What are your thoughts on the future?

The following is a (rather interesting) conversation I had on Linkedin.

David Beck

Over the next 50 years I believe we’ll see the grad­ual decline of the devel­oped world, with every reces­sion tak­ing more, and every boom deliv­er­ing less. I think glob­al oil reserves have been over­es­ti­mat­ed and that we may see some sharp declines, espe­cial­ly in Sau­di Ara­bia and oth­er coun­tries world­wide. oil is of course required of all oth­er mod­ern tech­nolo­gies to func­tion.
I think we’ll see ever wors­en­ing weath­er con­di­tions and an increase in nat­ur­al dis­as­ters cause by cli­mate change and we’ll also see the extrac­tion of oth­er resources start to fall as they also start to exhaust. Pop­u­la­tions around the world will con­tin­ue to grow expo­nen­tial­ly, as will their demand­ing more ener­gy and resources, which will mean com­pe­ti­tion will be much high­er dri­ving up costs and pro­duc­tion, which won’t be able to keep up in a low ener­gy econ­o­my. Every year the amount of arable farm­land shrinks, the lev­els of pol­lu­tants rise, the demand for every­thing ris­es, drink­able water’s in decline, espe­cial­ly ground water which also faces con­t­a­m­i­na­tion from frack­ing, 50% of the rivers in the US are already con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed. Pover­ty right now is ris­ing faster than the glob­al pop­u­la­tion (per­haps due to the rise of cap­i­tal­ism that con­cen­trates wealth?), real terms wages have been stag­nant for all but the rich in the devel­oped world and many peo­ple know this unsus­tain­able eco­nom­ic sys­tem won’t last for­ev­er. Mankind’s lived on this plan­et for mil­lions of years, so 50 or 100 years is noth­ing but I real­ly think many peo­ple are fac­ing a pret­ty awful future. There is no replace­ment for oil, even coal drillers require oil, as does the pro­duc­tion of solar and wind tech­nol­o­gy, if we replaced all the oil use in the world with nuclear known reserves would pow­er the world for 10 days, Sci­ence won’t deliv­er a mag­i­cal solu­tion and obvi­ous­ly tech­nol­o­gy isn’t the same as ener­gy. There is still hope but it requires we move away from the exist­ing mech­a­nised mod­el we all love so much.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the future. -I would also like to apol­o­gise if you feel this is offtopic, but it seems there are some very bright and influ­en­tial peo­ple here and I would love to know if my assess­ment is cor­rect, and if so if it’s been planned for. Many peo­ple I know have been invest­ing in land, for exam­ple.

I’ve been adamant that my children’s gen­er­a­tion (I’m in my 30s) will be the first gen­er­a­tion with a low­er stan­dard of liv­ing than the pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion in a long time. And I mean this for europe/america only as most oth­er devel­op­ing coun­tries will con­t­tin­ue to see increas­es in their stan­dard of liv­ing.

That being said, I don’t think that’s a bad thing — change is only bad for those who don’t or can’t adapt. We are lit­tle ships float­ing on the sea that is life, and when a big wave comes our way, I think fight­ing it isn’t the right choice.

As for your oth­er con­cerns, I don’t share them. I remem­ber when the whales were going extinct, or even when there was fear we would be enter­ing a new ice age (yes, that hap­pened in the 70’s).

Cli­mate changes nat­u­ral­ly: A vol­cano like the ones in ice­land emits more green­house gasses than any humans can ever hope to emit — there has been a grad­ual warm­ing of the plan­et since the ice age 10,000 years ago, etc. etc. The plan­et is a large ecosys­tem that con­stant­ly evolves and humans are very con­ceit­ed when they think they can pre­dict it.

Food? it takes 14 kg of plant pro­tein to pro­duce 1kg of ani­mal pro­tein. In oth­er words, we could feed 14 times the pop­u­la­tion that the cur­rent meat indus­try feeds. We just have to smarten up a bit — time, and tech­nol­o­gy (and need!) will take care of that in its own time.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, I tend to notice that alot of the fear­mon­ger­ing out there is polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed… and the media (who likes dra­ma and fear) does all it can to help spread it. I can name a few mul­ti bil­lion­aires who stand to win a great deal with car­bon cred­its, for exam­ple.

