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← What A Way To Go: Life at the end of Empire (full movie)

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Showing Revision 4 created 01/27/2017 by Praveen Kulkarni.

  1. The picture you are about to see deals
    with the problem of self-destruction.

  2. Its purpose was to enable people to better
    understand the nature of this strange, tragic act.
  3. We shall not be able to diminish
    this great human affliction
  4. until more people do understand it
    and appreciate its seriousness.
  5. Voices in the Dark
  6. A lot of things about the world
    these days are very scary.
  7. My generation may be one of the first
    generations where a lot of us die...
    ...not of old age.
  8. Because a lot of us may not make it there.
  9. Global warming... it's gonna do this
    and our climate's gonna go weird and...
  10. another ice age or something.
  11. I think the scariest things aren't for me.
  12. The scariest things are thinking that I
    might leave a world to my children
  13. that would be really difficult and painful for them.
  14. I think we're all fucked. All of us.
  15. I think most of us in this room are
    gonna die before we reach...
  16. I don't believe that we would
    wipe ourselves out entirely.
  17. I believe that... I believe that
    we can probably fall down to...
  18. There's gotta be a way. There's
    gotta be a way to live through it...
  19. Once we're able to look at the world
    without blinders and see the
    really horrific mess we're making of it...
  20. We have got to change our whole idea
    of the way that the world works...
  21. I generally just feel like
    everything is out of balance.
  22. Nothing that I can do will make
    any impact on the planet.
  23. We're living a way that doesn't work.
    We have to live a way that does work.
    So it's gonna change.
  24. You can't change what's happening in
    Washington. You can't change what's
    happening over in Iraq.
  25. "We've met the enemy and he is us. "
  26. I guess I just tell myself that it's all gonna
    be OK. You kinda have to to keep going.
  27. It's not a happy thing to think about.
  28. There was a time in my life when I
    was having this recurring daydream.
  29. I'd be sitting in my car, radio blaring,
    slowly making my way forward
    through a fast food drive thru.
  30. I'd get to the window and they'd hand
    me my drink and my burger and fries.
  31. And as i waited for me change. . .
    off in the distance. . .
  32. a bright flash... and a rising cloud.
  33. And as the full force of the
    nuclear blast washed over me...
  34. the icy cold of my overturned
    Coke seeped into my jeans...
  35. I'd think to myself...
  36. ... what a way to go.
  37. Yeah I think that we might
    wipe ourselves off the Earth.
  38. Definitely. I feel like that's where we're headed.
  39. There's an emptiness that other needs...
  40. the real needs...
  41. the real desires aren't being met.
  42. And we're just scrambling
    with what our culture offers us.
  43. And our culture tells us... you know
    our culture tells us we will find love
  44. if we buy this lipstick and that
    make-up and these clothes and this car.
  45. I think it would be OK if we gave the Earth back
  46. to everybody else why is not as destructive.
  47. All the rest of the life on Earth.
  48. I was born in the American Midwest, central
    Michigan, the "water winter wonderland".
  49. I was raised in the arms of an extended
    rural family.: mostly farming folk...
  50. ...solid, hard working, quiet, giving.
  51. I was bom into warmth and plenty to eat, a
    sense of place, and a surety of security.
  52. And I was born into stories.
  53. Stories about the value of work
    and the right way to live.
  54. Stories about God and country, about
    community, loyalty, steadfastness, and resolve.
  55. Stories about the role and place
    of humans on this planet.
  56. Stories about our relationship
    to something we called "nature".
  57. I was born into stories.
  58. Nobody told me these stories.
  59. They didn't have to.
  60. The stories were the air I breathed, the water in
    which I swam, the ground upon which I walked.
  61. They were all around me.
  62. We didn't even know they were stories.
  63. We just thought they were the way things are.
  64. My world was a playground.
  65. There were fish to catch, boats to row,
    parades to watch, trails to hike,
  66. lakes to swim, snowmobiles to rlde,
    games to play, presents to open,
    and family to share it all with.
  67. The days would end with sunsets and fireworks
  68. and sometimes I would dance
    until I collapsed with joy.
  69. It was a magical land...
    cherry Popsicles and warm milk,
  70. birthday cakes and store-bought costumes
    and brand-new chairs under the tree.
  71. A land of giant geese, well-dressed poodles,
  72. talented birds and even more talented people.
  73. The Earth was our merry-go-round,
    our monkey bars, our swing set.
  74. As long as we didn't look down,
    everything would be just fine.
  75. I was born halfway up the population explosion.
  76. I was born on the slope of rising CO2 levels.
  77. I was born in the foothills of a mass extinction.
  78. I was born on the rocky rise of oil production.
  79. I was bom facing forward, looking ever
    upward, my first step a step upslope,
  80. a step into progress, a step into a
    vast and glorious human future.
  81. We were moving on up.
    There was no looking back.
  82. There was a mountain to conquer,
    and conquer it we would.
  83. All we had to do was climb a bit further.
  84. But the mountain we were climbing
    was not what we thought it was.
  85. Rather than rising from natural forces, the
    slopes up which we were headed were the
    results of imbalance and shortsightedness.
  86. In our efforts to progress, to succeed, to
    improve, to strive, to overcome,
  87. to manage, to shape, to solve, and to grow,
  88. we wielded huge new forces across the globe.
  89. We walked as giants upon the Earth,:
    unaware of the footprints we left behind.
  90. I have walked that path, unaware of my own
    big feet, enacting the stories of our culture,
  91. not stopping long enough to feel
    the instability of the slope underfoot.
  92. But in the late 80s, news of the ozone
    hole and global warming first hit me,
    and the ground began to shake.
  93. I stopped and looked
    around me for the first time.
  94. I got scared. I got involved.
  95. And then the shaking subsided.
    Or rather, I just got used to it.
  96. Life got more complex with the births of my three
    children. And there was climbing still to do.
  97. So I continued to climb.
  98. But the tremors were still there, underfoot.
  99. At night I slept, but fitfully, clenched with worries,
  100. my dreams assaulted by
    vague rumblings from the future.
  101. In my dreams, I would stand at the
    pinnacle of the present, and look
    out over the surrounding terrain.
  102. And it didn't look like I had thought it would. . .
  103. A faint howling in the distance pierces the night
  104. The monsters we have created
    Lumbering to rampant life
  105. Are heading even now toward our village
  106. Nuclear weapons
    biding their time
  107. Itching with purposes unfulfilled
  108. As hopeful fingers tremble near buttons
  109. Bunker Busters and Tactical nukes
  110. Suitcase bombs and terrorist acts
  111. Power plant accidents and leaking wastes
  112. Plutonium launched into space
    In rockets known to explode
  113. And depleted uranium poisoning the battlefield
    Depopulating the land
  114. Chemical warheads
    And biological black magicks
  115. Sarin and Soman and VX and phosgene
  116. Anthrax and smallpox and plague
  117. Enough to take out entire cities
    Enough to cover the planet
  118. And they don't care who lets them out
    As long as they get to play
  119. Others nasties lurch toward us on their own
  120. Old friends, new creations and recent escapees
  121. Ebola, Marburg, Lassa and SARS
  122. Swine Flu, Bird Flu, HIV and AIDS
  123. The rebound of tuberculosis,
    Cholera, malaria, and typhus
  124. Prions and mad cows
    Scrapie sheep and chronic wasting disease
  125. Cancers that eat away our lungs our brains
    Our breasts our testlcles and our ovaries
  126. And new monsters peer over the horizon
  127. Good intentions spliced to
    Blind arrogance and numbing greed
  128. Frankenfoods and Terminator seeds
  129. Herbicide tolerant and pesticide laced crops
  130. Patented Life
    Barely tested, quietly ticking. . .
  131. Let loose upon the land
  132. As if their creators, having looked at the world,
  133. Managed to learn nothing at all
  134. The monsters howls grow frenzied
  135. Chemicals in our land our sky our rain
    Our rivers our food our bodies our babies
  136. Rising male infertility rates and
    Superfund sites and ozone depletion
  137. Rivers dammed and salmon doomed
  138. Topsoil loss and fertilizer run-off
  139. Huge oceanic dead zones
    And depleted fisheries
  140. And the ghosts of silent whales
    Scraping over the corpses of coral reefs
  141. The monsters advance
    And forests collapse under their feet
  142. Leaving indigenous cultures battered,
    Homeless, soul-sick, or dead
  143. Disrupting water and oxygen cycles
    And turning soil into deserts
  144. As tigers and salmon and tree frogs and falcons
    Stumble down the path toward extinction
  145. Their heartrending voices
    Lost in the chatter of chainsaws
  146. And the coughing insults of bulldozers
  147. And all the while the climate is changing. . .
  148. Angry summers, insistent floods,
    Belligerent blizzards
  149. Grudging droughts and pissed-off hurricanes
  150. with poles warming and ice shelves calving
    Permafrost slumping and glaciers receding
  151. Sea levels rising and big cities sinking
  152. As ocean currents halt and superstorms gust,
    Deserts expand and rabbits run
  153. And locusts horde and army ants march
    And mosquitoes hunt and rodents overrun
  154. The balance undone
  155. Leaving crops destroyed and diseases vectored
    And famine and rioting and looting and war
  156. The ocean turns acld and corals
    And shellfish and planktons dissolve
  157. The disruption of food chains,
    The collapsing of ecosystems
  158. Tonight on the Weather Channel
  159. (commentator blathering)
  160. Watch it now, while you can
  161. Because oil is peaking,
    with no clear replacements
  162. Production will falter
    As demand keeps increasing
  163. And the price, which is rising now,
    will just keep on rising
  164. Imagine the impact to the global economy
    To the truckers and farmers
  165. To your neighbors
  166. Yourself
  167. Watch the bidding war rage
    From trade floors to battlefields
  168. Watch the Pentagon plan and the patriots act
  169. Go look out the window
    Do you feel a draft?
  170. World population is fueled by the input of oil
    We could reach 7 billion by 2013
  171. That's billions of bodies more
    Than the planet can sustain without oll
  172. We're consuming the planet and
    Poisoning the soil and the air and
    The water that we all need to live
  173. We're driving a high-speed train
    To the end of life
  174. And we're taking the rest of the planet
  175. Trillions upon trillions of living souls
  176. Along with us
  177. And all of this
  178. All of this
  179. All of this
  180. All of this
  181. is wrapped tightly inside a culture of denials and
    lies and absurdities so complex
  182. And so powerful
  183. That we can barely see through the smog
  184. The monsters are screeching
    At the village's edge
  185. So huge and so horrible
    That we cannot bear to look at them
  186. And we,
  187. Bound in a cultural straightjacket
    Of our own making,
  188. Slumber on as they draw near
  189. Working jobs we hate
    Consuming products that do not fulfill
  190. Distracting ourselves as best we can with
    Television drugs food sex and entertainments
  191. Hoping our leaders will find some answers
  192. Awakening, finally,
    In the still hours of early morning
  193. To the shapeless realization
    That they will not
  194. (alarm clock begins to beep and grows louder...)
  195. (click off)
  196. Ah. . . what a nightmare. . .
  197. Well, Johnny, you are in a pretty serious situation.
  198. But we believe - your mother and
    Mr. Benton and I - that you can
    make good without being sent away.
  199. There has always been a part of me that has
    suspected that I would see the end-of-the-world-
    as-we-know-it in my lifetime.
  200. It seemed built into the situation,
    a certainty of population dynamics,
  201. the inevitable end to Mr. Malthus' musings.
  202. At some point we would near the sun,
  203. our wings would fail, and we would
    plummet back to the earth.
