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Page added on July 31, 2016

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Grimace to Loathe

Grimace to Loathe thumbnail
How many economic models are basically correct 45 years later?

We are in summer re-runs now and have selected another vintage blast from the past. This was originally published to The Great Change on Friday, February 15, 2008.

Charlie Hall sent us this lovely graph, which has his handwritten scrawl over the page torn from Limits to Growth in 1972. As Charlie points out, “the Limits to growth basic model is right on track as of 2007. Most people (including most environmental scientists) think that the original LTG model has failed because the large oscillations did not come to pass. The original diagram did not have numbers on the x axis except at the ends 1900 and 2100. So no one seemed to have thought about the timing of things. The economists tore that model from limb to limb. In fact when we put a ruler on the axis and drew in some years the model seems to be right on track as of 2007 (the model oscillations are not supposed to have occurred yet)….

“Anyway how many economic models are basically correct 37 years later?”

We added the red arrow to help provide a sense of why it feels so chaotic now. We are at the critical crossing junctions of many of the lines. Unsustainable growth didn’t.

Two other interesting takes on growth came across the transom from Jeff Vail and Peter Salonius. Jeff’s is the first of three parts, Peter’s the first of two. Jeff’s theme is that human psychology drives growth and hierarchal systems, including all agriculture, demand continuous growth. Peter’s theme is that humanity has been in overshoot of carrying capacity since we abandoned hunting and gathering in favor of crop cultivation 10,000 years ago and that all intensive agriculture, including John Jeavons’ minifarming and Steinerian biodynamics, is flatly unsustainable.

While we savor these pieces, we recommend a nice dish from the Financial Collapse Survival Guide and Cookbook (free on Kindle Unlimited), such as Shiitake Joes, but with some small modifications to base the recipe entirely on foraged ingredients. More complete substitution tables are in the book.

Shiitake Joes

This is a very simple and timeless recipe that lends itself to a world of substitution for seasonal and local ingredients. When trying this out recently, we found an old jar of dried peppers marked “2004” that didn’t look especially hot. Wrong. The one tiny dried pepper we selected was more than enough heat for a double recipe of these, shared with a dozen friends.
Serves 6

One half cup finely diced wild onions, wild garlic or ramps.
2 cups rehydrated or fresh wild mushrooms, stemmed and diced
1 Tbsp oil, cold pressed from wild olives
1 tsp sea salt
1 3/4 cup wild tomatillos, finely diced
2 Tbsp fresh wild cilantro and/or Mexican oregano chopped finely

Immerse wild onions, garlic or ramps in hot water and let stand 20 to 60 minutes, then reserve the water. If mushrooms need to be rehydrated, immerse in the reserved warm water and let stand 60 minutes. Add tomatillos to reserved liquid in a small sauce pot and simmer until creamy. Preheat iron skillet. Add oil, onions and mushrooms and lightly brown. Stir in tomatillo sauce. Salt to taste and sprinkle on cilantro and/or oregano. Heat and serve on open-faced arrowroot or acorn flour biscuits or buns, or over wild rice.


The Great Change by Albert Bates

14 Comments on "Grimace to Loathe"

  1. John Kintree on Sun, 31st Jul 2016 2:20 pm 

    Interesting recipe.

    According to Dennis Meadows, one of the co-authors of the Limits to Growth, when we actually hit the limits, the graph will probably not look anything like what their model displays. That’s when we enter uncharted territory.

  2. Westexasfanclub on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 4:04 am 

    Yes, interesting recipe. Will try it, though with food from the bio-store 😉

    I think we started hitting the limits around 2005 and have experienced the first shocks. People get blinded by the enormous inertia of a global process. They think it is not going to happen because at first sight it is almost indiscernible in their commonplace perception. We probably will experiment further shocks before the end of this decade and the conscience that we hit a wall will finally grow on a global scale.

  3. Hello on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 5:44 am 

    PO will never be recognized as the underlying problem, but hundreds of years after.

