What Would it Take for Humanity to Experience Radical Transformation?

Today we shall investigate this question: What would it take for humanity to experience radical transformation of individual and collective consciousness within the next decade? This picture looks inviting, doesn't it? But does it realistically represent the world we collectively live in today? In one word, NO.

One look at the news stories of today can easily show how individuals, groups, corporations, and nations of all stripes are arguing and fighting for attention, for purposes, and for goals and strategies. Look at social media and it is ripe with every flavor of disagreement known to society. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that there are few things everyone can agree on, and even when one IS found, nobody can agree on the ways to solve what everyone agreed the problems are. Now, throw in a PREDICAMENT instead of a problem and guess what happens?

From my experience, when a predicament is put into the mix, most people still look at it from the same standpoint they did with a problem; not realizing that it doesn't have a solution. Worse yet, most folks attempt to utilize the exact same thinking that got us into that predicament to begin with; again, not realizing that said thinking is precisely the issue - using the same strategy again and again and expecting a different result is the very definition of insanity. So, if society cannot agree on a specific course of action or even if it is claimed that society DOES agree on a course of action, what happens collectively? One look at the Paris Agreement and the hundreds of articles written about it and one can clearly see that despite all the hype, emissions are still raising the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases with almost no notice of slowing down since the agreement was adopted over 5 years ago, even with a SUBSTANTIAL reduction of emissions last year. As this article shows, not much has been accomplished. Perhaps a better collection of articles and studies regarding the predicament of climate change and where we are headed is contained in my article here.

Society hasn't truly accepted the predicament of ecological overshoot yet. They are still focused almost exclusively on climate change for the most part, ignoring the other major predicaments which are symptoms of ecological overshoot. Adding fuel to the fire, most of society seems to believe that by building yet more complex technology that we can "build our way out of climate change" which is a disconnect from reality. Building is precisely what got us to this point in time, so building more is not going to help; it will instead hinder the situation. More complexity without the energy to power it is a prescription for disaster, and electricity will not solve the predicament of ecological overshoot. In fact, more energy takes us in the wrong direction altogether, as the reason we went into overshoot in the first place was the availability of energy. So, building more energy devices and/or other technologies will NOT solve ecological overshoot, and therefore will not solve climate change. People who don't understand this simple fact are suffering from denial of reality. In fact, one of the things that most people don't understand about climate change and emissions reductions comes from that article in this quote (with the links attached here):

Most people think that climate change can be "fixed" or reversed, but current science shows that climate change is irreversible on human timescales. Another article shows that this is due to ocean heat uptake (OHU). Another recent study indicates that climate change is irreversible due to permafrost thaw. Still yet another study demonstrates climate change being irreversible due to oceanic oxygen depletion. However, climate change in and of itself isn't the worst part of the overall set of predicaments. It is how climate change and ecological overshoot, its parent predicament, affects the rest of the biosphere and how life on this planet responds to those effects. If all we had to do was adapt to temperatures 2, 3, or 4 degrees Celsius more than today, we could probably accomplish such a task. However, not all plants and animals can say the same, and unfortunately, we depend on far more than just those plants and animals for our own existence; we also depend upon the ecosystem services which they provide. These two articles here and here explain the scenario, but fail to point out that we are actually in at least the 8th mass extinction event (here and here)." 

In other words, even if we reduced anthropogenic carbon emissions to ZERO right now, the effect on climate change would be negligible this century. Of course, due to civilizational inertia, I can guarantee that emissions will still be relatively high for quite some time to come, but not necessarily produced by our use of fossil fuels. Natural emissions from self-reinforcing positive feedback loops are beginning to have a devastating effect in all sectors of the climate system, and these will begin exponentially rising, causing more and more changes to occur throughout not just the climate system, but all biophysical systems on this planet. In addition, once fossil fuels are no longer widely available or begin to cost more than people can afford, people will begin burning other items such as wood or plastics for heat and/or cooking.

