Guest Post: John Michael Greer: If the Four Horsemen Arrive, Offer Beer

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Adam Taggart of Peak Prosperity,

"We have a national mythology that limits are always bad. In fact, we have a national phobia of limits," wryly observes John Michael Greer: author, historian, conservationist, and proprietor of the popular weblog The Archdruid Report [21]. "We need to get past that."

We need to come to terms with the fact that we don’t have limitless energy, we don’t have limitless resources, we don’t have limitless time. All of these things are specific. They function within a finite world. And engaging in hand waving about well, human ingenuity is limitless. No, it isn’t. Okay, it may be immense, but it’s not limitless.

And so getting past that fetish of limitlessness strikes me as the most important thing. All of us are going to die – each individual person listening to this show and everybody else as well. That’s a limit we can’t get past. And you’ll notice that people who actually face that limit and say okay, I get this, I have a finite amount of years on this earth and them I’m going to die. What am I going to do with the time that I have? Those are the people that we call mature. Those are the people we call wise. Those are the people who go out and have a life instead of just frittering their time away.


I think we need to do that as a society. We need to say nobody guaranteed America its particular place in the sun. Nobody guaranteed that it would continue to hang together, or that this Constitution – which I think is a very smart document – will continue to function when it’s being ignored by almost everybody. We need to accept that the world’s not functioning in our favor, that we have to function within realistic sets of limitations within which everything should operate. And then we might actually be able to get off our duff and do something creative with the time we have on this earth.


If you’ve ever seen a fifty-year-old man trying to pretend that he’s seventeen, it’s embarrassing. It’s embarrassing to everybody and it rarely ends well. That’s what America is right now. It’s two hundred something years old. It’s not an adolescent anymore. It needs to ditch the bright red car, stop trying to pick up teenage chicks, stop the binge drinking, and actually deal with the fact that there’s only so many years left. You need to do something useful with that time and not go around with everybody else – you know, China and Europe -- just rolling their eyes and trying to pretend that they don’t notice how we’ve combed our hair forward over our bald spot.

So, then, what does using our time wisely look like?

Probably two-thirds of the energy we use in this country is wasted. Those of our listeners who have been over to Europe know that they don’t live in caves over there. They get by very comfortably on a third of the energy use per person than we use over here. We could easily -- easily -- decrease our energy use over a ten to twenty year period to European levels. And once we did so, we’d find that a lot of our international problems would go away in a hurry.


Okay, so the first thing, as we used to say back in the day, back in the 1970s and early 1980s when the whole appropriate tech movement was a growing concern, weatherize before you solarize. You first of all conserve what you have, then you can look at converting to renewables to do things with it.


What would we do that would be sensible? Get out of the empire business. If you do it voluntarily, as Britain demonstrated, you can maintain a lot. If it’s dragged from your cold dead hands, that’s not particularly helpful to you. We would be looking at rebuilding – we used to have the best rail system in the world. At this point, it would be a disgrace to a collapsing Banana Republic. We could fix that relatively easily. We’d provide inexpensive, safe, comfortable, easy rail travel all over the country at a tiny fraction of the energy we now waste on superhighways and air travel. I could go on for a week talking about things that we could do if we were actually going to be reasonable about making the best possible use of the energy we have left.


I would point out that one of the ways we can look at this is what an exciting time this is to be alive. What an astonishing opportunity we have to create – with our own lives, with our own choices – to literally shape the future ahead of us.


So what I advise is that people start by looking at their own lives and saying okay, how is my life going to change as energy constraints continue to squeeze in, and then get ahead of the change instead of being dragged along behind it. Get ahead of it, give yourself some space, work through the learning curve picking up the skills you’re going to need. Do it now, so that by the time it’s necessary, you’re comfortable with it, you know what you’re doing.


You’ve already insulated your place. You may have a solar hot water system in place if you can afford one. You’ve torn up some of the grass in back and turned it into a vegetable garden so that you can stretch out staples. You know how to cook from scratch so you’re not dependent on the vast corporate structure. You maybe started developing some tradable skills. You’ve got a little basement workshop where you’re doing something you can barter with your friends. You’re brewing beer in the basement, you know? That’s actually my number one suggestion for a lot of people – learn how to brew beer. If the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse knock on your door and you can offer each of them a cold one, they’re your friends.

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with John Michael Greer (46m:45s):


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max2205's picture

What are you smoking? Legal Colorado pot?

AllWorkedUp's picture

He's definitely smoking something. I wish I had a dime for every time one of these guys said it was all over, we're running out of energy. We're we supposed to run out in the 80"s?

