It’s time for me to leave my current life and start living in a post-peak-oil world

Five years later, Guy McPherson reflects on his original article that was published in the Tucson Weekly on May 14, 2009.

Guy McPherson, facilitator

Five years ago, I made my exit: I walked away from my job and my urban living situation, pulled out all my retirement funds, built a new home off-grid, found new neighbors, and started a new life.

You may be at such a point yourself where you are ready to take that next step. Perhaps you have considered what it takes to maintain the set of living arrangements known as “industrial civilization under empire” and have decided that the cost is too high. You may be ready to make some significant changes that decrease your dependence on the industrial economy and reflect your values more fully through your lifestyle — or at least to do some serious looking into that possibility.

But where to begin? Stepping away from the industrialized living situation one has known and lived for perhaps decades is an enormous undertaking. While some are ready to get off the industrial economy bus at the next stop, as I was when I wrote the following piece, others are thrown from the bus at full speed due to climate chaos, economic upheaval, and other follow-on effects of industrial collapse. Still others clutch their seats nervously and wait, wondering what to do next.

This personal transition invites one to do nothing less than to re-imagine one’s very life. New locales, new friends, new opportunities and new challenges await those who undertake this journey. While there is no blueprint for making this journey, each of us who has taken some steps along the road of personal transition has garnered some garnets of wisdom along the way. For those of you who are called to make other arrangements, consider the program I will offer along with three others this spring and summer. Dwight, John, Parama and I aim to condense our collective wisdom down to one week in Belize in May, and two weeks in Guatemala in March and June, in order to help those making their own arrangements for living outside the industrial economy.

For me, leaving empire has meant relocating to a remote corner of New Mexico. For my co-facilitators, it has meant relocating to Central America, embedding in a different culture, speaking a new language, and meeting their core human needs in ways that they hope will one day serve many others. We have selected locations for this seminar that are living examples of the principles we will be discussing.

I invite you to consider the following article, one of the last pieces I published while still a part of the teaching apparatus at the University of Arizona. When I wrote it in 2009, I was at my own personal pivot point in the process of finding a more durable set of living arrangements. I was ready to step away from my life as I had known it. My time living sanely was just beginning.

Since then, humans have triggered about 30 positive feedback loops and established a course for our own near-term extinction that appears to be all but unavoidable. We owe it to the future generations of all species, whether our own or others, to do what we can in our own lives to terminate the industrial economy and find ways to live beyond it as rapidly as possible.

While doing so may not reverse the course of climate chaos we find ourselves on, at the very least, taking steps to live outside the industrial model while it still continues to function could make the inevitable loss of the infinite growth economy and its destructive lifestyle easier to navigate, and a more fertile ground in which to assist others, many of whom will be unavoidably thrown into a radical shift in their living arrangements.

Whether or not homo sapiens sapiens disappears forever, its industrial economy and the resulting lifestyle that takes endlessly from the future in order to simply survive certainly will. Let us do what we can in the present moment to assist each other in making those alternate arrangements: Please feel free to learn more about The Next Step Seminar here.

6 thoughts on “It’s time for me to leave my current life and start living in a post-peak-oil world

  1. Pingback: Hackers ethic for the world after collapse

  2. Thanks, Guy. There’s a poetic aspect to your writing that is balancing and centering. May it continue to flourish. I’m glad that the next-step events are in the third world and south of the border. The Caribbean and Latin Americas (Belize is both) are where I suspect the next step for culture really lie. Best of luck in the endeavor.

    • Art,

      Thanks for your comments. We look forward to offering a seminar that can help people prepare in advance of the loss of the many systems that industrialized people rely on. Best wishes, John Seed Bearer

  3. Thank you for taking the time to write concerning The Next Step Seminar. You made note of the aquiculture operations at Frutas del Mundo, the farm where we will be holding these seminars. The farm does indeed raise tilapia in ponds for local consumption.

    You went on to mention that there is nothing courageous about offering a seminar on grounds where fish are raised as a food source.

    Guy, Parama, Dwight and I are offering these seminars because we believe that there is a chance that humans can survive the collapse of industrial civilization if they are able to live entirely independent from the inputs of the industrial economy.