One update I am adding to this article is regarding the promotion of technology. Even though I have pointed out how technology cannot solve the predicaments technology use has caused, it serves a very necessary purpose to explain why promoting technology is NOT a good thing

There are some people who think that due to a global population reduction that we still could use these technologies safely. The sad truth is that using technologies of ANY stripe is unsustainable. Attempting to continue civilization is exactly what brought us here, and civilization is only possible with the technology of agriculture. All ancient civilizations collapsed sooner or later due to this very simple reason; the people who were a part of those civilizations overshot the carrying capacity (ability of the landmass surrounding them to support them) of the geographical area they lived within. Some civilizations collapsed as a result of mixed issues, but most all of these issues focused on overshoot and collapse of one sort or another. This is precisely why practically all ideas based on continuing industrial civilization or anything close to what life is like today are guaranteed to fail. Of course, back when many of these civilizations failed, everyone scattered in order to survive elsewhere. There is now nowhere left to scatter to, so we are forced to deal with these predicaments on nature's terms, not ours. 

For those still not satisfied that this is the truth, check out Joseph Tainter, Jared Diamond, or Peter Turchin on civilizational collapse. Of those three experts, Tainter has the most comprehensive works and science to explain how increasing complexity provides diminishing returns as time moves forward. This is extremely important, as many of the various plans focusing on the Green New Deal or other plans focusing on energy concerns actually take society in the WRONG direction - towards increasing UNSUSTAINABILITY rather than increasing sustainability. In addition to the science that these three professors bring to the subject, yet another professor brings a new peer-reviewed study pointing out more or less the same flawed logic; this time with energy efficiency and Jevons Paradox. I speak about Jevons Paradox and Liebig's Law of the Minimum quite frequently because many people tend to forget that energy and resources are finite. Using MORE energy and resources to build more infrastructure and complexity (which then will require more energy to maintain) in a world suffering from energy and resource decline can only end one way - collapse. For those who prefer a video presentation of Dr. Tim Garrett's research, go here. Jevons Paradox has a considerable amount of evidence besides Garrett's paper and this paper. There are countless articles which also point out precisely this issue with efficiency. This paragraph hopefully has made it quite clear that society cannot build its way out of the predicament of ecological overshoot; nor can industrial civilization continue indefinitely. Attempting to build our way out of these predicaments [also see this peer-reviewed paper from William Rees] will only steepen the inevitable collapse of industrial civilization and bring the world to its knees that much quicker. A new book which also brings the reality of physics into the mix with regard to the topic of energy and the "green" agenda is Energy and Human Ambitions on a Finite Planet, by Dr. Tom Murphy and is also highlighted in this post. Yet another new book by Alice Friedemann which brings a splash of cold reality (especially in literally hundreds of links to prove the points made) is detailed in this post. One more post which also points out that the entire greenwashing industry of EVs, non-renewable "renewable" energy-harvesting devices, bio- and syn-fuels, and more is presented by Nate Hagens here.

Now, this brings us to another dimension of the original question. The original wording is here, quote: "This is so that we can all wake up; recognize and accept the near-term existential threat posed by accelerating global warming; reverse, capture, and store carbon emissions; and radically transform our lifestyles and our relationships with each other and with the planet."

I will explain here that this assumes that society (we) actually CAN wake up. I do think that certain people can become enlightened when presented the facts regarding a situation. Unfortunately, there are many people who will instead choose not to believe the facts, create an alternate theory possibly based upon conspiracies, or choose to ignore the information altogether. The possibility of all of us globally "waking up" is therefore not a given. 