  204. "Fuck!"
  205. New voices spoke of possible futures.
  206. "Hey can i have some of those purple berries?"
  207. Crosby, Stills and Nash
    sailed the Wooden Ships.
  208. "Shit, not again!"
  209. Riddley Walker wrote his connexions.
  210. And Charlton Heston ate Soylent Green with
    The Omega Man on the Planet of the Apes.
  211. "You maniacs!"
  212. The world looked insane to me but nobody
    else seemed to notice so I buried
    my thoughts and muddled on.
  213. Deep inside, this was tearing me to pieces.
  214. I remember looking in at night on my
    sleeping children, and feeling a deep
    and gnawing terror for their futures.
  215. But I locked my fears tightly in my heart, hit the
    snooze button, and slept a while longer.
  216. And then I came across Daniel Quinn and
    Derrick Jensen, two writers who helped me,
  217. with books such as Ishmael and
    The Culture of Make Believe,
  218. to recognize the stories of our culture,
    the beliefs and assumptions and fables
    that have shaped our lives,
  219. the fairy-tales we have told ourselves, the
    madness we have made manifest in the world.
  220. Quinn speaks of the Nazi regime, of Adolph
    Hitler and the story he told the German people.:
  221. a story about the lost destiny of the Aryan race,
    a story of oppression and defilement,
  222. a story of victory and vengeance
    and greatness regained.
  223. And Quinn explained how the entire nation,
    oppressors and oppressed alike,
  224. Jews and Good Germans and Gypsies and
    Gays, were all held captive by that story.
  225. We who live today inside the dominant global
    culture are similarly captives of stories.:
  226. stories that surround us like the air we breathe,:
  227. stories that we enact at our own peril,:
  228. stories that threaten the community of life itself.
  229. Have you heard the one about humans
    being separate from "nature", different,
    special, the pinnacle of creation?
  230. Or about humans being innately flawed -
    violent, selfish and greedy?
  231. How about the one that says that the world
    was made for human beings, to manage,
    control, and exploit as a resource,
  232. and that the world has
    no value beyond its utility?
  233. Or the story about there being only one
    right way to live, and one right way to
    understand and view the world?
  234. Or about how unlimited growth, competition,
    and production are all unquestionably good?
  235. Or the story that tells us
    that we can have and do
  236. anything we think we want,
    because there are no limits?
  237. There were people in the world looking
    squarely at our cultural stories,
  238. and at the global predicament,
  239. and seeing what I saw.:
  240. our culture, in its present
    configuration, could not last.
  241. I was not alone.
  242. But the transformation, or the
    collapse, still seemed far away.
  243. It would come one day. But not now.
  244. There was time. There was hope.
  245. Somewhere, there were
    people taking care of it all.
  246. And that's how it was for me, year after year.
  247. I lived the middle class American life.
  248. I lived the stories I had learned as a child
    and tried as best I could to ignore the
    rumblings of fear that haunted my depths.
  249. And then I started to work
    on this documentary. . .
  250. Three years later, having chewed our way
    through a mountain of books, articles, websites,
    magazines, newspapers, and documentaries,
  251. having attended lectures and
    meetings and salons and rallies,
  252. and having interviews with friends and neighbors,
    scientists and researchers and writers and
    activity and thinkers and feelers and more,
  253. and having talked and written and laughed and
    cried and worried and despaired and regained
    our power to plunge ahead again,
  254. one thing seems clear.:
  255. the global environmental, political and economic
    predicament we live in today is critical,
  256. the possible scenarios range
    into the highly disturbing,
  257. and the timeframe seems. . . well. . . imminent.
  258. It's as though we've awakened
    to find ourselves on a runaway train,
  259. hurtling wildly down the tracks, held
    in place by powerful cultural stories
  260. and fueled by our desperate consumption of the
    very heart, blood, bones and flesh of this planet.
  261. If we don't find some way to stop this train soon,
  262. we're going to reach the end of the line.
  263. So what do you see when you wake up
    on the train? I can tell you what I saw.
  264. I saw the ground beneath the pavement,
    the man behind the curtain, the monster
    under the bed, the real below the rails.
  265. The culture of Empire works every
    moment of every day to distract my attention,
    like a magician using sleight-of-hand.
  266. What happens when I look where
    the conjurer does not want me to look?
  267. I see the trick.
  268. I see the reality behind the illusion.
  269. I see, if I look long enough,
    that the Empire has no clothes.
  270. Ride with me a while.
  271. Look more closely at the train, and the tracks,
    and the terrain through which we're speeding.
  272. If we are to respond effectively, we'll need a
    clear understanding of the whole of the situation.
  273. For me, four aspects of our
    predicament stand out.:
  274. Peak oil, climate change, mass
    extinction and population overshoot.
  275. In the fall of 2005, Sally Erickson
    and I circled the country by train,
  276. meeting with people to talk
    about these issues, and many others.
  277. At some point you reach the place
  278. where you can't get it out any faster.
  279. So, when you get to that point you've reached
    the peak. Then we start downhill.
  280. And once we start downhill that's when
    economic collapse will occur.
  281. That's my friend Tom, talking about oll.
    Peak Oil. And Economic Collapse.
  282. At first I didn't get it. So I started reading.
    And on our trip I met with some people
    who knew more about the situation.
  283. Over the last 150 years we've
    created a society that runs on oil.
  284. And it's inevitable that we would have done so,
  285. because it's just such incredible inexpensive,
  286. convenient, energy-dense stuff.
  287. I spoke with Richard Heinberg, a core
    faculty member of New College of Callfornla
    and author of three books on Peak Oil.
  288. The problem, of course, is that oil is a
    non-renewable resource. So even
    when we first started using the stuff
    we knew that eventually we'd run out.
  289. I met with the journalist Paul Roberts,
    who wrote a book about oil depletion in 2004.
  290. At some point, since oil is a finite resource,
  291. you can't keep raising production.
  292. Usually this is about the halfway point.
  293. When you've depleted half of the resource
  294. it becomes harder and harder to raise
    production. Doesn't mean you run out.
  295. And a great deal of oil is still
    coming out of the ground.
  296. If we were to peak tomorrow we'd still have
    eighty-two and a half million barrels
    coming out of the ground every day.
  297. But it would be really hard to get
    eighty-three and a half million barrels.
  298. Gerald Cecil, a professor of Astrophysics at the
    University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has
    been so taken by the oil situation that he's now
    writing a book about it.
  299. The rate with which oil has been
    coming out of the ground has stagnated.
  300. It's stagnated at eighty four
    million barrels of oil a day,
  301. which sounds like an incredible number.
    But that's what we use to power
    ourselves at today's rate of use.
  302. And as the world population continues to grow,
    and as prosperity presumably continues to grow
    and people power up in their energy use,
  303. we get to a situation where there isn't any
    excess capacity to keep that powering going.
  304. And at some point you end up with a
    flat supply and a growing demand
    and you have serious problems.
  305. And that's the nature of peak oil.
  306. Are we at or near the peak of oil extraction?
    There are many signs that we are.
  307. Discoveries of new oil peaked
    right around 1963, '64.
  308. That was a long time ago.
  309. So we're not talking about a couple
    years of bad luck in exploration.
  310. This is a long-established trend.
  311. We've been discovering less oil with every
    passing year, to the point now where we're
    extracting and using about four or five barrels of
    oil for everyone that we discover.
  312. Now the oil industry responded in a number of
    ways. But one of the things it did was begin
    developing some amazing new technologies to
    help it find more oil faster.
  313. And despite this huge investment in technology,
    and these great leaps forward, the rates of
    discovery are still declining.
  314. Country after country is reaching its own
    national all-time oil production peak
  315. and going into decline.
  316. The US was one of the first to do it back
    in 1970. And now something like
    30 or 33 countries are past their peak.
  317. And so it's inevitable that within the
    very next few years we'll see the
    global peak in oil production.
  318. Nobody's ready for that.
  319. Not ready for what, exactly? What will
    the end of cheap oil mean for the world?
  320. I went to speak with the writer
    and activist Jerry Mander.
  321. I'd let myself believe that the real problems
    were decades away. Turns out they're
    probably right around the corner.
  322. All the structures that now exist -
  323. our urban formations,
  324. our transportation systems,
  325. our means of getting food,
  326. globalization as an economic model,
  327. capitalism as an economic model,
  328. which depends on constant expansion and
    growth and ever-more resources -
  329. cannot possibly continue to exist.
  330. Because they're all based on - the root base of
    all of it - is the existence of cheap energy.
  331. In order to avoid a deflationary
    depression we have to have continual
    growth in the money supply,
  332. which has to be based on continual
    growth in economic activity,
  333. which must be based on the continual
    growth in available energy and raw materials.
  334. We've built an economy based on the idea that
    It has to grow every year or else collapse.
  335. So, soon, the economy won't be able to grow.
  336. And all signs are that we may be facing a kind of
    global economic collapse because of peak oil.
  337. It seems that, if our economy is poised for
    meltdown, our agricultural system is doubly so.
  338. I spoke with local sustainable designer
    Harvey Harman and with writer Richard
    Manning about what he calls "the oil we eat".
  339. The average piece of food in your supermarket
    has traveled 3,000 miles or more to get there.
  340. So not only is it based on petroleum to grow it,
  341. but then it's transported, and refrigerated.
  342. And, you know, it's a system
  343. that's very dependent on cheap energy,
    and it's very energy-intensive.
  344. If we take a look at about 1940, and an
    American farmer, that farmer was using roughly
  345. a calorie of fossil fuel to make a calorie of food.
  346. Today that same farmer
  347. uses something like 10 calories of
    fossil fuel to make a calorie of food.
  348. That means that petrochemicals, fossil fuel,
    have become embedded in our food supply.
  349. if we run out of fossil fuel that strategy
    will collapse in a heartbeat.
  350. Sadly, with so much at stake, oil
    grows increasingly worth fighting for.
  351. My friend Ray said it best.
  352. Prices will naturally begin to rise
  353. and people will probably fight over it more.
  354. And the US will, almost certainly, with
    whatever means are necessary, make
    sure that we get everything we need.
  355. And so that will probably make
    for an unhappy rest of the planet.
  356. It's a permanent state of affairs. You know?
  357. The fuel crisis will be over in a
    couple of hundred million years.
  358. When everything has settled down and there's a
    lot more having been made from all of us
    having, you know, been squished back under.
  359. (laughs)
  360. It takes a long time.
  361. Peak oil got my attention.
    The ramifications are enormous.
  362. And if the oil situation is bleak, some say
    that the natural gas situation is even worse.
  363. As writer and professor Otis Graham said.:
  364. We've had three or four hundred years of
  365. fossil fuel - it's coming to an end.
  366. is that an historic turning point?
  367. it's breathtaking!
  368. Even more breathtaking is what
    happens when we burn the stuff.
  369. Scientists used to talk about climate
    change in terms of centuries. Now
    they're talking about decades.
  370. Now they're talking about next year.
    Now they're talking about now.
  371. My friends and neighbors
    are talking about it too.
  372. We've increased the levels of carbon
    dioxide in the atmosphere.
  373. Which traps heat in the earth's atmosphere.
    Which raises the temperature.
  374. The glaciers are melting. The sea ice is melting.
  375. The polar ice caps are basically melting.
  376. And I hate it. I hate feeling like
    we've done this to nature.
  377. Not to mention all of the animals,
    all of the wildlife, that are going to die.
  378. it'll begin to happen.
    it's already beginning to happen.
  379. it's happening everywhere.
    You know. it's happening!
  380. it's terrifying.
