Wednesday, January 29, 2014


SUMMARY: From The Farm in Tennessee, alternative guru Albert Bates rates responses to predictions of doom. Film-maker Anne Macksoud on new movie "The Wisdom to Survive" Plus musical activist Rachelle Van Zanten.

List your alternative speakers and writers - Albert Bates probably knows them all. As a travelling speaker and permaculture teacher at The Farm in Tennessee, Bates brought out a new chart showing responses from "we will find a way with local community" to "why prolong the agony, we are all doomed". We talk about the players in the end game.

Anne Macksoud and film-maker partner John Ankele interviewed many of the same people - plus a lot of young women activists, aboriginal and third world people about the developing climate crisis.

The result is their new film "The Wisdom to Survive, Climate Change, Capitalism & Community". We talk through our options.

From Canada's West Coast, Rachelle Van Zanten went from a world tour (with "Painted Daisies") to her 400 square foot off-grid cabin. Her songs have become anthems for those opposing pipelines, tankers, fracking, and tar sands. It's also damn fine music. We chat, and then spin two tunes.

Listen to/Download this Radio Ecoshock Show in CD Quality (56 MB) or Lo-Fi (14 MB) (CD Quality recommended for the music!)


The economy seems to teeter on the edge of break-down, week to week. Fukushima rolls on. Climate scientists are pretty sure we're on our way to catastrophe. That, and a whole lot more, is always lurking in the back our our minds. the great scheme of things, what kind of doomer are you?

Albert Bates has a chart to sort out some of the leading alternative thinkers. Albert is the former lawyer, long-time resident of The Farm in Tennessee, and a well-known speaker and writer about everything from alternative energy to permaculture.

We begin with a ground-breaking article by Permaculture founder David Holmgren in Australia. It's called "Crash on Demand". (I'll be talking with David next week). Homlgren describes four possible futures, or perhaps responses to the future. One is "Brown Tech" - the path we are on now, substituting high energy sources like Tar Sands and fracking to keep our growth-oriented economy going.

If the Brown Tech succeeds in supplanting the another possibility, namely "'Green Tech" - then our world is doomed to climate disaster. We can't let that happen says Holmgren. Perhaps if enough people withdraw from the system, taking out their money and their efforts, we could stimulate an economic crash that was bound to happen. The only example we have of any society drastically cutting greenhouse gas emissions was the Soviet Union in the 1990's. Their crash of industry reduced their emissions greatly. That's the kind of cut we need to survive, Holmgren reasons.

If none of that works, then we have the "Lifeboat" society, where each of us tries to survive even in an unstable system, perhaps with permaculture, localized food and local currencies. Or in a worst case, the survivor-prepper idea of isolated fortresses ("beans and bullets").

Albert Bates evaluates these scenarios, and the best known alternative thinkers, into four camps on a chart. Here is the article you need to look at.

Albert doesn't claim he is photographing reality. It's a map pointing to something happening in our culture, with some of our spokespeople.

Dmitri Orlov tried to calculate how many people like him, bloggers with hi influence, would it take to bring about the required change to crash the system. He found it would be about 100,000 activists with the same reach, even if a sky-high figure of half his readers actually took action.

Rob Hopkins doesn't want the Crash on Demand. he wants to work with existing structures, including local governments.

In Albert's blog, at, he reproduces a super chart by David Pollard. I love some of the slogans that typify each position. We have everything from "preparation in community might save us" to "smash or undermine civilization now to diminish it's damage". Pollard divides his groups into "Collapseniks" and "Salvationists". Find that chart in David Pollard's blog ""

I have the feeling "Collapsniks" get the most hits on the Internet, but the idea of saving ourselves is more popular in the hearts of most people.

Listen to/download this interview with Albert Bates in CD Quality or Lo-Fi

Here are more links from this interview with Albert Bates:

The original article "Crash on Demand" by David Holmgren.

Transition towns founder Rob Hopkins reply.

