Friday, December 30, 2011

Waiting to be Saved

To close out the year, I would like to tell you one of my favorite jokes:


A devout believer is trapped by a flood.  He climbs onto his roof and waits to be saved.

As the water gets close to the roof, a neighbor comes along in a row boat.  "Hop on," he says, "I'll get us both to safety."

"No, that's okay, you take care of yourself, God will save me," the believer replies.

The water keeps rising, almost to the top of the roof, where the believer is sitting.  A Coast Guard power boat comes along.  They yell out, "Come aboard, we'll get you to dry land."

The believer replies, "No, that's okay, go look for someone else, I have faith that God will save me."

The Coast Guard argues with him for a little while, but he steadfastly refuses, and they decide they do need to move on to save others.

The water keeps rising.  The believer is holding on the the chimney, with just his head above the water.  A National Guard helicopter comes along and spots him.  They throw down a ladder and yell through a bullhorn, "Quick!  Grab the ladder and we will save you!"

"No, this is a test of my faith, I know God will save me," he yells back.

As they try to argue with him, the chimney breaks off and he is swept away and drowns, and the believer goes to Heaven.

As he meets God, he says to Him, "I don't get it... Don't get me wrong, I'm glad to be here, but I thought for sure you would save me.  Why didn't you?"



Faith is a very good thing, but we should take advantage of every blessing we are given on the Long Ascent.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Christmas Orange

Back in my youth (which, in the grand scheme of things, wasn't that long ago), my family would hang out large stockings for each of us on Christmas Eve.  We didn't have a fireplace, so we hung them on chests and curios in the dining room.  (Ironically, after my sister and oldest brother moved out, my parents did put a wood-burning stove in that room.)

I vaguely remember getting small toys and lots of candy in my stocking.  One thing that has stuck in my mind to this day was getting a fresh orange in my stocking, one that was just for me to enjoy; I didn't have to share it with anyone else.  My family wasn't poor, but fresh oranges weren't something they stocked regularly in the small grocery store in my hometown.  Apparently, though, enough people had the tradition of the Christmas orange that they were available at that time.

I still look forward to eating oranges at Christmas, since that seems to be around the time they start harvesting them in Florida and California.  They are so readily available, though, that they aren't as special as they were in my youth.

What does this have to do with the Long Ascent?  Well, the current state of affairs is representative of the Age of Profligacy.  As we come down off Hubbert's Mesa, eating foods from far away will become more of a luxury.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  Getting an orange for Christmas may again be a special occasion.

Sometimes on the Long Ascent, the joy is in the smallest details along the way.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Trapping Monkeys, Boiling Frogs, Training Elephants

Despite the title, this post is more about the behavior of humans rather than animals.  If you are familiar with the concepts, feel free to skip it.  The first two concepts are popular with environmentalists, the third is used more by political activists.

In the jungles of Asia, it is reported that the natives have an interesting way of catching monkeys.  They tie down jars with narrow necks and put the monkeys' favorite foods inside.  The size of the neck is large enough that the monkey's open hand will fit through but small enough that once they grab the food, they can't pull their fist out.  All the monkeys have to do is let the food go and they can be free.  The monkeys however are more focused on getting the food they want.  They twist and turn and struggle and try everything they can to get that food out.  They keep doing that until the hunters return and it is too late to escape.

When you put a frog in a pot of scalding hot water, it will immediately jump out.  (Actually, if you put it anyplace unfamiliar, it will still likely not sit still.)  If the frog is in familiar surroundings, and you just raise the temperature a little, the frog will adapt and not try to escape.  If you keep slowly raising the temperature, it will keep adapting as long as it can.  Once it has reached the point where it can no longer adapt, though, it no longer has the energy to escape, and it will be stuck there, even if the temperatures get to boiling.

In India, elephants have traditionally been used as beasts of burden.  They may raise them from babies, but even so, they need to bring in fresh blood every so often so the gene pool doesn't degrade.  Catching a wild elephant is very difficult.  They couldn't possibly expend that effort continuously.  So they train the elephant by tying it by the leg to the largest tree around with the thickest chain or rope they have.  They then stand back and let the elephant struggle all it wants to.  It may take a long time, but eventually the elephant gives up.  They then tie a small rope around the elephant's leg, and even though it could easily break free, it no longer tries to.  It associates having a rope tied to its leg with being trapped and helpless.