Now, onto the "reverse, capture, and store carbon emissions" portion of this topic. I need to make it perfectly clear that the above science already more or less explicitly stated that technology will not solve the predicament of ecological overshoot. Here is a rather poignant video from Dr. Becker Sidney Smith pointing out these facts. This means that climate change, being a SYMPTOM of ecological overshoot, also cannot be solved by technology. Climate change, by definition, is irreversible on human timescales. This should make it evident that schemes devised to utilize technology to reverse carbon emissions is a non-starter. So far, the only proven ideas to capture carbon emissions AT SCALE are what nature has already provided to us in the form of plants, trees, and phytoplankton. Once again, anyone thinking of using technology to do this job can pretty much forget it. There is no known technology which can do this at the scale required without causing just as much damage in emissions as the emissions it can capture, and this doesn't include the damage to the environment caused by the pollution building such technology produces. Obviously, storage is also a huge issue. Where would one store all this carbon? Considering the simple fact that we also have thousands of tons of nuclear waste we still haven't figured out how or where to store where it would be safe for thousands of years, this is the exact same issue when it comes to carbon stocks. If this carbon were to somehow escape from storage anytime within the next thousand years, it would compound the already huge issues we have with climate change because CO2 stays in the atmosphere easily for hundreds if not thousands of years. The likelihood that we would have the energy necessary to recapture and restore this carbon is rather remote and the question of whether we would have enough energy and resources to accomplish such a task in the first place remains unanswered but since energy demand currently ALREADY exceeds supply, I think it is a fair prognosis that the answer is we don't. 

I hate to be such a downer, but the truth is stark; most every idea I've seen offered with regard to carbon capture simply doesn't cut the mustard. They are, of course, all energy negative, requiring more energy to operate than the captured carbon is worth or which can be turned back into hydrocarbons to be burned yet again (this seems like one of the dumbest ideas - what is the point of capturing carbon only to turn it back into fuel to burn again; especially when it will not come anywhere close to the original value of energy it had when it was burned the first time around?). None of them can yet be done at scale, either. Given this is a hot topic quite often, I will round up just a few articles dealing with this subject:

As one can see, the idea of carbon capture and storage is one where the idea of utilizing technology to perform a task already accomplished far more efficiently by nature (albeit not enough and falling further behind all the time) is really just more human arrogance of command and control which veers into the category of fantasies, myths, and fairy tales. I've also added a new article which dives deeply into analyzing these "technofixes" titled, Pulling Back The Curtain On The Energy Transition Tale, the same name as the paper devoted to the subject by William Rees and Megan Siebert.

Yet another report, this time from mining expert Simon Michaux, details precisely why the so-called "energy transition" is nothing more than a myth and my article about it also includes many other scientists' articles, books, documentaries, and presentation videos adding more detail to this topic. Another idea related to this one which is popular with the "energy transition" crowd is electrification, yet another fantasy. The fact of the matter is that the electrical grid is unsustainable and cannot be made otherwise.

Here is the rest of the idea, quote: 

"I train trainers to experience this inner transformation so that they can go on to train others. The organizational model is network marketing, with the possibility to generate substantial income. This income is needed for the radical transformation of our lifestyles. The key issue is this: if we stay in the same consciousness within which we have created the very real threat of near-term extinction, then most likely we have had it. But if we are able to radically transform our individual and collective consciousness, and then focus all our energy on reducing carbon emissions by 50% every decade for the next thirty years, can we survive and co-create a more beautiful life for ourselves and the planet?"

I hate to say this, because it pretty much discounts entirely the whole premise of this idea, but we cannot create a system that focuses on sustainability and a transformation of lifestyles from within the current paradigm. The current paradigm only works with growth and expansion. We cannot have growth and expansion when the system is operating on fewer and fewer reserves of energy and resources. In other words, a large part of the problems and predicaments we face today are the result of marketing, network or otherwise. What the supposed goal here seems to be cannot be attained from within the system we are all embedded within. Basically, this means that while the idea is a noble one, the complexity and constraints of today's embedded systems prevent most of it from actually being experienced. I have little doubt that carbon emissions WILL be reduced, but not because society voluntarily chooses to conserve energy, rather because the energy stocks those carbon emissions come from are a limited, finite resource. Many people wonder why I think this way, and it is because the upcoming disasters will FORCE this to be done as long as it CAN be done. As I have mentioned throughout this blog, we REQUIRE habitat - it isn't optional. Homes and businesses will need to be repaired. Some homes and buildings will need to be demolished and a new building built in its place. Infrastructure such as roads, dams, culverts, bridges, electric transmission towers, etc. will be required to be repaired. Trees and other debris from extreme weather events will need to be removed. This is going to require substantial amounts of energy which will be diverted from other uses until it can no longer be done.

