Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CVII

Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)
3 min readMar 11, 2023
Teotihuacan, Mexico (1988) Photo by author.

Our Future Will Be One Of Local Self-Sufficiency

Another of my comments on The Honest Sorcerer’s latest post, that discusses our inevitable low-tech future…

Yet another excellent look into what is likely to befall humanity in the not so distant future. And, as has happened once again, your thinking is quite similar to my own on these complexities that are going to be lost as living simplifies for us.

My latest Contemplation (https://medium.com/p/fb31a90f8b00) takes a slightly more generalised tangent by reviewing what archaeologist Joseph Tainter outlines as the common elements in a complex society’s ‘collapse’ and warns to pay particular attention to these pre/historically-recurring aspects and perhaps consider how to address them if we hope to mitigate even slightly the approaching storm.

The loss of complex technologies that you discuss is certainly one of the more consequential for our species, especially those most dependent upon them in so-called ‘advanced’ economies (the golden billion as you term this privileged minority).

As Tainter highlights, one of the more significant consequences for any complex society that is experiencing collapse is that “[r]emaining populations must become locally self-sufficient to a degree not seen for several generations.”

And as I argue in my writing: “This local self-reliance aspect I can see as a problem for many communities. And it may be especially so for modern society and its dependence upon technologies that will break down and/or become unusable due to their fuel/power requirements. Add to this the fact that the vast majority of regions depend significantly upon trade (or energy-averaging systems) to ensure such necessities as potable water, food, and regional shelter needs, and few if any people hold the skills/knowledge for self-sufficiency and it seems certain mass chaos will ensue.”

There is perhaps something both beautiful and frightening in John Michael Greer’s “Collapse now and avoid the rush” warning[1].

What sliver of ‘hope’ I have remaining is that some of humanity (particularly those amongst the privileged minority that have been the largest contributors to our predicament) quickly sees through the fog that is the ‘complex technology will save us’ narrative — let alone their faith in the pursuing the infinite growth chalice — and move swiftly towards acknowledging, accepting, and preparing for what is for all intents and purposes the final endgame of this tragic experiment: the Great Simplification[2]/Long Emergency[3]/Long Descent[4]/Crisis of Civilisation[5].

As I suggest elsewhere: “If we were wise, as our taxonomic nomenclature suggests, we would be learning (very quickly) how to live without all the complex industrial technologies that currently sustain us. We would be attempting to relocalise as much of our truly important needs as is possible. We would be learning not only how to live without the various complexities (especially technologies) we have become dependent upon but how to: procure potable water; grow our own food; and, draw upon local resources for our shelter needs.”

If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers). Encouraging others to read my work is also much appreciated.

[1] See this.

[2] See this.

[3] See this.

[4] See this.

[5] See this.

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Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)

A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...