  381. it's a drag.
  382. That's putting it mildly.
  383. The only good thing I can think to say
    about climate change is that when I
    understood the climate situation, I
    spent less time worrying about oil.
  384. some people have said, and I
    think they're right about this,
  385. we're gonna run out of air to burn
    before we run out of fossil fuels to burn.
  386. in other words, the fossil fuels are
    creating the global warming problem,
  387. the CO2, and the pollution problems.
  388. And, if we keep using those, it's not really a
    matter of when we run out of fossil fuels.
  389. It's when we befoul the atmosphere so much,
    and create so much global warming, it's
    irrelevant how much gas we've got left.
  390. There. See what I mean? You feel
    better already, don't you?
  391. So, whom else could I speak with about the
    climate? Turns out I didn't have to go very far.
  392. William Schlesinger, Dean of the Nicholas
    School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
    at Duke University had this to say.
  393. We have raised, globally in our atmosphere,
  394. the concentration of carbon dioxide
  395. from about 280 parts-per-million in the late
    1800's to close to 380 parts-per-million today.
  396. That's roughly a 30% increase.
    And the projection is that it will
    be 550, 560, in the year 2050.
  397. Schlesinger's colleague at Duke, Professor of
    Conservation Ecology Stuart Pimm, added this.:
  398. There is now a strong scientific consensus that
  399. that has caused warming over the last
  400. several decades, maybe centuries, and there's a
    strong expectation that it will continue to do so.
  401. So. . .greenhouse gases on the rise.
    Temperature on the rise. More floods.
    More droughts. Rising sea level.
  402. It's been in the news for some time now.
    How does this impact the community of life?
  403. Birds are arriving earlier in the springtime.
    Plants are flowering earlier. Species'
    ranges are moving northward.
  404. We are seeing an extraordinary,
    strong signal, biological signal,
  405. of what global warming is doing for us.
  406. Crops and trees will grow in
    places they don't grow today.
  407. We have a lot of suspicion that
    they may not grow as well.
  408. And we're beginning to see extinctions of
    species that have literally no place
    else to go as the climate gets warmer.
  409. There's one impact I found particularly sobering.
  410. The carbon in the atmosphere. The carbon in
    the atmosphere goes into the ocean,
  411. it gets absorbed in the ocean as,
    I want to say, carbonic acid. . .
  412. Changes in the atmosphere, for example,
  413. of carbon dioxide can be buffered by absorption
  414. of the carbon dioxide into the oceans.
  415. That as you do that, you do change the acidity of
    the oceans. And we are finding that there's a
    measurable change in the acidity of the oceans.
  416. And that is making it harder for the plankton to
    form their shells. And if there's a plankton die-
    off. . . that's the bottom of the food chain.
  417. Plankton, as well as corals, are threatened not
    only by rising acidity, but by rising temperatures.
  418. Phytoplankton levels have declined by as much
    as a third in some northern oceans.
  419. And this has resulted in significant
    impacts to fish and krill and bird populations.
  420. But the reported dangers go far beyond a
    breaking of food chains, which is bad enough.
  421. Phytoplanktons produce half of
    the oxygen we breathe. Half.
  422. And they are a major carbon sink.
  423. When plankton dies, more carbon remains
    in the air. Which means more warming.
  424. On top of this, new evidence shows
    that climate can shift very rapidly.
  425. Slow changes can build. . . to a
    tipping point. . .and the system can
    then shift abruptly to a new state.
  426. this is happening in the oceans, where a global
    current known as the grand conveyor belt is now
    being impacted, with possibly disastrous results.
  427. As Douglas Crawford-Brown, Director
    of the Carolina Environmental
    Program at the University of North
    Carolina at Chapel Hill told me.:
  428. The amount of carbon dioxide that we're putting
    out into the atmosphere is rising to a point now
  429. where most scientists would agree
    that we may be at a sort of tipping point.
  430. We may be at a point where we're going to
    start to get so much carbon dioxide into the
    atmosphere that feedback mechanisms
  431. that control the temperature of the earth will
    start to be stretched a little bit too far.
  432. The classic one is you get too much
    melting of ice, it flows into the ocean,
    and you shut off the conveyor belt.
  433. And if that happens, this will cause dramatic
    changes in the climate in England.
  434. I mean, England would literally become Norway
    or Sweden, if you look at them on the globe, if
    the conveyor belt were to be slowed down.
  435. And we're starting to see
    changes of those magnitudes.
  436. this is why I tend to use the term climate
    change, rather than global warming.
  437. A warming planet can have heating and drought
    in some areas, and freezing in others, such as
    Europe and North America would experience if
    the Gulf Steam shut down.
  438. The impact of that would be huge.
  439. those portions, much of which supply the
    agricultural bounty for Europe and the US,
  440. would have dramatic changes in climate,
    particularly affecting agriculture.
  441. There are a number of self-reinforcing
    feedback loops now in operation.
    Here are two such processes.
  442. You know the polar ice melting, which is opening
    huge areas of sea in the polar regions.
  443. Without that ice, which normally reflects sunlight,
  444. that polar sea is now going to be absorbing
    a lot more sunlight and, therefore, heat.
  445. We have a lot of carbon stored in the
    permafrost. And those permafrosts
    are starting to defrost.
  446. And when they defrost that carbon dioxide - that
    carbon - is going to be oxidized
  447. to carbon dioxide, or brought out
    as methane and so on.
  448. And that will be a dramatic
    increase in greenhouse gases.
  449. This may get out of hand and we'll suddenly
    be looking at a very rapid warming of the planet.
  450. This may get out of hand.
  451. given that there seems to be a
    consensus that we need to reduce carbon
    emissions by 70 percent or more,
  452. and given that we live in a world where
    economies must grow or die,
  453. and given that our carbon emissions grow
    along with our economies,
  454. and given that many countries are working
    feverishly to emulate the American way of life,
  455. it's difficult to see a way to STOP
    it from getting out of hand.
  456. I've yet to see a proposed solution
    that even comes close to realistically
    addressing the situation.
  457. Talk about a snowball's chance in hell.
  458. I used to take this martial arts class. And a lot of
    these guys, it was kind of a kung-fu thing,
  459. a lot of the guys in class would be saying,
    'well, what if i meet a guy that's really good
  460. in tae-kwon-do?',
    or "what if i meet a really good boxer?"
  461. And the teacher would say, "well, you're
    going to get your butt kicked". You know?
  462. You say, "what if we run into a tipping point
    where we have this kind of accelerated
    scenario of climate change?"
  463. We're going to get our butts kicked.
  464. It's very possible that global climate
    change is out of our control at this
    point no matter what we do.
  465. Whether we implement Kyoto, or
    Kyoto on steroids, or whatever it is.
  466. I don't know how it will be manageable.
    If they can't manage the fallout from
    the New Orleans catastrophe
  467. what's going to happen when they try to
    manage a society-wide catastrophic situation?
  468. We can take a lot of punches.
    Nature takes punches pretty readily.
  469. Global warming is a really severe punch.
  470. And all that we depend on for
    natural systems and agricultural systems
  471. is about to be wiped out pretty drastically.
  472. About to be? What is he saying? Do we
    dare speak of such disasters as inevitable?
  473. If we speak of inevitability,
    will that overwhelm people?
  474. Will they slide into apathy and diversion?
  475. Isn't that where people already are?
  476. I don't feel like I can afford to look
    at anything less than the truth.
  477. And then I must ask.: what are we made of?
  478. Who will we be in the face of such truths?
  479. If we don't look at these
    things, one thing seems certain.
  480. Generations to come are not going to be very
    happy with us for refusing to get serious
  481. about these hugely important issues.
  482. What really gets me is it's not just our human
    descendents. Millions of species and more are
    now threatened by our behavior.
  483. And for many of them, there will
    be no "generations to come".
  484. We're killing off all the life forms that give us life.
  485. We have black holes in the ocean.
    There are no fish in places in the ocean.
  486. What's happened to the fish?
    What's happened?
  487. That's my friend Barbara, who spent
    her life as a teacher and activist,
    working for the life of this planet.
  488. The thing is, we know what's happened. My son
    Jack knows. He's known since he was a kid.
  489. I mean, everyone knows the problems -
    the deforestation, the pollution of rivers,
    the garbage, overpopulation.
  490. All of these things the planet
    isn't built for us to do that.
  491. It's not built in such a way that it can take that.
  492. I mean, we have to live on the planet, so
    if we're going to destroy where we're
    living then that's going to be a problem.
  493. Hmm. Destroy where you're living. A problem?
    What are the analysts and scientists saying?
  494. Geologists mark geological time by catastrophe.
  495. When did the comet hit and wipe out all those
    species? When did the fossil record change?
  496. so what was there yesterday was not
    there the next day? And we're in one of those
    periods right now. But it's human-caused.
  497. And we're seeing an order of extinctions
    now that ranks with the great
    catastrophes on the planet.
  498. Currently we are driving species to
    extinction probably a thousand
    times faster than they should be.
  499. We will lose somewhere between a
    quarter, maybe as many as a half,
  500. of all the species on earth
    within the next century.
  501. I think what he's saying is.:
    that would be bad.
  502. When I spoke with Daniel Quinn,
    he seemed to agree.
  503. if this goes on, and on and on and on,
    there's going to come a point
  504. when the system is going to collapse.
  505. What is it that's going on and on? Nothing
    less than the people of Empire devouring
    the world. As my friend Kevin put it.:
  506. Humans are taking over the whole planet.
  507. And everything else is being crowded out.
  508. Crowded out. Felled and milled. Caught,
    cleaned and canned. The numbers show
    that the culture of civilization is eating
    itself out of house and home.
  509. On land, we consume forty percent of what's
    known as the primary productivity of the planet.
  510. If you look at how much green
    "stuff" the planet produces every year,
  511. we use about two-fifths of that.
  512. We consume it, our domestic animals consume
    it, and we use wood, and fibers like cotton.
  513. I drive through the country and see it. Forests
    are now fields and parking lots and box stores.
  514. We grow crops and livestock and billboards
    and cell phone towers, bulldozing and bush-
    hogging our way around the globe.
  515. And it's the destruction of the places
    where species live that's the principal
    cause of species becoming extinct.
  516. It's the same story in the oceans.
  517. Many people think that the oceans are vast and
    untouched. And in actual fact we take about a
    third of the production from the oceans, too.
  518. Our fish stocks, all over the coast of the
    United States and certainly around the world,
  519. are getting perilously close to collapsing.
  520. Most of the desirable, large, predatory
    fish - snapper, swordfish, and the like -
    have been reduced
  521. down to ten percent of their previous population.
  522. Down to ten percent? Maybe that's why
    we're now eating tilapia instead of cod.
  523. The cod is almost gone.
  524. And with your tilapia may I suggest a
    big tall glass of drinkable water?
  525. When it comes to fresh water we probably
    take about half of the available fresh water.
  526. Part of the way we've fed the planet over
    the last thirty years, as we've doubled
    population, is to use a whole lot of water.
  527. Our agriculture's now the leading
    user of water in the world.
  528. And in this nation as well.
  529. Our watersheds in the United States have
    been so highly developed that even small
    changes in the amount of water that falls
  530. are beginning to cause large implications
    for society's availability of water.
  531. Multiplying the impact of consumption
    and habitat destruction is the fact that,
  532. with fuels, with pesticides and
    herbicides and industrial chemicals,
  533. with noise and with electromagnetic waves
  534. and with human activity and with
    structures of control and domination,
  535. Empire is literally and metaphorically
    poisoning every square inch of the planet.
