Living In Another World – Gav’s Response

This post goes out to Mia who blogs at “Becoming a Good Human“, and all those who commented.  Don’t despair, because I feel like that sometimes as well.

She describes how she feels that she is becoming disconnected from society and quotes a passage from Dave Pollard’s blog “How To Save The World“;

“But I’m beginning to think it’s not so much the limits of language as that, having rejected every notion of civilization culture, I no longer have anything to talk about with most people.

When I’m out in public I often listen to conversations, and what I hear is nothing but vapid time-wasting, echo-chamber reassurances, regurgitated propaganda, sob stories, unactionable rhetoric, appalling misinformation, self-aggrandizement, gossip, manipulation and denigration of others. I hear no new ideas or insights, no cogent discussion of how we can prepare for, and increase our resilience in the face of, the impending sixth great extinction and the economic, energy and ecological collapses that will push that extinction into overdrive and bring down the most expansive and least sustainable civilization in our species’ short history. And what else is worth talking about?

Yet, all around me, people who have not had the luxury of time and resources, as I have, to learn how the world really works, and what is really going on, and to imagine what we might do about it, and how we might live better, carry on as if nothing much is wrong and as if everything in our unsustainable and doomed culture somehow makes sense, and will somehow continue, and get better.”

Dave is a very astute observer of the human condition we call society. I agree with both Mia and Dave, and I see it all around me.  For me, Gavin, it kind of goes like this;

A sense of loneliness, an abnormal feeling of my sanity vs the insanity around me, trivial and manipulative behaviour, football conversations, gossip, affluenza, consumerism gone wild, the same old crap regurgitated day in and day out on TV, a society distracted by everyday bullshit and girlie magazines, disconnectedness, denial, “does my bum look big in this”, shallowness, people walking around in their own iPod world with a total belief in the status quo and that the market will save us.  I want to grab people and shake some sense into them, but know I can’t, for it will make me look like someone who has escaped from the asylum.  The only problem is that we are all in the asylum already with only a few of us ready to take on the role of the Chief and through that washbasin through the window and escape the funny farm.

There is so much more that I haven’t managed to articulate, and I find it difficult to hold a conversation along any of these subjects when I know what is about to go down.  I did try to describe it once in this blog post, “Cognitive Dissonance“, and the response was overwhelming.  Others did feel like I did, which was comforting in a way.  Misery loves company, or so they say.

Long time readers will know that I totally believe that resource depletion, climate change and mass extinction is happening right now, and kind of understand why everyone one around me just doesn’t get it, or even tries to understand where we are all headed. The only positive think I know I can do is prepare, educate others, build community, and be there for one another when TSHTF.

However, one thing of late that has helped me deal with the reality we live in has been the latest book by Clive Hamilton, “Requiem For A Species – Why We Resist The Truth About Climate Change”.  It has helped me transition away from blame, to just accepting that the shit storm is approaching, and there isn’t much that you or I can do about it even if with some massive miracle every government in the world suddenly set 80% emissions target and actually started to enforce them.  The world will change, and we are in for a hell of a bumpy ride before people accept things are not going to business as usual any longer.  Clive writes a very convincing argument.

Call me a fool, but I have yet to give up hope.  I will still do all the green things that I do in the hope that others will wake up and smell the oncoming storm before it hits.  I will continue to re-skill because these skills have become valuable not only to my family, but to others in my community.  I know where I am going for a bar of soap, and some fresh eggs when the four horsemen ride over the hill.

I suppose that is all anyone can do, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Oh, and lead from the front, because the view of the future is much nicer from up there.


  1. says

    I have been mulling on this post for a while, hence my out-of-date reply. In the middle of the night last night it came to me: There is a permaculture saying that “the problem is the solution”. A year or so ago I came to the conclusion that just finding ways to minimise my footprint while still living well was not enough – it often amounted to preaching to the converted, and who wants to survive while the world around burns? “Cognitive dissonance” is actually an opportunity, to communicate something really world-view changing. I remember, vividly, the moment that, as a 15 year old, my own world view did that shift. Maybe I am being indulgently pollyanna, but for those of you doing the hard yards there: your example is all the more meaningful for it.

  2. says

    @ Gordon,

    Love your comment. Humans have been through collapse before and survived well. We just have to make sure that there are enough real learned skills to stop us from going back into the dark ages. Keep learning!

    @ Tracey,

    Thank you. A register sounds like a good idea, but I think that some bloke called Adolf already tried it and failed and not in a nice way either. He got a bit carried away.

