What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire (2007) Movie Script

The picture you are about to see deals
with the problem of self-destruction.
Its purpose was to enable people to better
understand the nature of this strange, tragic act.
We shall not be able to diminish
this great human affliction
until more people do understand it
and appreciate its seriousness.
Voices in the Dark
A lot of things about the world
these days are very scary.
My generation may be one of the first
generations where a lot of us die...
...not of old age.
Because a lot of us may not make it there.
Global warming... it's gonna do this
and our climate's gonna go weird and...
...like another ice age or something.
I think the scariest things aren't for me.
The scariest things are thinking that I
might leave a world to my children
that would be really difficult and painful for them.
I think we're all fucked. All of us.
I think most of us in this room are
gonna die before we reach...
I don't believe that we would
wipe ourselves out entirely.
I believe that... I believe that
we can probably fall down to...
There's gotta be a way. There's
gotta be a way to live through it...
Once we're able to look at the world
without blinders and see the
really horrific mess we're making of it...
We have got to change our whole idea
of the way that the world works...
I generally just feel like
everything is out of balance.
Nothing that I can do will make
any impact on the planet.
We're living a way that doesn't work.
We have to live a way that does work.
So it's gonna change.
You can't change what's happening in
Washington. You can't change what's
happening over in Iraq.
"We've met the enemy and he is us. "
I guess I just tell myself that it's all gonna
be OK. You kinda have to to keep going.
It's not a happy thing to think about.
There was a time in my life when I
was having this recurring daydream.
I'd be sitting in my car, radio blaring,
slowly making my way forward
through a fast food drive thru.
I'd get to the window and they'd hand
me my drink and my burger and fries.
And as i waited for me change. . .
off in the distance. . .
a bright flash... and a rising cloud.
And as the full force of the
nuclear blast washed over me...
...as the icy cold of my overturned
Coke seeped into my jeans...
I'd think to myself...
... what a way to go.
Yeah I think that we might
wipe ourselves off the Earth.
Definitely. I feel like that's where we're headed.
There's an emptiness that other needs...
the real needs...
the real desires aren't being met.
And we're just scrambling
with what our culture offers us.
And our culture tells us... you know
our culture tells us we will find lyve
if we buy this lipstick and that
make-up and these clothes and this car.
I think it would be OK if we gave the Earth back
to everybody else why is not as destructive.
All the rest of the life on Earth.
I was born in the American Midwest, central
Mlchlgan, the "water winter wonderland".
I was raised in the arms of an extended
rural family.: mostly farming folk...
...solid, hard working, quiet, giving.
I was bom into warmth and plenty to eat, a
sense of place, and a surety of security.
And I was born into stories.
Stories about the value of work
and the right way to live.
Stories about God and country, about
community, loyalty, steadfastness, and resolve.
Stories about the role and place
of humans on this planet.
Stories about our relationship
to something we called "nature".
I was born into stories.
Nobody told me these stories.
They didn't have to.
The stories were the air I breathed, the water in
which I swam, the ground upon which I walked.
They were all around me.
We didn't even know they were stories.
We just thought they were the way things are.
My world was a playground.
There were fish to catch, boats to row,
parades to watch, trails to hike,
lakes to swim, snowmobiles to rlde,
games to play, presents to open,
and family to share it all with.
The days would end with sunsets and fireworks
and sometimes I would dance
until I collapsed with joy.
It was a magical land...
cherry Popsicles and warm milk,
birthday cakes and store-bought costumes
and brand-new chairs under the tree.
A land of giant geese, well-dressed poodles,
talented birds and even more talented people.
The Earth was our merry-go-round,
our monkey bars, our swing set.
As long as we didn't look down,
everything would be just fine.
I was born halfway up the population explosion.
I was born on the slope of rising CO2 levels.
I was born in the foothills of a mass extinction.
I was born on the rocky rise of oil production.
I was bom facing forward, looking ever
upward, my first step a step upslope,
a step into progress, a step into a
vast and glorious human future.
We were moving on up.
There was no looking back.
There was a mountain to conquer,
and conquer it we would.
All we had to do was climb a bit further.
But the mountain we were climbing
was not what we thought it was.
Rather than rising from natural forces, the
slopes up which we were headed were the
results of imbalance and shortsightedness.
In our efforts to progress, to succeed, to
improve, to strive, to overcome,
to manage, to shape, to solve, and to grow,
we wielded huge new forces across the globe.
We walked as giants upon the Earth,:
unaware of the footprints we left behind.
I have walked that path, unaware of my own
blg feet, enacting the stories of our culture,
not stopping long enough to feel
the instability of the slope underfoot.
But in the late 80s, news of the ozone
hole and global warming first hit me,
and the ground began to shake.
I stopped and looked
around me for the first time.
I got scared. I got involved.
And then the shaking subsided.
Or rather, I just got used to it.
Life got more complex with the births of my three
children. And there was climbing still to do.
So I continued to climb.
But the tremors were still there, underfoot.
At night I slept, but fitfully, clenched with worries,
my dreams assaulted by
vague rumblings from the future.
In my dreams, I would stand at the
pinnacle of the present, and look
out over the surrounding terrain.
And it didn't look like I had thought it would. . .
A faint howling in the distance pierces the night
The monsters we have created
Lumbering to rampant life
Are heading even now toward our village
Nuclear weapons
Building their time
Itching with purposes unfulfilled
As hopeful fingers tremble near buttons
Bunker Busters and Tactical nukes
Suitcase bombs and terrorist acts
Power plant accidents and leaking wastes
Plutonium launched into space
In rockets known to explode
And depleted uranium poisoning the battlefield
Depopulating the land
Chemical warheads
And biological black magicks
Sarin and Soman and VX and phosgene
Anthrax and smallpox and plague
Enough to take out entire cities
Enough to cover the planet
And they don't care who lets them out
As long as they get to play
Others nasties lurch toward us on their own
Old friends, new creations and recent escapees
Ebola, Marburg, Lassa and SARS
Swine Flu, Bird Flu, HIV and AIDS
The rebound of tuberculosis,
Cholera, malaria, and typhus
Prions and mad cows
Scrapie sheep and chronic wasting disease
Cancers that eat away our lungs our brains
Our breasts our testlcles and our ovaries
And new monsters peer over the horizon
Good intentions spliced to
Blind arrogance and numbing greed
Frankenfoods and Terminator seeds
Herbicide tolerant and pesticide laced crops
Patented Life
Barely tested, quietly ticking. . .
Let loose upon the land
As if their creators, having looked at the world,
Managed to learn nothing at all
The monsters howls grow frenzied
Chemicals in our land our sky our rain
Our rivers our food our bodies our babies
Rising male infertility rates and
Superfund sites and ozone depletion
Rivers dammed and salmon doomed
Topsoil loss and fertilizer run-off
Huge oceanic dead zones
And depleted fisheries
And the ghosts of silent whales
Scraping over the corpses of coral reefs
The monsters advance
And forests collapse under their feet
Leaving indigenous cultures battered,
Homeless, soul-sick, or dead
Disrupting water and oxygen cycles
And turning soll into deserts
As tigers and salmon and tree frogs and falcons
Stumble down the path toward extinction
Their heartrending voices
Lost in the chatter of chainsaws
And the coughing insults of buildozers
And all the while the climate is changing. . .
Angry summers, insistent floods,
Belligerent blizzards
Grudging droughts and plssed-off hurricanes
with poles warming and ice shelves calving
Permafrost slumping and glaciers receding
Sea levels rising and big cities sinking
As ocean currents halt and superstorms gust,
Deserts expand and rabbits run
And locusts horde and army ants march
And mosquitoes hunt and rodents overrun
The balance undone
Leaving crops destroyed and diseases vectored
And famine and rioting and looting and war
The ocean tums acld and corals
And shellfish and planktons dissolve
The disruption of food chains,
The collapsing of ecosystems
Tonight on the Weather Channel
(commentator blathering)
Watch it now, while you can
Because oil is peaking,
with no clear replacements
Production will falter
As demand keeps increasing
And the price, which is rising now,
will just keep on rising
Imagine the impact to the global economy
To the truckers and farmers
To your neighbors
Watch the bidding war rage
From trade floors to battlefields
Watch the Pentagon plan and the patriots act
Go look out the window
Do you feel a draft?
World population is fueled by the input of oil
We could reach 7 billion by 2013
That's billions of bodies more
Than the planet can sustain without oll
We're consuming the planet and
Poisoning the soil and the air and
The water that we all need to live
We're driving a high-speed train
To the end of life
And we're taking the rest of the planet
Trillions upon trillions of living souls
Along with us
And all of this
All of this
All of this
All of this
Is wrapped tightly inside a culture of denials and
Lles and absurdities so complex
And so powerful
That we can barely see through the smog
The monsters are screeching
At the village's edge
So huge and so horrible
That we cannot bear to look at them
And we,
Bound in a cultural straightjacket
Of our own making,
Slumber on as they draw near
Working jobs we hate
Consuming products that do not fulfill
Distracting ourselves as best we can with
Television drugs food sex and entertainments
Hoping our leaders will find some answers
Awakening, finally,
In the still hours of early morning
To the shapeless realization
That they will not
(alarm clock begins to beep and grows louder...)
