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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Seer's picture

You're a dumb ass- fixed it (punctuation/grammar) again :-)

Fix It Again Timmy's picture

We certainly can do better than we have...

Darkness's picture

His name says everything:




You've got to be fucking kidding me...

samsara's picture

Thanks for READING the words.  I guess he should change his name to Bob GoodGuy and be more widely read huh?

Thanks for showing your intelligence... 

Darkness.  You've got to be fucking kidding me....

Darkness's picture

One day you are going to wake up and realize you just listened to a guy whose title is "ARCH DRUID".


I will be laughing all the way to the bank. 

Yen Cross's picture

Let's really put some fire in the hole...  After all, this thread is about the impending apocalypse?

  You can visit my other site.  " Famine and Petulance" . I'll throw in a free bag of "salted locusts" for you...

   It's another day in the dog pound folks. Wisdom will set you free...

Seer's picture

So, you really don't believe that there's going to a great unveiling coming?  You believe that the seams can hold?  I dunno... things are really starting to strain.  Only three states that things can be in: 1) Stasis; 2) Expansion; or 3) Contraction.  Stasis really is only a brief interlude between 1 and 2.  We've had LOTS of 1, in which case I'm seeing the greater odds of Contraction happening.  If I'm not mistaken I'm thinking that Greer is saying that things are going to contract.

BTW - That's Chris Martenson's web site.  You really ought to watch his series Crash Course; it covers lots of things, much about money too (he's a believer in physical).

1C3-N1N3's picture

Zymurgy, bitchez!

swmnguy's picture

Maybe it does make me a bleeding heart tree-hugging anti-American libtard sap, but I was raised to abhor waste.  Childhood poverty will do that to a guy.  Now as a middle-aged guy who has dragged himeslf into solid middle-classness, I like have an efficient car and using it as little as I can.  I like having a well-insulated house with efficient appliances and fixtures, and solar panels on the roof.  I like paying about $5 a month for electriicity, and $50 a month for natural gas hot water and heat, even in a very cold part of the Lower 48.  I like having turned my yard into a garden, full of fresh produce all summer and fall.  I like canning and freezing the food I grew.  I like eating scratch-cooked meals from real ingredients.  I like being able to fix the things I have, rather than constantly buying new things all the time.  Why not?  I'd rather not be dependent on those who have never shown me conspicuous altruism, and in fact loudly proclaim they have no responsibility to me.  Heck, I just take them at their word, and take care of me and mine.

In short, I really like to live beneath my means.  My grandfather, lifelong hard-right-winger that he was, died disgusted with Americans in general and Republicans in particular.  He would say, "They've all forgotten the word "Conservative" has the word "Conserve" right in it!  It's like we all lived through the Depression for nothing, the way these people love waste because the people selling them things tell them it's "freedom."  When the gravy train ends, we'll get what we deserve."

My grandfather was right.  Anyone with half a brain should know it isn't individualism to make oneself dependent on the kindness of strangers.

Spastica Rex's picture

Since one man's waste is another man's thrift, one is never allowed to comment on the consequences of consumption.

I'm being sarcastic.

Hedonism, in the sense of "he who dies with the most toys, wins," hasn't been a seriously considered philisophical orientation for a couple hundred years, at least.

Hedonism and profligacy are truly the birtright of the contemporary Western man.

I'm being sarcastic.

A petri dish doesn't ever tell the bacteria what to do, it kind of just happens.

Buckaroo Banzai's picture

There is a point in between, where one can thrive without being profligate.

IridiumRebel's picture

Your Grandad sounds like my grandad.

q99x2's picture

I thought you had to overthrow the ruling elite, banksters and move to bitcoin before you could doing anything to prolong life on this planet.

And, first you had to let them destroy everything in their attempts to hold onto power.

Ok I'll continue with my belief that they will destroy themselves and out of the ashes and without banks a peer to peer currency will cause, democracy of the people, and allow all laws to be written by the people and that will keep the world turning.

It is inevitable.

Seer's picture

"and out of the ashes and without banks a peer to peer currency will cause, democracy of the people, and allow all laws to be written by the people and that will keep the world turning."

Yeah!  Just like the last time!  Oh, wait!

Problem is is that the problem is MUCH more than just currency.  Our economic system is supposed to reliably/honestly measure what we have so that we can figure out how to distribute it.  It's the same economy that also doesn't take into consideration the finiteness of the planet: OK, it's the people how have programmed it...  I'm kind of thinking that changes the closes on the pig ain't going to change the fact that it's a pig.  Just my hunch...  And no, I have no idea what "should" replace the "pig;" anyone suggesting otherwise teeters close to being a dictator: best approach is to get people thinking about it and let it evolve as needed (but it should NEVER be centralized OR BIG).