But these are just my opin­ion — we are but a speck of dust in an infi­nite uni­verse, and I mar­vel at it’s com­plex­i­ty every day.

*dis­claimer: some top­ics like cli­mate change and over­pop­u­la­tion tend to get some quite emo­tion­al — no com­ments of mine were meant to offend — sim­ply to dis­cuss.

David Beck

Hi Samuel,
Thanks for your response. Actu­al­ly the vol­cano in ice­land which ground­ed so many planes caused a reduc­tion in glob­al green­house gasses, if you look at the facts. You’re right that the dis­tance of the earth from the sun does vary and we also should be in an ice age right now but thanks to man made green­house gasses we have skipped it. The rea­son you may not feel warmer is because the gulf stream and oth­ers fun­nel the heat to the north and south poles which are sub­se­quent­ly melt­ing. (upset­ting the salt to water bal­ance, dis­rupt­ing the weath­er and rais­ing the sea lev­el, amongst oth­er things)

Humans can pre­dict the cli­mate, you only have to turn on the TV to see what the weath­er will be doing for the next month, and there are some very accu­rate mod­els of the cli­mate. there’s a huge branch of sci­ence devot­ed to it’s study, It’s sim­ply wrong to state humans have no abil­i­ty to pre­dict what our actions will do.

I agree part­ly with you about the food sit­u­a­tion, years ago you could cre­ate 10 calo­ries of food from 1 calo­rie of oil, but today that rato’s 1 to 1, and with Monsanto’s ambi­tion to con­trol all the worlds food pro­duc­tion cou­pled with a decline in ener­gy avail­abil­i­ty that trend will con­tin­ue. My dad even brought some Mon­san­to style apples yes­ter­day, the thick out­side wax lay­er was fine but the inside tast­ed like vine­gar.

Many peo­ple were also con­cerned with the use of nuclear ener­gy in the 1970’s, and of course as you know there’s a small pos­si­bil­i­ty Fukushi­ma could irra­di­ate the west­ern hemi­sphere and wipe Japan off the map, it’s already irra­di­at­ed the pacif­ic Ocean with many fil­ter feed­ing fish being off the menu in parts of the US, and Japan’s going to suf­fer hor­ri­bly from the effects of the radi­a­tion for gen­er­a­tions, even if an earth­quake doesn’t cause the plant to explode.

The prob­lem is humans are emit­ting 31,000,000 tonnes of CO2 each year and we are dam­ag­ing the nat­ur­al sys­tems that reduce that CO2 like the sea, forests and veg­e­ta­tion. Acid­i­fi­ca­tion of the sea’s ris­ing every year mean­ing the plants, ani­mals and corals that recy­cle the CO2 are dying off. There are of course oth­er green house gasses too.

we are also loos­ing “80,000 acres of trop­i­cal rain­for­est dai­ly, and sig­nif­i­cant­ly degrad­ing anoth­er 80,000 acres every day on top of that. Along with this loss and degra­da­tion, we are los­ing some 135 plant, ani­mal and insect species every day—or some 50,000 species a year—as the forests fall.”

Though it would be con­ceit­ed of me to pre­dict an out­come from these actions, I’m going to say it’s not good. Humans are adapt­able, true, but we have done real­ly well with the cli­mate how it is. Why would we want to change the cli­mate to make it more trop­i­cal? Search Palin joked (or the­o­rised) that as the world became warmer we would see a return of the dinosaurs, and she could have been pres­i­dent of the US. So many peo­ple seem ill informed about what dam­age the sys­tem they are a part of is doing to mankind’s future prospects.

Thanks for your post Samuel.

David Beck

Also as an econ­o­mist do you equate the stan­dard of liv­ing with con­sump­tion? The two are far from the same and all pro­duced goods have a cost in terms of ener­gy use, pol­lu­tion caused and resources expend­ed.

My mum read a report that argued in pure­ly eco­nom­ic terms that the dam­age cause by cli­mate change was greater than the ben­e­fits gained by the ener­gy used and that it would take more than all the mon­ey in the world to reverse the dam­age it caused. Bee’s are one exam­ple of this, The lit­tle things con­tribute bil­lions of pounds to the glob­al econ­o­my and through the cock­tail of chem­i­cals we are using (unnec­es­sar­i­ly) as well as oth­er fac­tors like mono­cul­ture, sug­ar replace­ment, and oth­ers there num­bers are in sharp decline. I talk about agri­cul­ture because it’s obvi­ous­ly fun­da­men­tal to our con­tin­ued exis­tence, not just anoth­er indus­try.