(click off)
Ah. . . what a nightmare. . .
Well, Johnny, you are in a pretty serious situation.
But we believe - your myther and
Mr. Benton and I - that you can
make good without being sent away.
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.
It seemed built into the situation,
a certainty of population dynamics,
the inevitable end to Mr. Malthus' musings.
At some point we would near the sun,
our wings would fall, and we would
plummet back to the earth.
New voices spoke of possible futures.
"Hey can i have some of those purple berries?"
Crosby, Stills and Nash
sailed the Wooden Ships.
"Shit, not again!"
Riddley Walker wrote his connexions.
And Charlton Heston ate Soylent Green with
The Omega Man on the Planet of the Apes.
"You maniacs!"
The world looked insane to me but nobody
else seemed to notice so I buried
my thoughts and muddled on.
Deep inside, this was tearing me to places.
I remember looking in at night on my
sleeping children, and feeling a deep
and gnawing terror for their futures.
But I locked my fears tightly in my heart, hit the
snooze button, and slept a while longer.
And then I came across Daniel Quinn and
Derrick Jensen, two writers who helped me,
with books such as Ishmael and
The Culture of Make Believe,
to recognize the stories of our culture,
the beliefs and assumptions and fables
that have shaped our lives,
the fairy-tales we have told ourselves, the
madness we have made manifest in the world.
Quinn speaks of the Nazi regime, of Adolph
Hitler and the story he told the German people.:
a story about the lost destiny of the Aryan race,
a story of oppression and defilement,
a story of victory and vengeance
and greatness regained.
And Quinn explained how the entire nation,
oppressors and oppressed alike,
Jews and Good Germans and Gypsies and
Gays, were all held captive by that story.
We who live today inside the dominant global
culture are similarly captives of stories.:
stories that surround us like the air we breathe,:
stories that we enact at our own peril,:
stories that threaten the community of life itself.
Have you heard the one about humans
being separate from "nature", different,
special, the pinnacle of creation?
Or about humans being innately flawed -
violent, selfish and greedy?
How about the one that says that the world
was made for human beings, to manage,
control, and exploit as a resource,
and that the world has
no value beyond its utility?
Or the story about there being only one
right way to live, and one right way to
understand and view the world?
Or about how unlimited growth, competition,
and production are all unquestionably good?
Or the story that tells us
that we can have and do
anything we think we want,
because there are no limits?
There were people in the world looking
squarely at our cultural stories,
and at the global predicament,
and seeing what I saw.:
our culture, in its present
configuration, could not last.
I was not alone.
But the transformation, or the
collapse, still seemed far away.
It would come one day. But not now.
There was time. There was hope.
Somewhere, there were
people taking care of it all.
And that's how it was for me, year after year.
I lived the middle class American life.
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.
And then I started to work
on this documentary. . .
Three years later, having chewed our way
through a mountain of books, articles, websites,
magazines, newspapers, and documentaries,
having attended lectures and
meetings and salons and rallies,
and having intervals with friends and neighbors,
scientists and researchers and writers and
activity and thinkers and feelers and more,
and having talked and written and laughed and
cried and worried and despaired and regained
our power to plunge ahead again,
one thing seems clear.:
the global environmental, political and economic
predicament we live in today is critical,
the possible scenarios range
into the highly disturbing,
and the timeframe seems. . . well. . . imminent.
It's as though we've awakened
to find ourselves on a runaway train,
hurtling wildly down the tracks, held
in place by powerful cultural stories
and fueled by our desperate consumption of the
very heart, blood, bones and flesh of this planet.
If we don't find some way to stop this train soon,
we're going to reach the end of the line.
So what do you see when you wake up
on the train? I can tell you what I saw.
I saw the ground beneath the pavement,
the man behind the curtain, the monster
under the bed, the real below the ralls.
The culture of Empire works every
moment of every day to distract my attention,
like a magician using sleight-of-hand.
What happens when I look where
the conjurer does not want me to look?
I see the trick.
I see the reality behind the illusion.
I see, if I look long enough,
that the Empire has no clothes.
Ride with me a while.
Look more closely at the train, and the tracks,
and the terrain through which we're speeding.
If we are to respond effectively, we'll need a
clear understanding of the whole of the situation.
For me, four aspects of our
predicament stand out.:
Peak oil, climate change, mass
extinction and population overshoot.
In the fall of 2005, Sally Erickson
and I circled the country by train,
meeting with people to talk
about these issue, and many others.
At some point you reach the place
where you can't get it out any faster.
Sy, when you get to that point you've reached
the peak. Then we start downhill.
And once we start downhill that's when
economic collapse will occur.
That's my friend Tom, talking about oll.
Peak Oil. And Economic Collapse.
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.
Over the last 1 50 years we've
created a society that runs on oil.
And it's inevitable that we would have done sy,
because it's just such incredible inexpensive,
convenient, energy-dense stuff.
I spoke with Richard Heinberg, a core
faculty member of New College of Callfornla
and author of three books on Peak Oil.
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.
I met with the journalist Paul Roberts,
who wrote a book about oil depletion in 2004.
At some point, since oil is a finite resource,
you can't keep raising production.
Usually this is about the halfway point.
When you've depleted half of the resource
it becomes harder and harder to raise
production. Doesn't mean you run out.
And a great deal of oil is still
coming out of the ground.
If we were to peak tomorrow we'd still have
eighty-two and a half million barrels
coming out of the ground every day.
But it would be really hard to get
eighty-three and a half million barrels.
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.
The rate with which oil has been
coming out of the ground has stagnated.
It's stagnated at eighty four
million barrels of oil a day,
which sounds like an incredible number.
But that's what we use to power
ourselves at today's rate of use.
And as the world population continues to grow,
and as prosperity presumably continues to grow
and people power up in their energy use,
we get to a station where there isn't any
excess capacity to keep that powering going.
And at some point you end up with a
flat supple and a growing demand
and you have serious problems.
And that's the nature of peak oil.
Are we at or near the peak of oil extraction?
There are many signs that we are.
Discoveries of new oil peaked
right around 1963, '64.
That was a long time ago.
So we're not talking about a couple
years of bad luck in exploration.
This is a long-established trend.
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.
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.
And despite this huge investment in technology,
and these great leaps forward, the rates of
discovery are still declining.
Country after country is reaching its own
national all-time oil production peak
and going into decline.
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.
And so it's inevitable that within the
very next few years we'll see the
global peak in oil production.
Nobody's ready for that.
Not ready for what, exactly? What will
the end of cheap oil mean for the world?
I went to speak with the writer
and activist Jerry Mander.
I'd let myself believe that the real problems
were decades away. Turns out they're
probably right around the corner.
All the structures that now exist -
our urban formations,
our transportation systems,
our means of getting food,
globalization as an economic model,
capitalism as an economic model,
which depends on constant expansion and
growth and ever-more resources -
cannot possibly continue to exist.
Because they're all based on - the root base of
all of it - is the existence of cheap energy.
In order to avoid a deflationary
depression we have to have continual
growth in the money supply,
which has to be based on continual
growth in economic activity,
which must be based on the continual
growth in available energy and raw materials.
We've built an economy based on the idea that
It has to grow every year or else collapse.
So, soon, the economy won't be able to grow.
And all signs are that we may be facing a kind of
global economic collapse because of peak oil.
It seems that, if our economy is poised for
meltdown, our agricultural system is doubly so.
I spoke with local sustainable designer
Harvey Harman and with writer Richard
Manning about what he calls "the oil we eat".
The average plece of food in your supermarket
has traveled 3,000 miles or more to get there.
So not only is it based on petroleum to grow it,
but then it's transported, and refrigerated.
And, you know, it's a system
that's very dependent on cheap energy,
and it's very energy-intensive.
If we take a look at about 1940, and an
American farmer, that farmer was using roughly
a calorie of fossil fuel to make a calorie of food.
Today that same farmer
uses something like 10 calories of
fossil fuel to make a calorie of food.
That means that petrochemicals, fossil fuel,
have become embedded in our food supply.
if we run out of fossil fuel that strategy
will collapse in a heartbeat.
Sadly, with so much at stake, oll
grows increasingly worth fighting for.
My friend Ray said it best.
Prices will naturally begin to rise
and people will probably fight over it more.
And the US will, almost certainly, with
whatever means are necessary, make
sure that we get everything we need.
And so that will probably make
for an unhappy rest of the planet.
It's a permanent state of affairs. You know?
The fuel crisis will be over in a
couple of hundred million years.
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.
It takes a long time.
Peak oil got my attention.
The ramifications are enormous.
And if the oil situation is bleak, some say
that the natural gas situation is even worse.
As writer and professor Otis Graham said.:
We've had three or four hundred years of
fossil fuel - it's coming to an end.
is that an historic turning point?
it's breathtaking!
Even more breathtaking is what
happens when we burn the stuff.
Scientists used to talk about climate
change in terms of centuries. Now
they're talking about decades.
Now they're talking about next year.
Now they're talking about now.
My friends and neighbors
are talking about it too.
We've increased the levels of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere.
Which traps heat in the earth's atmosphere.
Which raises the temperature.
The glaciers are melting. The sea ice is melting.
The polar ice caps are basically melting.
And I hate it. I hate feeling like
we've done this to nature.