I do think that transformation of individual consciousness is possible. Whether this can become a collective transformation remains to be seen, although over time it won't matter because individuals will be forced into compliance by nature. Perhaps it is a good thing to consider how optimism bias can play a role in our thinking many times and ALSO how our lack of agency plays into the scenario. Another part of our lack of agency that deserves to be pointed out here and now (also clearly stated in the previously linked article) is the biological imperative of the Maximum Power Principle. Also, this article points out how collective transformation is highly unlikely at best, making this idea moot.

I expect a lot of static on this post, because many people don't like to hear that we won't be able to keep everything humming right along and continue happy motoring into the next century with EVs, flying cars, and all kinds of space missions to Mars. Folks need to take stock of where we are and come back down to reality; because if they don't, nature will solve it for us. Thanks to Michael Wolff for this idea!


  1. In 2008, after years of studying the situation, I set out as a homesteader, to simultaneously reduce my carbon footprint, produce healthier food, prepare for energy scarcity, and hopefully sequester some carbon in the former corn/soy acreage being converted primarily to pasture. I fully expected that people would eventually discover the same things I'd discover and that I would find myself surrounded by people doing likewise.

    In the time elapsed, I think the exact opposite has occurred. Not only has there been no mass movement (or even an anemic one for that matter), but as the writing on the wall becomes ever more undeniable, I find people increasingly denying that it exists, and willfully avoiding all of it.

    By 2018, I realized that to the extent that I was expecting any company, I was on a fool's errand. Humans would not be saving themselves, but would rather put the pedal to the metal and go off the cliff Thelma and Louise style.

    This was not an easy realization to accept. Though I'm still farming with horses, heating with the wood from our farm, and doing many of the same things as before, I've found that much of my motivation has evaporated. The only reason to continue with all the extra work (and it is absolutely more work than my former lifestyle!) now seems to perhaps extend our chances as the covid induced crash materializes.

    I in pouring my soul into our homesteading activities -- I missed out on much of what once kept me happy -- sailing, climbing, backcountry skiing, etc. I've decided to tone things down a bit so that I can regain some of that balance, as being out in nature while it's still somewhat intact is one of the best things anybody can do imho. The ride may not last long, but it makes sense to enjoy it while we still can, and not get too worked up when the end isn't what we'd hoped for.

    Thanks for sharing your writing. It's good to know I'm not alone in my thoughts!

    1. Yes, I am constantly surprised by people's reactions to the science. It appears that most want to hear that technology will solve everything so that BAU can continue. Very few want to hear that a huge change in behavior is not only needed, but will be required as we exit the fossil energy age.

      Yes, David, by all means, continuing to balance your life with happy times spent in nature is a must; it's the one thing that soothes my own soul. My senses are heightened when I'm hiking in the mountains and the sights, smells, and sounds are a joy to behold.

    2. David, your story sounds very much like that of Dr Guy McPherson.

    3. There are some definite parallels. I've read/listened to much of his writing. We both have degrees in forestry, and perhaps a closer tie to the natural world than most. Though I'm no PhD, I did work in a climate lab during the 90s while I was in school. He gave up on the homesteading before I did, perhaps because he knows more. I'd like to think that Guy is way off in his take of our situation, but I fear the errors he's made are mostly just a matter of timing

    4. Erik, you are surprised where I am not thanks to neuroscience! Thr director of the orchestra is the sympathetic nervous system!

  2. The world population is not declining, its only the rate of growth that has declined.
    Population in the world is currently (2020) growing at a rate of around 1.05% per year (down from 1.08% in 2019, 1.10% in 2018, and 1.12% in 2017). The current average population increase is estimated at 81 million people per year.

    1. I don't recall anywhere in the article where I said that population is declining (now). However, you can find all kinds of population information including the latest stats right here: https://problemspredicamentsandtechnology.blogspot.com/2020/12/population-links.html

  3. ["I do think that transformation of individual consciousness is possible. Whether this can become a collective transformation remains to be seen,..."]