I’m no expert and I haven’t read much about this area but do you ever get the feel­ing the prob­lems caused by our cur­rent sys­tem are start­ing to out­weigh the ben­e­fits? I some­times like to walk to work next to the con­tin­u­ous line of traf­fic, most of which is made of par­ents tak­ing their chil­dren to school, know­ing full well the lev­els of can­cer cells in my body are soar­ing from inhal­ing the diesel exhaust. Life span’s in the west have peaked and are now falling, with many young peo­ple expect­ed to die before their par­ents, and there are some tru­ly hor­rif­ic activity’s in the world that are tak­ing us in a direc­tion we don’t want to go in.

Per­son­al­ly I feel far more effort should be put into devel­op­ing sus­tain­able soci­eties that are sta­ble places to for us to devel­op, instead of this extreme­ly short ter­mist extreme­ly risky high­ly ener­gy depen­dant sys­tem that seems to have mate­ri­alised


Account Man­ag­er, Com­mer­cial Bank­ing with RBC

Bro Beck, thanks for the dis­cus­sion -

You defend your posi­tion well and you bring up many points in your posts, which makes it dif­fi­cult for me to touch on all of them indi­vid­u­al­ly unfor­tu­nate­ly.

I’ll answer your direct ques­tion first: Stan­dard of liv­ing to me is not real­ly con­sump­tion — we con­sume quite a bit more today and with tech­nol­o­gy there is poten­tial to con­sume more and more and I don’t think the trend will reverse.

Stan­dard of liv­ing to me can be mea­sured by a sim­ple met­ric: Aver­age time which a fam­i­ly can spend out­side of earn­ing a wage. A fam­i­ly can con­sume all they want, but if both adults have to work 50 hour weeks each to main­tain it, that is not a good qual­i­ty of life in my opin­ion.

I might be an opti­mist, but I think the cur­rent con­sump­tion will HAVE to decrease even­tu­al­ly due to glob­al­iza­tion. As chi­nese con­sume more, etc — good will have to become more expen­sive and the cur­rent devel­opped world will have to reduce theirs as a result. Sim­ple supply/demand.

As for green­house gasses, I would be very inter­est­ed to know how vol­ca­noes can reduce green­house gasses. I would glad­ly read and source mate­r­i­al you can send my way on that top­ic, thanks!

You said ” It’s sim­ply wrong to state humans have no abil­i­ty to pre­dict what our actions will do.” You’re right, we can pre­dict a lit­tle with our cur­rent tech­nol­o­gy, But I’ll have to dis­agree with you that we can mod­el earth’s long term cli­mate.

I’ve heard numer­ous reports of how fick­le the mod­els used to sup­port glob­al warm­ing are — For example,.an IT tech was hired as a pro­gramer to con­struct one of the mod­els and he stat­ed the data could be manip­u­lat­ed to sup­port any con­clu­sion the sci­en­tist want­ed. Now, if you’re a sci­en­tist rely­ing on grants and funds to make a liv­ing, which con­clu­sion would you want to adopt? Where is the fund­ing com­ing from? There is a sur­pris­ing lack of not for prof­its that sup­port anti cli­mate change stud­ies out there… I find that sus­pi­cious.

You’re right about the rain­for­est of course, but an increase in Co2 will encour­age more plants to grow — our ecosys­tem isn’t as fick­le as most think it is.

Fukushi­ma? Sure, it’ll leak radi­a­tion. Look at cher­nobyl. Residue beta emit­ting par­ti­cles can still be found around the world because of cher­nobyl. Yet, we’re not dead… the world keeps on turn­ing.

I just don’t like suport­ing dooms­day the­o­ries — it tends to make one’s life mis­er­able.
Bad thigns have hap­pened through­out our his­to­ry — look at the black death — imag­ine one third of your city dying over the span of a few months… ONE THIRD. I’m sure peo­ple thought the world was end­ing then. But hey, the world keeps on turn­ing nonethe­less. Things change, humans adapt.