    The real problem here is that the biosphere of the Earth itself, and all the animal and human populations of the planet that rely on that biosphere for their survival, are being threatened with extinction by human industrial civilization. That civilization is in the process of collapsing due to the combined influences of climate chaos, peak resource depletion, and the infinite growth monetary paradigm that civilization relies upon to meet its core survival needs.

    Here in rural Guatemala, people get their protein largely from animal sources. The protein source staples of the rural diet in eastern Guatemala where we will be holding these seminars are beans, eggs, chicken meat, and pork, and to a lesser extent, beef, goat meat, and lamb. There is no concept here of “vegetarianism,” to say nothing of veganism.

    I prepare lacto-ovo-vegetarian meals at home for Parama and myself. I was a vegetarian for four years, and for a year and a half of that time, I ate no animal products at all. I found the vegetarian and then the vegan diets to be quite salutary for me. I detoxified and developed greater mental clarity.

    But the only way I was able to benefit from these diets was to be connected to the grid. For example, as a vegan, I relied on cold-pressed flaxseed oil, which required me to drive to a health food store with refrigerated compartments, a functioning just-in-time inventory system, clean and well-fed employees showing up on time, and the banking system that processed my debit card promptly and correctly every time, to name a few of the features of the industrial economy that my “non-violent” diet absolutely required.

    I would certainly like to learn how one would go about meeting all of one’s core needs in a community setting entirely independent of the electrical grid and industrialized inputs, without relying on animal products for food. I think it could be possible: in addition to the variety of beans on offer where we live, three excellent plant protein sources do grow locally — Amaranth, Moringa, and Chaya — which sadly are seldom used in the local cuisine.

    To me, the violence perpetrated by the industrial economy, and being able to live without perpetrating the systemic violence that the industrial economy requires, is a more important issue to address than whether we are raising fish as food. In fact, eating the locally-raised fish helps the farmworkers and the villagers eat less food from the grocery store.

    I would love to be able to incorporate the principles of non-violence at the level at which the work needs to be done right now: learning how to live without industrialized inputs. I would welcome you to attend this seminar — or contribute your expertise from afar — to bring what you have learned about maintaining the vegan diet without the benefit of blenders, refrigerators, ice, reliable cold chains, and long-distance hydrocarbon-fueled transport, to name a few of the industrialized inputs that we can realistically expect to lose reliable access to in the near future.

    John Seed Bearer

  4. God I’d love to attend if I could afford to. Will transcripts be available after? You could also sell subscriptions to on-line attendance at a reduce price.

    • Thanks for writing, Thom. A filmmaker plans to attend the June seminar to gather footage for a documentary about Guy McPherson’s work. We still have yet to determine whether transcripts will be made available. That being said, we seek to give all the participants much more than just an intellectual comprehension of how to meet the core human needs beyond the confines of the failing industrial model. By holding this seminar at Frutas del Mundo in Guatemala, where many of the concepts that we will be discussing are being put into practice, we aim to give every participant a visceral sense of how to meet those core human needs, including by being off the grid and getting down to the speed of the land for a week and a half of the 2-week program.

      Your idea for a virtual simulcast of the seminar is a good one, but the reality on the ground out here makes it logistically impossible. Connection speeds out here range from slow to glacial: they top out at about 16 KB/second in the middle of the night, when everyone else using the same fragile local network is fast asleep, and drop to a fraction of that during the day. In fact, it’s not uncommon for us to have to wait several minutes for a standard web page to load in early- to mid-morning, when we will be holding most of the seminar’s informational sessions.

      Best, of course, would be for you to simply make the seminar a priority and mark off those two weeks from June 12 to 25 to come and join us. Compared to doing any other kind of program in Central America for two weeks, the seminar fee of $755, plus the airfare, sounds rather like a bargain. After all, where else could one get the kind of deep learning and sharing that Dr. Guy McPherson and the rest of us will facilitate out here? But, if you still can’t make it, we will be glad to keep you informed of upcoming additional dates, along with anyone else who contacts us here. We wish you all the best, Thom — we’d love to see you in June, and thanks again for writing.

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