Not to mention all of the animals,
all of the wildlife, that are going to die.
it'll begin to happen.
it's already beginning to happen.
it's happening everywhere.
You know. it's happening!
it's terrifying.
it's a drag.
That's putting it mildly.
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.
some people have said, and I
think they're right about this,
we're gonna run out of air to burn
before we run out of fossil fuels to burn.
in other words, the fossil fuels are
creating the global warming problem,
the CO2, and the pollution problems.
And, if we keep using those, it's not really a
matter of when we run out of fossil fuels.
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.
There. See what I mean? You feel
better already, don't you?
So, whom else could I speak with about the
climate? Tums out I didn't have to go very far.
William Schlesinger, Dean of the Nicholas
School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
at Duke University had this to say.
We have raised, globally in our atmosphere,
the concentration of carbon dioxide
from about 280 parts-per-million in the late
1800's to close to 380 parts-per-million today.
That's roughly a 30% increase.
And the projection is that it will
be 550, 560, in the year 2050.
Schlesinger's colleague at Duke, Professor of
Conservation Ecology Stuart Pimm, added this.:
There is now a strong scientific consensus that
that has caused warming over the last
several decades, maybe centuries, and there's a
strong expectation that it will continue to do so.
So. . .greenhouse gases on the rise.
Temperature on the rise. More floods.
More droughts. Rising sea level.
It's been in the news for some time now.
How does this impact the community of life?
Birds are arriving earlier in the springtime.
Plants are flowering earlier. Species'
ranges are moving northward.
We are seeing an extraordinary,
strong signal, biological signal,
of what global warming is doing for us.
Crops and trees will grow in
places they don't grow today.
We have a lot of suspicion that
they may not grow as well.
And we're beginning to see extinctions of
species that have literally no place
else to go as the climate gets warmer.
There's one impact I found particularly sobering.
The carbon in the atmosphere. The carbon in
the atmosphere goes into the ocean,
it gets absorbed in the ocean as,
I want to say, carbonic acid. . .
Changes in the atmosphere, for example,
of carbon dioxide can be buffered by absorption
of the carbon dioxide into the oceans.
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.
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.
Plankton, as well as corals, are threatened not
only by rising acidity, but by rising temperatures.
Phytoplankton levels have declined by as much
as a third in some northern oceans.
And this has resulted in significant
impacts to fish and krill and bird populations.
But the reported dangers go far beyond a
breaking of food chains, which is bad enough.
Phytoplanktons produce half of
the oxygen we breathe. Half.
And they are a major carbon sink.
When plankton dies, more carbon remains
in the air. Which means more warming.
On top of this, new evidence shows
that climate can shift very rapidly.
Slow changes can build. . . to a
tipping point. . .and the system can
then shift abruptly to a new state.
this is happening in the oceans, where a global
current known as the grand conveyor belt is now
being impacted, with possibly disastrous results.
As Douglas Crawford-Brown, Director
of the Carolina Environmental
Program at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill told me.:
The amount of carbon dioxide that we're putting
out into the atmosphere is rising to a point now
where most scientists would agree
that we may be at a sort of tipping point.
We may be at a point where we're going to
start to get so much carbon dioxide into the
atmosphere that feedback mechanisms
that control the temperature of the earth will
start to be stretched a little bit too far.
The classic one is you get too much
melting of ice, it flows into the ocean,
and you shut off the conveyor belt.
And if that happens, this will cause dramatic
changes in the climate in England.
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.
And we're starting to see
changes of those magnitudes.
this is why I tend to use the term climate
change, rather than global warming.
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.
The impact of that would be huge.
those portions, much of which supply the
agricultural bounty for Europe and the US,
would have dramatic changes in climate,
particularly affecting agriculture.
There are a number of self-reinforcing
feedback loops now in operation.
Here are two such processes.
You know the polar ice melting, which is opening
huge areas of sea in the polar regions.
Without that ice, which normally reflects sunlight,
that polar sea is now going to be absorbing
a lot more sunlight and, therefore, heat.
We have a lot of carbon stored in the
permafrost. And those permafrosts
are starting to defrost.
And when they defrost that carbon dioxide - that
carbon - is going to be oxidized
to carbon dioxide, or brought out
as methane and so on.
And that will be a dramatic
increase in greenhouse gases.
This may get out of hand and we'll suddenly
be looking at a very rapid warming of the planet.
This may get out of hand.
given that there seems to be a
consensus that we need to reduce carbon
emissions by 70 percent or more,
and given that we live in a world where
economies must grow or die,
and given that our carbon emissions grow
along with our economies,
and given that many countries are working
feverishly to emulate the American way of life,
it's difficult to see a way to STOP
it from getting out of hand.
I've yet to see a proposed solution
that even comes close to realistically
addressing the situation.
Talk about a snowball's chance in hell.
I used to take this martial arts class. And a lot of
these guys, it was kind of a kung-fu thing,
a lot of the guys in class would be saying,
'well, what if i meet a guy that's really good
in tae-kwon-do?',
or "what if i meet a really good boxer?"
And the teacher would say, "well, you're
going to get your butt kicked". You know?
You say, "what if we run into a tipping point
where we have this kind of accelerated
scenario of climate change?"
We're going to get our butts kicked.
It's very possible that global climate
change is out of our control at this
point no matter what we do.
Whether we implement Kyoto, or
Kyoto on steroids, or whatever it ls.
I don't know how it will be manageable.
If they can't manage the fallout from
the New Orleans catastrophe
what's going to happen when they try to
manage a society-wide catastrophic situation?
We can take a lot of punches.
Nature takes punches pretty readily.
Global warming is a really severe punch.
And all that we depend on for
natural systems and agricultural systems
is about to be wiped out pretty drastically.
About to be? What is he saying? Do we
dare speak of such disasters as inevitable?
If we speak of inevitability,
will that overwhelm people?
Will they slide into apathy and diversion?
Isn't that where people already are?
I don't feel like I can afford to look
at anything less than the truth.
And then I must ask.: what are we made of?
Who will we be in the face of such truths?
If we don't look at these
things, one thing seems certain.
Generations to come are not going to be very
happy with us for refusing to get serious
about these hugely important issues.
What really gets me is it's not just our human
descendents. Millions of species and more are
now threatened by our behavior.
And for many of them, there will
be no "generations to come".
We're killing off all the life forms that give us life.
We have black holes in the ocean.
There are no fish in places in the ocean.
What's happened to the fish?
What's happened?
That's my friend Barbara, who spent
her life as a teacher and activist,
working for the life of this planet.
The thing is, we know what's happened. My son
Jack knows. He's known since he was a kid.
I mean, everyone knows the problems -
the deforestation, the pollution of rivers,
the garbage, overpopulation.
All of these things the planet
isn't built for us to do that.
It's not built in such a way that it can take that.
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.
Hmm. Destroy where you're living. A problem?
What are the analysts and scientists saying?
Geologists mark geological time by catastrophe.
When did the comet hit and wipe out all those
species? When did the fossil record change?
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.
And we're seeing an order of extinctions
now that ranks with the great
catastrophes on the planet.
Currently we are driving species to
extinction probably a thousand
times faster than they should be.
We will lose somewhere between a
quarter, maybe as many as a half,
of all the species on earth
within the next century.
I think what he's saying is.:
that would be bad.
When I spoke with Daniel Quinn,
he seemed to agree.
if this goes on, and on and on and on,
there's going to come a point
when the system is going to collapse.
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.:
Humans are taking over the whole planet.
And everything else is being crowded out.
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.
On land, we consume forty percent of what's
known as the primary productivity of the planet.
If you look at how much green
"stuff" the planet produces every year,
we use about two-fifths of that.
We consume it, our domestic animals consume
it, and we use wood, and fibers like cotton.
I drive through the country and see it. Forests
are now fields and parking lots and box stores.
We grow crops and livestock and billboards
and cell phone towers, buildozing and bush-
hogging our way around the globe.
And it's the destruction of the places
where species live that's the principal
cause of species becoming extinct.
It's the same story in the oceans.
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.
Our fish stocks, all over the coast of the
United States and certainly around the world,
are getting perilously close to collapsing.
Most of the desirable, large, predatory
fish - snapper, swordfish, and the like -
have been reduced
down to ten percent of their previous population.
Down to ten percent? Maybe that's why
we're now eating tilapia instead of cod.
The cod is almost gone.
And with your tilapia may I suggest a
big tall glass of drinkable water?
When it comes to fresh water we probably
take about half of the available fresh water.
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.
Our agriculture's now the leading
user of water in the world.
And in this nation as well.
Our watersheds in the United States have
been so highly developed that even small
changes in the amount of water that falls
are beginning to cause large implications
for society's availability of water.
Multiplying the impact of consumption
and habitat destruction is the fact that,
with fuels, with pesticides and
herbicides and industrial chemicals,
with noise and with electromagnetic waves
and with human activity and with
structures of control and domination,
Empire is literally and metaphorically
poisoning every square inch of the planet.
Yes, life will recover from
what we are doing to the planet.
But don't hold your breath.
It's going to take millions of years.
It's going to take an incredible
number of human generations.
Trillions of people will live in a
biologically impoverished world
if we don't stop our human impacts now.
