The thread increasingly surrounded by darkness Riding out the winter (decline) of industrial civilization

From an article on urban exploration

Download 2.4 Mb.
Size2.4 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   37

From an article on urban exploration:

As abandoned buildings such as the cannery lose one purpose, they gain another. Nature returns in dazzling and poignant ways: Rust paints steel doors in multicolored patinas; ivy envelops offices and break rooms like a clenched fist; feral cats rest in vents. It's this gray zone between civilization and the natural world that Tunnelbug finds especially attractive. "As a photographer, I think the decay, how these buildings age, is really beautiful."
It’s not just beautiful, what else is it?
Design a sound piece for inside the sugar silos—ridiculous echo.
Various links to urban exploration articles on bearings site—maybe valuable for project description
A post-industrial west
Professor on ASPO committee

Contact: John Theobald, Communication, (530) 752-4916 office, (707) 322-6340 cell,

Things to acquire:

*Bicycle taillight

Bicycle overhaul—fix click


*patch kit

Stamp (order online)


*Small scissors


Crappy shorts

Tent pole?

Front tire?

Hard drive?

New connector bar for rear rack?

The ride begins on the west coast of the new world—the farthest into Europe’s overflow continent—the terminus of manifest destiny expansion. Backed up against the pacific ocean, there is nowhere else to go. Heading east is like going back in time in this sense.
Lexus Tiles- the perfect artifact of the age of exuberance

A warning to readers—this project assumes the reader understands overshoot, accepts our circumstances and the consequence of our position. This project is not for those in denial. (see chart)

From Forward:

One sure way to have a healthy seemed to be through rapid economic growth geared to modes of production which consumed larger and larger amounts of energy.
They were voyages of imagination, voyages which led us on a joy ride of extravagant expectations.
But petroleum that was deceptively cheap has played a major role in nurturing this illusion of perpetually expandable abundance.
Such a technology based ego-trip now means that the future holds for us not merely a regrettable leveling-off of economic growth, but an institution threatening prospect of some deindustrialization and some decline of population.
“…courage (to face the future) based upon a genuinely appreciative recollection of our heritage, are the best means of equipping ourselves to adapt to the uncertain future brought upon by our past “successes.”

…development of ways to exploit the planet’s energy savings deposits, the fossil fuels. The resulting opportunities for economic and demographic exuberance convinced people that it was natural for the future to be better than the past.
The idea that mankind could encounter hardships that simply will not go away was unthinkable in the Age of Exuberance.

A country fumbling (with the rest of mankind) to come to terms with post-exuberant circumstances

the less optimistic the assumptions we let ourselves make about the human prospect, the greater our chances of minimizing future hardships for our species
The alternative to chaos is to abandon the illusion that all things are possible

We became heavily dependent upon hunting for natural deposits of these substances, upon continually vast quantities for our use. Euphamistically calling the new versions of these ancient activities “finding” and “delivering,” or “exploration” and “production.”


Yet most contemporary political proposals for solving problems of economic stagnation or inequity amount to plans for speeding up the rate of drawdown of non-renewable resources.
Looking at the news: territorialist responses to the end of exuberance
42—launch complex

Little wonder that the illusion of limitlessness was reinforced by space flights.
Welcome to the winter of industrial civilization

Welcome to the twilight of the age of exuberance

Welcome to the age of numbers getting smaller

Wecome to the age of contraction

Welcome to the age of limits

because the low cost was temporary, it was an unrealistic basis for a way of life.

men and women could live in abundance, working toward their own goals in their own way without interfering with each other’s pursuits of happiness. That was the essence of the American dream, and that was what most fundamentally was changed by moving into a post-exuberant age. It was in America that the dream had seemed most obviously valid, so in some ways it was especially difficult for Americans to face the inescapable task of reassessing customary assumptions.

Santa Barbara offshore drilling history

Project form a post exuberant paradigm—assumes that the age of exuberance is well over and that we’ve begun the process of adjusting to post-exuberant realities

Widespread sense of despair and loss of faith in the future were expectable repercussions of the post-exuberant condition of our world.