    It manifests as social unrest, environmental degradation, reduction of quality of life, mass migration, war. Slowly, day after day, till we’re back in balance.

  4. Ralph on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 6:33 am 

    PO (or more precisely the peak of affordable, high density transportable energy) is simply the first major limit making itself felt. It will accelerate the trends in the other major limits (food supply, pollution, biodiveristy, clean water supplies, climate change etc.) until they combine in the next decade or two to tip industrial society into collapse and more widespread war, leading to population collapse. At which point reality will have long since diverged from the graphs.

  5. makati1 on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 7:20 am 

    Hello, you seem to think there will be anyone to care in 100 years. I doubt that the bacteria still alive will give a damn. If the current rate of increase in world temps continues, we may not make it to 2050. Maybe not even 2030. At what point does the world’s climates do an exponential change that kills all of us off in a few years? I think we shall soon see.

  6. makati1 on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 7:26 am 

    Ralph, I think you are on the right track. Some here, like Hello, are still in denial of the coming bottleneck and, maybe, human extinction. Mother Nature does not do economics or even recognize us as special. Natural laws don’t change because some ape species thinks itself outside of them. We are experiencing a world not seen for many millions of years. The end of one ecology and the preparation for another without us.

  7. Hello on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 7:34 am 

    I acknowledge the following problems in 3 post above yours: social unrest, environmental degradation, reduction of quality of life, mass migration, war due to PO.

    Yet you claim I’m in denial. Are you nuts?

  8. Peaksurfer on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 8:13 am 

    I basically in accord with all of the commenters so far (perhaps not surprising for the reader demographic here). I think the first really big shock will be the financial system collapse, because now, and accelerating since 2008, we are simply replacing shortfalls with debt, or IOUs to non-existent future humans. That only lasts as long as any con-game, until it is discovered by the mark that he/she has been seriously had. Then the house of cards tumbles. The Salonius link I mentioned, which by the way should have been, says that financial collapse, like the renewables revolution, won’t matter because as long as we can overgrow our petri dish, we always will, its a genetic trait.

    So, yes, Makati1, only climate change will cleanse the planet and bring about the reset biological systems require now. It will be very sad, from our perspective, but even if the only remaining life is thermophilic bacteria, life abides.

  9. makati1 on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 8:19 am 

    Hello, I was referring to this statement:

    “PO will never be recognized as the underlying problem, but hundreds of years after.”

    Note timeline. “…hundreds of years after.”

  10. JuanP on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 12:29 pm 

    Hello “PO will never be recognized as the underlying problem”
    As far as I am concerned PO is not the underlying problem, it is a minor side issue. The problem, or rather predicament, is overpopulation. The world’s population is several times what it should be and growing by around 80 million per year. I think we should have never been more than 500 million, that is the main reason why I had a Vasectomy and produced no biological offspring.

  11. John Orr on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 2:07 pm 

    Planet X will sort all our problems out….

  12. Davy on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 3:08 pm 

    Juan is right. If we had a billion people we could maybe reorganize. As it is now we are so far into chaos that comes with a crowd we will never agree on what needs to be done especially once hunger becomes widespread. Overconsumption is also a problem but that can be mitigated easier than mitigating too many people and too many that want to make more people.

    I feel it is likely the only reason we have the consumtion levels we do is the critical mass of population and consumption. It is this combination that allowed us this tremendous complexity and production and it is this combination that will turn an epoch. Few species have ever turned an epoch. The only other I can recall are cryobacteria and the theory of a snowball earth. We are turning our current epoch so quick our heads should be spinning. Maybe if our heads were spinning we would think twice about more kids. I am guilty because I have kids but there will be no more little Davy around. I had my nuts cut 9 years ago.

  13. Sissyfuss on Mon, 1st Aug 2016 6:03 pm 

    Shiitakes Joes. You eat much Joes, you for sure gonna have to shiitake.

  14. HARM on Tue, 2nd Aug 2016 12:33 pm 


    Nail, head.

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