People also refuse to give up what they want, even when it hurts them; keep making small changes to adapt rather than trying to escape their bad situation; and let past experiences limit them, even when what held them back before no longer has the same power.  These are all behaviors which we need to change if we want to make any progress on the Long Ascent.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Glass is Always Full

Pour 8 ounces of water into a 16 ounce glass.

Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

If you say half-empty, people call you a pessimist.

If you say half-full, people call you an optimist.

I say, the glass is full: half with water, half with air.

If you pour out 4 ounces of water, or pour 8 more in, it doesn't matter, the glass is always full, only the proportions change.

What if you take the glass into outer space?  The glass is still full.  Even if you were to have a perfect vacuum with no matter in it, the glass still is filled with the electromagnetic field, and the gravitational field, and all the other fun stuff that inhabits "empty" space.

If you truly could eliminate everything from inside the glass, the forces on the outside surface would completely overwhelm any structural integrity and instantly crush the glass, so it would be no more.

As long as the glass is, the glass is always full.

This perspective will serves us well as we travel the minor dips and bumps on the Long Ascent.

Friday, December 2, 2011

No More Problems

One thing you will find over the coming weeks, if you haven't seen it already, is that I am a very much in favor of making careful distinctions.  One distinction John Michael Greer emphasizes is between problems and predicaments: problems have a solution; predicaments do not.  That distinction I am not so happy with.

Don't get me wrong, I think it is very useful to distinguish between things that can be solved and things that cannot.  My issue is with the connotations of the words he uses.  If you have math homework and you say you have 5 problems to solve, I have no problem with that.  Most of the time, though, both the words problem and predicament are very negative.  After reading Napoleon Hill, I came to the conclusion:

THERE ARE NO PROBLEMS, only opportunities.

Or to put it more humorously,

Opportunity knocks often.  Most people don't answer because it comes disguised as a problem.

Now, I have come to realize this isn't entirely true.  There are problems that are not opportunities, but they only happen when people are oblivious to them.  As soon as you recognize something is a problem, it becomes an opportunity to make a change and make things better.

Similarly, things we cannot change I prefer to call parameters, rather than predicaments.  We need to plan for things like mortality.  Fighting them makes no sense.

The language of opportunities and parameters will serve us well as we make the Long Ascent.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

An Attitude of Gratitude

"For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away."  Matthew 25:29

Today in the United States we celebrate Thanksgiving.  We fill the day with parades, football, cooking, family, and shopping.  We may recall the Pilgrims and the Native Americans feasting together.  How many of us take the time to reflect on how blessed we are and be thankful for what we have?

The original celebration of Thanksgiving was different.  It wasn't merely a harvest festival or a block party.  The Pilgrims were truly grateful for what they had.  They had much to complain about.  They originally had meant to go to Virginia, they weren't expecting the cold New England winters.  They had lost many of their companions to the harsh weather.  Even by the standards of the day, they had little in material comforts.  For one day at least, they chose to ignore all their hardships and be thankful for what they did have.


There is an old story about a man who lost his feet in an accident.  He grew bitter about his loss and was always complaining.  Finally one day he met a man who lost his legs in an accident.  He realized how much worse his life could have been, and he starting being grateful for what he did have.


Having this attitude of gratitude by itself makes life less unpleasant.  The consequences are more than just mental.  As Jesus explained in the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25, we need to care for what we are given.  If you are not thankful for what you have, you will not take care of it, and you will lose it.

We will need an attitude of gratitude to take care of what we have been given as we make the Long Ascent.

"This is the day which Jehovah hath made; We will rejoice and be glad in it." Psalm 118:25 (ASV)

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Coming Age of Plenty

It's not what you think.

The cornucopia is a frequent symbol of the season.  Most people who talk about the coming Age of Plenty believe that the next high-tech breakthrough will solve all our problems; they are sometimes called cornucopians. I do not share their belief.

According to Wiktionary, plenty means "A sufficient quantity. More than enough."  This concept of "plenty" has gotten warped over the past century, which I like to call the Age of Profligacy.