  536. Yes, life will recover from
    what we are doing to the planet.
  537. But don't hold your breath.
  538. It's going to take millions of years.
  539. It's going to take an incredible
    number of human generations.
  540. Trillions of people will live in a
    biologically impoverished world
  541. if we don't stop our human impacts now.
  542. I spoke with Daniel Quinn
    about this mass extinction.
  543. He gave me a metaphor
    that has haunted me since.
  544. We are like people who live in a
    very tall building. . . brick building.
    We live on the top floor.
  545. And every day we go out, go down to the lower
    floors and at random we knock bricks out, take
    them upstairs to the top, and build higher.
  546. Every day. Downstairs, 200 bricks.
    Take them upstairs.
  547. And the building is perfectly stable.
    But it's not going to be stable forever.
  548. Because we are attacking the
    structural integrity of the building.
  549. Two hundred species a day, day after
    day after day, year after year. . .
  550. And as our population increases
  551. it's going to turn into 400 species
    a day, a thousand species a day.
  552. And there's going to come a day
    when the system is going to collapse.
  553. Two hundred species a day!?
  554. This is calamitous.
  555. We may already be well above 200 bricks
    each day. And it looks to me like the
    building is not far from collapse.
  556. Everything in me wants to run out of the building
    before it comes crashing down around my ears.
  557. But where would I run?
    Empire now covers the planet.
  558. The building is everywhere.
    And almost all of us are inside of it.
  559. All of us.
  560. All six and a half billion of us.
  561. One of the hardest things to talk about
    is the human population explosion.
  562. The friends and neighbors I spoke with all
    seemed to agree that the enormous
    increase in human population would
    soon have to be reckoned with.
  563. We're approaching full tilt, I think,
  564. in terms of what the planet can sustain.
  565. Any species that has outgrown its environment
  566. is pressed for resources.
  567. is it just all going to end,
  568. and is that going to be the solution?
  569. You know, are we gonna become extinct
  570. like the dinosaurs?
  571. Equilibrium will be re-achieved.
  572. Unfortunately, nature is a harsh taskmaster.
  573. Because we're so intelligent,
  574. because we're such a different class of animal,
  575. with such a big brain, we have the ability
    to understand and foresee and prepare
    and stuff for these things,
  576. doesn't mean we will.
  577. How will we face into the
    issue of human population?
  578. I went to speak with William Catton, a
    professor of Sociology & Human Ecology
    at Washington State University,
  579. now retired, and author of an amazing
    book on ecology and human
    population called Overshoot.
  580. According to Catton's assessment
    of the carrying capacity of the planet.:
  581. I think the way we're living now,
  582. the world was overpopulated already
  583. by the time of our civil war.
  584. The population at the time of the US
    Civil War was just over one billion.
  585. So we've now overshot that number by
    more than 5 billion. As Catton told me.:
  586. It is possible to exceed carrying
    capacity. But only temporarily.
  587. if you exceed carrying capacity
    you then damage the environment
    upon which you're depending.
  588. Looking closely, I've come to see that
    population numbers for humans, in and of
    themselves, are only part of the story.
  589. As Catton points out, it's the damage
    those numbers do that counts.
  590. And that damage is intimately
    connected to our way of life.
  591. The Earth supports as great a collective
    mass of ants as it does people.
  592. It can do so because ants aren't
    building 6000-square-foot homes,
    driving two hours to their jobs,
  593. buying plasma TV sets, and killing each
    other with depleted uranium munitions.
  594. We in the developed world have
    32 times the footprint on the planet,
  595. on resources... depletion...
    32 times a person in india.
  596. I think we all know that
    though the figure is stunning.
  597. And it ought to make us really think,
    and start to talk with each other about this.
  598. You talk about how many "energy
    slaves", per capita, do we have?
  599. In this country we've got something like 70 times
  600. as many energy slaves per capita
    as people in Bangladesh.
  601. instead of thinking of Bangladesh
    as the overpopulated country,
  602. if you multiply each of us by seventy
  603. - take that 290 million, or whatever number of
    us there are now, multiple it be seventy - wow.
  604. We are an overpopulated country.
  605. In those terms, the US is a nation of
    21 billion people. And my own three
    children add 210 to that number.
  606. To speak of population, then, as the root
    cause of our problem makes little sense to me.
  607. It conjures images of crowded third-world
    cities and teeming masses of human flesh,
    while the global impacts of rich first-world
    lifestyles go unexamined.
  608. Big feet. More and more feet. And more
    and more feet getting bigger and bigger.
  609. And if these feet just keep on walking, one of
    these days they're gonna walk right into oblivion.
  610. It cannot be sustained for much longer.
  611. There are any number of catastrophic
    forces that could lower our numbers,
  612. as oil depletion, climate change and
    environmental collapses play out.
  613. One thing large populations are
    especially prone to is disease.
  614. Microbes are gonna have a lot more to do with it
    than humans have to do with it in the end.
  615. Nature - we're still governed by natural rules,
    we like to think we're not, but we are -
  616. when you put together the kind of biomass
    that humans represent on this planet,
  617. we're an asset to somebody. We're a resource.
  618. But it may be possible to meet the
    situation with consciousness and intention.
  619. Once we get to the peak human
    population, wherever that is -
  620. I hope it is 8 1/2 billion rather than
    12 billion but it's gonna be high -
  621. whenever we get there, what -
    do we have a vision of what we should do?
  622. I mean, we got to the peak,
    and there's trouble all around us!
  623. What should we do?
  624. Somehow we've got to devise a way
    for obtaining a soft landing as we
    reduce the population from six-plus
    billion down toward one billion.
  625. If we decide we want to reduce it we can
    see to it that the reduction occurs
  626. in a more humane way than it will occur if we
    just try to keep on business as usual.
  627. Humanity has never been in this. This is
    new. This is new. And this is big.
    And this is not being talked about.
  628. And because it is not being talked about,
    we have no clear idea how we might
    device that softer landing.
  629. Talking about it, then, clearly
    and honestly, is the first step.
  630. Without that, catastrophe
    is inevitable. But either way,
  631. Our global population is going to be reduced.
  632. this is what I had to face.: the population
    of my species is going to be reduced.
  633. I had to face it just like the grizzly
    bears have had to face it, and the
    wild salmon have had to face it,
  634. just like the right whales and the piping plovers
    and the mountain gorillas have had to face it,
  635. just like the great auks and the golden
    toads and the blackfin cisco had to
    face it before they went extinct.
  636. And I had to face something else.:
    I have a choice about how I meet it.
  637. My friend Lyle gave it some perspective.
  638. The fact is that there have been die-offs
    of civilizations. There have been
    collapses of great, mighty civilizations.
  639. Sophisticated, powerful, unbelievable
    civilizations have collapsed.
  640. And it's a choice.
  641. it's a choice that we can decide to succeed
    or fail. And i'm going to go ahead and
    decide to succeed, thank you
  642. And i'd really like it if you'd come with me.
  643. What choices do we now have? What would
    that success Lyle speaks of look like?
  644. What is inevitable at this point? And
    what remains to be created, if only we
    awaken to our power?
  645. Most importantly, why have we
    not already awakened?
  646. And you know something? The more
    you talk about your problems the
    easier they are to solve.
  647. This bottling things up inside is bad!
  648. We can't survive apart from the earth.
  649. And so. . . we're killing it!
  650. i think part of looking at things exactly
    the way they are is feeling how isolated
  651. and alienated we have become from ourselves,
  652. from the people around us,
    and from the natural world.
  653. And when you look at that, and experience
    that, the natural response is deep grief.
  654. Deep grief at the loss of connection.
  655. There are other issues we could have looked at.
  656. How do we face into all of this information?
  657. It looks as though our very survival
    as a species is now in question.
  658. As I gaze unflinchingly at the world situation,
    the information goes right into my body.
  659. I feel shaken to the core.
  660. I feel like running away.
  661. I feel, at times, like I've been hit head on.
  662. I know I'm not alone.
  663. I wish I had some magic potion.
    I wish I had some easy fix.
  664. I wish I could just tell you that
    everything is going to be OK.
  665. But of course I can't tell you that.
  666. And probably, deep down,
    you already know that.
  667. What chance do I really have, doctor?
  668. Mr. Marshall, I have no desire to mislead you.
  669. I'm sure you realize that
    recovery is not a sure thing.
  670. Thirty-six years after the first Earth Day,
    forty-four years after Silent Spring,
  671. the planet is closer now to ecological
    meltdown than it has ever been.
  672. If what we want is to stop the destruction
    of the life of this planet, then what
    we have been doing has not been working.
  673. We will have to do something else.
  674. When we stay focused on
    the question, "what do we do?"
  675. we don't ask the more basic
    questions about "how did we get here?"
  676. And if we don't ask those questions i don't
    think we've got much chance of effecting
  677. the kind of radical change that we're going to
    have to effect if we're going to make it.
  678. Well, i appreciate your being so
    frank with me, Dr Swenson.
  679. I guess I don't have to tell you how i feel.
  680. From my experience, talking about how
    we feel is exactly what we need to be doing.
  681. And we'll also need to
    question some assumptions.
  682. One assumption I question is the one
    that tells us that, since scientists can
    help us understand the situation,
  683. they are automatically equipped
    to tell us how to "solve" it.
  684. But there are forces at work in the world that
    cannot be understood through a microscope.
  685. What are the forces that brought us
    to this point? And what are the
    forces that keep us stuck here?
  686. I went to speak with the people who are
    trying to answer these questions.
  687. I realized that I would have to step
    outside of the culture, so that I could
    see it from a new perspective.
  688. Deep inside the tangle of problems that
    threatens the entire world there rages a
    boundless blaze of cultural fire,
  689. the locomotive power for the
    cultural train we're all now riding.:
  690. an engine not of steam or diesel, but of
    story, and myth, habit and belief.
  691. An engine racing out of control.
  692. It's time to look more closely
    at the culture of Empire.
  693. So, how did we get into this mess?
  694. wow. That's a cosmic question.
  695. Many analysts think it started about ten
    thousand years ago when humans began to
    engage in a new and fundamentally
    unsustainable style of food production.
  696. What we invented was something
    that I call totalitarian agriculture,
  697. which is predicated on the
    notion that it all belongs to us.
  698. We can kill off anything we don't want on
    the land, put a fence around the land.
  699. We can grow the food we want on
    the land and Nobody else can touch it.
  700. That slippery slope that we're on right now. . . we
    started walking on that ten thousand years ago.
  701. And it is because of an inherent
    problem in "agriculture". "Agriculture"
    really depends on disturbance.
  702. There's no way you can do "agriculture"
    without doing that catastrophic damage.
  703. So it makes "agriculture"
    fundamentally unsustainable.
  704. The surplus from this new way
    of getting food had immediate effects.
  705. It has fueled this tremendous
    population growth of ours.
  706. Our growing population is always
    catching up with our food production.
  707. We have a food race on our hands.
  708. We grow more food and the population
    increases. So we grow more food.
  709. It's a race that can't be won.
  710. On top of that, totalitarian agriculture
    also consigned its practitioners to
    a life of hard work and poor health.
  711. As a species, we had food before us for
    all of our history, which is two hundred. . .
    three hundred thousand years.
  712. When you look at ten thousand years
    it's relatively minor in that space.
  713. But we were hunter-gatherers.
  714. So nature grew our food in its way. As
    opposed to our way, which is "agriculture".
  715. We didn't grow food. Food grew.
  716. it's hard for people to accept the fact that
  717. the more you base your society
    on agriculture, the harder you work.