When / if we get close you can bet that the big money interests already have the replacement technology or some new innovative way to replace oil or gas. They likely have it right now but there's too much money to be made in the current system.

This crap reminds me of the overpopulation argument, every time I hear it I wonder if those claiming we are too overpopulated have ever been in an airplane and seen all the empty land all over the world.

Oh yeah, and we'll be out of fresh water and O2 any minute now as global warming is putting us in tight supply.

Spastica Rex's picture

No Limits!

Just Do It!

Blah Blah!

Marco's picture

The US did run out in the 80s ...

Zero Govt's picture

nothing to do with banning/legislating against onshore oil exploration or pumping then

or shallow water oil exploration and pumping

or loading employees with so many rights, welfare and demands they made US labour uncompetitive

so when recently the US Govt spat their dummies out the pram how much oil's imported, as US production has been in terminal decline because of Govt micro-meddling for decades, they blamed everyone and everything, but themselves

f'n arseholes

Seer's picture

Yeah, it's government's fault that we can't drain it all now!

Drill baby drill!

The world's full of yummy chocolate nuggets, an infinite amount!

As long as Big fucking entities exist we're going to be screwing ourselves.  Doesn't matter whether it's govt or "business." (I use quotes because if you look close enough there's little difference- so, it's why I slap folks who are only "zero govt" but are OK with "big business" [not saying you're one]).

We're going to be blaming everyone for our ignorance of the exponential function...  "Advanced civilization" my ass...

Mentaliusanything's picture

Don't forget the Clarion Call... We are all going to Drown as sea levels rise due to Global "warming", glaciers melting and polar ice thinning.

For goodness sake Glaciers have been melting since the last ice age and when they do, they make lovely fertile valleys.

But, But But.. The Kiribati Islands are drowning!  Well Yes, I guess there is that perspective but a better one would be to acknowledge that the tectonic plate upon which they sit is sinking at one end and rising at the other. It a bit like Venice flooding today. The bloody place has sunk 8 inches in the last 40 years. Its not the ocean rising.

Its the fear of the sky falling or the boy crying wolf.

However the human race is a Virus upon the earth and 2% growth in anything will mean a doubling in 36years (rule 72) and thats a doubling of everything energy, food, water, human waste and pollution.

And still we hear cries for 4,5,8% economic growth less we deflate.

Fucking insanity. Stop and think ... your on a petrie dish and your not getting off it (oh How I love George Carlins take on that)

Seer's picture

Humans are their own viri.  But, yes, good to see someone else who understand the perils of perpetual growth on a finite planet.

Climate change, IS real.  If it weren't then we wouldn't be here today.  One can argue over what causes major climactic shifts, but one cannot argue that they don't happen.  Further, given that the earth does in fact have cycles, it's a good bet that one will occur again.  As someone with a penchant toward farming I'd have to say that I'm partial to the description presented by John D. Hamaker in his book The Survival of Civilization: it's basically nature performing a big re-till of the earth.

my puppy for prez's picture

I think climate change is a combo of planetary cycles AND geo-engineering.

Winston Churchill's picture

Weather is real ,no argument.

Man made climate change is whole different matter.

We cannot debate anything these days without Newspeak corrucpting

the basis of the conversation.

Flakmeister's picture

The Dude, but with a clue....

"That renewable energy just tied the room together"

falak pema's picture

wow what a beard. But he is right about peak resources; even if his beard has not peaked, its not a buzzard's beak.

Than heaven for leeetle mercies. 

Zero Govt's picture

his beard is sapping his brain for resources ..that's why he's so stupid

Yen Cross's picture

  When the"4 Horsemen" arrive, I'll tell the "4 Bitchez" that they're late...

jumbo maverick's picture

Yeah see War's horse over there threw a shoe so we had to stop for him. Sorry we so late.

Col_Sanders's picture

"The Archdruid Report"...



And this person criticizes fifty-year-olds who act like teen-agers?

It's not even that I necessisarily disagree with much of what he says, but...

Just damn.

CPL's picture

Shut up and drink your beer

samsara's picture


Read some of his stuff some time.  He might be one of the most highly read(history, and lots more) writers we have today.  Don't be put off by the Archdruid thing..  Ignore that and just read what the man has to say. 

His articles (which I have read many many) are some of the best researched, and well written ones I come across( and I read ALOT).

His perspective is unique, and since he lives a VERY simple life,  he has time for something that I think is often overlooked today.  He actually has time to REFLECT and PONDER before he puts pen to the paper.

Give him a chance,  think of most of the 'Great' writers.  We would most likely not want to trade lifes with many of them... Take Hemmingway, Poe... pick one.

He did a 5 part fiction piece about how the empire might come to it's end just recently.  Highly suggest reading it.


