastics in the recycling bid. I do everything the Media says I should do to save the Planet!!!"
(Even though each new iPhone seems to do less and cost more. Even though if you really wanted to fight plastic pollution in the Oceans, you would give up eating fish...)
Straws Aren't the Real Problem. Fishing Nets Account for 46 Percent of All Ocean Plastic
"Why should I give up ripe bananas in December? Fresh fruit and vegetables all year around? Cheap gas and big screen TVs?"
December banana's taste like cardboard. Fruits and vegetables now are commercially grown to survive transport with no damage, don't taste as good as the ones you grow. Gas isn't going to stay cheap, and really, big screen TVs are a selling point to current affairs?
Sweet poison: illegal ripening of fruits exposes millions of Kenyans to cancer
"But we are one giant global village and our modern World is lifting more and more people out of poverty in the Third World. I read an article about how they are going to use drones to deliver books to African school children. We're making things BETTER!
An yet in the American rural South a common and easily destroyed parasite infects thousands of poor people.
Hookworm, a disease of extreme poverty, is thriving in the US south. Why?
The average income is just $18,046 (£13,850) a year, and almost a third of the population live below the official US poverty line. The most elementary waste disposal infrastructure is often non-existent. Some 73% of residents included in the Baylor survey reported that they had been exposed to raw sewage washing back into their homes as a result of faulty septic tanks or waste pipes becoming overwhelmed in torrential rains.
The Baylor study was inspired by Catherine Flowers, ACRE’s founder, who encouraged the Houston scientists to carry out the review after she became concerned about the health consequences of having so many open sewers in her home county. “Hookworm is a 19th-century disease that should by now have been addressed, yet we are still struggling with it in the United States in the 21st century,” she said. “Our billionaire philanthropists like Bill Gates fund water treatment around the world, but they don’t fund it here in the US because no one acknowledges that this level of poverty exists in the richest nation in the world.”
Record private jet flights into Davos as leaders arrive for climate talk
The Rich jet to Europe to talk about how they absolutely must automate away my job, or their competitor will. Oh and btw, its my responsibility once my job goes away to pay for my retraining. We can't mess with Corporate Earning can we?
Sometime soon the whole generation of Young People who bought into the Lie that they had to take out tens of thousands of dollars in debt to get college degrees. That once they were out of college, that degree would turn out to be useless and they are now going to spend a decade in meaningless minimum wage jobs with no hope of paying those debts AND by the way those same banks paid their politicians to make it so your special case, student loans, can't be waved away with bankruptcy is going to really wake up those kids to how they have been screwed.
What if they all just decide, based on some social media post to say to the banks "Fuck You!"? Wouldn't that throw a huge monkey wrench into the gears of the engine of global finance?
If you just woke up one morning and found yourself living in a shabby tent at the edge of a land fill, you'd wonder "WTF!"
If you had been living there for years, you wouldn't even notice the smell.
"Why Should I?"
"Ok so I admit a lot of things are screwed up now BUT I'm doing ok. I have a job, and food and a few dollars for a movie with the Family on the weekend..."
For several years now I've had a mated pair of robins appear each Spring and take up a nest on a neighbor's downspout. Its a good place to raise young. Its on a side of their garage that no one goes by and even better, there's an active garden within a few wing beats. (Mine, lol). In the early Spring when I'm weeding my raised beds in preparation for planting, I often see one of the two robins, perched on the fence, watching me expose earthworms. They have both grown quite brave. I've looked over and seen them grabbing a meal at one end of the short raised bed, while I worked at the other.
Another advantage for the birds, I know they are there and knowing they have young, buy a bag of dried mill worms. I put them into the platter of bird seed I put out at the end of the garden for the local birds. They have a safe place to raise their young and a plentiful supply of food.
Those birds are a lot like many of us. And they don't realize how close they are to disaster. All it would take is the neighbor deciding to mow the short section they usually leave alone. Or me to stop buying the mill worms. Their young would go hungry and they would be run off the nest.
You and Me are like that. One unexpected change in our situation would push us into early Collapse.