  718. if we look at archaeological sites around
    the world - and people have done this -
  719. in all the locations - this is not a cultural issue -
  720. in all the locations where agriculture
    began, in Asia, the Mid-East, South
    America, and Central America,
  721. we will find people who are stunted, short,
  722. their teeth are invariable gone because of the
    carbohydrates they're eating turn into sugars
  723. and rot their teeth out,
  724. they're misshapen, they're asymmetrical,
    they show every evidence of suffering
    all sorts of disease.
  725. this new type of agriculture both required and
    allowed more settlement, and with that came the
    beginnings of wealth and inequality.
  726. if you go to pre-agricultural towns you'll see a
    series of houses, all about the same size.
  727. And almost instantly, when agriculture occurred,
    you can go to any town, in any agricultural site in
    the world, not just in Western culture,
  728. and see a few very large houses with
    granaries connected to them, and a
    whole series of smaller houses.
  729. That kind of social inequity began
    almost immediately with agriculture.
  730. As Quinn and Manning point out, early
    agricultural peoples were not better off
    than their hunter-gatherer predecessors.
  731. this was news to me.
  732. The psychologist and cultural analyst
    Chellis Glendinning points to other
    consequences of settlement and agriculture.
  733. Before, when women were moving around,
    and very athletic, and carrying their babies,
  734. and having a diet that
    wasn't so high in carbohydrates,
  735. and nursing their babies for long periods of time,
  736. then women didn't ovulate very often.
  737. But when women became sedentary,
    women began to have regular cycles.
  738. And so, more babies were born.
    And so guess what?
  739. Then you have to make more farms. And then
    you have to expand the area that's fenced off.
  740. And then, ooh, maybe you're going to
    meet up with someone else who's
    coming that way, another group.
  741. And so then you have to have a war.
  742. We're taught to regard agriculture and
    settlement as the normal and
    natural way for humans to live.
  743. So it was a bit of a shock, to learn how these
    basic cultural changes were the fundamental
    cause of so many of the problems that have
    dogged us through the centuries.
  744. Derrick Jensen speaks to the
    end result of all of this cultural change.
  745. I think one of the best lines i ever wrote was that
    "forests precede us and deserts dog our heels."
  746. When I think of - or when you think of -
    the plains and hillsides of Iraq,
  747. is the first thing that you normally
    think of cedar forests so thick the sunlight
    never touches the ground?
  748. I think for most of us that's not the case.
  749. But the first written myth of this
    culture is Gilgamesh cutting down
    those forests to make cities.
  750. Cities. Settlements begat villages
    which begat towns which begat cities.
  751. Totalitarian and catastrophic agriculture,
    the accumulation of wealth and power,
  752. and increases in population all came together to
    give rise to a new form of human culture.:
  753. the culture of cities, the culture of civilization,
  754. the culture of Empire.
  755. I realized, as I was writing the newest book,
    Endgame, that i'd been bashing
    civilization for probably, eh, ten years now.
  756. And i'd never defined it.
    I didn't know what i was talking about.
  757. And so I define it in that book as a way of life
    characterized by the growth of cities.
  758. I've defined a city as a collection of people
    living in numbers large enough to require
    the importation of resources.
  759. A city could be defined, almost, as a
    human ecosystem that grossly exceeds
  760. the carrying capacity of its local environment.
  761. As Jensen and Catton point out, because
    cities exceed the carrying capacity of their
    local environment, and because they require
    the importation of resources,
  762. then those who live in cities are locked
    into the inevitability of getting those
    resources from somewhere else,
  763. from somebody else,
    by whatever means is necessary.
  764. Often that means is trade.
  765. But trade requires transport, and transport
    requires energy, and energy has to come from
    somewhere, and it eventually runs out.
  766. And trade requires willing partners.
    But people do not always want to trade.
  767. When trade breaks down, and you need
    those resources, what remains is war.
  768. We now need oil to keep our cities going.
  769. Watch the bidding war rage from
    trade floors to battlefields.
  770. Watch the Pentagon plan and the patriots act.
  771. Let's stop for a second and regroup. I told you
    I've had to challenge some assumptions.
  772. We've been doing agriculture and expanding
    and growing and building cities and
    accumulating material wealth for so long now
  773. that it just feels like this is how
    things are supposed to be.
  774. But how can a way of life that is destroying
    its own support systems be considered
    "how things are supposed to be"?
  775. "...they did eat every herb of the land,
    and all the fruit of the trees, and there
    remained not any green thing... "
    Exodus 10.:1 5
  776. Let's move on.
  777. Once our native human intelligence and
    creativity was combined with the defining
    impulses of empire, things began to snowball.
  778. We kept using more and more sophisticated
    technology so we could put off the inevitable.
  779. Which is.: we've got physical limits.
  780. Using the power of technology, we could break
    through the limits and laws and rules
  781. that kept the community of life in balance
    for millions of years . . . temporarily. . .
  782. Rules! All the time rules! i'm sick of 'em.
  783. Offscreen Narrator.: Excuse me for
    interrupting, boys and girls,
  784. but maybe you would like to find out just
    what it would be like if there were no rules.
  785. But how could we do that?
  786. By going someplace where there are no rules.
  787. There's no such place.
  788. But maybe there is a way we
    could go to a place without rules.
  789. how?
  790. By using our imagination.
    Now let's all pretend real hard. . .
  791. And pretend we did.
  792. thinking we had no limits, our power
    to control went right to our heads.
  793. As historian and "geologian"
    Thomas Berry put it.:
  794. What i say goes, see? i'm the law around here!
  795. (laughs)
  796. But the belief in the power to control has
    proceeded on some faulty assumptions
    about the limits of science.
  797. I've been confused about technology.
  798. I've heard all my life that technologies
    themselves are neutral, that it all
    depends on how we use them,
  799. that they can be used for good or ill, depending
    on the wisdom and intelligence of the user.
  800. But, as Jerry Mander explains.:
  801. That's completely wrong. You can
    do an analysis of every technology
  802. and find its beneficial aspects
    and its negative aspects.
  803. The idea that it's just about the way we use it is
    absurd. Because these are built-in factors.
  804. As an example, the difference between nuclear
    and solar is more than in how we use them.
  805. Each technology has built-in characteristics
    that determine how they end up being used,
  806. and who uses them,
  807. and for what.
  808. Military scientists are not now
    working on a solar powered warhead.
  809. And neither am I looking to put a
    nuclear water heater on my roof.
  810. Because of this misunderstanding, it's easy to
    get trapped in the myth of the technofix. . .
  811. Ever since that division of humans and
    human space away from the rest of the world,
  812. there's been one problem arising from
    that situation after another, you know.
  813. "Oh dear, we have to pipe in more
    water for the more farms", you know.
  814. "Oh dear, now we have to
    travel great distances".
  815. "Oh dear, now we need more
    resources, we need more land".
  816. Whatever. It's been one
    technological fix after another.
  817. And then as soon as you try to answer
    something with some kind of a technological fix
    that doesn't really go to the root of the problem
  818. then there's going to be new problems.
  819. And then it just rolls along.
  820. And so now, I mean, you look at the state
    of the world now and half the people in the
    world are living in urban areas.
  821. so how do you answer that?
  822. And the population explosion
    has gone to such an extreme.
  823. How do you answer that, but
    with another technological fix?
  824. Half the people in the world live in cities.
  825. And cities, by definition, exceed the
    carrying capacity of their local environments.
  826. I don't think most people know this.
  827. But you'll agree that to make up your
    mind fairly you have to know all the facts.
  828. See, I don't think you know all the facts.
  829. If we knew all the facts we'd have discarded
    the myth of the technofix a long time ago.
  830. To my eye our crisis, at its deepest
    levels, is a crisis not of technology
    but of meaning and purpose.
  831. We keep acting like all we need do is
    throw more technology at it while we
    fall to understand, or even see,
  832. the clearly cultural issues that doom to
    fantastic failure these ever more desperate
    attempts to keep the present system going.
  833. We've been pretending for so long
    we've forgotten what we once knew.:
  834. you can't survive in the long run
    if you don't follow the laws of life.
  835. As we settled into agriculture and civilization,
    agriculture and civilization settled into us.
  836. We fenced ourselves off from the world. . .
  837. And everything inside the fence
    became what we needed to survive.
  838. And everything outside the fence
    became threatening, wild, you know,
    uncontrollable, keep it out!
  839. And our technologies cut us
    off from our own experience. . .
  840. We can build a culture that sits
    between us and the world.
  841. And it mediates our behavior toward the world.
  842. And it mediates what we do
    and what we perceive.
  843. If you have a spear, it becomes a lot easier. You
    don't have to kill somebody right in front of you.
  844. You can kill somebody thirty feet away.
    And that distance makes it easier to kill.
  845. And if you've been sent into war with a B2
    bomber strapped to your back and an array
    of high-tech sensors at your fingertips,
  846. you can kill Iraqis with no more thought
    or feeling than you might have wasting
    the Covenant on your X-Box at home.
  847. this disconnection from the world,
    from other people and other creatures,
  848. altered our relationships,
    and left us confused and wounded.
  849. At what point do we stop and listen? And if we
    stop and listen, what will we be able to hear?
  850. Disconnection has stopped our ears.
    The planet's voice barely registers.
    Our minds are clogged with stories.
  851. Central to my understanding of the world is
    this.: all cultures are based on stories.
  852. The culture of civilization and empire comes
    with its own unique set of beliefs and impulses.
  853. Listen to some of the stories that have
    brought us to our present predicament.
  854. "There's never quite enough"
  855. "We're innately flawed"
  856. "it's heresy today to say, 'let's stop growing"'
  857. "Hard work is morally virtuous"
  858. "More is better"
  859. "The physical world as i see it is everything"
  860. "We can solve any problem"
  861. "I mean... they actually say that the
    way to be happy is to own more stuff"
  862. "We are to subdue the earth
    and have dominion over it"
  863. "We own. . . we own the planet. We own
    everything here. We own these resources"
  864. "Humans have rights. Nothing else has rights"
  865. "There are many times in which people just
    don't want to be told that such-and-such
    a place is off-limits to them"
  866. Living with stories like this, is it any
    wonder we're devouring the planet?
  867. In some ways we're kind of -
    we're in a culture of two-year-olds.
  868. Where we just won't look at the limits.
  869. Dominion over the Earth, in Genesis, didn't
    mean to leave this pillaged and smoking.
  870. Daniel Quinn has named some
    of the basic stories of Empire.
  871. The ambient voice of our
    culture tells us that
  872. this is the best that
    humans could ever hope for.
  873. What we've got right now,
    where we're going.
  874. It's just unsurpassable.
  875. Ergo, any alternative
    has got to be worse.
  876. There were other
    civilizations besides ours;
  877. they did not think that they
    had the one right way to live,
  878. and that everyone in the world
    should be made to live that way.
  879. We're taught to think
    that we are Humanity.
  880. if there are other people out
    there that are different from us,
    well they're degenerates,
  881. or they're just not as
    far advanced as we are.
  882. We came along,
    and began doing things,
  883. and building civilization,
  884. and this is the way humans
    were meant to live from the beginning.
  885. Which is one reason why we can't give it up.
  886. Here, perhaps, is the most
    dangerous story of them all. . .
  887. We are superior to all other creatures
    and our lives are independent of theirs.
  888. Narrator.: Through his intellect man
    has developed a superiority over
    every other form of animal life.
  889. with the stories of Empire in place, civilization
    was ready to spread around the planet.
  890. Ran Prieur explains the core idea of
    "The Parable of the Tribes",
  891. which reveals how the culture
    of Empire prevailed in a process of
    cultural evolution that selects for power.