    @ Samantha,

    No offence taken at all. Hope you don’t mind, but I will answer your question in my next post. It is a very interesting subject, which I have been giving a lot of thought of late.

    @ Mistyhollows,

    Thanks for the tips on lye and black wattles. I do remember reading in history that the Romans made lye by draining water through wood ash using straw as a filter. They had to pour it through many times to get the desired strength, but it worked!

    @ Tracey,

    Thanks again. I knew the article was coming, but didn’t quite know when.

    You are so right about global commerce. If or when it happens, our whole society will be turned upon its head.


  3. Tracey says

    Hi Gavin
    Nice to see you front and centre on the ACF Greenhome newsletter when I just checked me email…

    Also, for Samantha,
    One part of reducing carbon miles is sourcing foods and other materials from local producers, which I know from his blog Gavin tries to do. Having a relationship with the primary producer means not being so dependant on industrial produced goods, or supermarket supply chains. Before supermarkets, lye was made at home by steeping wood ashes. Fats and oils are not that difficult to source outside conventional shops. Failing that, stale urine has also been used as a cleaner in ancient times – and that’s easily sourced close to home ; )

    I know soap is just one example, and if global commerce collapses all our lives will change in ways most of us don’t yet imagine, but some people will be better equipped to deal with it than others. I know which group I’d prefer to be in. : )

  4. Anonymous says

    Love the post Gavin, I remember a post you made on Simple Green Frugal on a similar line not that long ago. I must admit I am at the point that I only think of how my family will prepare and we just keep on doing what we are already and making changes as we can without trying to influence others who really don’t care or aren’t interested.

    As for me Samantha in Oz, I know for my soap I am growing olive trees and also planting wattles which some varieties leaves can be used as soap, so if the olives don’t have enough oil for me to extract (which is another matter altogether :-))or I need it for cooking I know I have wattles for soap which btw can also have their seeds used in cooking so there is a double use there :-).


  5. says

    Hi Gavin,

    I’m very curious to know, when “the four horsemen ride over the hill”, where do you imagine you will be buying the chicken feed, lye, olive oil, coconut oil, etc that your soap making and egg production depend on?

    If the supermarket is no longer selling soap, why would it still be selling industrially-produced soap-making ingredients such as lye and olive oil?

    I mean no offence by asking these questions – I am genuinely keen to understand your line of reasoning (which is obviously shared by very many people).

  6. Tracey says

    Great post Gavin, and great comment, Gordon!

    I have the same experience of feeling like the people around me are speaking a different language, living in a different world. Not just when it comes to environmental issues, but in regard to how our economic systems actually work, and the great charade that we call democracy.

    I don’t believe meaningful change will/can happen globally or even nationally because of a combination of human nature, and the institutions we’ve built, which act to resist change, keeping power and wealth in the hands of those currently powerful and wealthy.

    I know the faeces will hit the fan, regardless of what I do. The way I keep my sanity is just to try hard to live my life with as much integrity (and sustainability!) as possible and help those who do want to learn and change.

    Those who refuse to confront or examine the evidence I don’t even try to reach any more, they defeat me. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, I wish we could put all those climate change deniers on a world register, so when things get really bad we can check the list and say, “Sorry, no help for you, your were a Denier!” ; )

  7. Gordon says

    Hi Gavin
    What a great post! It is good to see someone come out and express honestly what so many of us are feeling, have felt. Thanks.
    I’ve been there – and back, to a certain extent. I’ve reached the realisation that there is little point in exhausting myself trying to get individuals, organisations or governments to change the way they do things. The information is out there. If they are going to change, they will – whether it is “too late” or not is not a question that bothers me any more. And I honestly think that the combinations of our systems of government, economy and law make it highly unlikely that any elected government will take any meaningful or adequate steps to change the GHG emissions situation. We have found the achilles heel of the combination of democracy, capitalism and a legal system that gives corporations the same rights as individuals (and more).
    What to do? Well, for me the conclusion was – the same as I was doing before, but without the sense of urgency to make others realise how bad the situation is.
    So I go on living as gently on the Earth as I know how, and I go on sharing information with others on how I do this (if they want to hear), and I go on learning and implementing survival skills that will take me and others as far as possible beyond dependence on a doomed civilization.
    The thing that I try to keep in mind is that there isn’t likely to be a “final curtain” tomorrow or next year, or even for a long time. I and those I care about will need to deal with a gradually deteriorating situation for probably many years to come – so continuing learning, preparation and increasing respect for natural systems and the basic goodness of people are essential to continuing to live a healthy, fulfilling and useful life.
    Keep up the great work – you are a very good communicator.

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