Give him a chance.  I and VERY suprised and VERY happy that ZH posted him.

One of the reasons I love ZH.  TD casts his net wide and includes many different perspectives. 




AllWorkedUp's picture

Please Colonel, this guy is just another green eating libtard. Move along.

Karlus's picture

Pass the patchouli, the compost pile is starting to stink again

stacking12321's picture

he is indeed an archdruid.

why is that a problem for you?

is your narrow-minded thinking incapable of considering the possiblity that someone who has been given the title archdruid would be able to have cogent intelligent thinking that adds to our knowledge and understanding of the world?

why is "doctor" or "professor" better?

weak-minded people need labels as a crutch, because they are too lazy to look at things for what they are, without labels.

try going beyond your simple minded assumptions and actually listen what he has to say, greer makes a lot of sense.



Seer's picture

I recall that children tend to pick on one another over really stupid things.  Kind of like you did here.  Hm... I guess Greer's point IS valid!

Wakanda's picture

I don't brew beer, but I'll offer them some homegrown refer.  I mean, why not?

CPL's picture

Some good pipe weed to settle the edges of life.

A Lunatic's picture

The only renewable resource most Americans give a shit about is EBT cards..........

Seer's picture

I thought that most thought it had to do with landing the next version of iDistraction (tm).

lolmao500's picture

The vote in Greece has begun.

lolmao500's picture

Ready your foot, the can is gonna be kicked.

magpie's picture

the can is a barrel careering over a waterfall

lolmao500's picture


knukles's picture


Stale souvlaki for life!


(Greer and his thou shalt could make a fine psilocybin mushroom souffle collapse)

Peter Pan's picture

Approving a budget is not the same as applying it and achieving the projected revenue and expenses.

Seer's picture

No contest, I wear steel-toe'd boots!

ziggy59's picture

Who could refuse an IPA?
Well, maybe those that drink piss disguised with the word "Beer"on label.

You know who i speak of...

logicalman's picture

American beer is like making love in a canoe.

Fucking close to water!


ForTheWorld's picture

Only true of the "major" brews. I never had a bad microbrew when living in the Pacific Northwest, and I tried to sample at least one new one every two weeks for almost two years.

cbxer55's picture

Too true! My favorite, and I always have some in the fridge, is the dark variety of Heinekin Lager. Hitting one now with a bowl of really good chili.

Also Guinness Extra Stout, looks like used motor oil when in a glass.

outofhere's picture

50/50  Guinness ES and Fosters, great Black and Tan!

curly's picture

Yep.  And the Afghan tribesman and Mongol nomads live on probably less than 1/100th by living in tents, or yurts and burning dried animal dung for cooking and heating fires.

Reminded of my first visit to the rellies in the UK, High Wycombe not far outside of London.  Recently retired couple living in the same cottage they'd lived in for most of their lives.  All the interior doors shut to save heat, and a small coal-burning fireplace in the living room, and nice cozy sweaters all 'round, huddled around the fireplace drinking piping hot tea.  Yes indeed, voluntarily giving up the empire was good to them.

Fucking useful idiots and watermelons writing crap.


logicalman's picture

When the shit hits the fan they'll do a lot better than you.

According to you, they are useful idiots - you don't even have the 'useful' part.


my puppy for prez's picture

The high emotions of this thread are really cracking me up!

There almost seems to be an air of panic from those who angrily and defiantly scream for their right to all the goodies they have clung to as their source of identity.  If they want to define themselves by those "freedoms" and go out with their sportscars, bimbos, and latest gadget in their cold, dead hands, then fine.

But life and nature have a funny way of reminding us what is imperative, or even preferred, for conducting a meaningful life.

There was never a more humble, peaceful, contented man than my farmer grandfather.  I prefer to emulate his life than stubbornly cling to the abject emptiness of on-demand materialism.  

You can't take anything with you to the other side, but you CAN take the knowledge of a life lived in honor and leave a legacy for those that follow in your footsteps.

But it seems that so many in this world only care about themselves and the fleeting pleasure that they can obtain.  No one is perfect...NO ONE.  But living a nihilistic existence is just sad.... 

akak's picture

Curly, what a horrible, horrible life your poor relatives in the UK have --- I mean, damn, they probably don't even have smartphones and X-boxes!

Did you at least execute them and put them out of their manifest misery?

BigJim's picture

Their misery mostly left when he did.

my puppy for prez's picture

With "rellies" like you, who needs enemies?

Oldwood's picture

I can't waitto live in a high density housing project where I never have to guess what my neighbors are eating orwatching on the TV. It seems to me that there are a lot of people out there that are adults that don't want to live like a Berliner.