  892. imagine there's a bunch of tribes
    that are living together peacefully.
  893. And one of the tribes, for some reason,
    instead of living in balance and in peace,
  894. they decide that they're going to make
    a bunch of weapons and conquer
    the next tribe and turn them into slaves.
  895. The next tribe has three choices.
  896. if they run away the paradigm of the
    violent tribe expands into their territory.
  897. if they submit into slavery the paradigm
    of the violent tribe expands into their territory.
  898. if they build weapons to fight back the paradigm
    of the violent tribe expands into their territory.
  899. And that just goes on until the whole
    world is made up of people who make
    weapons and fight and enslave other people.
  900. After ten thousand years of this,
    we've forgotten who we are. . .
  901. How could three million years of
    human life be meaningless?
  902. The way people were living at
    that time, during that vast period,:
  903. they were living in a way in which
    humans could live for millions of years.
  904. Tens of millions of years. And that's something!
  905. Man, now we're saying "how
    many decades can we have?"
  906. And if we go on living this way, it's not many.
  907. It strikes me as critical that we
    remember who we really are.
  908. We have these huge brains and a great
    capacity for innovation and adaptation.
  909. But we can get trapped inside of stories and
    fantasies that block us from our own greatness.
  910. Well, human beings can act either
    as members of climax ecosystems,
  911. where we integrate ourselves into
    everything else that's going on,
  912. or we can act as invasive
    species, like the cane toad.
  913. The classic example of human beings acting as
    an invasive species, of course, is Europeans
    over the last five hundred years or so.
  914. It doesn't have to be this way.
    Not all human cultures have followed this path.
  915. When I look closely, what I see is that human
    capacities and characteristics have always been
    medlated by the larger society.
  916. Always.
  917. One person I spoke with who discussed our
    present predicament in terms of inherent human
    characteristics was Richard Manning.
  918. to survive in our hunter-gatherer
    days. . . a very narrow field of vision.
  919. You had to be concerned with what
    was happening around you in the
    immediate hundred yards.
  920. You had to be worried about what was going to
    happen in the next ten seconds or five minutes.
  921. Where was that tiger going to come from that
    was going to bite your neck and kill you?
  922. So our strongest instincts are
    geared to the immediate.
  923. Our adrenaline doesn't start to flow
    when we read about global warming.
  924. It starts to flow when somebody
    put a fist in our face.
  925. And yet the Haudenosaunee evolved a
    culture that balanced those strong instincts.
  926. They make decisions based on their
    impact on the seventh generation.
  927. Contrast that with the culture of Empire.
  928. What we've never been able to do is recognize
    a limit coming from thirty or forty years out
  929. and behave accordingly.
  930. And so we haven't seen climate change coming.
    And most people don't see oil depletion coming.
  931. And there are other forces in the universe
    that play out over the long term.
  932. Exponential growth and population dynamics
    can both unfold over generations making them,
  933. for humans blinded by their
    own culture, difficult to see.
  934. William Catton explains
    another long-term process.
  935. C. Wright Mills of Columbia University -
    kind of a maverick - gave a nice
    physiological definition of fate.
  936. Fate is what happens when innumerable
    people make innumerable small decisions
    about other matters that have a collective,
    cumulative effect that Nobody intended.
  937. Ok. That's what's happened
    when we overpopulated the world.
  938. Nobody intended to overpopulate the world.
    Nobody intended to pollute the oceans. Nobody
    intended to start the greenhouse effect.
  939. So this is part of what I've come
    to about how we got here.:
  940. a snarl of assumptions and
    behaviors and beliefs and stories
  941. that form the backbone of the culture of Empire,
  942. a fusion of forces that severed
    us from the laws of life.
  943. this culture tells us that we can
    live apart from those laws.
  944. Without limits. Without rules.
  945. But doing so has left us,
    and the planet, battered and beaten.
  946. It isn't working out the way
    we've been taught to think it will.
  947. Offscreen Narrator.: Well boys and girls,
    how do you like living without rules?
  948. I hate it!
  949. This is no fun.
  950. It stinks.
  951. Over and over I've had to ask.: why do we keep
    destroying the planet, even now, when the
    evidence that we are doing so is overwhelming?
  952. The first thing to note is that all of
    these historical forces are still in play.
  953. And some new forces have arisen in our time.
  954. It's sobering to consider that we're
    trapped in an economy that must grow or die.
  955. The economy will, can and
    must continue to grow.
  956. Now of course this is an absurdity.
    Because we live on a finite spherical planet.
  957. so there's only so much stuff
    to chew up and spit out.
  958. We're assaulted by corporately
    controlled media that keep us delusional.
  959. People tend to think that they have a choice
    about what information they take from television.
  960. And we are sitting and receiving a
    form of information, which is very very
    powerful. It comes in the form of images.
  961. And once the images go in, they don't come out.
  962. it's almost science fiction in its implications.
  963. It's Big Brother.
    And yet we think it's perfectly normal.
  964. As people's real lives become more
    and more degraded and unsatisfying
  965. and petty and vulgar and irritating and sterile,
  966. then the appeals of those glorified
    images became all the more powerful.
  967. There's a great line be Zygmunt Bauman that -
  968. he says that rational people will go
    quietly and meekly into a gas chamber
  969. if only you allow them to believe it's a bathroom.
  970. And I've lost all hope that my government is
    capable of looking clearly at the situation.
  971. Sadly, it looks as though much of our
    educational system leaves us totally unprepared
    to question the dominant culture.
  972. It numbs our critical thinking
    skills, instead of developing them.
  973. And it goes along with technical, industrialized
    society because you need to turn people into
    interchangeable machine parts
  974. where you can pull one person out,
    stick another person in the same spot.
  975. Narrator.: These children are being taught
    to accept uncritically whatever they're told.
  976. Questions are not encouraged.
  977. I've certainly never been encouraged to question
    how our culture creates disconnection.
  978. Every one of us is living in this little comfortable
    bubble that's completely disconnected
  979. from the real world of animals and plants
    and soil and water and natural forces
  980. that produces everything that's of
    any meaning whatsoever on this planet.
  981. If your experience is that your food
    comes from the grocery store,
  982. and that your water comes from a tap,
  983. you will defend to the death the
    system that brings those to you.
  984. Because your life depends on it.
  985. If your experience is that
    your water comes from a stream
  986. and that your food comes from a land base,
  987. you will defend to the death that stream and that
    land base because your life depends on it.
  988. Systems of manipulation and exploitation.
    Structures of disconnection and delusion.
    Institutions of domination and deceit.
  989. I had to ask.: who would create such things?
  990. Only people who have become almost
    wholly disconnected from their world.
  991. People who have forgotten who they once were.
  992. People who have been deeply wounded.
  993. We've gotten lost in a hall of mirrors.
  994. Everything that we receive - everything
    we see, hear, smell, taste, feel - originates in,
    or is mediated by, humans and machines.
  995. That affects our consciousness.
    It gives us an inflated sense
  996. of our own importance and of what reality is.
  997. As if, because we've made it,
    It makes it most real.
  998. As any narcissist knows, it's endless.
    We can never get enough of that:
    enough of that reflection of ourselves.
  999. What we're really aching for is real relationship.
  1000. Our animal bodies, I think, formed by
    the Earth itself, want and require a
    real relationship to the world.
  1001. To the water, wind and soil.
  1002. To the animals, plants and fellow
    humans that comprise the
    community into which we were born.
  1003. But we're stuck in the hall of mirrors.
    And we've begun to lose our sanity.
  1004. So that you see the beginning of something like
    dissociation, like post-traumatic stress disorder,
  1005. like schizophrenia, like multiple
    personalities, you know.
  1006. You see that the fragmentation in the world
    today is being mirrored in all of these kind of
    very severe psychological disorders.
  1007. if you're in that sort of solitary confinement
    you're going to start hallucinating.
  1008. And you may end up believing strange things.
  1009. Like the idea that humans are superior.
  1010. Acting out of that belief of superiority,
    of entitlement, of invincibility,
    Empire has conquered the world.
  1011. But that conquering has bounced back on
    the conquerors, leaving everyone wounded.
  1012. if the world, the system that we're
    living in, is harming other people,
  1013. then that's something that, you
    know, you can't live with that.
  1014. So if you look at the people who have
    been assimilated into Empire,
  1015. and if you look at the Imperialists themselves,
  1016. you find an incredible dissociation from reality.
  1017. Dissociated from the reality of the
    planet, we don't act on its behalf.
  1018. Feeling for nature is diminishing to the
    degree that people are less desiring
  1019. and less able to influence policy about nature,
  1020. to do anything to protect nature,
    to have any feeling for nature.
  1021. it's hard to have feeling for it if you
    never have any contact with it.
  1022. And it's hard to have any contact
    with the rest of the world
  1023. because we're living like an animal in a cage.
  1024. Just think about an animal in a zoo.
  1025. An animal's deprived of the very things that keep
    that animal going.: the smells, the sights, the
    sounds, the instincts, the hunting.
  1026. And they become psychotic. Literally psychotic.
  1027. I think that we've done something to
    ourselves that is exactly analogous to that.
  1028. We've put ourselves in a cage -
    this cage of civilization, of cities.
  1029. And it's made us, in a way, psychotic.
  1030. That - if you would have a group of hunter-
    gatherers - and this has happened a lot -
  1031. hunter-gatherers watch behavior of people
    in our society, they would think we
    were crazy for the way we behave.
  1032. Because we are.
  1033. I stop. I listen. I watch the world.
    The disconnection is everywhere.
  1034. You learn it as a child. You learn to not
    feel the kind of pain that is inflicted
    upon you by the lack of connection.
  1035. By being in a crib by yourself in a dark room.
  1036. By not having the breastfeeding. By not having
    the constant contact with other people's bodies.
  1037. Television viewing for children, and
    I think to some degree for adults,
  1038. is a training for more hyperactive lifestyles
    and hyperactive informational systems.
  1039. And that is putting people into a kind of
    emotional psychological state, which
    makes it impossible to relate to nature.
  1040. So, I mean, it's concrete alienation again.
  1041. most of us don't have a human community
    where we can rest and feel safe and feel like
    "i'm going to be taken care of".
  1042. in our culture there's so many things that are
    set up to stop us from connecting directly.
  1043. If you go to a bar- we take this for granted -
    if you go to a bar it's dark.
  1044. There's really loud music playing.
  1045. Because if it were quiet and there were good
    light people would get freaked out to have to
    deal with each other so directly.
  1046. Our economy thrives on this.
  1047. It's pretty easy to sell stuff to people
    who are so disconnected from the
    things that they most need.
  1048. The stores are filled with bandages
    for the wounds of Empire.
  1049. There are other ways to look at this wounding.
  1050. Derrick Jensen sees the dominant culture as an
    abusive system, leaving its members suffering
    from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
  1051. What happens if you're not traumatized once
    or twice, but if you're actually in captivity
    for a long time? if you're held as prisoner?
  1052. One of the things that happens is you
    become afraid of all relationships and you
    have to control everything around you.
  1053. You forget that mutual relationships are
    possible and you begin to believe that all
    relationships are based upon hierarchy.
  1054. Because that was your experience.
  1055. And you come to believe that all relationships
    are based on power. And, of course, when we
    look around that's what we see.
  1056. So we are too frightened to enter
    into a relationship with these trees,
    with all of our neighbors.
  1057. And so we call them resources:
    those to be exploited.
  1058. Everything within an abusive family structure is
    set up to protect the abuser. Everything.