I spoke with Daniel Quinn
about this mass extinction.
He gave me a metaphor
that has haunted me since.
We are like people who live in a
very tall building. . . brick building.
We live on the top floor.
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.
Every day. Downstairs, 200 bricks.
Take them upstairs.
And the building is perfectly stable.
But it's not going to be stable forever.
Because we are attacking the
structural integrity of the building.
Two hundred species a day, day after
day after day, year after year. . .
And as our population increases
it's going to turn into 400 species
a day, a thousand species a day.
And there's going to come a day
when the system is going to collapse.
Two hundred species a day!?
This is calamitous.
We may already be well above 200 bricks
each day. And it looks to me like the
building is not far from collapse.
Everything in me wants to run out of the building
before it comes crashing down around my ears.
But where would I run?
Empire now covers the planet.
The building is everywhere.
And almost all of us are inside of it.
All of us.
All six and a half billion of us.
One of the hardest things to talk about
is the human population explosion.
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.
We're approaching full tilt, I think,
in terms of what the planet can sustain.
Ane species that has outgrown its environment
is pressed for resources.
is it just all going to end,
and is that going to be the solution?
You know, are we gonna become extinct
like the dinosaurs?
Equilibrium will be re-achieved.
Unfortunately, nature is a harsh taskmaster.
Because we're so intelligent,
because we're such a different class of animal,
with such a big brain, we have the ability
to understand and foresee and prepare
and stuff for these things,
doesn't mean we will.
How will we face into the
issue of human population?
I went to speak with William Catton, a
professor of Sociology & Human Ecology
at Washington State University,
now retired, and author of an amazing
book on ecology and human
population called Overshoot.
According to Catton's assessment
of the carrying capacity of the planet.:
I think the way we're living now,
the world was overpopulated already
be the time of our civil war.
The population at the time of the US
Civil War was just over one billion.
So we've now overshot that number by
more than 5 billion. As Catton told me.:
It is possible to exceed carrying
capacity. But only temporarily.
if you exceed carrying capacity
you then damage the environment
upon which you're depending.
Looking closely, I've come to see that
population numbers for humans, in and of
themselves, are only part of the story.
As Catton points out, it's the damage
those numbers do that counts.
And that damage is intimately
connected to our way of life.
The Earth supports as great a collective
mass of ants as it does people.
It can do so because ants aren't
building 6000-square-foot homes,
driving two hours to their jobs,
buying plasma TV sets, and killing each
other with depleted uranium munitions.
We in the developed world have
32 times the footprint on the planet,
on resources... depletion...
32 times a person in india.
I think we all know that
though the figure is stunning.
And it ought to make us really think,
and start to talk with each other about this.
You talk about how many "energy
slaves", per capita, do we have?
In this country we've got something like 70 times
as many energy slaves per capita
as people in Bangladesh.
instead of thinking of Bangladesh
as the overpopulated country,
if you multiply each of us be seventy
- take that 290 million, or whatever number of
us there are now, multiple it be seventy - wow.
We are an overpopulated country.
In those terms, the US is a nation of
21 billion people. And my own three
children add 210 to that number.
To speak of population, then, as the root
cause of our problem makes little sense to me.
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.
Big feet. More and more feet. And more
and more feet getting bigger and bigger.
And if these feet just keep on walking, one of
these days they're gonna walk right into oblivion.
It cannot be sustained for much longer.
There are any number of catastrophic
forces that could lower our numbers,
as oil depletion, climate change and
environmental collapses play out.
One thing large populations are
especially prone to is disease.
Microbes are gonna have a lot more to do with it
than humans have to do with it in the end.
Nature - we're still governed by natural rules,
we like to think we're not, but we are -
when you put together the kind of biomass
that humans represent on this planet,
we're an asset to somebody. We're a resource.
But it may be possible to meet the
situation with consciousness and intention.
Once we get to the peak human
population, wherever that is -
I hope it is 8 1/2 billion rather than
12 billion but it's gonna be high -
whenever we get there, what -
do we have a vision of what we should do?
I mean, we got to the peak,
and there's trouble all around us!
What should we do?
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.
If we decide we want to reduce it we can
see to it that the reduction occurs
in a more humane way than it will occur if we
just try to keep on business as usual.
Humanity has never been in this. This is
new. This is new. And this is big.
And this is not being talked about.
And because it is not being talked about,
we have no clear idea how we might
device that softer landing.
Talking about it, then, clearly
and honestly, is the first step.
Without that, catastrophe
is inevitable. But either way,
Our global population is going to be reduced.
this is what I had to face.: the population
of my species is going to be reduced.
I had to face it just like the grizzly
bears have had to face it, and the
wild salmon have had to face it,
just like the right whales and the piping plovers
and the mountain gorillas have had to face it,
just like the great auks and the golden
toads and the blackfin cisco had to
face it before they went extinct.
And I had to face something else.:
I have a choice about how I meet it.
My friend Lyle gave it some perspective.
The fact is that there have been die-offs
of civilizations. There have been
collapses of great, mighty civilizations.
Sophisticated, powerful, unbelievable
civilizations have collapsed.
And it's a choice.
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
And i'd really like it if you'd come with me.
What choices do we now have? What would
that success Lyle speaks of look like?
What is inevitable at this point? And
what remains to be created, if only we
awaken to our power?
Most importantly, why have we
not already awakened?
And you know something? The more
you talk about your problems the
easier they are to solve.
This bottling things up inside is bad!
We can't survive apart from the earth.
And so. . . we're killing it!
i think part of looking at things exactly
the way they are is feeling how isolated
and alienated we have become from ourselves,
from the people around us,
and from the natural world.
And when you look at that, and experience
that, the natural response is deep grief.
Deep grief at the loss of connection.
There are other issues we could have looked at.
How do we face into all of this information?
It looks as though our very survival
as a species is now in question.
As I gaze unflinchingly at the world situation,
the information goes right into my body.
I feel shaken to the core.
I feel like running away.
I feel, at times, like I've been hit head on.
I know I'm not alone.
I wish I had some magic potion.
I wish I had some easy fix.
I wish I could just tell you that
everything is going to be OK.
But of course I can't tell you that.
And probably, deep down,
you already know that.
What chance do I really have, doctor?
Mr. Marshall, I have no desire to mislead you.
I'm sure you realize that
recovery is not a sure thing.
Thirty-six years after the first Earth Day,
forty-four years after Silent Spring,
the planet is closer now to ecological
meltdown than it has ever been.
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.
We will have to do something else.
When we stay focused on
the question, "what do we do?"
we don't ask the more basic
questions about "how did we get here?"
And if we don't ask those questions i don't
think we've got much chance of effecting
the kind of radical change that we're going to
have to effect if we're going to make it.
Well, i appreciate your being so
frank with me, Dr Swenson.
I guess I don't have to tell you how i feel.
From my experience, talking about how
we feel is exactly what we need to be doing.
And we'll also need to
question some assumptions.
One assumption I question is the one
that tells us that, since scientists can
help us understand the situation,
they are automatically equipped
to tell us how to "solve" it.
But there are forces at work in the world that
cannot be understood through a microscope.
What are the forces that brought us
to this point? And what are the
forces that keep us stuck here?
I went to speak with the people who are
trying to answer these questions.
I realized that I would have to step
outside of the culture, so that I could
see it from a new perspective.
Deep inside the tangle of problems that
threatens the entire world there rages a
boundless blaze of cultural fire,
the locomotive power for the
cultural train we're all now riding.:
an engine not of steam or diesel, but of
story, and myth, habit and belief.
An engine racing out of control.
It's time to look more closely
at the culture of Empire.
So, how did we get into this mess?
wow. That's a cosmic question.
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.
What we invented was something
that I call totalitarian agriculture,
which is predicated on the
notion that it all belongs to us.
We can kill off anything we don't want on
the land, put a fence around the land.
We can grow the food we want on
the land and Nobody else can touch it.
That slippery slope that we're on right now. . . we
started walking on that ten thousand years ago.
And it is because of an inherent
problem in "agriculture". "Agriculture"
really depends on disturbance.
There's no way you can do "agriculture"
without doing that catastrophic damage.
So it makes "agriculture"
fundamentally unsustainable.
The surplus from this new way
of getting food had immediate effects.
It has fueled this tremendous
population growth of ours.
Our growing population is always
catching up with our food production.
We have a food race on our hands.
We grow more food and the population
increases. So we grow more food.
It's a race that can't be won.
On top of that, totalitarian agriculture
also consigned its practitioners to
a life of hard work and poor health.
As a species, we had food before us for
all of our history, which is two hundred. . .
three hundred thousand years.
When you look at ten thousand years
it's relatively minor in that space.
But we were hunter-gatherers.
So nature grew our food in its way. As
opposed to our way, which is "agriculture".
We didn't grow food. Food grew.
it's hard for people to accept the fact that
the more you base your society
on agriculture, the harder you work.
if we look at archaeological sites around
the world - and people have done this -
in all the locations - this is not a cultural issue -
in all the locations where agriculture
began, in Asia, the Mid-East, South
America, and Central America,
we will find people why are stunted, short,
their teeth are invariable gone because of the
carbohydrates they're eating turn into sugars
and rot their teeth out,
they're misshapen, they're asymmetrical,
they show every evidence of suffering
all sorts of disease.
this new type of agriculture both required and
allowed more settlement, and with that came the
beginnings of wealth and inequality.
if you go to pre-agricultural towns you'll see a
series of houses, all about the same size.