    The idea of overshoot is already emerging in the collective consciousness. It's being suppressed, denied, and anesthetized; but the seed is well planted and its growth is assured.

    When economic calamity becomes t r u l y otherworldly for people everywhere but especially westerners, the idea will emerge still more.

    When people finally notice and understand the [inconceivable !] narrowing of possibilities appear to be so truly over and above a few cosmetic restrictions in lifestyle for the sake of climate change mitigation; when the livelihood of whole regions get surreal-ly choked off by lack of fossil fuel supply and no realistic Non-Renewable Renewable Energy Harvesting Technology palliative apparatus is available to even keep up a semblance of an advanced society with discretionary income -- the idea will have imposed itself without any need for grand rhetorical jousting.

    When people realize that their local gas stations aren't not being re-supplied because of their government's virtuous stance on climate change mitigation -- no words will have to be spoken -- you'll see it in people's eyes.

    Obviously it'll be too late by that point ... but the idea will make its way into the collective consciousness ... eventually.

  4. Thanks for quoting me in your article. I totally agree with your basic premise that if we carry on as we are, we are inevitably heading for near-term extinction. I reckon that (doing muscle testing) about 4% of humanity currently recognizes that we are now heading for NTHE. That means that 96% are still in total ignorance or denial. My view is that the transformation that is required to avoid NTHE is very radical. In other words, we ALL have to wake up; reverse, capture, and store carbon emissions; and radically transform our lifestyles and our relationships with each other and with the planet. At this moment, how likely is that? Very unlikely. I agree with you. As Einstein famously said: "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." In other words, for us now to address the challenge of global warming, we have to experience a radical transformation in both individual and collective consciousness. Not just a few. We all have to shift.

    The only reason why I believe this is still possible is because I have been engaged in practices for shifting consciousness for some forty years. I used to believe it takes forever. However, in the last few years I have discovered a process that is quick, easy, effective, safe, reliable, and universal. It takes two hours to experience the radical transformation, and a few months to embed, integrate, and sustain the shift.

    I reckon we have five, or at most ten years to experience this collective shift. I know it is possible if we choose to make the shift. I train trainers to train trainers. It's still a very long shot, but it is a real possibility.

    If anyone would like to experience the initial two hour process, I am happy to offer this for free. Then you can make up your mind whether the situation really is hopeless, or whether this is still a chance, however, remote.

  5. I'd like to find out more? I'd love to find out more details.

    1. Tell me what you want to find out more about and I will point to the correct file or article.

  6. Well, the reason I write these articles isn't whether people will "go along" with my views or not. I write them because this is what the science points to, and I feel called to write about these facts. As Michael (who actually is the one who promulgated the idea for this post) points out above, he thinks it is still possible for a transformation. Because of the exponential nature of the predicaments we are facing and the psychological barriers of humans not wanting to make behavioral changes and sacrifices, I don't see a way to do what is necessary collectively (the only way such a process would actually work). Still, even if the possibility is infinitesimal, discussing it is of the utmost importance.

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  12. Very good article. I agree with it totally.

    As an aside, I acknowledge that people's consciousness can changed, but history tells us it's not likely. Politics and pandemics in this country show how difficult it is to achieve a united consciousness to fight climate change.

  13. Hi, Recently came across your blog via Collapse Chronicles and appreciate all the references in your posts. Regarding this particular post, it made me recall the recent book Bright Green Lies which does a fairly good job parsing why all these various schemes to "fix" the climate don't/wont work. The authors still however feel it's not too late to save much of the living planet and suggest things usch as extensive re-wilding, much more than simply planting trees. I don't know if it would work but would love to see such a societal about-face but it just isn't going to happen, at least not in a place like the US. Growth == Power and those in power are going to do everything possible to keep the plane flying until it stalls out. Part of that doing includes propagandizing the masses which it turns out is really quite easy as humans seemly evolved with a massive denial of reality capacity (see M.O.R.T. theory).