  1059. And by the same token, everything
    within this culture is setup to protect the rich.
    That's what this culture is about.
  1060. Why do so many victims of abuse
    stay with their abusers?
  1061. Because they're identified with the system.
    And they've been taught since they were
    very - since early on - that everything
    is about protecting that system.
  1062. with civilization, we've been taught to identify
    with this larger whole that isn't us.
  1063. We identify more strongly as "civilized"
    than we do as living beings.
  1064. Over the years I've begun to break my own
    identification with the dominant culture,
  1065. to reconnect with myself as a
    living creature walking the Earth.
  1066. I'm still not finished with the task.
    A daunting challenge.
  1067. And yet one of the most
    rewarding things I've ever done.
  1068. I've also learned to view this culture
    through the lens of addiction.
  1069. Addiction is based on continually seeking
    more of what it is we don't really want.
  1070. And therefore, never being fully satisfied.
  1071. There's a deep need. There's
    a deep hole, a deep longing,
  1072. a deep fear, a deep grief, a deep rage.
  1073. And so there's food, there's cigarettes, there's
    alcohol, there's drugs, there's computers,
  1074. there's TV, there's movies, there's
    shopping, there's music. . .it's endless.
  1075. Chellis Glendinning.: All of that, that
    we've now determined people can be
    addicted to, it's like a technological fix.
  1076. So as long as that's working, why would I stop?
    I won't stop. An alcoholic doesn't stop.
  1077. A drug addict doesn't stop as long
    as it's working. But you reach a point
    where it doesn't work any more.
  1078. After centuries of abuse, disconnection,
    delusion and addiction, it looks as though
    we're desperate to hit bottom.
  1079. it's almost as if we're wanting to hit
    bottom so hard that we either shift or die.
  1080. Cause it's not worth continuing like this.
  1081. so many people are so very, very unhappy.
    And they want this nightmare to end.
  1082. And they don't recognize that the death that
    they want is a cultural death, and is a
    spiritual and metaphorical death.
  1083. That would explain why we
    continue to foul our nest.
  1084. If what we want is to hit bottom, we've
    found the perfect means to get us there.
  1085. Denial.
  1086. Denial.
  1087. Denial.
  1088. Denial.
  1089. Denial.
  1090. Denial.
  1091. Denial in huge neon letters that blink on and off
  1092. like the old Rocky and Bullwinkle
    credits at the end of the show!
  1093. Again I stop. And listen. And watch
    as I move through the landscape of Empire.
  1094. The denial is so thick that you
    could cut it with a paper knife.
  1095. If only you weren't still using it to frost that cake.
  1096. Denial takes tremendous energy.
    And if you have to work really, really hard
  1097. to not acknowledge the fact that
    this culture's killing everything,
  1098. you're not going to have much energy left over.
  1099. It's the energy I freed up when I stepped
    out of my own denial that has made this
    documentary possible.
  1100. The more I let down my defenses, the more I
    find the power to look more deeply at the world.
  1101. And when I look I find the story of
    "somehow", a fantasy that keeps us
    passive in the face of the world situation.
  1102. "We've muddled through things before. And
    somehow we'll muddle through this one."
  1103. "somehow, everything's ok."
  1104. somehow? How do we get there? You know?
  1105. It's like - it doesn't do any good to fantasize if
    there's no way to get from here to there.
  1106. Is there a way to get from here to there?
    And where is there, exactly?
    Where do go from here?
  1107. As world events break through our
    walls of denial, voices of helplessness
    and resignation fill the air.
  1108. Voice 1 : If we knew some way to
    get out of it we would. But we don't.
  1109. Voice 2: Whatever's gonna
    happen is gonna happen.
  1110. Voice 3: There's gonna have to be
    some sort of catastrophic event.
  1111. Voice 4: A meltdown of all of these
    systems that we've been depending on.
  1112. Voice 5: We figure there's no way to stop the
    train from heading off the end of the bridge, you
    know. We're just gonna go down screaming.
  1113. Voice 6: And finally you just say, "Aww fuck it.
    this is. . . you know. . . let's just fuck it.
    Who cares?"
  1114. Voice 7: You know, we might as well go out and
    party and have a good time. Because
    the world's not going anywhere good.
  1115. this system feels like a trap,
    a madhouse, a prison.
  1116. With resignation this profound,
    It seems as though there is little left to do
  1117. but to make the prison
  1118. as comfortable as is possible.
  1119. Narrator.: Personalized. And with accessories
    engineered to our personalized taste.
  1120. For convenience. For comfort.
  1121. For convenience and safety.
  1122. With protection from rain.
  1123. Blocking out the wintry gale
    with comforting warmth.
  1124. To hold out the searing heat
    with cooling comfort.
  1125. Capitalist culture is telling us to buy.
    And we will feel better if we buy more...
  1126. . . .that we are incomplete and that we need to fill
    this emptiness within us by consuming.
  1127. Consume, consume, consume.
  1128. We've looked now at the train
    that is hurtling us to destruction,
  1129. at the tracks that constrain us,
  1130. at the locomotive power
    that drives us to oblivion.
  1131. And we see more clearly now
    exactly where we are headed.
  1132. It all adds up to this.:
  1133. this culture is not only killing the planet,
    It is destroying us as human beings.
  1134. The train plunges forward at blinding speed.
  1135. "Charlie stole the handle. "
  1136. So who are we going to be?
  1137. First Psychologist.:
    In the film I see a man standing on the ledge.
    Do you think he really wants to live?
  1138. Second Psychologist.:
    The answer, of course, is yes.
  1139. I don't think humans are going to
    go extinct. We can't kill ourselves off.
  1140. I just don't see any plausible
    way it could happen. . .
  1141. well. . . I guess. . . yeah. . .
  1142. What we could - what might happen is
    the earth could get into a serious
    runaway greenhouse effect
  1143. that could turn the whole
    planet like the planet Venus.
  1144. Where it's like a thousand
    degrees and full of methane.
  1145. A powerful creative tension arises when
    we hold two things at the same time.:
  1146. a clear assessment of where we are,
    and a clear vision of where we want to go.
  1147. I don't see that the culture of Empire has either.
  1148. Trapped in a fantasy of domination and
    control, any clear assessment of the world
  1149. gets trampled underfoot in the mad
    march toward the scam of progress.
  1150. Traumatized by disconnection and
    abuse, the people of Empire now hold
    visions that are unhinged and insane.
  1151. Born and raised in captivity, we're
    now so institutionalized that few
    of us can even see the prison bars.
  1152. But we all know our cell numbers.
  1153. Waking on the train, we find that
    we don't know where we are.
  1154. And we don't know where we're going.
  1155. We hear the whistle blowing.
    And we can see the world speeding by.
  1156. Some of us want to stop the train.
  1157. We want to get off before it
    reaches the end of the line.
  1158. But we have no clear idea
    how to get from here to there.
  1159. The secret plan is that we're going to go on this
    way, no matter what, for as long as we can.
  1160. I likened it to the secret plan in Nazi
    Germany. It was an open secret.
  1161. Everyone knew that those Jews weren't going
    off to resorts or to have picnics in the woods.
  1162. But no one talked about it.
    And no one talks about this either.
  1163. This is scary! We're in a democracy!
  1164. We're in the biggest democracy on the
    planet and we're not getting informed.
  1165. And we're not looking, either. We're not asking.
  1166. As civilization has provided more and more for
    us, it's made us more and more infantile.
  1167. So that we are less and less able to
    think for ourselves, less and less
    able to provide for ourselves.
  1168. And this makes us more of a herd. . .
    where you develop more of a herd mentality. . .
  1169. where we take our cues from the people
    around us, from the authority figures around us.
  1170. The situation is desperate.
  1171. It's the World-Wide Eco-Slam, where climate
    Crash goes head-to-head with The Peak oil kid
    and Overshoot tears into Mass Extinction.
  1172. It's the Smackdown at the End of the
    Universe and tickets go on sale this Friday.
  1173. The American lifestyle is unsustainable.
  1174. That means that it can't be sustained.
  1175. It's coming to an end.
  1176. Remember how thirty years ago we looked to
    the future and said "thirty years from now, if we
    don't act, we're going to be in trouble"?
  1177. Well it's now and we are because we didn't.
  1178. The fundamental laws of life have been broken.
  1179. The consequences of that are now apparent.
  1180. Remember the Secret Plan.:
    the dominant culture is not going to
    stop until it destroys everything.
  1181. It can't.
  1182. It's built on a foundation of faulty assumptions.
    I see no way that it can be reformed.
  1183. It can only be discarded, so that
    something new can grow in its place.
  1184. We have to look at this.
  1185. We've got to understand that we
    are part of a living community.
  1186. We're not the masters of the living community.
    We're not the guardians of the living community.
  1187. We are just another species. And we
    have the power to destroy that community.
  1188. And when we do that we destroy ourselves.
  1189. if we don't figure out what
    our place in the universe is
  1190. we're not going to have a place in the universe.
  1191. I have read many books about the world
    situation. And I have noticed a curious thing.:
  1192. the Happy Chapter".
  1193. After an entire book of dire prognostications and
    appalling facts comes the chapter at the end
  1194. that says that if we only do this and
    this and that we'll find the solution,
  1195. that while there is much to give us
    concern, there is also much about
    which we can be hopeful.
  1196. I don't like happy chapters.
  1197. They've lulled me back to sleep.
  1198. They suggest that somebody
    somewhere somehow is handling it.
  1199. I can just go on with my life.
  1200. And hey, we've got thirty years
    or so, right? That's lots of time.
  1201. I'm sorry, folks, but I think time's up.
  1202. I have no happy chapter to offer you.
  1203. No list of quick and painless fixes.
  1204. No plan that will keep the train
    rolling forever on this track.
  1205. I see no way for that to happen.
  1206. If there is going to be a happy chapter,
    we shall have to write it together,
  1207. with the rest of the community of life,
    on the pages of the living world.
  1208. I sometimes have dreams about
    my grandchildren coming also.
  1209. And these dreams sometimes turn unpleasant.
  1210. Because the grandchildren come and they come
    from a North Carolina and from a California
  1211. that is polluted, the air they can't breathe.
  1212. And they say, "Granddad,
    did you let that happen?"
  1213. And they're angry when they get there.
  1214. I think they're going to look back
    and shake their heads and say,
  1215. 'what happened to those people?
  1216. How did they lose sight of such basic things?"
  1217. There is a new story arising in the world.:
    the story of the Great Turning,
  1218. the turning away from a culture of domination
    and death, and the turning toward a culture
    that is life-sustaining and life-renewing.
  1219. All over the planet, people
    are now telling this story.
  1220. The Buddhist scholar and deep ecologist
    Joanna Macy tells this story in her workshops.
  1221. The writer and activist David Korten
    tells it in his book by the same name.
  1222. It's a story to be told by our descendents,
    looking back on this present time.
  1223. Will we be the monsters of our great-
    grandchildren's nightmares?
  1224. Or will we walk, as the story of the Great
    Turning says, as heroes and healers
    in the epic poetry of those still-unborn voices?
  1225. Will we be reviled for our
    entitled, destructive ways?
  1226. Or will we be lovingly remembered
    in the songs of our descendents
  1227. as they recount the story of this lost and very
    wounded tribe that stepped back from the abyss
  1228. and found its way home to the
    community of living souls?
  1229. We get to choose.
  1230. Who are we going to be?
  1231. Part of me still wishes that someone
    would just take care of it, you know.
  1232. That it's their job. That's what we pay them for.
  1233. They're supposed to be the wise parents of us.
  1234. it's going to come as a really rude
    awakening when people realize that
    a) they can't and b) they won't.