It can seem like the Collapse isn't going to happen. Gas prices are rock bottom and I don't know about you but I really like being able to fill up my truck for a $20 and get change. The thing is, that not going to last. The companies that are fraking shale and putting so much product onto the Market are drowning men trying to save themselves. They took out massive loans to drill and make as much profit as they could when oil was a hundred dollars a barrel. Then the Saudi's tanked the oil market and oil is in the $30s. The Americans don't have a choice, they have to keep pumping or they will go under. When the frakers start defaulting on loans watch out.
And there is a dirty little secret to all of this too. The youth of today are awakening to their political power. Soon the affects of an oil fueled atmosphere that is full of carbon and warming will be so clear that even the most die hard denier will have to admit the truth. And anyone with oil still in the ground will discover no one wants them to pump it out. A World without Oil is coming whether you and I, or oil executives and fraking companies want it or like it.
We could have used the limited hard to pump oil resources as a bridge to move us to a renewable energy infrastructure, but we didn't. Look I support the idea a tradesman can get paid for their work (aka capitalism) but the system doesn't work anymore. The Elites and the CEOs don't give a shit about you and I, all they want is to maximize their profits. The hell with us.
I have a bit of rope and a pitchfork. Wish the Elites remember that.
Those robins can't prepare for a hard time while things are good. Its just not in them to think ahead.
If you had a home fire tonight and ended up tomorrow morning in you Pajamas and slippers on the sidewalk outside watching the firemen walk slowly through the burnt out rubble looking for hot spots, WOULD YOU BE OK? Not just physically, though I hope you have given some thought to home emergencies. That your Family and you have talked about what to do and where to meet up outside.
Now you are homeless, got a plan?
Or suppose you slip and fall on some ice this Winter. Do you have insurance and just what ARE those deductibles again? Large unexpected medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcies in America. In the five years I've been working for my current employer, I've broken a foot and a wrist. The first was on the job, and covered by Workman's Comp. The second was me being so tired after a 60 hour week that I tripped and fell getting out of my car. Luck for me, my employer is a Family owned business with a CEO now is in his eighties, and so he understand the incentive of taking care of his employees. My out of pocket for the 6 weeks I was not working was just a few hundred dollars but I wasn't working. Fortunately I maintain a $5000 emergency fund, a month's supply of food in the house AND had been prepaying my utilities and rent a month in advance. The downside was I'd taken a couple of thousand out of the emergency fund for some car repairs and bills.
It ended up being tight that last week.
Ignore the personal little problems. What about a natural disaster? Missouri has had the highest record earthquake East of the Rockies on record. The New Madrid earthquakes of 1811 were devastating in an area that was mostly rural. What would a similar earthquake do to major cities like St Louis now? Most people don't think about it. I do and take sensible steps to protect myself if it were to happen, and to take care of myself and my friends and family, in the aftermath. Thinking the Government will somehow swoop in and make everything right is kind of naive now.
Ask the people of Puerto Rico about recover from a hurricane sometimes, and the usefulness of government assistance. At least someone high up might toss you packages of toilet paper.
Collapse is all around us and can happen tomorrow or years from now. When it does, will you be ready?
"Collapse Now and Avoid The Rush"
"Now I'm confused. You talk about our current civilization slowly collapsing, economically, politically, technologically back to something akin to the early 1800's over a century, then probably even further into a new Dark Age that lasts a century or two itself before the people alive then climb up into a new Renaissance of thought and knowledge BUT you want to teach me how to balance my check book and create a simple home budget?"
I think some of the confusion for first timers and especially among you who first visited the Green Wizard forum when we were getting started and come back now, is because you still think of us as that "Zombie Apocalypse without the Zombies" site. That all we talk about is raising chickens, hand washing clothing and using the waste water on our garden and churning home made butter. That threads about darning socks and canning pickles are hot subjects. That we are Amish with Internet.
While all of those subjects get talked about here, we are so much more. I have a killer computer system and yet I grown onions in the garden.
Perhaps you could say we are "Techno amish", lol.
Face it, this modern Life we all have and try to live in SUCKS!!!
We are all like the Doctor Suess "Push Me/Pull Me" beast with everyone around us trying to make us do things to benefit them, without one moment of rest or realization that OUR welfare matters.
And we need to take back the responsibility for ourselves. We need to stop letting others use us for their advantage.