We are now a chronically depressed nation—loss of faith on the project of civilization and America’s mission to export democratic capitalism all over the globe.

Living in the twilight of the American dream and of exuberant way of life is inevitably painful.
The right kind of nostalgia can be a legitimate and rational response to irreversible change for a nation or a world, just as it is for an aging individual.
Cultivate an ennobling form of nostalgia
106 Succession

The Age of Exuberance in which the American dream unfolded was an early seral stage in the succession of New World community types. The post-exuberant age is a later stage in the same sere.
109 Reducing carrying capacity by creating deserts:

burying arable land under buildings, high-ways, mine tailings, junkyards.
110—ruins, abandonments and ghost towns testify to the relevance of succession in human history.

Nor can a fossil-fueled industrial civilization prevail as a climax (community), affording affluence forever.

Agriculture, ecologically understood, is the continual undoing of succession.

The carrying capacity of the habitat, of course, is simply the maximum number of living individuals the available resources can indefinitely support. It is limited not just by the finite supply of food, but also by any other substance of circumstance that is indespensible but finite in quantity. The leas abundant necessity will be the limiting factor; it may not be food. For industrial developed countries it began to appear in the 1970s that the limiting factor might be oil, while in some places it was water.


Prosthetic Man: nature’s evolutionary breakthrough

A shift from: (a) selective retention of organic traits on the basis of their adaptive utility to (b) selective retention of prosthetic tools on the basis of their adaptive utility.
They are detachable parts of extended human beings. The walls of our buildings and the shells of our vehicles are (like the Eskimo’s fur parka) a kind of prosthetic skin with which we surround our enlarged selves, enclosing mini-environments within them.
A way to fill niches all over the planet

Life has always depended on opportunities for living systems to obtain “resources” from their environment, and to exhaust spent substances (with autotoxic properties) into the environment. So the advantage to be gained by enclosing a piece of the environment within the system has always depended on there being plenty of environment left outside.
(Nuclear waste as the most extreme example of a human process that produces an autotoxic substance)
161-- Africa

Collapse of fiscal webs thus confronted millions of people with loss of access to carrying capacity, as truly as if purchasable resources has actually ceased to exist.

“Future shock” was his apt new term; forced adjustment to new ways can be as traumatic as forced adjustment to foreign ways.
165-166—war as an accelerator of drawdown

Preparations for World War II began to spur massive industrial activity—with even more than the usual disregard for long-range draw down costs.

The war economy nurtured demand for consumer goods for the soldiers and for these re-employed makers of military material; furthermore, it provided “the correct psychological atmosphere,” enabling the civilian sector to accept painful re-adaptation. War psychology overcame natural human resistance to departure from custom. The war also used elaborate technology and drew down the world’s stock of natural resources.
Also, war as a good way to relive some anxiety regarding one’s redundancy—it’s them who are the surplus people.
Richmond Shipyards

William Catton points out in his 1982 book, Overshoot:
“Preparations for World War II began to spur massive industrial activity—with even more than the usual disregard for long-range draw down costs.”
The Richmond Shipyards, which began production in 1940, epitomize the indifference to resource limitations nurtured by the war economy. By 1944, assembly line techniques had reached such a level of efficiency that it took a ridiculously short two weeks to complete a liberty ship. A staggering 747 of such vessels were produced at the Richmond site. Additionally, the war provided “the correct psychological atmosphere” for civilians, especially women and minorities, to “accept painful re-adaptation,” enabling them to depart from custom and occupy untraditional roles (like welding together colossal boats for the war effort).
Although not advised, it is still possible to stroll the lengths of sub-surface quays where thousands of shipyard laborers spent most of their workday. Like many structures built at the convergence of land and sea, they are not faring well.
wikipedia page

37°54'26"N 122°22'3"W

(Not to mention the willingness to accept demeaning generic titles like “Wendy the Welder.”)
San Francisco Naval Shipyard:

You can hire a private security force to guard a place; enclose it in a ten-foot razor wire fence, and folks are still going to find a way in to have a look around. Actually, it wasn’t that tough getting into Hunter’s Point. Their expensive fencing has some serious holes, and the property is so vast that it’s tough to keep an eye on. Nevertheless, I slinked around that place like 007 in a Soviet missile silo. At one point, while waiting impatiently for a group of construction workers to head to lunch (before daring to proceed deeper into enemy territory), I called an old friend in the middle of his workday. I told him where I was and asked for confirmation that this was indeed what I had chosen to do with my life. After all, I was in my twenty-ninth year and hiding beneath a dilapidated pier on an abandoned Navy base. On a Tuesday.
The Shipyard is an urban explorer’s paradise. I found conflicting dates for when the base was officially closed but it’s obvious nothing has really gone on there for quite some time. It seems the main impediment to “rehabilitation” for Hunter’s Point is the prohibitively high cost of cleaning up all the toxic shit that’s been dumped there over the decades. It was the military’s chosen site for the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory (torturing animals with radiation) and, according to hundreds of menacing yellow placards posted throughout the property, radioactive contamination is cause for concern.

There is evidence, however, that detoxification efforts are underway. I watched a parade of trucks pick up and carry off large steel containers, supposedly filled with contaminated debris. In other areas, someone has done an excellent job covering football field sized parcels with heavy black plastic. Wouldn’t want poisonous dust blowing into the low-income neighborhood just outside the fence.

The thing is, if and when the shipyard is “revitalized,” an extraordinary place will be replaced by more of the same. My visit to Hunter’s point included moments of exceptional beauty (see Blue Room). I watched squawking gulls circle over a warehouse roof carpeted with vibrant green grass. I listened to the wind slam doors inside a high-rise dormitory that had long ago been stripped of its floor-to-ceiling windows. Such experiences will not be offered by the cafés, greenways and retail establishments the designers of “21st century living” are dreaming up. One can only hope that the current economic climate, foiling the grandiose plans of many developers, may preserve this unique and historically significant place a bit longer.
current revitalization efforts:

wikipedia page

37°43'24"N 122°22'4"W

We had to learn to see recent history as a crescendo of human prodigality

Already infected the other nations with an insatiable desire to emulate that prodigality. The infection preceded recognition of the depletion

(world’s cheapest car)

Blessed are the less prosthetic, for they shall inherit the ravaged earth.

Adequate sustenance production depends on highly coordinated social mechanisms. These can be fragile.
232-- What should we have done with the hydrocarbons:

It is high time to learn that the wisest “use” of coal and oil may be to leave them underground as nature’s safe disposal of a primeval atmospheric “pollutant”—carbon.


Yet the abandonment of self-restraint has been naively advocated during frustrating times by various self-appointed world-savers of either Cargoist or antinomian persuasion.
General affluence simply cannot last in the face of carrying capacity deficit.

So it seems hardly probable that mankind on any large scale will adapt gracefully to de-development.” The urge toward worldwide development remains strong and pervasive. We are long out of tune with the mores of asceticism.

Is there any chance that we can learn to practice such mandatory austerity unless we can first be spared the widespread, deliberate badgering of people into wanting more, more, more? With the new paradigm we should begin to recognize the increasingly anti-social ramifications of advertising. We need to discredit and wind down this want-multiplying industry, perhaps even legally suppress it. In an overpopulated and resource-depleted world, an industry fundamentally devoted to making people dissatisfied with what they have, however respectable an enterprise has come to seem by standards derived from pre-ecological thoughtways, is an industry dedicated to augmenting human frustration. In an age of overshoot it is bound to foster the resentful attitudes that could turn inescapable competition into destructive conflict.

Ironically, the less hopeful we assume human prospects to be, the more likely we are to act in ways that will minimize the hardships ahead for our species.
Industrialization: make use of fossil energy (def.) the draw down method of increasing carrying capacity.

Suggested films: (in about me section?)