  1235. I don't think life for most Americans, despite our
    affluence, is all that it's been cracked up to be.
  1236. And people are afraid to talk about that.
  1237. they're afraid they're the only ones that
    are experiencing deep dissatisfaction.
  1238. it's really so sad, you know.
  1239. You look at - and particularly American
    culture is emblematic of this -
  1240. go to a typical shopping mall and
    look at the people around you
    and the environment around you.
  1241. And the utter shallowness and
    hopelessness of it all is profoundly depressing.
  1242. Look.
  1243. Is this who are we?
  1244. Consumers? Shoppers? Workers? Voters?
  1245. Does our identity lie in Nielsen numbers and box
    office receipts and the Gross Domestic Product?
  1246. Are we on this Earth to sell cheeseburgers
    to each other and yell at our children
  1247. and drive around in clown cars
    and fall asleep in front of the tube?
  1248. Are we destroying the planet, as
    Dmitry Orlov asks, just "to be somewhat
    more comfortable for a little while"?
  1249. I keep having to remind myself.:
    this culture is not humanity.
  1250. It is only one culture out of the tens of
    thousands that used to exist on this planet.
  1251. Only one culture out of the
    many that are still hanging on.
  1252. That it has overrun the world means nothing
    about its rightness, its greatness, or its destiny.
  1253. It means only that we live in a system of social
    evolution that selects for short-term power
  1254. rather than for compassion, or for
    sanity, or for long-term survival.
  1255. I think we are much more than
    we've ever been allowed to believe.
  1256. Denied the connection and meaning that
    nourishes us, we've grown small and
    stunted in the shallow soil of this culture.
  1257. It's time to revitalize that ground of our being.
  1258. What really is important, and what
    adds value and what adds... you know. . .
  1259. what does a life well-lived look like?
  1260. Humans have a history of living much more in
    touch with the natural world, with the planet.
  1261. Much more sustainable.
  1262. Much more spiritual.
  1263. Much more communal.
  1264. That's who we are.
  1265. As all of this starts to shift and
    change and disintegrate and collapse,
  1266. there's the opportunity, in fact,
    to come back to ourselves.
  1267. To grow up, fundamentally,
    as people and as a culture.
  1268. We're in a time of initiation, folks.
  1269. A mass initiation at the level of culture itself.
    A vision quest for the collective mind.
  1270. this culture's arrogance, its adolescent
    sense of invincibility and entitlement,
  1271. must be sloughed off to make room for a
    more mature sense of interdependence with,
    and responsibility to, the community of life.
  1272. this is the work of initiation.
  1273. Stepping into this cultural maturity, we will
    take our rightful place in the community of life.
  1274. And we will fall back in love with the world.
  1275. We can do this. But only if we choose to.
  1276. Only if we lay down our weapons
    in this insane war against the world.
  1277. Only if we surrender control and
    move back into relationship.
  1278. You want unlimited growth? You can have it.
  1279. All you've ever wished for and more.
  1280. Growth in relationship and experience.
    In self-awareness and spirit and love
    and community and connection.
  1281. Growth in purpose and meaning.
    Growth in vision.
  1282. When we step back into the
    community of life, we will find out
    immediately what has always been true.:
  1283. all of life's on our side.
  1284. We'll have polar bears on
    our team. And elm trees.
  1285. And condors and salmon and
    dragonflies and plankton.
  1286. We'll walk with the wind and the water, with
    mountains underfoot and stars overhead.
  1287. The tiger's blood will course through our veins.
    The horse's breath will fill our lungs.
  1288. We'll be more connected to real power
    than we've ever dreamt possible
    in our sick fantasy of domination.
  1289. "Power with." Not "power over."
  1290. The power of a species that has passed
    through initiation and into maturity.
  1291. I think we need to look at what is it we want
  1292. and see if civilization as we've
    created it is giving us that.
  1293. And if it's not, what might give us that?
  1294. What does it mean to dismantle civilization?
  1295. What it means is depriving the rich of the ability
    to steal from the poor and to destroy the world.
  1296. I can't give a better definition than that.
  1297. There's no real reason why the entire country
    of the United States couldn't face reality.
  1298. You just have to drop the idea of capitalism.
  1299. You have to drop the idea of
    corporations running things.
  1300. You have to drop the idea of economic growth.
  1301. It could be done. it could be done.
  1302. There was a great tradition
    among the Cheyenne dog soldiers
    called the picket pin and stake.
  1303. they would get a tanned rope,
    called a dog rope, and a picket pin,
  1304. that's used to stake horses to the ground, and
    they would attach the picket pin to the sash,
  1305. the dog rope that was attached to them.
  1306. And then in battle they would drive
    the picket stake into the ground.
  1307. And that was done as a mark of resolve.
    Because once it's driven, you can't leave
  1308. until either you're dead, or you're
    relieved by another dog soldier, or
    the battle's over and everyone is safe.
  1309. so the question i ask people is,
    you know, at what point,
  1310. you know, where will you drive your picket pin?
  1311. Where will you stake yourself out and say
    "i'm not going to retreat any more"?
  1312. Our descendents are watching us.
  1313. How will we be?
  1314. It's time to be thoughtful, coming together
    to learn about the world as it really is.
  1315. Reading between the lies. Doing the math.
  1316. Studying the world situation.
  1317. There will be a quiz.
  1318. A paradigm shift will require that we question our
    deepest and most fundamental assumptions.
  1319. And that will require that we take our
    current worldview gently in our arms
    and hold it while it breathes its last.
  1320. Step into a new story.
    Walk away from the pyramids.
  1321. Get out of the crumbling building.
    Break out of prison.
  1322. Choose your favorite metaphor. Choose
    your own adventure. But choose.
  1323. It's time to be truthful.
  1324. Millions of sensual pulsing animal
    bodies are now living trapped and used
    and starved in cities and cubicles
  1325. and sweatshops and food courts and traffic jams
    and suburbs and public school classrooms.
  1326. People who are not rich and
    white already know this.
  1327. What would happen if we let ourselves
    feel our feelings about all of this?
  1328. The entire community of life on
    this planet is now being threatened.
  1329. Where do we stick our picket pins?
    Where do we take a stand?
  1330. When do we find the courage to
    let ourselves feel what's going on?
  1331. Our feelings are the swiftest
    path back to our forgotten selves.
  1332. It's time to be open and humble.
  1333. There are huge forces at work in the world, both
    seen and unseen. It's time to ask for help.
  1334. Ask the ancestors.
    Ask the gods.
    Ask your God.
  1335. Go outside and lie down on the Earth and ask
    the land, and the sky, and the life of this place.
  1336. And then listen for a response.
  1337. Listen to the voices of soil and stone, wind
    and water, the voices of cirrus clouds
  1338. and chickadees, of red squirrels and wood
    beetles and Russian olives and hickories.
  1339. The world will tell us what it knows,
    if only we will be still. And listen.
  1340. And then speak.
  1341. It's time to show up in our
    own lives and tell the truth.
  1342. It's time to talk about the world
    situation with everyone we see.
  1343. We're all in this together. What a relief
    it'll be, to discover that we are not alone.
  1344. It's time to act with great intention.
  1345. There is work aplenty to do in this weary
    world, and people engaged in that work.
  1346. Find those people. Join in.
  1347. Save rivers and stop bulldozers and stand
    up at city council meetings to tell your truth.
  1348. Share skills. Evolve local communities.
  1349. Move from agriculture to permaculture and grow
    your own food. Learn about medicinal herbs.
  1350. As Derrick Jensen says, "we need it all."
    Find your work, and do it. It's time.
  1351. But what about that speeding train?
  1352. How will the Great Turning turn?
  1353. We can wait for the train to crash on its own and
    hope that it doesn't kill us, and everything else.
  1354. But with the children grown, perhaps we can
    come together and decide to dismantle,
  1355. joyfully and with conscious intent,
  1356. the rusty and dangerous old swing-set
    of a culture that no longer serves us.
  1357. this may seem an impossible task.
  1358. But if the alternative is extinction,
    then we have nothing to lose.
  1359. We humans once knew how to
    live on this planet. A few still do.
  1360. And that's the good news. It can be done.
  1361. We can do way, way better than Empire.
  1362. Let's jump off the train and build a boat.
  1363. The train is constrained to rigid tracks and its
    momentum makes it almost impossible to steer.
  1364. But the boat? Ah, the boat
    is a very different thing.
  1365. Boats set sail into the unknown, subject
    only to wind and wave and weather.
  1366. Boats can be lifeboats, preserving wisdom and
    understanding while the storm rages overhead.
  1367. Boats can be arks, safeguarding the
    life of the world as the floodwaters rise.
  1368. And boats can carry us into adventure, away
    from the shores of the current paradigm and to
    those unseen shores of a future not yet written.
  1369. find your people and build a boat.
  1370. Build a local community to serve the
    world and preserve the life of a piece of land.
  1371. Or set sail in the wider world, interrupting
    the destruction, healing the wounds,
    crafting connections and changing minds.
  1372. Build a boat. A lifeboat. An ark.
  1373. A galleon of adventure and imagination
    destined for unknown lands.
  1374. Build it now.
  1375. The ice is melting.
  1376. The waters are rising.
  1377. We're going to have to let go of the shore.
  1378. I do not know if I will survive the
    crash of industrial civilization
  1379. or the impacts of the climate change
    that that civilization has unleashed.
  1380. I do know this.: I have a choice
    about how I meet it.
  1381. I have a choice.
  1382. We have a choice.
  1383. I can meet it with a burger in my hand,
    a French fry in my mouth,
    and a cold drink spilling onto my jeans.
  1384. Or I can meet it with consciousness, integrity,
    and the sense of purpose that is my birthright.
  1385. I can meet it on the far side of
    initiation, a mature and related
    member of the community of life,
  1386. standing tall, doing my best to
    protect and serve this Earth that I love.
  1387. this is the course I've chosen.
  1388. this is my picket pin.:
  1389. I will show up and I will tell my truth.
  1390. But it's hard to sail alone,
    when the seas rage so fiercely.
  1391. If you sail with me, we shall
    both be made stronger.
  1392. And when others join us, then our
    crew will be made strong indeed.
  1393. Together, we will set forth, to find that new land.
  1394. What a way to go. . .
  1395. // Let's build a boat //
  1396. // In case the waters rise //
  1397. // Let's build a boat //
  1398. // Clouds they gather in the skies //
  1399. // Let's build a boat //
  1400. // For when the storm comes //
  1401. // Let's build a boat //
  1402. // For when the rain it beat like drums //
  1403. // Oh the levee will get pounded //
  1404. // Now the people are out having fun //
  1405. // Someday our work will pay off //
  1406. // We will float others will be overcome //
  1407. // But you can't outrun the water //
  1408. // Oh you can't outrun the water //
  1409. // You can't outrun the water //
  1410. // Let's build a boat //
  1411. // Let's build a boat //
  1412. // Take me to the other slde //
  1413. // Let's build a boat //
  1414. // Be forewarned this is no easy ride //
  1415. // Let's build a boat //
  1416. // Big enough for all of us //
  1417. // Let's build a boat //
  1418. // One that's good enough //
  1419. // One that we can trust //
  1420. // Oh the levee will get pounded //
  1421. // Oh the people are out having fun //
  1422. // Someday our work will pay off //
  1423. // We will float others will be overcome //
  1424. // But you can't outrun the water //
  1425. // Oh you can't outrun the water //
  1426. // You can't outrun the water //
  1427. // Let's build a boat //