Here’s what I think will hap­pen: There will be wars and there will be change — that’s how humans have always lived. I just think a per­son should do their best to adapt to any change life throws their way, and keep as upbeat an atti­tude as they can while they live through it. Humans are not big­ger than life, we’re sim­ply part of it and we sim­ply have to play with the cards we’re giv­en.

Cheers =)


I have to go now, but have a read of that on the vol­cano issue:http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/apr/19/eyjafjallajokull-volcano-climate-carbon-emissions


Lead Archi­tect — Pub­lic Cloud Oper­a­tions and Infra­struc­ture at Hewlett-Packard

I’m gen­er­al­ly pos­i­tive about the future. Sure, there will be some steps back, but gen­er­al­ly I see soci­ety and the world march­ing inex­orably for­ward.

I see this because I believe in humanity’s abil­i­ty to right itself.

In the case of ener­gy, I think we’re at the tip­ping point of revers­ing the oil con­sump­tion trend. A col­lec­tion of tech­nolo­gies, from car­bon fiber to paper-based capac­i­tors to flex­i­ble solar pan­els to sol­id state micro-nuclear plants, are com­bin­ing to dra­mat­i­cal­ly change our oil con­sump­tion. For instance, just three changes in air­plane design can reduce the fuel required per pas­sen­ger-mile by 60%. In their book, “Rein­vent­ing Fire”, The Rocky Moun­tain Insti­tute lays out a path to an oil free future in as lit­tle as 50 years.

In eco­nom­ics, we’re see­ing a great lev­el­ing. The things that have made the West eco­nom­ic super­pow­ers in the last 150 years, are being repli­cat­ed by oth­ers. Niall Fer­gu­son iden­ti­fies six of them, what he calls ‘Killer Apps of West­ern Civ­i­liza­tion’, and shows how they are being adopt­ed by oth­ers. For the West, this is a chal­lenge. We’ve raced ahead of the rest, a good deal of it on the backs of their labor and raw mate­ri­als. As that equal­izes, our rate of gain drops sub­stan­tial­ly. But the end result over­all may be, as Bill Gates envi­sions the pos­si­bil­i­ty, a world­wide end to pover­ty. I’ll take that.

Re: food and crops, I think the biggest break­through we’re mak­ing is in the pro­duc­tion of meat with­out ani­mals. That tech­nol­o­gy reached its tip­ping point last year (thanks to Swe­den!). Over the next 50 years I think you’ll see large scale ranch­ing dis­ap­pear and land rebal­anced to oth­er kinds of food pro­duc­tion.

And to that point, human pop­u­la­tion growth is slow­ing and yields per acre con­tin­ue to increase (albeit at a slow­er pace than in the 1980s). Some stud­ies now sug­gest that based on these trends, even with­out giv­ing up acreage for ranch­ing, by 2050 we will have too much farm­land and it will begin to revert back to for­est.

In the mean­time, land which is not suit­able for food farm­ing is being explored for pro­duc­ing fuel crops — non-edi­ble, non-feed scrub grass­es that pro­duce excel­lent bio-fuel. And this bio-fuel is almost a per­fect match to oil in engine use. The US Air Force was able to mix in 50% bio­fu­el to their jet fuel and make ZERO adjust­ments to their engines.

So, that’s why I think the bad things aren’t so bad.

But then there’s the good things. Med­ical progress is increas­ing. 20 years it was pre­dict­ed that a child born in the year 2100 would have a life expectan­cy of 5,000 years. Crazy? Many are now say­ing it was way to con­ser­v­a­tive; dra­mat­ic life span increas­es should occur by 2050 or 2060. There are more drugs in test­ing this year to treat MS than have been pro­duced in the last 50. I per­son­al­ly know peo­ple at the fore­front of genomics and even cell repro­gram­ming.

Social change con­tin­ues to march for­ward. We’ve seen five stages of the reduc­tion of vio­lence in the last 1,000 years (for instance, the mur­der rate in Europe is 1/30th of what it was in the Mid­dle Ages), and we’re now in the mid­dle of a sixth. The expan­sion of gay rights through­out the world is hap­pen­ing at an increas­ing pace. Women’s rights and, to a less­er extent, children’s rights are see­ing an impres­sive surge through­out the world.