I'll be completely honest with those of you reading this. I am 62 this Summer and will have if I'm lucky two decades at the helm of Green Wizards. And I will give you this promise, we will give you the tools and the knowledge to make your Life better as everything around you tries to make it worse. We will use what the current World gives us to our advantage while it is still available and affordable and in the meantime relearn how we can make do when that same advantage is gone.
I won't sugar coat what we are facing. I won't try and sell you needless shit as a way to pad my collapse at the expense of yours either.
(There's alot of green living and sustainable blogs that are not much more than Amazon shills...)
At the same token, I'm going to expect and demand a lot out of each and everyone of you. I'm going to expect that you aren't just "Sunday Afternoon Green Wizards", someone who talks the talk, yet doesn't do the walk. Its going to be hard sometimes. Its going to be easier to order a pizza through some app, than get out the fresh veggies and make a meal for your family. I understand that and know that sometimes you are tired and frazzled and the expeditious is the easy solution.
Do better next time.
No one, least of which John Micheal Greer, nor humble me, said Green Wizardry will be easy.
If it was, we both would be rich and doing guest appearances on early morning television shows.
Nothing worth doing, is worth doing easy.
And the person that comes behind me?
I'm hoping that person is reading this blog post right now. That something is kindled in them, so that they start visiting us here, participating, learning the skills and knowledge we share. That a fire ignites in them, like it ignited in me when I took this site over from Teresa and Cathy.
What will their vision for the Future of Green Wizards be?
I don't have a clue. I expect the World of 2040 will be as unrecognizable to me as 2019 would be to someone born in the 1800s, but I have faith that the one that comes after me will have a vision. And I hope they will have a strong Army of Green Wizards behind them.
"What if you are wrong?"
Good question, "What If" Musk invents unlimited energy production next year which at the same time capture carbon from the atmosphere, purifies the air and de-plasticizes the Oceans?
Then I'll dance in streets and proclaim his divinity.
I'll still raise my backyard chickens for their eggs, grow a wide variety of heirloom vegetables, take a short wash in a solar thermal shower system and live a very healthy and enjoyable Life.
Really do you see a downside in learning the stuff we going to be teaching here?
Come back to Green Wizardry and join us as we explore what we can do. I promise you, you'll thank yourself years from now.
Justin Patrick Moore
Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:21
Ramblings of a wizard
Great article David, and I'm glad to be back here after only sporadic visits/participation in the first version of this site. The things I did over the last 8 years as a neophyte green wizard -and still budding as a neophyte- were to get my amateur radio license and the gradual learning of herbalism and gardening. I'm hoping to go deeper with these last two this year. Storytelling is a lifelong interest, so I'm delighted that has a prominent place here. And over the past five years I've gotten fairly good at making krauts, kimchis and pickles, but want to grow in the area of food preservation as well.
The amateur radio side is where I've done the most -getting involved with my local ARES: Amateur Radio Emergency Service- to be prepared in our county to provide back up communications. I remember there was a spin-off site devote to green wizard radio stuff, but it seems to have gone by the wayside, as there were only a handful of participants. I know lathechuck was part of that. In any case that is an area I'd like to contribute to here at the site, I'm guessing in the communications circle. And while I have modern ham equipment, I also have an old "boat anchor" rig, my great-grandfathers heathkit hw-101 that I'm working to get back on the air, which will give me an opportunity to learn some more electronics, and learn about the older style of rigs, and be a help in living a "1950's lifestyle" lol.
In any case I'm just really happy that you have put the energy into renewing this project, so I'm here to participate and to help. Looking forward to learning in all the circles. All the best.
Wed, 02/20/2019 - 20:27
"boat anchor" rigs
I'm glad to hear that you're here again, and increasingly "radio-active".
I've argued this (with civility, of course) with Greer, but I'm skeptical of the value of vacuum-tube radios. They just waste so much electrical power, which means they produce heat, which shortens the life of internal components, makes the room (more) uncomfortable in the summer, and is hardly consistent with sustainable energy sources! I wouldn't want to discourage you from restoring what you have, though.
