Category Archives: Trends

The Bigger Picture in 8 Points

From Dark-Mountain; they nailed the predicament we’re in. Although the energy issues aren’t explicitly mentioned, I see them showing up in several of these points.

A related NYT times article, It’s the End of the World as We Know It . . . and He Feels Fine.


‘We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident
As the rock and ocean that we were made from.’

  1. We live in a time of social, economic and ecological unravelling. All around us are signs that our whole way of living is already passing into history. We will face this reality honestly and learn how to live with it.
  2. We reject the faith which holds that the converging crises of our times can be reduced to a set of ‘problems’ in need of technological or political ‘solutions’.
  3. We believe that the roots of these crises lie in the stories we have been telling ourselves. We intend to challenge the stories which underpin our civilisation: the myth of progress, the myth of human centrality, and the myth of our separation from ‘nature’. These myths are more dangerous for the fact that we have forgotten they are myths.
  4. We will reassert the role of storytelling as more than mere entertainment. It is through stories that we weave reality.
  5. Humans are not the point and purpose of the planet. Our art will begin with the attempt to step outside the human bubble. By careful attention, we will reengage with the non-human world.
  6. We will celebrate writing and art which is grounded in a sense of place and of time. Our literature has been dominated for too long by those who inhabit the cosmopolitan citadels.
  7. We will not lose ourselves in the elaboration of theories or ideologies. Our words will be elemental. We write with dirt under our fingernails.
  8. The end of the world as we know it is not the end of the world full stop. Together, we will find the hope beyond hope, the paths which lead to the unknown world ahead of us.

Resources for pondering a de-industrialized future

Here is a list of top-notch resources. I can heartily recommend any of these–it just depends on what you’re in the mood for.


5-part fictional short story; 50 (?) years into the future. Greer wrote this to give color to 5 key factors he sees driving the future, and what happens. Read the bottom post on the page first.’s+story&max-results=20&by-date=true <>


Fiction book, set ~50 (?) years in the future. Very well constructed scenarios; thought-provoking. Has a sequel, too, which is also good.


USSR collapse, first-hand account. They had a number of things going for them–that we don’t–that softened the blow. If you plan well ahead, there are concrete actions you can take.



Argentina economic collapse, first-hand account. He advises preparing in a number of ways, now while it’s easy and relatively economical. This isn’t theoretical–he actually went through this.



BBC series about a family living for several months in a very old house in London, 1900 style. They spend a lot of time doing certain everyday things that we take for granted because various technologies do them for us.

PBS series about 3 families living like pioneers in Montana in the 1800s, over a summer. Fascinating to see what goes well, what doesn’t.

History Channel series on what would happen if people suddenly left the cities. Fascinating to see how quickly infrastructure crumbles. The best episodes include scenes of real life towns that have been abandoned. As the money runs dry for routine maintenance, cities get vulnerable and bad things happen.

Charts show signs of peak employment?

I came across this chart the other day.

Wallace April Employment 2013-05-23


It’s showing that the current “recovery” still hasn’t gotten the number of jobs up to where it was before the recession. And that this is historically unusual, at least looking as far back as 1947. It reminds me of the 16 year chart of the S&P index, which appears to show a ceiling at a certain level. It makes me wonder if we’re seeing peaks left and right–oil supply, stock market, employment?

16 year SPY

I shared the top chart with a colleague who wondered aloud about how the employment numbers look when compared to the overall population of working people. General unemployment statistics are hard to interpret since people who don’t find work within 18 months are dropped from being counted as unemployed (clever trick!), which leads me to look at the number of overall jobs as a potentially more meaningful statistic.

I visited FRED, the free online statistics website, and got data to create the following chart:

employment gap


Although FRED currently only has the US population of working age stats out to 2011, it paints an interesting story in terms of the gap between the number of people and the number of jobs.

On the one hand, there will always be a gap because of factors like people who work but aren’t counted as employed, people who are too disabled to work, people who don’t have to work for a living, and so on. But in any case the trend of the gap is valuable to look at.

The US working age population seems to be continuing up on a smooth line, while the number of jobs seems to have plateaued. If that’s the case, then we should expect to see the ride line above, % gap, continue to grow in the coming years.