Back in my great-grandparents day, they would say "We have plenty," or "We have enough."  By this they would mean that they had a roof over their heads, clothes on their backs, enough food not to go hungry, etc.  In other words, all their material needs were met.

The problem came in when we started using materials goods for purposes other than meeting our material needs.  Take food as an example.  We need energy to live and to do things, and we need basic building blocks to repair and rebuild our bodies.  Food satisfies those needs.  When we start using food for other purposes, such as to entertain, to stimulate, to relax, we can easily eat more than what we need.  In extreme cases of overindulgence we can end up as half-ton people.

With our economy predicated on perpetually consuming more, marketers have been encouraging us to overindulge.  They specifically try to simultaneously make us feel somehow inadequate and to convince us that buying whatever they are selling will solve that inadequacy.

This never was good for people's bodies or spirits. However, while resources were extremely plentiful compared with demand, the system worked as designed.  But that hasn't been true for two generations now.  Starting with the Arab oil embargo in the early 1970s, availability of resources has been a limiting factor in our economy.  As a free market economy is supposed to work, lack of availability is evidenced by increasing prices.  This allows for smooth adjustments -- sometimes too smooth.  Only when government tries to force prices down do we get other means of restriction, such as long lines waiting for gas.

Eventually there comes a price where people voluntarily cut back.  In 2008 Americans did this with gasoline when it reached $4 a gallon.  Prices went down when a falling economy pushed demand back down. Once prices went back down, people resumed their profligate ways.

I expect this process will be repeated many times over the coming decades.  But each time it happens, more people will step back and look at what they really need and come to the conclusion, "We have enough."  When the majority of people have done that, the Age of Plenty will have arrived.

That will be a major milestone on the Long Ascent.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Class vs. Income

Recently in the United States there has been much talk about class warfare.  As disturbing as the concept is, I am more concerned about a fundamental distinction that has been lost in modern America: the difference between class and income.

This is due in large part to the success of the US in allowing people to change their circumstances.  Class used to have a far different meaning.  When you were born into the slave class in nineteenth century America, not only did you remain a slave for the rest of your life, but your children were similarly condemned.  If you were born into the aristocracy in sixteenth century England, you remained an aristocrat, no matter how much a fool or scoundrel you were.

These class distinctions were maintained by law, and thanks to the struggles of those who came before us, they are largely gone.  The term "middle class" still exists, but the way it is used now, people only mean "middle income", between "rich" and "poor".  The distinction between them is rather arbitrary; for example, "the poor" are those who earn less than the "poverty level".  This arbitrariness makes it easy to go from rich to poor and possible to go from poor to rich.

Even though we don't have the same kind of legally enforced class system as in the past, I think it is still a useful concept.  We still have mental and cultural barriers that keep people in their same circumstances.  I define the middle class as those who work for a living; the lower class does not work, and the upper class has others work for them.  As a further gradation, the upper middle class work for themselves, and the lower middle class work for someone else.  This is a completely separate dimension from wealth and poverty; each class has rich and poor members.  The importance is that members within each class have more interests in common than they do with people of equal income in other classes.  For example, the lower middle class still has to show up for work every day, whether they are flipping burgers or starring in movies.

It is important to understand that no class is better than the other.  All are necessary, or at least unavoidable.  (Even if we work until the day we die, no one works from the day they are born.)  Each class requires different strengths.  We just need to think clearly about our circumstances.

If you are confused about which class you fit in, you can easily get lost on the Long Ascent.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Ultimate Forms of Savings

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon the earth, where moth and rust consume, and where thieves break through and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also."  Matthew 6:19-21 (ASV).

More and more people are coming to the realization that things cannot keep going on the way they have been.  From the limited perspective of their own lifetimes, and possibly their parent's or children's lifetimes (even grandparent's or grandchildren's), they just see progress in the past and decline in the future.  Many are asking what is the best way to hang on to what they have.  For some, gold is the answer.  Others rely on a well-stocked pantry.  Guns and ammo are another popular option.  There are good arguments for all of them.  But none of them are ultimate; they can all be taken away or used up.

Obviously, the ultimate form of wealth is one that transcends death.  Various religions have different concepts of what exactly that is.  Jesus talked about "storing treasures in heaven."  Karma is another such concept for those who believe in reincarnation.  Spiritual growth is certainly a worthy pursuit, and I encourage anyone who is interested in this to find someone to help them.  I cannot however help you choose; the best I can do is relate my own experiences.

