Monday, December 29, 2014


"For the rest of your life, your job is to make the impossible possible.—David Roberts, Grist  |  More quotes

Okay. I knew the news was going to be bad, but I didn't know it was going to be this bad. I knew it was important that I take time to study climate change and its effects for myself and my family, but still, I have put it off. Though, it's not hard to notice that there is an uptick in extreme weather from super storms like Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy to heat waves and drought.

So, in late December 2014, the time came and I looked at it. Here's the bottom line: the research points to a bleak future at best and near-term human extinction at worst.

Mostly so I can understand it, I've spent a lot of time trying to simplify the research, which I found to be beautifully synthesized by Guy McPherson in an ongoing climate change update here.

It all seems to boil down to these three primary areas of focus and they're all linked together:
  1. Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the atmosphere are the highest they've been in 3.2 million years; so:
  2. Global average temperatures are approaching deadly limits for human existence; which has triggered:
  3. Self-reinforcing positive feedback loops
It goes like this: we keep emitting more CO2 into the atmosphere, which means the global average temperature keeps rising, which means we keep triggering and amplifying self-reinforcing positive feedback loops, which means more CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere and on and on.

For some more context on these three points, keep reading.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Written by Guy McPherson, this post is essential reading for everyone. I am taking the liberty of mirroring the latest version of it for archival purposes. The original link that Guy continually updates is here: 

Earlier versions of this essay are permalinked at Counter CurrentsGoldilocks ZoneSeemorerocksClimates of CanadaIsland Breath, and Seemorerocks.

‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹‹ ››››››››››

Climate-Change Summary and Update

By Guy McPherson

Updated frequently, and most recently 25 December 2014.

** Latest additions are flagged with two asterisks on each side. ** To access only the latest information (on most browsers), use CTRL-F, type two asterisks into the “find” box, and hit “Return” or “Enter.” Note that this essay has grown from a few thousand words in January 2013 to the current massive missive. Happy reading.


I’m often accused of cherry picking the information in this ever-growing essay. I plead guilty, and explain myself in this essay posted 30 January 2014. My critics tend to focus on me and my lack of standing in the scientific community, to which I respond with the words of John W. Farley: “The scientific case is not dependent on citation of authority, no matter how distinguished the authority may be. The case is dependent upon experimental evidence, logic, and reason.” In other words, stop targeting the messenger.

Saturday, December 06, 2014


"Vacationing" at a Permaculture Design Course

In August, my wife and I took a 10-day Permaculture Design Course (PDC) in Vermont curated by Ben Falk and his company Whole Systems Design.

Side note: if I had gone into ecological design and not theatre, I would want to run a company exactly like Whole Systems Design.

Most people I told about this course had two things in common. First, they thought we didn't know what a vacation was supposed to be. And second, they had never heard of permaculture (I didn't either until a few years ago). And though I agree, a PDC is not for those who want a restful vacation, it is for those who want to fill their souls with hope for the future.

So, what is permaculture? It's about designing a world that is not only sustainable, but regenerative for all life on this planet. This includes humans, but it is not only for human benefit. Said more succinctly, permaculture is designing with the following in mind: earth care, people care and return of surplus.

Rachel and me with Ben Falk

Thursday, November 20, 2014


It seems like a very simple question: what kind of house do you want to buy? When I think about that question, I think my answer is, 'I want to to buy a house that is a good investment.' But the word investment is relative. I have to be more specific because a 'good investment' for an economist is going to be different than that of an environmentalist.

Earthship kitchen

For me, making a good investment when I buy my home means that the home will be built to last, be in line with my core values, and allow me to live the quality of life I want to live. Though "core values" and "quality of life I want to live" also require more specificity, for the sake of moving on, it's accurate to say that my answers are outside mainstream thinking. I already wrote about when I geeked out about Earthships earlier this week. These designs are definitely outside the box thinking.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


When I really began to think about what kind of house I wanted to buy, I discovered many listings of lots only — meaning, no existing house on the land. I then began to think, "what if we built a house." What kind of house would I build?

I would want it to be sustainable. As a designer, I'd want it to be something interesting — in line with the principles of permaculture I'm embracing and consistent with my concerns about the implications of peak oil on our future energy supply.

One of the first things that came up in my searches was something called an Earthship.

Using recycled materials like tires and smart design, an earthship — as originally conceived by Michael Reynolds — utilizes innovative, non-wasteful water systems, efficient climate control in the form of thermal mass from tires and comes equipped with a built-in greenhouse. It is able to marry the conveniences of the modern world (if so desired) with a green way of living, but could just as easily be utilized for off-grid living.

Sunday, August 24, 2014


I'm not entirely sure when I started questioning everything around me, but I think I can trace it back to reading a book called Ishmael by Daniel Quinn. I think it was a book my brother gave to me or recommended back when we were in college during a time when he and I were discovering lots of new ideas about the world. We talked about it as one of those "earth shattering" books that can be life changing. This point is carved onto the cover in a pull quote from Whole Earth Review which said:
"From now on I will divide the books I have read into two categories—the ones I read before Ishmael and those read after."
Between my brother's recommendation, the pull quote on the cover and the tease of the story on the back:
"Teacher seeks pupil. Must have earnest desire to save the world. Apply in person."
I had everything in a book I could ever want. And I devoured it. I gave it as a Christmas gift to family members, talked about it deeply with my brother and shared its ideas with my friends. I didn't know it at the time, but it also opened the door just enough to a brand new way of understanding the world.

Here's how it happened.

Monday, November 18, 2013


Continuing my belief that there are no coincidences, I was recently recommended, interviewed and accepted onto the adjunct faculty at Towson University, where next semester I will teach "Theatre Organization and Administration;" a required course for junior-year undergraduates in the Theatre Studies major.

I'm well into the 600-page textbook called Theatre Management: Producing and Managing the Performing Arts by David M. Conte and Stephen Langley and having a blast (really) imagining the methods I can use to teach this material.

As I'm reading today, two things struck me. One, it was September 28, less than two months ago, that I discussed here on this blog that I come from a long lineage of teachers and that after almost four years of raising my daughter, I had developed a deep interest in education — specifically in how material is taught. Within two months, I have an opportunity to explore this interest in a meaningful way.

The second thing that struck me was that in A Superhero, in the song "Go On That Ride," the protagonist Brown Bradley guides a group of people through a brainstorming exercise. In this exercise, the group fires off ideas about what a future attraction could be at the theme park Superland, a park Brown founded. In the song, after the group comes up with the idea to have the attraction be a school where visitors would learn superpowers, they lose their momentum. Seeing this, Brown says:

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Over the last few years I have become awakened to the corrupting foundations upon which our mainstream media is built. Once I saw it, it changed me forever. I began to take more care in where I was getting the information that formed my opinions.

Why is it important to be aware of where you are getting your information? Consider this Kurt Vonnegut quote:
"We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be"
If our opinions form the foundation of our beliefs and our beliefs form the foundation of our actions, we can reconfigure the above quote to say: We are what our opinions and beliefs cause us to act upon, so we must be careful what our opinions and beliefs cause us to act (or in many cases, not act) upon. The best way I know to be careful of such a thing is to know as best I can the source of my opinions and to make damn sure I trust that source.