Com­put­ing den­si­ty is reach­ing anoth­er crit­i­cal point, where enabling sig­nif­i­cant leaps in tech­no­log­i­cal advances. And this is crit­i­cal, because many of the advances in all oth­er areas of sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy have been hing­ing on an expan­sion of com­pute den­si­ty.

So, all in all, MHO, I’m total­ly bull­ish on the future. Will it be hard? Sure. Will it have some blind alleys? Sure. But just like you can’t prove or dis­prove glob­al cli­mate change by one hot sum­mer or one cold win­ter, you have to look at broad, long-term trends. And for my mon­ey, I’m bet­ting on us get­ting a lot more things right than wrong over the long haul


Broth­er White was most artic­u­late, but let me add my two cents.

First, whilst I rec­og­nize that it is fash­ion­able to carp about “cli­mate change” (which used to be called “glob­al warm­ing” until the Chick­en Lit­tles of the world had to con­cede that the plan­et was not warm­ing), the alleged facts sup­port­ing such claims have been made up. The was a mar­velous pre­sen­ta­tion last year at the Hous­ton Geo­log­i­cal Soci­ety that I encour­age every­one to view with an open mind and talk. It can be viewed at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6–9yJAPxf6Y&feature=youtube_gdata_player.

Sec­ond, coin­ci­dence is not cau­sa­tion, and the world is a com­plex sys­tem. Cap­i­tal­ism has its faults, rent seek­ing is now ram­pant on Wall Street, but most of the pover­ty in third world and devel­op­ing coun­tries is due to polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion and lack of trans­par­ent legal sys­tems that result in a bell jar that pro­tects the empow­ered elite and exclud­ed every­one else. As illus­tra­tive, because it is easy and reli­able in the US to get good titled to real estate, I can cheap­ly and imme­di­ate­ly sell my home or use it to obtain equi­ty to finance a busi­ness. Because good titles are rare in most South Amer­i­can coun­tries, the equi­ty locked inside them become dead, unus­able cap­i­tal. You can only use your home to live in. Here, I can form a cor­po­ra­tion for a few hun­dred dol­lars and do in in an hour. In most South Amer­i­can coun­tries it can take up to 18 years and even then only with pro­hib­i­tive costs. For more on this, please read Her­nan­do deSoto’s “The Mys­tery of Cap­i­tal”.


Lead Archi­tect — Pub­lic Cloud Oper­a­tions and Infra­struc­ture at Hewlett-Packard

@Richard — re: third world pover­ty — yes, two of the key prin­ci­ples in the “killer apps of west­ern civ­i­liza­tion” are rule of law and pri­vate prop­er­ty. As well, the val­ue of cur­ren­cy is almost com­plete­ly the prod­uct of the effec­tive­ness of the insti­tu­tions that back it — legal, bank­ing, etc. (Which is why any form of com­mod­i­ty backed cur­ren­cy is point­less,)

As for your opin­ion on Cli­mate Change, well .… yeah. Any­way.

David Beck

Hel­lo again, Thanks for your posts and I apol­o­gise for not respond­ing soon­er. I’ll try to be brief.

First­ly an increase in Co2 may encour­age more plants to grow, but there are still mas­sive prob­lems sur­round­ing the acid­i­fi­ca­tion of the sea. The sea recy­cles much of the world’s car­bon and is the pri­ma­ry source of pro­tein for bil­lions of peo­ple. Sea acid­i­fi­ca­tion sig­ni­fies a dying bios­phere. A gen­er­al decline in glob­al Fish stocks is also an issue; we are fish­ing all the Worlds Sea’s includ­ing at the poles. There’s also a glob­al fresh water short­age that nobody’s talk­ing about that’s only going to get worse, with some cities, like Mex­i­co City are run­ning dry.
Fukushi­ma… Yeah we are not dead yet and let’s hope it stays that way, still I feel it does bring into ques­tion nuclear pow­er. It’s the 250+ year decom­mis­sion­ing that’s the dif­fi­cult bit for me.

The big­ger they are the hard­er they fall; I’m not sure such an ener­gy depen­dent mono­lith­ic sys­tem will find change easy. I hope it will though and that we fol­low Cuba’s path in adopt­ing lots of small scale projects and a decen­tralised approach.