After your favorite deity, the next best thing to rely on is yourself.  Specifically, if you are looking to save what you can for the future, your knowledge and your health are the best investments.  Both can be maintained for most of a lifetime.  Neither can be stolen from you.  Others may be able to damage both, but they cannot in doing so make themselves smarter or healthier.  There are many options still available for improving both mind and body; I will touch upon a number of them in coming weeks.

After your spirit, mind, and body lies your relationships and your community.  In this world, other people will continue on after you are gone.  Hopefully, they will be there for you when your body and mind start to decline.  Many sources of advice exist for how to have good relationships with others, and from the statistics, many need help in this area.  How to build strong communities is a bit of a mystery to me.  Many attempts have been made, but in a majority of cases they only grow while the founders are still alive; the next generation just maintains what they have, and decline sets in quickly thereafter.

Resilient, cohesive communities are one of the most valuable assets on the Long Ascent.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Putting Your Pants On One Leg At A Time... actually the hard way.  The assumption is that you are standing when you do so, which of course makes putting your pants on both legs at the same time virtually impossible.  But if you are sitting down, it is quite simple to pull your pants over both legs at the same time.  You don't have to go through as many contortions or worry about losing your balance.

Don't get me wrong, on the Long Ascent, it doesn't really matter which way you put your pants on, or even if you wear any pants at all.  What matters is challenging assumptions that make things more difficult than they need to be.

What are some of the assumptions that need to be challenged?
  • The way to go places is using a machine that weighs 10 times what you weigh.
  • Food is stored in the refrigerator.
  • You work out at the gym.
  • Doctors are responsible for your health.
  • If you need something, you buy it at the store.
  • A job is the best way to make a living.
The Long Ascent is difficult enough, we need to clear away any stumbling blocks we can.

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Matter of Perspective

How long is long?  It depends on who you ask.

When I read James Howard Kunstler's The Long Emergency, I practically breathed a sigh of relief.  Finally I had found someone who understood the dangers of fossil fuel depletion.  Since I had read Marion King Hubbert's work in the early 1980s, I felt like I was a lone voice in the wilderness trying to warn people.  At the time I shared Kuntstler's rather bleak view of the coming decades.

Many in the sustainability movement use the concept of the "seventh generation," a guideline that the Iroquois are reputed to have used.  At roughly 20 years per generation, that is 140 years in the future.

I have a great deal of respect for John Michael Greer.  His blog, The Archdruid Report, is one of the few things I anticipate reading each week.  I find myself agreeing with a great deal of what he says.  Where we differ is in a matter of perspective.  Like many others in the Peak Oil movement, he sees the future as a matter of decline.  Some of his most popular books are The Long Descent, The Eco-Technic Future, and The Wealth of Nature.  The future centuries he envisions are not as bad as most Peak Oil prophets imagine.

Marshall Savage had a broader perspective.  His masterwork, The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps, is a grand, sweeping vision of a bright future.  Regrettably, he actually starts the book at Step 2, with Step 1, the Foundation, as an epilogue.  It almost does seem like an afterthought, not having been as carefully thought out as the rest.  While the dream is still being kept alive by the Living Universe Foundation, little progress has been made.

The Long Now Foundation has one of the longest time horizons I have seen.  One of their concerns is the Y10K problem; they suggest everyone start writing the year with a leading zero, e.g. 02011.  Another project is the 10,000 Year Clock.  Their goal is to encourage long-term thinking.

Why does perspective matter?  My answer to that is taken from The Rules of Victory, a translation and commentary on Sun Tzu's The Art of War.  The best way to win is to "take whole", which in simplest terms could be described as getting your opponent to surrender without a fight.  (It actually is much more subtle than this; I highly recommend reading this book to fully understand the concept.)  As a rule, it is the person with the greater perspective who has the best chance of victory.

How long is long?  For my answer, take the chart of any "peak" which isn't necessarily dependent on a nonrenewable resource, for example, population, knowledge, energy usage, prosperity.  Shrink it down until it is just a small bump in a gently rising road, just large enough to be tripped over, where a human lifespan is just a point.