Nicole Foss from the Automatic Earth reply. We'll talk about that with Nicole on next week's show.

Albert also has a fellow names Robert Costanza on the chart. Who is he? Delve in here.

Albert recommends this article by Rafter Sass Ferguson.

And finally, Albert Bates is off to teach a permaculture course in Belize, along with Nicole Foss, Marisha Auerbach, and Christopher Nesbitt. It's at the Maya Mountain Research Farm from February 10th to 22nd, 2014. For Details, or to register, please see this site, or contact Christopher at

The blub for this permaculture course in Belize says:

"Travel far south; to the back of beyond; to a remote valley accessible only by dugout canoe. Study permaculture surrounded by a lush, productive forest of edibles, medicinals and tropical hardwoods. Eat organic food, sleep in dorms powered by renewable energy, bathe in a sparkling pure river...."

Albert tells us he is changing things up this year, writing:

"This year I have decided to travel less and teach more at home. I suspect we all feel that collapse has been picking up speed, although it comes in fits and spurts, as John Michael Greer points out, not smooth Hubbert curves, and as Richard Heinberg says, it is not evenly distributed. So, since the future in any event is local, I am focusing more on that this year and staying home. From April through October I am offering immersion apprenticeships in ecovillage living and transition towns here in Tennessee, with personal mentorship by me. For those staying a minimum of two months there will be a chance to earn a permaculture design certificate, and for those who may already have that we will be mentoring in diploma and degree tracks. The information on our apprentice program can be found here.


When everything is at stake, what is more valuable: answers or questions? We find both in a new film from two self- proclaimed "old dogs" - New England film makers John Ankele and Anne Macksoud. Their new film is "The Wisdom to Survive, Climate Change, Capitalism & Community".

Anne joins us on Radio Ecoshock.

This movie starts with "us" - and tries to lead us outside, into the eyes of people in the developing world. I don't like that term "developing world" - maybe we should say the remnants of the real world.

The film has feature interviews with more than a dozen folks, including ones you know like Richard Heinbert, James Gustav Speth, Johanna Macy, and Bill McKibben. Just as moving are the interviews with those you don't know yet: the Navajo aboriginal views, and interviews with women struggling in the developing world.

There is a discussion guide that we made for the film which might possibly be of help to you. Here's the link.

Listen to/download this Radio Ecoshock interview with Anne Macksoud in CD Quality or Lo-Fi.

The web site for this film is here. And you'll find a Vimeo trailer for the movie on that page as well. Individuals can buy DVD copies of the film (great for your climate group, church group, or just watching at home) for $29.95. There is a separate link for institutions who want to buy for a public showing (via the distributor Bullfrog Films). The movie is 56 minutes long.


Rachelle Van Zanten is an up and coming song-writer and performer from Canada's West Coast. A while back we played her anthem "My Country" (You tube video here) which talks down the office-bound folks far away that make terrible decisions about her land. She's fed up with people ramming through pipelines and tar sands into pristine First Nations country.

This week we play the entire song "I Fight for Life". It's another of the fine pieces adapted as anthems for people opposed to pipelines, mines, and tankers in Northern waters and aboriginal lands. The recording is super, done at Baker studios in Victoria B.C. Rachelle's latest album is "Oh Mother" released in May 2013.

We also squeeze in part of her newer piece, "Canoe Song".

Check out Rachelle's web site.


This program is now in it's 7th year of broadcast. In the Spring of 2014 we have 76 syndicated stations playing the show weekly. Radio Ecoshock is entirely supported by it's listeners (get details here).

All incidental music in this program was written and produced by Alex Smith, including "What Kind of Doomer Are You?"

The web site is - where you can download all our past programs as free .mp3 files.

I'm Alex Smith, and right now I'm grateful. Thanks to you, and your support for this program, I talk with scientists, authors, activists and artists around the world. It's the opportunity of a lifetime, while humanity and our kindred species face the greatest challenges imaginable. Please join me again on our journey next week.

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