    By the way, any chance you could setup/fix the RSS/Atom feeds? I tried to add your blog to my news reader without success. A reply from Follow.IT suggests the issue is not on their end.

    1. Hi, I'll look into the feed matter, but can't promise anything. I CAN tell you that your comment registered five times; twice under this "Anonymous" moniker and three times under "Meh Max" if that helps.

      I see a great deal of talk regarding all sorts of ideas, but basically the real issue is that they are all steeped in what generally amounts to attempts at saving civilization, which is the reason we're in this mess to begin with, so I don't expect many to make much of difference in the near term (an average human lifetime).

    2. Sorry about the multiple posts. I often have problems decerning if a post acually posted on blogger. I run script blockers and other privacy tools and sometimes they block whatever feedback is generated to let the poster know their post was successful. I'll just assume this one is ;).

  14. Hi, Recently came across your blog via Collapse Chronicles and appreciate all the references in your posts. Regarding this particular post, it made me recall the recent book Bright Green Lies which does a fairly good job parsing why all these various schemes to "fix" the climate don't/wont work. The authors still however feel it's not too late to save much of the living planet and suggest things usch as extensive re-wilding, much more than simply planting trees. I don't know if it would work but would love to see such a societal about-face but it just isn't going to happen, at least not in a place like the US. Growth == Power and those in power are going to do everything possible to keep the plane flying until it stalls out. Part of that doing includes propagandizing the masses which it turns out is really quite easy as humans seemly evolved with a massive denial of reality capacity (see M.O.R.T. theory).

    By the way, any chance you could setup/fix the RSS/Atom feeds? I tried to add your blog to my news reader without success. A reply from Follow.IT suggests the issue is not on their end.

  15. I too have thought a lot about this. I've observed that even when people accept that there are limits to growth, cognitive dissonance cuts in and and its back to 'living sustainably' (or 'I don't want to talk about it').
    Radical transformation I suspect needs a radical shock. For that I keep coming back to oil. A sudden interruption of oil supply; like the 1970's oil shock which focused our minds in NZ (even though it was a fabricated shock). I remember thinking "how can they (Arabs) do that to us with our oil" ...... and then mmm "whose oil is it"? That was my radical transformation and it has lived with me ever since.
    In Australia 85% of our liquid fuels are imported and our IEA mandated 3 month reserves are located in the USA. However I think we could survive and struggle on through LPG; society would be radically transformed. A sudden economic collapse? - some transformation no doubt but the solutions would still be to return to growth for all, not just the few. A slow oil decline? (which is where we are currently at) - I suspect it would still be growth but only for some and not the many. Loss of the internet? - probably lose our tap water, sewers and electricity for a while; but it too would cause radical transformation.
    Great website.

  16. Erik,

    Thank you for this content rich and rational article. You have escaped from the cultural trance and Industrial society's delusional grip.

    And you still find joy and meaning.

    Michael Dowd recommended your site/blog and I am grateful

  17. Thank you for the comprehensive article. As you say very few understand let alone acknowledge the reality that the current system must end. As we draw closer to COP26 in Glasgow there is a demand by the public that our governments ‘do something’ to reduce CO2 emissions but without any reference to addressing the core underlying issues that caused this problem in the first place.
    Recent polls in Australia found the majority of people acknowledged and desired action on climate change but were taking little or no action themselves to reduce their own energy use. While this may be understandable since our human brain has evolved, apparently, to deal with immediate issues first and put off those that seem further off, I look forward to finding out how the required quantum shift in the population’s perception of the problem can be made to take appropriate action.

    1. Yes, without addressing ecological overshoot, the CAUSE of climate change; the focus on reducing emissions is a complete waste of time. Here's what William Rees had to say about COP-26: https://www.buildingsandcities.org/insights/commentaries/cop26-illusions.html

  18. I love it whenever people come together and share thoughts.
    Great website, keep it up!

  19. See this article: https://problemspredicamentsandtechnology.blogspot.com/2021/05/live-now.html


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