And almost instantly, when agriculture occurred,
you can go to any town, in any agricultural site in
the world, not just in Western culture,
and see a few very large houses with
granaries connected to them, and a
whole series of smaller houses.
That kind of social inequity began
almost immediately with agriculture.
As Quinn and Manning point out, early
agricultural peoples were not better off
than their hunter-gatherer predecessors.
this was news to me.
The psychologist and cultural analyst
Chellis Glendinning points to other
consequences of settlement and agriculture.
Before, when women were moving around,
and very athletic, and carrying their babies,
and having a diet that
wasn't so high in carbohydrates,
and nursing their babies for long periods of time,
then women didn't ovulate very often.
But when women became sedentary,
women began to have regular cycles.
And so, more babies were born.
And so guess what?
Then you have to make more farms. And then
you have to expand the area that's fenced off.
And then, ooh, maybe you're going to
meet up with someone else who's
coming that way, another group.
And so then you have to have a war.
We're taught to regard agriculture and
settlement as the normal and
natural way for humans to live.
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.
Derrick Jensen speaks to the
end result of all of this cultural change.
I think one of the best lines i ever wrote was that
"forests precede us and deserts dog our heels."
When I think of - or when you think of -
the plains and hillsides of Iraq,
is the first thing that you normally
think of cedar forests so thick the sunlight
never touches the ground?
I think for most of us that's not the case.
But the first written myth of this
culture is Gilgamesh cutting down
those forests to make cities.
Cities. Settlements begat villages
which begat towns which begat cities.
Totalitarian and catastrophic agriculture,
the accumulation of wealth and power,
and increases in population all came together to
give rise to a new form of human culture.:
the culture of cities, the culture of civilization,
the culture of Empire.
I realized, as I was writing the newest book,
Endgame, that i'd been bashing
civilization for probably, eh, ten years now.
And i'd never defined it.
I didn't know what i was talking about.
And so I define it in that book as a way of life
characterized by the growth of cities.
I've defined a city as a collection of people
living in numbers large enough to require
the importation of resources.
A city could be defined, almost, as a
human ecosystem that grossly exceeds
the carrying capacity of its local environment.
As Jensen and Catton point out, because
cities exceed the carrying capacity of their
local environment, and because they require
the importation of resources,
then those who live in cities are locked
into the lnevltablllty of getting those
resources from somewhere else,
from somebody else,
by whatever means is necessary.
Often that means is trade.
But trade requires transport, and transport
requires energy, and energy has to come from
somewhere, and it eventually runs out.
And trade requires willing partners.
But people do not always want to trade.
When trade breaks down, and you need
those resources, what remains is war.
We now need oil to keep our cities going.
Watch the bidding war rage from
trade floors to battlefields.
Watch the Pentagon plan and the patriots act.
Let's stop for a second and regroup. I told you
I've had to challenge some assumptions.
We've been doing agriculture and expanding
and growing and building cities and
accumulating material wealth for so long now
that it just feels like this is how
things are supposed to be.
But how can a way of life that is destroying
It's own support systems be considered
"how things are supposed to be"?
"...they did eat every herb of the land,
and all the fruit of the trees, and there
remained not any green thing... "
Exodus 1 0.:1 5
Let's move on.
Once our native human intelligence and
creativity was combined with the defining
impulses of empire, things began to snowball.
We kept using more and more sophisticated
technology so we could put off the inevitable.
Which is.: we've got physical limits.
Using the power of technology, we could break
through the limits and laws and rules
that kept the community of life in balance
for millions of years . . . temporarily. . .
Rules! All the time rules! i'm sick of 'em.
Offscreen Narrator.: Excuse me for
interrupting, boys and girls,
but maybe you would like to find out just
what it would be like if there were no rules.
But how could we do that?
By going someplace where there are no rules.
There's no such place.
But maybe there is a way we
could go to a place without rules.
By using our imagination.
Now let's all pretend real hard. . .
And pretend we did.
thinking we had no limits, our power
to control went right to our heads.
As historian and "geologian"
Thomas Berry put it.:
What i say goes, see? i'm the law around here!
But the belief in the power to control has
proceeded on some faulty assumptions
about the limits of science.
I've been confused about technology.
I've heard all my life that technologies
themselves are neutral, that it all
depends on how we use them,
that they can be used for good or ill, depending
on the wisdom and intelligence of the user.
But, as Jerry Mander explains.:
That's completely wrong. You can
do an analysis of every technology
and find its beneficial aspects
and its negative aspects.
The idea that it's just about the way we use it is
absurd. Because these are built-in factors.
As an example, the difference between nuclear
and solar is more than in how we use them.
Each technology has built-in characteristics
that determine how they end up being used,
and who uses them,
and for what.
Military scientists are not now
working on a solar powered warhead.
And neither am I looking to put a
nuclear water heater on my roof.
Because of this misunderstanding, it's easy to
get trapped in the myth of the technofix. . .
Ever since that division of humans and
human space away from the rest of the world,
there's been one problem arising from
that situation after another, you know.
"Oh dear, we have to pipe in more
water for the more farms", you know.
"Oh dear, now we have to
travel great distances".
"Oh dear, now we need more
resources, we need more land".
Whatever. It's been one
technological fix after another.
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
then there's going to be new problems.
And then it just rolls along.
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.
so how do you answer that?
And the population explosion
has gone to such an extreme.
How do you answer that, but
with another technological fix?
Half the people in the world live in cities.
And cities, by definition, exceed the
carrying capacity of their local environments.
I don't think most people know this.
But you'll agree that to make up your
mind fairle you have to know all the facts.
See, I don't think you know all the facts.
If we knew all the facts we'd have discarded
the myth of the technofix a long time ago.
To my eye our crisis, at its deepest
levels, is a crisis not of technology
but of meaning and purpose.
We keep acting like all we need do is
throw more technology at it while we
fall to understand, or even see,
the clearly cultural issues that doom to
fantastic failure these ever more desperate
attempts to keep the present system going.
We've been pretending for so long
we've forgotten what we once knew.:
you can't survive in the long run
if you don't follow the laws of life.
As we settled into agriculture and civilization,
agriculture and civilization settled into us.
We fenced ourselves off from the world. . .
And everything inside the fence
became what we needed to survive.
And everything outside the fence
became threatening, wild, you know,
uncontrollable, keep it out!
And our technologies cut us
off from our own experience. . .
We can build a culture that sits
between us and the world.
And it mediates our behavior toward the world.
And it mediates what we do
and what we perceive.
If you have a spear, it becomes a lot easier. You
don't have to kill somebody right in front of you.
You can kill somebody thirty feet away.
And that distance makes it easier to kill.
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,
you can kill Iraqis with no more thought
or feeling than you might have wasting
the Covenant on your X-Box at home.
this disconnection from the world,
from other people and other creatures,
altered our relationships,
and left us confused and wounded.
At what point do we stop and listen? And if we
stop and listen, what will we be able to hear?
Disconnection has stopped our ears.
The planet's voice barely registers.
Our minds are clogged with stories.
Central to my understanding of the world is
this.: all cultures are based on stories.
The culture of civilization and empire comes
with its own unique set of beliefs and impulses.
Listen to some of the stories that have
brought us to our present predicament.
"There's never quite enough"
"We're innately flawed"
"it's heresy today to say, 'let's stop growing"'
"Hard work is morally virtuous"
"More is better"
"The physical world as i see it is everything"
"We can solve any problem"
"I mean... they actually say that the
way to be happy is to own more stuff"
"We are to subdue the earth
and have dominion over it"
"We own. . . we own the planet. We own
everything here. We own these resources"
"Humans have rights. Nothing else has rights"
"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"
Living with stories like this, is it any
wonder we're devouring the planet?
In some ways we're kind of -
we're in a culture of two-year-olds.
Where we just won't look at the limits.
Dominion over the Earth, in Genesis, didn't
mean to leave this pillaged and smoking.
Daniel Quinn has named some
of the basic stories of Empire.
The ambient voice of our
culture tells us that
this is the best that
humans could ever hope for.
What we've got right now,
where we're going.
It's just unsurpassable.
Ergo, any alternative
has got to be worse.
There were other
civilizations besides ours;
they did not think that they
had the one right way to live,
and that everyone in the world
should be made to live that way.
We're taught to think
that we are Humanity.
if there are other people out
there that are different from us,
well they're degenerates,
or they're just not as
far advanced as we are.
We came along,
and began doing things,
and building civilization,
and this is the way humans
were meant to live from the beginning.
Which is one reason why we can't give it up.
Here, perhaps, is the most
dangerous story of them all. . .
We are superior to all other creatures
and our lives are independent of theirs.
Narrator.: Through his intellect man
has developed a superiority over
every other form of animal life.
with the stories of Empire in place, civilization
was ready to spread around the planet.
Ran Prieur explains the core idea of
"The Parable of the Tribes",
which reveals how the culture
of Empire prevailed in a process of
cultural evolution that selects for power.
imagine there's a bunch of tribes
that are living together peacefully.