Poor Grogman's picture

For a "Little House on the Prarie" type this guy falls short of the "Logic Test".

He goes on to say..


"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. "

Does he not consider that a large % of that "energy" comes from Nuclear  Reactors?

The reality is that low energy living will not keep the current number of Euro-peons warm, dry, clothed, and well fed through winter.

Imagine all of them with coal fires to keep warm WTF???

The fact sucks I know, but there it is..

zilverreiger's picture

It's regardles of where the energy comes from.

Bicycle Repairman's picture

Yeah, I know this is all the fault of individual Americans.  Tell you what, sport, when you want to have the "system" save energy by ending wars, ending the transportation of goods half way around the world and by offering 50 mpg cars like we had available in 1979, then I'll think about winterizing my water heater.


epwpixieq-1's picture

Lets put it in this way, Energy is limitless, otherwise the IMMANENCE Universe would not be in CONSTANT MOTION. Having noted that, our current "scientific" culture (not to speak the common one) has the dogmatic view what Energy is VERY VERY LIMITED and mostly concentrated in something that can be burned.

Ones some naturally curious people start to realize that, the energy flow is all around us and can tapped, our civilization will have a chance.

As Tesla (the Father of Free Energy Movement), 110 years ago famously axiomized: "It is only a matter of time, when humans will attach their machinery to the very Wheelwork of Nature." ( in the way Tesla was able to attach his ).

I can only hope that we have this time.


my puppy for prez's picture

You know, you are so right about the "myopicness" of our scientific community regarding energy.  But I would beg everyone to remember these things:

Many, many fabulous scientific discoveries in free or non-oil energy sources have been discovered.  And many, many scientists on the brink of success actually were threatened by govts. or "dark groups" to stop what they were doing "or else".  So many technologies have been discovered, patented, the patent bought and then promptly shelved by those that would not gain from the implementation of said patent.  Happens all the time.

Funding for the development of these technologies is also a crucial factor.  But it seems that TPTB, whether govt. or corporate, are not motivated to invest in these things.  Look at how, when it became apparent that Tesla's discoveries would not be dependent on an energy grid, JP Morgan pulled his funding.  Later, Tesla went through all sorts of treacherous experiences, and eventually had much of his work stolen by "agents" and hidden away.

These are challenges which are difficult to surmount.  

Cosimo de Medici's picture

Though there is some kernel of value in trying to figure how to deal with the desire for infinite growth on a finite planet, little of what this ArchMalthusian fellow says is new.  Of more interest is that he seems to have decided both what constitutes EVERYONE's life well lived and also what is considered a proper use of finite resources.  Since I bow to no Earthly King, and see no evidence of kings in any other realm, I'll leave it up to me to decide if I want to use the scarce resources I can get my hands on either driving to the market or brewing beer for the Four Horsemen.  Both use a scarce resource.  Who is he to tell me what's best?  Prophet heal thyself.

Though it is hardly his main point, this fellow also seems to think, inter alia, that the old man shtupping the nubile female is embarrassing.  To whom?  If I'm embarrassed seeing it, then it's my problem.  The old codger doing the shtupping is making his own life choice, and no doubt couldn't care less what I think about it.  I believe it was Somerset Maugham who wrote that he had seen plenty of men who, upon reaching old age, regretted not having spent more time boozing and shtupping, but that Maugham had never met anyone who regretted actually having spent a lifetime boozing and shtupping.  I consider those words every birthday and every time I stroll whistling past a graveyard.  Shtupp now or forever hold your piece, so to speak.

I might opine---if a comb-over is embarrassment-worthy---that I can see the possibility that there are people who would feel embarrassment for the fellow who grows his hair waist length and matches it with a foot-long beard.  Unless, of course, we live by "to each his own".  On a long enough what does it matter?  I don't think I'm going to join his cult, though I will choose to keep my thermostat turned slightly to my own discomfort (that's my choice), and I'll walk because I happen to enjoy walking. 

mrktwtch2's picture

nikoli tesla invented a way to transmit electricity throught the air and could even use the earths electomangnectic field to do it (so no need for a power station )..this was done in 1920 but jp morgan had a vested interest in general electric so he cut telsas funding and burried the technology because he wouldnt be able to make money off of it (how dare you give away free enough of the world is running out of energy crap..