Tech­nol­o­gy isn’t ener­gy, solar pan­els require a high ener­gy envi­ron­ment and use non-renew­able resources and don’t pro­duce that much ener­gy com­pared with the ener­gy cost to start with. (But are a good invest­ment, like bat­ter­ies for the low ener­gy future).

I also think, with Chi­na mak­ing road sys­tems that are 10 times larg­er than the UK’s annu­al­ly we are not decar­bon­is­ing the world; China’s mak­ing 4 times more CO2 than the US right; export­ing the prob­lems asso­ci­at­ed with dirty indus­try don’t solve them.

The pro­duc­tion of meat with­out ani­mals is inter­est­ing, but at the moment costs more mon­ey and ener­gy than rais­ing the ani­mal tra­di­tion­al­ly. Could be big in the future though.

human pop­u­la­tion growth is slow­ing and yields per acre con­tin­ue to increase” — Yes because of oil, pes­ti­cides, petro­chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers, GM crops. The prob­lem is once the land’s dead through indus­tri­al farm­ing (immense­ly ener­gy inten­sive) it’s very hard to bring it back to life. Many of those pes­ti­cides stay in the soil, well who knows how long. Food production’s still a mas­sive prob­lem; also we are look­ing at a peak in phos­pho­rus pro­duc­tion; phos­pho­rus being nec­es­sary for indus­tri­al farm­ing. we may be look­ing to extract phos­pho­rus from dead body’s like in “a brave new world” soon. How awful.

Pro­duc­ing fuel crops costs almost as much ener­gy as you make (like Frack­ing). It’s like solv­ing the oil prob­lem by turn­ing petrol into diesel.

Med­ical progress has been part­ly down to… guess what, oil. Mod­ern med­ical technology’s high­ly depen­dant on hav­ing lots of ener­gy, but we don’t need to use so much. Cuba’s live expectan­cies as high as the UK’s even though they have far less ener­gy. Also us liv­ing for hun­dreds of years would add to the prob­lem if we can’t get the birth rate down.

The Social Change has been good, but again it’s part­ly down to oil. We have replaced slaves and low paid work­ers with tech­nol­o­gy depen­dant on high amounts of ener­gy, a state of affairs that I feel won’t last for­ev­er.

I don’t believe in apoc­a­lypse the­o­ries, but a bor­ing grad­ual decline in civil­i­sa­tion pep­pered with many mini dis­as­ters, brought to us by our won­der­ful news enter­tain­ment indus­try and the 5 or 6 peo­ple who own it.

Have a watch of this and tell me what you think. I feel it’s all essen­tial­ly true, give it 5 min­utes to get going. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOMWzjrRiBg

David Beck

A person’s reac­tion to this is large­ly based on how much they trust their gov­ern­ment and lead­ers. I feel there’s an overem­pha­sis on econ­o­my, on tech­nol­o­gy and an assump­tion that short term gains and growth at any cost should be our goal. they seem to think what’s good for the god of econ­o­my must be in the best inter­ests of every­one and they seem to think the nat­ur­al sys­tems that sus­tain all life are some­how guar­an­teed and bare­ly worth even adding to the equa­tion.

Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments don’t seem to lead, but rather their func­tion seems to try to mit­i­gate dis­as­ters after the event instead of try­ing to pre­vent them. Demo­c­ra­t­ic gov­ern­ments also have a deep fear of being unpop­u­lar and gen­er­al­ly feel the best pol­i­cy is to do noth­ing and keep things as they are. All the great politi­cians weren’t afraid to tread on peo­ples toes but they seem quite few and far between.

In short I don’t think gov­ern­ment is the answer; con­di­tions will stay as they are, in a state of grow­ing entropy until it’s too late to do any­thing.


Lead Archi­tect — Pub­lic Cloud Oper­a­tions and Infra­struc­ture at Hewlett-Packard

Bro. David — I appre­ci­ate your con­cern. I’ve stat­ed my posi­tion. I won’t go point by point to counter your posi­tion. Suf­fice it to say, begin­ning to end, I dis­agree with you.

The impor­tant take away, for me, is that it is up to each of us to work to bet­ter the world. Gov­ern­ments aren’t the whole answer, true. But I believe they can help.

But in addi­tion, uni­ver­si­ties, NGOs, and oth­er groups — includ­ing our fra­ter­ni­ty — can all play a part in mak­ing the world a bet­ter place.