And one of the tribes, for some reason,
instead of living in balance and in peace,
they decide that they're going to make
a bunch of weapons and conquer
the next tribe and turn them into slaves.
The next tribe has three choices.
if they run away the paradigm of the
violent tribe expands into their territory.
if they submit into slavery the paradigm
of the violent tribe expands into their territory.
if they build weapons to fight back the paradigm
of the violent tribe expands into their territory.
And that just goes on until the whole
world is made up of people who make
weapons and fight and enslave other people.
After ten thousand years of this,
we've forgotten who we are. . .
How could three million years of
human life be meaningless?
The way people were living at
that time, during that vast period,:
they were living in a way in which
humans could live for millions of years.
Tens of millions of years. And that's something!
Man, now we're saying "how
many decades can we have?"
And if we go on living this way, it's not many.
It strikes me as critical that we
remember who we really are.
We have these huge brains and a great
capacity for innovation and adaptation.
But we can get trapped inside of stories and
fantasies that block us from our own greatness.
Well, human beings can act either
as members of climax ecosystems,
where we integrate ourselves into
everything else that's going on,
or we can act as invasive
species, like the cane toad.
The classic example of human beings acting as
an invasive species, of course, is Europeans
over the last five hundred years or so.
It doesn't have to be this way.
Not all human cultures have followed this path.
When I look closely, what I see is that human
capacities and characteristics have always been
medlated by the larger society.
One person I spoke with who discussed our
present predicament in terms of inherent human
characteristics was Richard Manning.
to survive in our hunter-gatherer
days. . . a very narrow field of vision.
You had to be concerned with what
was happening around you in the
immediate hundred yards.
You had to be worried about what was going to
happen in the next ten seconds or five minutes.
Where was that tiger going to come from that
was going to bite your neck and kill you?
So our strongest instincts are
geared to the immediate.
Our adrenaline doesn't start to flow
when we read about global warming.
It starts to flow when somebody
put a fist in our face.
And yet the Haudenosaunee evolved a
culture that balanced those strong instincts.
They make decisions based on their
impact on the seventh generation.
Contrast that with the culture of Empire.
What we've never been able to do is recognize
a limit coming from thirty or forty years out
and behave accordingly.
And so we haven't seen climate change coming.
And most people don't see oil depletion coming.
And there are other forces in the universe
that play out over the long term.
Exponential growth and population dynamics
can both unfold over generations making them,
for humans blinded by their
own culture, difficult to see.
William Catton explains
another long-term process.
C. Wright Mills of Columbia University -
kind of a maverick - gave a nice
physiological definition of fate.
Fate is what happens when innumerable
people make innumerable small decisions
about other matters that have a collective,
cumulative effect that Nobody intended.
Ok. That's what's happened
when we overpopulated the world.
Nobody intended to overpopulate the world.
Nobody intended to pollute the oceans. Nobody
intended to start the greenhouse effect.
So this is part of what I've come
to about how we got here.:
a snarl of assumptions and
behaviors and beliefs and stories
that form the backbone of the culture of Empire,
a fusion of forces that severed
us from the laws of life.
this culture tells us that we can
live apart from those laws.
Without limits. Without rules.
But doing so has left us,
and the planet, battered and beaten.
It isn't working out the way
we've been taught to think it will.
Offscreen Narrator.: Well boys and girls,
how do you like living without rules?
I hate it!
This is no fun.
It stinks.
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?
The first thing to note is that all of
these historical forces are still in play.
And some new forces have arisen in our time.
It's sobering to consider that we're
trapped in an economy that must grow or die.
The economy will, can and
must continue to grow.
Now of course this is an absurdity.
Because we live on a finite spherical planet.
so there's only so much stuff
to chew up and spit out.
We're assaulted by corporately
controlled media that keep us delusional.
People tend to think that they have a choice
about what information they take from television.
And we are sitting and receiving a
form of information, which is very very
powerful. It comes in the form of images.
And once the images go in, they don't come out.
it's almost science fiction in its implications.
It's Big Brother.
And yet we think it's perfectly normal.
As people's real lives become more
and more degraded and unsatisfying
and petty and vulgar and irritating and sterile,
then the appeals of those glorified
images became all the more powerful.
There's a great line be Zygmunt Bauman that -
he says that rational people will go
quietly and meekle into a gas chamber
if only you allow them to believe it's a bathroom.
And I've lost all hope that my government is
capable of looking clearly at the situation.
Sadly, it looks as though much of our
educational system leaves us totally unprepared
to question the dominant culture.
It numbs our critical thinking
skills, instead of developing them.
And it goes along with technical, industrialized
society because you need to turn people into
interchangeable machine parts
where you can pull one person out,
stick another person in the same spot.
Narrator.: These children are being taught
to accept uncritically whatever they're told.
Questions are not encouraged.
I've certainly never been encouraged to question
how our culture creates disconnection.
Every one of us is living in this little comfortable
bubble that's completely disconnected
from the real world of animals and plants
and soil and water and natural forces
that produces everything that's of
any meaning whatsoever on this planet.
If your experience is that your food
comes from the grocery store,
and that your water comes from a tap,
you will defend to the death the
system that brings those to you.
Because your life depends on it.
If your experience is that
your water comes from a stream
and that your food comes from a land base,
you will defend to the death that stream and that
land base because your life depends on it.
Systems of manipulation and exploitation.
Structures of disconnection and delusion.
Institutions of domination and deceit.
I had to ask.: who would create such things?
Only people who have become almost
wholly disconnected from their world.
People who have forgotten who they once were.
People who have been deeply wounded.
We've gotten lost in a hall of mirrors.
Everything that we receive - everything
we see, hear, smell, taste, feel - originates in,
or is mediated by, humans and machines.
That affects our consciousness.
It gives us an inflated sense
of our own importance and of what reality is.
As if, because we've made it,
It makes it most real.
As any narcissist knows, it's endless.
We can never get enough of that:
enough of that reflection of ourselves.
What we're really aching for is real relationship.
Our animal bodies, I think, formed by
the Earth itself, want and require a
real relationship to the world.
To the water, wind and soll.
To the animals, plants and fellow
humans that comprise the
community into which we were born.
But we're stuck in the hall of mirrors.
And we've begun to lose our sanity.
So that you see the beginning of something like
dissociation, like post-traumatic stress disorder,
like schizophrenia, like multiple
personalities, you know.
You see that the fragmentation in the world
today is being mirrored in all of these kind of
very severe psychological disorders.
if you're in that sort of solitary confinement
you're going to start hallucinating.
And you may end up believing strange things.
Like the idea that humans are superior.
Acting out of that belief of superiority,
of entitlement, of invincibility,
Empire has conquered the world.
But that conquering has bounced back on
the conquerors, leaving everyone wounded.
if the world, the system that we're
living in, is harming other people,
then that's something that, you
know, you can't live with that.
So if you look at the people who have
been assimilated into Empire,
and if you look at the Imperialists themselves,
you find an incredible dissociation from reality.
Dissociated from the reality of the
planet, we don't act on its behalf.
Feeling for nature is diminishing to the
degree that people are less desiring
and less able to influence policy about nature,
to do anything to protect nature,
to have any feeling for nature.
it's hard to have feeling for it if you
never have any contact with it.
And it's hard to have any contact
with the rest of the world
because we're living like an animal in a cage.
Just think about an animal in a zoo.
An animal's deprived of the very things that keep
that animal going.: the smells, the sights, the
sounds, the instincts, the hunting.
And they become psychotic. Literally psychotic.
I think that we've done something to
ourselves that is exactly analogous to that.
We've put ourselves in a cage -
this cage of civilization, of cities.
And it's made us, in a way, psychotic.
That - if you would have a group of hunter-
gatherers - and this has happened a lot -
hunter-gatherers watch behavior of people
in our society, they would think we
were crazy for the way we behave.
Because we are.
I stop. I listen. I watch the world.
The disconnection is everywhere.
You learn it as a child. You learn to not
feel the kind of pain that is inflicted
upon you be the lack of connection.
By being in a crib by yourself in a dark room.
By not having the breastfeeding. By not having
the constant contact with other people's bodies.
Television viewing for children, and
I think to some degree for adults,
is a training for more hyperactive lifestyles
and hyperactive informational systems.
And that is putting people into a kind of
emotional psychological state, which
makes it impossible to relate to nature.
So, I mean, it's concrete alienation again.
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".
in our culture there's so many things that are
set up to stop us from connecting directly.
If you go to a bar- we take this for granted -
if you go to a bar it's dark.
There's really loud music playing.
Because if it were quiet and there were good
light people would get freaked out to have to
deal with each other so directly.
Our economy thrives on this.
It's pretty easy to sell stuff to people
who are so disconnected from the
things that they most need.
The stores are filled with bandages
for the wounds of Empire.
There are other ways to look at this wounding.
Derrick Jensen sees the dominant culture as an
abusive system, leaving its members suffering
from Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
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?
One of the things that happens is you
become afraid of all relationships and you
have to control everything around you.
You forget that mutual relationships are
possible and you begin to believe that all
relationships are based upon hierarchy.
Because that was your experience.
And you come to believe that all relationships
are based on power. And, of course, when we
look around that's what we see.