That is how long I mean when I say "The Long Ascent".

Friday, October 14, 2011

Half Ton People

Today I'd like to engage you in a thought experiment. Imagine you have just accepted a position at a facility for the morbidly obese. But this is no ordinary facility. The people who inhabit it have been here for generations. They have always been allowed to eat as much as they want for as long as anyone can remember. As a result everyone's weight is in the high triple digits. All the problems associated with such extreme weights, such as immobility, are considered a normal part of life.

Your task is to put these people on a diet. The facility can no longer afford to provide them with all they can eat. From now on they will only have a diet of 3000 calories. How will you break it to them?

Now, for most of us, a 3000 calorie diet is still excessive (athletes and Amish farmers being two notable exceptions), but from their perspective of being able to eat as much as they can, it is a terrible restriction.  One objection they are sure to raise is that they can't possibly maintain their current body weight with such little food.  Of course, they would be correct.  You would have to try to convince them that there are considerable advantages to weighing less, like being able to walk.  But they would counter that they get along fine without walking.  You may be able to convince a few of them to see past the experiences of their lifetimes and the lifetime of everyone they've personally known, but most of them would simply not do anything until they are forced to.

So, how do you tell someone who is used to consuming 20 barrels of oil a year that within a few decades they will have learn to get by on 2?

We need to answer that question to get people back on track on the Long Ascent.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mammon's Curse

I doubt many outside of the Christian faith have heard of the concept of mammon. (For those readers not of the Christian faith, please bear with me. This is a critical concept in the Long Ascent, I am just developing it from my background.) Indeed, mammon is only mentioned twice in the Bible, in Luke 16 and Matthew 6, both saying you cannot serve God and mammon. Sometimes mammon is personified as a god, Mammon. Most Christians take mammon to be synonymous with money or greed. There is some justification for thinking that way; before the quote in Matthew 6:24, verses 19 through 21 talk about treasure, and in the next verse after the quote in Luke 16:13, it says how the Pharisees scoffed him, because they loved money.

There is a far deeper and more powerful interpretation of the god of Mammon, though, which is pointed to by what comes after Matthew 6:24, where Jesus talks about how God feeds the birds and clothes the lilies. This linkage suggests that Mammon is not the god of greed or money but rather is the god of material comforts. That is the concept of Mammon I am discussing.

This means that even when someone says, "I don't want to be rich, I just want to be comfortable,"
they are still serving Mammon. "What's wrong with that?," you may ask. Being comfortable seems very benign. Therein lies Mammon's treachery.

The first problem with serving Mammon is that our appetites tend to grow. If we are accustomed to chopped steak, that may give us comfort. If, however, we start eating sirloin and grow accustomed to that, chopped steak no longer gives us comfort. (Vegetarians, please pardon the example, I'm not familiar with your palate, please make your own substitution.) For those dedicated to seeking material comforts, this ratchet effect is very hard to reverse. Usually this only happens with a long period of deprivation, which is seldom voluntary. The best defense is to never let the ratcheting up happen in the first place. If you only have sirloin very infrequently, it is easier to be satisfied with the chopped steak.

The second problem with serving Mammon is the danger of overindulgence. This goes hand-in-hand with the first problem. In the material realm over-consumption virtually always has bad effects. Eating too much makes one obese and can lead to heart attacks and diabetes. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to cirrhosis of the liver or can even kill outright if consumed quickly. Even oxygen and water can kill in quantities that are too high.

The third part of Mammon's curse is definitely enhanced by the bad effects of overindulgence, but it applies to even the most moderate of people. All our bodies deteriorate with age. There is much we can do to slow the process down, but the process is programmed into the telomeres of our genes. Mammon doesn't have a retirement plan. Those who prize material comforts will find their bodies betraying them as they grow older and become less and less comfortable in their own skin. People who primarily value things other than material comfort can accept the changes in their bodies with much more equanimity.