I don’t believe it is hope­less. I don’t believe it is a fore­gone con­clu­sion. If I did, what would be the point of liv­ing?

David Beck

Hi Christo­pher,

You did put your point across very elo­quent­ly and I appre­ci­ate that. The idea that tech­nol­o­gy and our inge­nu­ity will solve the worlds prob­lems is a com­mon­ly held view and one we all hope is correct.I also agree we should all work towards a bet­ter future which is why I feel tak­ing action now will have ben­e­fits in the future.

Every great civil­i­sa­tion must come to an end unless it’s ether sus­tain­able or high­ly adapt­able. Usu­al­ly the end of a civ is caused by the loss of one or more crit­i­cal resources, or due to mas­sive increas­ing civ­il unrest or because entropy has fol­lowed com­plex­i­ty or because of the actions of a for­eign pow­er.

There is always hope, opportunity’s and life after civil­i­sa­tions fall — it does help if your pre­pared for change though. Our fam­i­ly is well pre­pared for almost any con­tin­gency, we have a love­ly small­hold­ing in Gali­cia with lim­it­less fresh water, high qual­i­ty food and friend­ly neigh­bors and a large well main­tained farm house. We grow our own food, wood, ani­mals and have strong ties with our friends and are part of a strong com­mu­ni­ty.

I heard about a man who start­ed with very lit­tle mon­ey, worked his way up in the city of Lon­don earn­ing a for­tune, then when the stock mar­kets crashed he lost half his con­sid­er­able for­tune so decid­ed to kill him­self. I believe there’s much more to life than mon­ey, growth and the con­tin­u­ous accu­mu­la­tion of wealth and assets; and whilst I’m rel­a­tive­ly poor I would not sell or betray my fam­i­ly for all the mon­ey in the world.

Thanks for your posts friends.


Man­ag­er, Res­pi­ra­to­ry Care Ser­vices at Greenville Health Sys­tem

Inter­est­ing thread here. Bro. Beck seems to have embraced the Malthu­sian view­point which has been quite thor­ough­ly dis­proved by his­to­ry. I would sug­gest you turn to that Great Light for the answers you seek. The poor will always be with us as will evil. But despair is not the answer. For every chal­lenge that aris­es will be answered. As to col­laps­ing civ­i­liza­tions, none were due his­tor­i­cal­ly to the absence of resources but rather the decline of an edu­cat­ed and moral pop­u­lace or through the actions of a more pow­er­ful civ­i­liza­tion. For a more com­plete pic­ture refer to the decline of the Roman Empire.

My prayer is for the peo­ple to awak­en and real­ize that their sal­va­tion lies not in men or gov­ern­ment, but in them­selves for that is where free­dom tru­ly lies. It is not giv­en or grant­ed by oth­ers, they can only take it away and then only from those unwill­ing to defend their nat­ur­al rights. As Freema­sons, we are charged to be an exam­ple for oth­ers that would be wor­thy of emu­la­tion. Despair does not fit into that exam­ple.


All that said, the thing I’m most afraid of is zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. i think if the zom­bies come, we’re screwed.

Or aliens. But with aliens, I think our hack­ers have a chance.


Seri­ous­ly, though, I think it’s inter­est­ing to look at post-apoc­a­lypse as a genre in film, TV, and books, and how author’s have envi­sioned human­i­ty deal­ing with it. I was total­ly dis­ap­point­ed in NBC’s “Rev­o­lu­tion” because their tech­nol­o­gy his­to­ry was so incred­i­bly poor. The recent Tom Cruise epic “Obliv­ion” was clever enough, but didn’t real­ly address the ques­tion of humanity’s sur­vival (and proof that you can’t make a decent fea­ture length film out of a short sto­ry).

Few seem to focus on humanity’s abil­i­ty to inno­vate, though. They tend to fol­low the same basic pat­tern of ‘sur­vivorism’. One excep­tion i(although not tech­ni­cal­ly post-apoc­a­lyp­tic) s David Weber’s “Excal­ibur Alter­na­tive’, which focus­es on a group of kid­napped humans from the mid­dle ages whose human inge­nu­ity and spir­it allow them to adapt to the advanced tech­nol­o­gy of their cap­tors and even­tu­al­ly over­come.