So we are too frightened to enter
into a relationship with these trees,
with all of our neighbors.
And so we call them resources:
those to be exploited.
Everything within an abusive family structure is
set up to protect the abuser. Everything.
And be the same token, everything
within this culture is setup to protect the rich.
That's what this culture is about.
Why do so many victims of abuse
stay with their abusers?
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.
with civilization, we've been taught to identify
with this larger whole that isn't us.
We identify more strongly as "civilized"
than we do as living beings.
Over the years I've begun to break my own
identification with the dominant culture,
to reconnect with myself as a
living creature walking the Earth.
I'm still not finished with the task.
A daunting challenge.
And yet one of the most
rewarding things I've ever done.
I've also learned to view this culture
through the lens of addiction.
Addiction is based on continually seeking
more of what it is we don't really want.
And therefore, never being fully satisfied.
There's a deep need. There's
a deep hole, a deep longing,
a deep fear, a deep grief, a deep rage.
And so there's food, there's cigarettes, there's
alcohol, there's drugs, there's computers,
there's TV, there's movies, there's
shipping, there's music. . .it's endless.
Chellis Glendinning.: All of that, that
we've now determined people can be
addicted to, it's like a technological fix.
So as long as that's working, why would I stop?
I won't stop. An alcoholic doesn't stop.
A drug addict doesn't stop as long
as it's working. But you reach a point
where it doesn't work any more.
After centuries of abuse, disconnection,
delusion and addiction, it looks as though
we're desperate to hit bottom.
it's almost as if we're wanting to hit
bottom so hard that we either shift or die.
Cause it's not worth continuing like this.
so many people are so very, very unhappy.
And they want this nightmare to end.
And they don't recognize that the death that
they want is a cultural death, and is a
spiritual and metaphorical death.
That would explain why we
continue to foul our nest.
If what we want is to hit bottom, we've
found the perfect means to get us there.
Denial in huge neon letters that blink on and off
like the old Rycke and Bullwinkle
credits at the end of the show!
Again I stop. And listen. And watch
as I move through the landscape of Empire.
The denial is so thick that you
could cut it with a paper knife.
If only you weren't still using it to frost that cake.
Denial takes tremendous energy.
And if you have to work really, really hard
to not acknowledge the fact that
this culture's killing everything,
you're not going to have much energy left over.
It's the energy I freed up when I stepped
out of my own denial that has made this
documentary possible.
The more I let down my defenses, the more I
find the power to look more deeply at the world.
And when I look I find the story of
"somehow", a fantasy that keeps us
passive in the face of the world situation.
"We've muddled through things before. And
somehow we'll muddle through this one."
"somehow, everything's ok."
somehow? How do we get there? You know?
It's like - it doesn't do any good to fantasize if
there's no way to get from here to there.
Is there a way to get from here to there?
And where is there, exactly?
Where do go from here?
As world events break through our
walls of denial, voices of helplessness
and resignation fill the air.
Voice 1 : If we knew some way to
get out of it we would. But we don't.
Voice 2: Whatever's gonna
happen is gonna happen.
Voice 3: There's gonna have to be
some sort of catastrophic event.
Voice 4: A meltdown of all of these
systems that we've been depending on.
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.
Voice 6: And finally you just say, "Aww fuck it.
this ls. . . you know. . . let's just fuck it.
Who cares?"
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.
this system feels like a trap,
a madhouse, a prison.
With resignation this profound,
It seems as though there is little left to do
but to make the prison
as comfortable as is possible.
Narrator.: Personalized. And with accessories
engineered to our personalized taste.
For convenience. For comfort.
For convenience and safety.
With protection from rain.
Blocking out the wintry gale
with comforting warmth.
To hold out the searing heat
with cooling comfort.
Capitalist culture is telling us to bue.
And we will feel better if we buy more...
. . .that we are incomplete and that we need to fill
this emptiness within us be consuming.
Consume, consume, consume.
We've looked now at the train
that is hurtling us to destruction,
at the tracks that constrain us,
at the locomotive power
that drives us to oblivion.
And we see more clearly now
exactly where we are headed.
It all adds up to this.:
this culture is not only killing the planet,
It is destroying us as human beings.
The train plunges forward at blinding speed.
"Charlie stole the handle. "
So who are we going to be?
First Psychologist.:
In the film I see a man standing on the ledge.
Do you think he really wants to live?
Second Psychologist.:
The answer, of course, is yes.
I don't think humans are going to
gy extinct. We can't kill ourselves off.
I just don't see any plausible
wae it could happen. . .
well. . . I guess. . . eeah. . .
What we could - what might happen is
the earth could get into a serious
runaway greenhouse effect
that could turn the whole
planet like the planet Venus.
Where it's like a thousand
degrees and full of methane.
A powerful creative tension arises when
we hold two things at the same time.:
a clear assessment of where we are,
and a clear vision of where we want to go.
I don't see that the culture of Empire has either.
Trapped in a fantasy of domination and
control, any clear assessment of the world
gets trampled underfoot in the mad
march toward the scam of progress.
Traumatized by disconnection and
abuse, the people of Empire now hold
visions that are unhinged and insane.
Born and raised in captivity, we're
now so institutionalized that few
of us can even see the prison bars.
But we all know our cell numbers.
Waking on the train, we find that
we don't know where we are.
And we don't know where we're going.
We hear the whistle blowing.
And we can see the world speeding by.
Some of us want to stop the train.
We want to get off before it
reaches the end of the line.
But we have no clear idea
how to get from here to there.
The secret plan is that we're going to go on this
wae, no matter what, for as long as we can.
I likened it to the secret plan in Nazi
Germany. It was an open secret.
Everyone knew that those Jews weren't going
off to resorts or to have picnics in the woods.
But no one talked about it.
And no one talks about this either.
This is scare! We're in a democracy!
We're in the biggest democracy on the
planet and we're not getting informed.
And we're not looking, either. We're not asking.
As civilization has provided more and more for
us, it's made us more and more infantile.
So that we are less and less able to
think for ourselves, less and less
able to provide for ourselves.
And this makes us more of a herd. . .
where you develop more of a herd mentality. . .
where we take our cues from the people
around us, from the authority figures around us.
The situation is desperate.
It's the World-Wlde Eco-Slam, where climate
Crash goes head-to-head with The Peak oil kid
and Overshoot tears into Mass Extinction.
It's the Smackdown at the End of the
Unlverse and tickets go on sale this Friday.
The American lifestyle is unsustainable.
That means that it can't be sustained.
It's coming to an end.
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"?
Well it's now and we are because we didn't.
The fundamental laws of life have been broken.
The consequences of that are now apparent.
Remember the Secret Plan.:
the dominant culture is not going to
stop until it destroys everything.
It can't.
It's built on a foundation of faulty assumptions.
I see no way that it can be reformed.
It can only be discarded, so that
something new can grow in its place.
We have to look at this.
We've got to understand that we
are part of a living community.
We're not the masters of the living community.
We're not the guardians of the living community.
We are just another species. And we
have the power to destroy that community.
And when we do that we destroy ourselves.
if we don't figure out what
our place in the universe is
we're not going to have a place in the universe.
I have read many books about the world
situation. And I have noticed a curious thing.:
the Happy Chapter".
After an entire book of dire prognostications and
appalling facts comes the chapter at the end
that says that if we only do this and
this and that we'll find the solution,
that while there is much to give us
concern, there is also much about
which we can be hopeful.
I don't like happy chapters.
They've lulled me back to sleep.
They suggest that somebody
somewhere somehow is handling it.
I can just go on with my life.
And hey, we've got thirty years
or so, right? That's lots of time.
I'm sorry, folks, but I think time's up.
I have no happy chapter to offer you.
No llst of quick and palnless fixes.
No plan that will keep the train
rolling forever on this track.
I see no way for that to happen.
If there is going to be a happy chapter,
we shall have to write it together,
with the rest of the community of life,
on the pages of the living world.
I sometimes have dreams about
my grandchildren coming also.
And these dreams sometimes turn unpleasant.
Because the grandchildren come and they come
from a North Carolina and from a California
that is polluted, the air they can't breathe.
And they say, "Granddad,
did you let that happen?"
And they're angry when they get there.
I think they're going to look back
and shake their heads and say,
'what happened to those people?
How did they lyse sight of such basic things?"
There is a new story arising in the world.:
the story of the Great Turning,
the turning away from a culture of domination
and death, and the turning toward a culture
that is life-sustaining and life-renewing.
All over the planet, people
are now telling this story.
The Buddhist scholar and deep ecologist
Joanna Macy tells this story in her workshops.
The writer and activist David Korten
tells it in his book by the same name.
It's a story to be told by our descendents,
looking back on this present time.
Will we be the monsters of our great-
grandchildren's nightmares?
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?
Will we be reviled for our
entitled, destructive ways?
Or will we be lovingly remembered
in the songs of our descendents
as they recount the story of this lost and very
wounded tribe that stepped back from the abyss
and found its way home to the
community of living souls?
We get to choose.
Who are we going to be?
Part of me still wishes that someone
would just take care of it, you know.
That it's their job. That's what we pay them for.
They're supposed to be the wise parents of us.
it's going to come as a really rude
awakening when people realize that
a) they can't and b) they won't.