Isabella Huppert film—a taste of things to come perhaps

Darwin’s nightmare—a stunningly beautiful critique of capitalism/globalization

What a way to Go: life at the end of empire—not pretty but full of information
Your utopia is beyond your own lifetime—makes things difficult

Photograph myself in front of ____- post on google earth panographica

Recommended films:

Time of the Wolf (2003)

Darwin’s Nightmare

What a way to Go: life at the end of empire

Brilliance from Reinventing Collapse:

Civilizations do collapse – this is one of the best-known facts about them – but as anyone who has read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire will tell you, the process can take many centuries.

Post economic collapse:

…society begins to spontaneously reconfigure itself, establish new relationships and evolve new rules, in order to find a point of equilibrium at a lower rate of resource expenditure.
Economic collapse gives rise to new, smaller and poorer economies

First of all, it smelled different: the smog was gone. The factories had largely shut down, there was very little traffic and the air smelled wonderful! The stores were largely empty (in the sense of being quite uncontaminated by consumer goods) and often closed.

There is a lesson to be learned here: when faced with a collapsing economy, one should stop thinking of wealth in terms of money. Access to actual physical resources and assets, as well as intangibles such as connections and relationships, quickly becomes much more valuable than mere cash.


It takes a brave and independent nature to follow your own orders, rather than try to fulfill the expectations of the people around you.
24-25—about the automobile

Not having a car makes one, within the American suburban landscape, a non-person.
The fossil fuel-based growth economy

Thus, all successful adaptations to the new circumstances will have to be made at the local level, and will have to rely on existing infrastructure, inventory and locally available talents and skills.

life simply slows to a crawl. The rush hour traffic is gone and multi-lane highways are reclaimed for other impoverished uses, such as trailer parks, open air markets and shantytowns.

Suburbia will leave no majestic ruins, and even a post-industrial population of the future will have little trouble reclaiming it as farmland or pasture.
…elevated roadways will be lined with barrels to collect rainwater (which will run clear once industry and transportation have both largely shut down).
Bicycle as the ideal post-industrial form of transportation.
75—children as an industrial product

an income was not a prerequisite for survival.
Beyond the inconveniences associated with having zero disposable income, there is a fantastic social stigma attached to being broke, although an ever-growing group of people in the US gets along quite well without much money at all, and many more could do the same.

There is also a growing group of conscientious economic underachievers and various categories of the creatively underemployed,

The penniless are forcefully prevented from enjoying their freedom from economic necessity, and only the very strong-minded ones can endure with their dignity intact. It takes a great deal of skill to be penniless in the US even with the economy still functioning.
96-97-- education

To me, an educated person is someone free in mind and spirit to explore the universe on their own. Perhaps to you it is just someone who can get a job that pays well; in which case, therin lies your undoing.

It is, however, not allowable to refer to America as a chronically depressed country, an increasingly lower-class and impoverished country or a country that fails to take care of its citizens and often abuses them.

An equally useful quality in a crisis is apathy.

It takes a lot of creativity and effort to put together a fulfilling existence on the margins of society. After a collapse, these margins may turn out to be some of the best places to live.

reducing your needs…
The new normal is that nothing will ever be the same.
Normalcy is not exactly normal: in an industrial economy, the sense of normalcy is an artifical, manufactured item.
127 group’s tendency to reject the idea of poor prospect—it’s unprofitable

in a consumer society, anything that puts people off their shopping is dangerously disruptive…
129 psychological insurance:

instead of going through the agonizing process of losing and rediscovering one’s identity in a post collapse environment, one could simply sit back and watch events unfold.

130 Detachment and indifference can be most healing, provided they do not become morbid. It is good to take your sentimental nostalgia for what once was, is, and will soon no longer be, up front, and get it over with.
Deprived of discomfort, our bodies turn into a tender, marshmallowy mess.
141-142 About Transience:

And so it turns out that there may be plenty of places to visit, but there may not be a single place to go and stay.
The nomad is likely to develop heightened situational awareness and an acute sense of danger, and flee before deteriorating circumstances instead of becoming trapped by them.
Discovering a good place to stay is likely to be the result of a happy accident rather than careful planning. And until such an accident occurs, the best plan is to keep moving.

We should expect drugs and alcohol to become one of the largest short-term entrepreneurial opportunities

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   ...   37

The database is protected by copyright © 2019
send message

    Main page