Building new vacuum tubes, or transistors (especially RF power transistors), is a project that (as far as I can tell) requires a sprawling industrial infrastructure, so my "green wizard perspective" is to try to preserve solid-state equipment, especially that of the late 20th century vintage (when passive components were big enough to see without a microscope, and a software fault wouldn't turn your rig into a brick). ... which reminds me, I still have an outdoor antenna cabled to my favorite HF rig, so that's gotta get fixed right now.
DE AB3NA (Extra-class, and eager to assist)
Thu, 02/21/2019 - 11:05
I'm totally in your camp on this question
I'm totally in your camp regarding the vacuum tube vs solid state question in the long descent. Greer has influenced my own thinking in many ways but in this case I think he got it wrong. While I think that I personally will have "shuffled off of this mortal coil" before the salvage economy really gets on a roll I make a point of giving a bit of thought to the consequences of being wrong. The existence of a most probable outcome generally does not preclude the existence of other possible outcomes. I get some intellectual stimulation from developing some salvage economy skills. I would say that this is not new. I had a ham ticket once though it is over 50 years since my license lapsed. I do recall that the transmitting side of my rig with exception of the key was largely built from components of dead TVs that folks had set out for the trash man.
You wrote: >when passive components were big enough to see without a microscope<
My advice to folks that want to develop the skills of building from scratch is GET THAT MICROSCOPE!!
I continue amaze myself at what I can accomplish with just a temperature controlled hotplate, a cordless Dremel tool, and a quality Stereozoom microscope. Ebay is your friend here. The past 15 years or so I've been using a B&L Stereozoom-4 that I picked up for under $200. This is a quality instrument built back when optics were still manufactured in the USA and sold for what in today's dollars would be $3-4K. I routinely build with 0603 size caps/res/diodes and SOT-23 and even SC-70 size stuff. In some ways the salvage economy is already here if you know where to look. Partial reels of SMT components from board shops that had runs completed or cancelled find their way onto Ebay at next to nothing prices. I have literally 1000's of BJT's that cost me under a penny each as well as some very useful IC's at under a nickel. The Tech crash of the early 2000's created a bonanza of electronics related bargains as well as the later GFC.
Justin Patrick Moore
Thu, 02/21/2019 - 13:25
Vacuum vs. Solid State
Good to hear from you Chuck!
This all bears some thinking. I'm certainly going to use whatever equipment I can until I can't. Just like this computer & the internet. I just happen to like old rigs and want to get the heathkit on the air for nostalgic reasons, as I do remember my great-grandpa and was quite fond of him. It does give some idea of preserving solid state stuff too though...
I disagree with Greer on things too: mainly musical & art discussions last year. I think the legacy of the 20th century avant-garde has some good things to offer, even to green wizards. But I suppose that is an instance of "dissensus" & dissensus as Greer showed in The Ecotechnic Future I believe, is something that is good to have.
Though summers will be hot I look forward to using the heathkit in the winter to help keep the shack warm. I hadn't really thought of the power aspect, but the resilience of tubes if an EMP weapon were ever used. Still I thinks it might be good to have both.
Thu, 02/21/2019 - 18:42
Most of what I work on are from 1940-1970 AM/FM sets. My oldest set is a Philco from 1933 had to rewind one of the coils that was fun!!! Some of the early solid state stuff is a pain to fix. Would prefer to work on a Zenith TO tube set vs a Zenith TO solid state.
Sun, 02/24/2019 - 16:53
Age appropriate equipment
I happen to like old tube equipment, just because I like it. I'm working on restoring and old Johnson 500 transmitter that sold for near $1000 in 1960 and pairing it with a Hallicrafters SX-101. But that's for a vintage station that I won't use all that often. I also have a couple very nice Drake tube rigs from the late 1960's and early 1970's.
For ease of repair and finding replacement parts, solid-state equipment made before the use of highly customized parts and short component manufacturing runs, is my preference. Once custom IC chips started to be used in the rigs, it's become impossible to get them if one dies.
Amazingly, lots of IC's made in the late 1970's and 1980's are still available, even if you need to buy from Chinese so-called "re-manufacturers" who are pulling them from old equipment and cleaning them up. Getting transistors is no problem at all, they're cheaper than ever.