I don't think life for most Americans, despite our
affluence, is all that it's been cracked up to be.
And people are afraid to talk about that.
they're afraid they're the only ones that
are experiencing deep dissatisfaction.
it's really so sad, you know.
You look at - and particularly American
culture is emblematic of this -
go to a typical shopping mall and
look at the people around you
and the environment around you.
And the utter shallowness and
hopelessness of it all is profoundly depressing.
Is this who are we?
Consumers? Shoppers? Workers? Voters?
Does our identity lie in Nielsen numbers and box
office receipts and the Gross Domestic Product?
Are we on this Earth to sell cheeseburgers
to each other and yell at our children
and drive around in clown cars
and fall asleep in front of the tube?
Are we destroying the planet, as
Dmitry Orlov asks, just "to be somewhat
more comfortable for a little while"?
I keep having to remind myself.:
this culture is not humanly.
It is only one culture out of the tens of
thousands that used to exist on this planet.
Only one culture out of the
many that are still hanging on.
That it has overrun the world means nothing
about its rightness, its greatness, or its destiny.
It means only that we live in a system of social
evolution that selects for short-term power
rather than for compassion, or for
sanity, or for long-term survival.
I think we are much more than
we've ever been allowed to believe.
Denied the connection and meaning that
nourishes us, we've grown small and
stunted in the shallow soil of this culture.
It's time to revitalize that ground of our being.
What really is important, and what
adds value and what adds... you know. . .
what does a life well-lived look like?
Humans have a history of living much more in
touch with the natural world, with the planet.
Much more sustainable.
Much more spiritual.
Much more communal.
That's why we are.
As of all this starts to shift and
change and disintegrate and collapse,
there's the opportunity, in fact,
to come back to ourselves.
To grow up, fundamentally,
as people and as a culture.
We're in a time of initiation, folks.
A mass initiation at the level of culture itself.
A vision quest for the collective mind.
this culture's arrogance, its adolescent
sense of invincibility and entitlement,
must be sloughed off to make room for a
more mature sense of interdependence with,
and responsibility to, the community of life.
this is the work of initiation.
Stepping into this cultural maturity, we will
take our rightful place in the community of life.
And we will fall back in love with the world.
We can do this. But only if we choose to.
Only if we lay down our weapons
in this insane war against the world.
Only if we surrender control and
move back into relationship.
You want unlimited growth? You can have it.
All you've ever wished for and more.
Growth in relationship and experience.
In self-awareness and spirit and love
and community and connection.
Growth in purpose and meaning.
Growth in vision.
When we step back into the
community of life, we will find out
immediately what has always been true.:
all of life's on our side.
We'll have polar bears on
our team. And elm trees.
And condors and salmon and
dragonflies and plankton.
We'll walk with the wind and the water, with
mountains underfoot and stars overhead.
The tiger's blood will course through our veins.
The horse's breath will fill our lungs.
We'll be more connected to real power
than we've ever dreamt possible
in our sick fantasy of domination.
"Power with." Not "power over."
The power of a species that has passed
through initiation and into maturity.
I think we need to look at what is it we want
and see if civilization as we've
created it is giving us that.
And if it's not, what might give us that?
What does it mean to dismantle civilization?
What it means is depriving the rich of the ability
to steal from the poor and to destroy the world.
I can't give a better definition than that.
There's no real reason why the entire country
of the United States couldn't face reality.
You just have to drop the idea of capitalism.
You have to drop the idea of
corporations running things.
You have to drop the idea of economic growth.
It could be done. it could be done.
There was a great tradition
among the Cheyenne dog soldiers
called the picket pin and stake.
they would get a tanned rope,
called a dog rope, and a picket pin,
that's used to stake horses to the ground, and
they would attach the picket pin to the sash,
the dog rope that was attached to them.
And then in battle they would drive
the picket stake into the ground.
And that was done as a mark of resolve.
Because once it's driven, you can't leave
until either you're dead, or you're
relieved by another dog soldier, or
the battle's over and everyone is safe.
so the question i ask people is,
you know, at what point,
you know, where will you drive your picket pin?
Where will you stake yourself out and say
"i'm not going to retreat any more"?
Our descendents are watching us.
How will we be?
It's time to be thoughtful, coming together
to learn about the world as it really is.
Reading between the lies. Doing the math.
Studying the world situation.
There will be a quiz.
A paradigm shift wlll require that we question our
deepest and most fundamental assumptions.
And that will require that we take our
current worldview gently in our arms
and hold it while it breathes its last.
Step into a new story.
Walk away from the pyramids.
Get out of the crumbling building.
Break out of prison.
Choose your favorite metaphor. Choose
your own adventure. But choose.
It's time to be truthful.
Millions of sensual pulsing animal
bodies are now living trapped and used
and starved in cities and cubicles
and sweatshops and food courts and traffic jams
and suburbs and public school classrooms.
People who are not rich and
white already know this.
What would happen if we let ourselves
feel our feelings about all of this?
The entire community of life on
this planet is now being threatened.
Where do we stick our picket pins?
Where do we take a stand?
When do we find the courage to
let ourselves feel what's going on?
Our feelings are the swiftest
path back to our forgotten selves.
It's time to be open and humble.
There are huge forces at work in the world, both
seen and unseen. It's time to ask for help.
Ask the ancestors.
Ask the gods.
Ask your God.
Go outside and lie down on the Earth and ask
the land, and the sky, and the life of this place.
And then listen for a response.
Listen to the voices of soll and stone, wlnd
and water, the voices of cirrus clouds
and chickadees, of red squirrels and wood
beetles and Russian olives and hickories.
The world will tell us what it knows,
if only we will be still. And listen.
And then speak.
It's time to show up in our
own lives and tell the truth.
It's time to talk about the world
situation with everyone we see.
We're all in this together. What a relief
it'll be, to discover that we are not alone.
It's time to act with great intention.
There is work aplenty to do in this weary
world, and people engaged in that work.
Find those people. Join in.
Save rivers and stop buildozers and stand
up at city council meetings to tell your truth.
Share skills. Evolve local communities.
Move from agriculture to permaculture and grow
your own food. Learn about medicinal herbs.
As Derrick Jensen says, "we need it all."
Find your work, and do it. It's time.
But what about that speeding train?
How will the Great Turning turn?
We can wait for the train to crash on its own and
hope that it doesn't kill us, and everything else.
But with the children grown, perhaps we can
come together and decide to dismantle,
joyfully and with conscious intent,
the rusty and dangerous old swing-set
of a culture that no longer serves us.
this may seem an impossible task.
But if the alternative is extinction,
then we have nothing to lose.
We humans once knew how to
live on this planet. A few still do.
And that's the good news. It can be done.
We can do way, way better than Empire.
Let's jump off the train and build a boat.
The train is constrained to rigid tracks and its
momentum makes it almost impossible to steer.
But the boat? Ah, the boat
is a very different thing.
Boats set sail into the unknown, subject
only to wind and wave and weather.
Boats can be lifeboats, preserving wisdom and
understanding while the storm rages overhead.
Boats can be arks, safeguarding the
life of the world as the floodwaters rise.
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.
find your people and build a boat.
Build a local community to serve the
world and preserve the life of a plece of land.
Or set sail in the wider world, interrupting
the destruction, healing the wounds,
crafting connections and changing minds.
Build a boat. A lifeboat. An ark.
A galleon of adventure and imagination
destined for unknown lands.
Build it now.
The ice is melting.
The waters are rising.
We're going to have to let go of the shore.
I do not know if I will survive the
crash of industrial civilization
or the impacts of the climate change
that that civilization has unleashed.
I do know this.: I have a choice
about how I meet it.
I have a choice.
We have a choice.
I can meet it with a burger in my hand,
a French fry in my mouth,
and a cold drink spilling onto my jeans.
Or I can meet it with consciousness, integrity,
and the sense of purpose that is my birthright.
I can meet it on the far side of
initiation, a mature and related
member of the community of life,
standing tall, doing my best to
protect and serve this Earth that I love.
this is the course I've chosen.
this is my picket pin.:
I will show up and I will tell my truth.
But it's hard to sail alone,
when the seas rage so fiercely.
If you sail with me, we shall
both be made stronger.
And when others join us, then our
crew will be made strong indeed.
Together, we will set forth, to find that new land.
What a way to go. . .
// Let's build a boat //
// In case the waters rise //
// Let's build a boat //
// Clouds they gather in the skies //
// Let's build a boat //
// For when the storm comes //
// Let's build a boat //
// For when the rain it beat like drums //
// Oh the levee will get pounded //
// Now the people are out having fun //
// Someday our work will pay off //
// We will float others will be overcome //
// But you can't outrun the water //
// Oh you can't outrun the water //
// You can't outrun the water //
// Let's build a boat //
// Let's build a boat //
// Take me to the other slde //
// Let's build a boat //
// Be forewarned this is no easy ride //
// Let's build a boat //
// Big enough for all of us //
// Let's build a boat //
// One that's good enough //
// One that we can trust //
// Oh the levee will get pounded //
// Oh the people are out having fun //
// Someday our work will pay off //
// We will float others will be overcome //
// But you can't outrun the water //
// Oh you can't outrun the water //
// You can't outrun the water //
// Let's build a boat //