These three parts of Mammon's curse are the most obvious, because they play out within the lifetime of any individual who serves Mammon. The fourth part is the most insidious and treacherous, because it plays out over the lifetime of any civilization where the majority seek material comfort. Every civilization ultimately has a limited resource base. Most start out so very small compared to their limits that they can act as if they have no limits. Indeed, traditionally the number of people has been the limiting factor in the wealth of a new civilization, so there is an incentive to grow. Even without that incentive, sexual pleasure is an appetite that Mammon's followers usually indulge. As more people are added, there comes a point where some resource becomes the limiting factor. A society that grows deliberately has the chance to see this coming and make adjustments. For a society that is primarily concerned with indulging material comfort, this point is rarely foreseen and even less likely to be avoided. This results in an overshoot which degrades the resource base and leads to a collapse.

This is Mammon's Curse. Not only does he destroy the lives of individuals who follow him, he eventually destroys entire civilizations. This fate can only be avoided by taking away his power and following an ideal other than material comfort. There are many ideals to follow, but each represents a path on the Long Ascent.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hubbert's Mesa

Much has been written about "Peak Oil" and the work of M. King Hubbert, sometimes referring to it as "Hubbert's Peak".  Using the term "peak" however is misleading.  Hubbert basically said that the extraction of a nonrenewable resource basically fit a bell curve.  If you take a close look at the top of a bell curve, you will see the slope at the absolute top is perfectly level, and the area around it is mostly level.

Real graphs do not follow the idealized graphs, however.  They have various ups and down, minor peaks and valleys.  Combining these with a relatively broad, flat expanse at the top, real graphs of resource usage look more like mesas than peaks.  If you look at a graph of world oil production, it looks like we entered the flat stage around the year 2000.

From World Oil Production - Looking for Clues as to What may be Ahead

Why this is important is because this allows petroholics to adjust to a stable oil supply.  Consequently they are in denial about the coming declines.  When the declines do come, especially the first few, they can be attributed to extraordinary circumstances, like a war, an uprising, or a natural disaster in a major oil exporting nation, like the Iranian revolution in 1979.  People come to expect that things will "get back to normal" afterwards -- and for the first couple times, they may be right.  And as the graph shows, the period from 1989 to 1993 was also relatively flat, due in large part to the collapse of the Soviet Union.  We can't be sure that we have truly past the peak until long after it happens.  But sooner or later the oil supply will finally dramatically and irreversibly drop off.  When it does, the majority of petroholics will have no clue what is happening and will be bewildered.

For those who are making the Long Ascent, however, it will be a welcome return to what has truly been normal for most of humanity for most of history.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Petroholics Anonymous

Peak Oil has a very slippery slope.

Will there come a time when the oil production reaches an all-time high that will never be broken? Absolutely. It is almost necessarily so. Even if oil is created abiotically, we would have to not be using it faster than it is being created to make a difference. A century and a half of observing the behavior of individual wells precludes that possibility.

But, does that really matter?

To someone who is addicted to the ever increasing consumption of oil, of course it matters.

As with all addictions, most addicts have a hard time seeing beyond their addiction. Even for those that see how their addiction is hurting them, very few are able to overcome it on their own.

When the addict keeps needing more and more, though, there comes a point where they just can't get enough. When some clever heroin addicts reach this stage, they go to a methadone clinic to reset themselves. When some clever oil addicts reach this stage, they go camping or take a survival course.

Hi. My name is John Wheeler. I am a fossil fuel addict. I have been using for 45 years. I am using right now. The device I am using was made with and even has parts from fossil fuel, and it is powered by fossil fuel. I don't have all the answers, but I admit I have a problem. That is the first step on the Long Ascent.

Monday, September 12, 2011

What is the Long Ascent?

Imagine a world...

... where no one is fat;

... where everyone is fit;

... where no one dies of heart disease or diabetes;

... where everyone out of diapers has meaningful work;

... where no one wastes his or her time on mindless drivel;

... where everyone keeps learning for their entire life;

... where no one is very poor or very rich;

... where everyone has their basic material needs covered.

Some of these results will occur naturally.

Some of these will require a tremendous amount of effort.

Some of these will occur because the only alternative is extinction.

It will be a long, hard climb, but the sooner we start the Long Ascent, the faster we get there.

"The future promises us lives as humans were meant to live them — free, respected as persons, respected as peers, subject to none. It promises us a true community — something most of us have never really experienced. It promises a mind-boggling diversity of belief, tradition, culture and lifestyle." -- Jason Godesky, Thirty Theses