I can still get all the parts used in the Yaesu Ft-301 I have and people are even making replacement display modules for the digital display version FT-301D. Same goes for Hybrid Tube/Solid-State rigs like the Kenwood TS-530 & TS-830. I just bought a replacement for the custom IC display driver made by a Ham in Japan for the Yaesu FT-107 that I have. He's using a programmed microprocessor to replace the obsolete custom IC. The replacement works great.
I have seen several of the later Yaesu FT-757 rigs that turned into doorstops only 15 years after they were made because Yaesu quit making the custom CPU chips that are in them.
Tatorman is right on target about working on surface mount stuff, you just have to learn some new techniques and keep on building. I salvage a lot of the "old" 1990's and even 2000's Motorola VHF/UHF gear that can't be used commercially any more but is perfectly suitable for Ham use. Yes, to program some of these you have to run an old and slow DOS computer but I worked with those when they were cutting edge and have kept several running. They can be bought for pennies on the dollar. For some of the Low-Band equipment I have to change out surface mount components in the VCO to make them work on the 6 meter Ham Band, but it's not that hard. I buy Hand-Held radios that sold for $3000 in 1990-2000 for $50 today. They are better radios than ANY ham radio sold even today. Batteries are still available for them from many sources.
I'm working with our local County ARES group and this equipment comes in VERY handy.
Wed, 02/20/2019 - 15:54
Ham, Yes Definitely
Thank you Justin for your comments. Its been a long road to get to here but I hope from here on in we can really develop the vision Greer had for Green Wizards.
And yes, I would definitely like to see people expand on the work lathechuck and augjohnson did to get people interested in HAM radio in the early GW days.
Wed, 02/20/2019 - 17:23
Green Wizard HAM (and eggs, lol)
Justin, I just put up an old thread which was a place to post your HAM id. Its older but it might let you contact a few of the original GW Hams on the radio OR let those of you new here, and who have licenses a place to get to know new people.
What is your Call Sign?
Wed, 02/20/2019 - 20:09
DE AB3NA (aka Lathechuck)
Sorry to be away for so long, but I hope to be here on a more regular basis in the evolving future.
For those new to ham radio, I think it's helpful to divide the hobby into the "VHF/UHF" side (which you have full access to, with an entry-level Technician license), and the HF side (which you'll want to upgrade to General, or Extra, to enjoy). VHF/UHF is good for local communications: peer-to-peer over a few miles, peer-to-repeater-to-peer over tens of miles. Generally, it works consistently, day/night, summer/winter, year after year. HF is different: your ability to communicate over HF will depend on the time of day, the season of the year, AND the 11-year sun-spot cycle (and possibly longer cycles within which the 11-year cycle is embedded). And the sad news is that the sun-spot cycle is very poor for long-distance (HF) communications this year (2019), as it was last year, and as it most likely will be next year. Optimists will embrace the challenge, and modify the "rules of the game" to find successes where they will. The main thing to remember, though, is that conditions should be much better in a few years, and intercontinental voice contacts will once again be routine. So, if you get an HF rig, put up an antenna, power it up, and spin the dial, just be aware that this is not "normal". Maybe you'll be happy making connections with local hams for the next few years, and reach out farther when the sun resumes cooperation.
Our local ARES group runs exercises in HF, VHF, and UHF bands. Just tonight (in February), we had a net with about two dozen participants, in the 80m band, after dark, and had good comms over about a 50 mile radius with 100W sideband rigs. However, with low solar activity, the 80m band is the only game in town, so it can get crowded, and frustrating when there's an active conversation going on just 1 kHz away.
Justin Patrick Moore
Thu, 02/21/2019 - 13:28
On the bands
If I can get on 80 meters sometime I might try to check in to your net. Right now I'm limited to 6m-40m on my HF rig. I hope to get a better antenna set up. I'm using an end-fed wire now, and it doesn't like to load up higher than 40 meters... but we'll see it's something I want to work on this spring & summer.
My ARES group mostly does VHF activities, though some HF. With the radio club I'm in Oh-Ky-In ARS (that has a lot of the same ARES members) we do a lot of different things. We had a good turnout on Winter Field Day and made lots of contacts on the bands, mostly 80 meters in the evening. Looking forward to the solar cycle changing up.