INDUSTRIALIZED MAN The Struggle to Remain Human

Industrialized Man

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The Struggle to Remain Human. Industrialized Man. Where we come from Where we are How are we doing Our Prospects. Exploring. Our species is around 50,000 years old Our forefathers began living in permanent settlements about 12,000 years ago. Cities are ~5,000 years old - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Page 1: Industrialized Man

INDUSTRIALIZED MANThe Struggle to Remain Human

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EXPLORING Where we come from Where we are How are we doing Our Prospects

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ORIGINS Our species is around 50,000 years old Our forefathers began living in

permanent settlements about 12,000 years ago.

Cities are ~5,000 years old The industrial age is less than 170

years old The modern world is only ~25 years old

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ORIGINS 2 Most of our species lived simple lives.

We lived short live ~27 years We didn’t travel outside a ~12 mile radius from

where we were born. We owned few or no possessions Our diets / food intake were modest. We interact with nature and probably were directly

involved with securing our daily food requirements. We were often cold, dirty, and without light.

The industrial age changed everything.

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HISTORY OF CITIES In the ancient era only a handful of

cities ever managed to reach the 1 million residents.

Today there are 400 cities with >=1 million resident. 27 of which have >=10 million inhabitants.

Today more than half the worlds population live in cities.

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AND FOOD For most of history nearly everyone

was involved with food production, >80%

As recently as 1870 75% of American were involved with food production

Today ~2.5 % of the population in OECD countries are involved with food production.

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DISCONNECTION Our world is not the same world we

came from. 2,500 generations of farmers

proceeded the industrial revolution. 7 generations lived through the

industrial revolution. The first generation of the information

age is graduating college.

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IN THE CONTEXT OF HISTORY We live on the tip of the spear.

Hunter gather stageEarly settlement stageIndustrial AgeModern Internet Age

In liner terms, most of our experience on the plant occurred prior to the industrial revolution.Just 0.40% of our time on earth represents the 200 years since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

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We are living in the peak of human civilization. Our systems are more complexity and advanced than any that have come before. Without massive energy inputs it would cease to function. This is not something humanity is prepared for.


Industrial Age

Settlement &


We continue to build on the work of previous

generations. Hence to allusion

of progress.

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TECHNOLOGY CAN LIFE BETTER Early technologies like language,

music, farming, writing, food preservation, navigation, metallurgy, and trade enabled us to live in richer much more meaningful lives.

Done at a human and sustainable scale we improved our well being without destroying the local ecology.

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TO MUCH OF A GOOD THING It wasn't until we began using fossil fuels

that everything changed. Fossils fuels were the source that ignited

the advancement of mankind and made the Industrial Age possible.

Today we are captivated by technology, but do we understand the consequences of so much high tech.

Is there ever too much technology?

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WHAT’S NEW ?1. Everything about modern life has

changed from what we evolved from.The only constants we have with our ancestors is our biology.

2. There are so many of us.In 200 years since our population increased from ~ 1 billion to 7

billion in.This is unprecedented and only made possible with fossil fuel. Without fossil fuel energy our population would have peaked at 2

billion.We in population overshoot.

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Computer 1980’s

Radio 1920’s

Cell phone 1990’s

Air travel 1960’s

Internet 1990’sSmart phone 2010’s

Automobile 1920’s

Indoor plumbing 1900’s

Electricity 1910’sTelephone 1920’s

Television 1950’s

With so many shiny new things it almost

looks like progress.

A constant array of inventions has brought us material wealth and comfort for many a very good life. This life is much different than our ancestors had

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OUR POPULATIONFrom a population of 1 billion at the start of the industrial revolution increased rabidly though the industrial revolution and continued through the information age to 7 billion in 2012.

Our population is higher now than it has ever been and project keep on rising.

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OUR STORY The narrative of contemporary Western

Culture is progress, namely science and technology can solve our problems and make life better and secondly more is better.

Participation in this narrative is not really optional, to be gainfully employed means you must buy in.

Dissenters are deemed as hostiles and are not treated well. They are marginalized, end up homeless, in prison or dead.

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MAN IN THE INDUSTRIAL WORLD With so much longevity, so many

creature comforts, with so much stuff one would expect the world to be full of happy people.

This is not the case, at least in the Industrialized world.

The world as we know it takes a terrible toll on the people that made and maintain it.

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SO HOW ARE WE DOING Is progress good for people. Does a more complex civilization create

a more gratifying experience for it’s people.

Has the rapid pace of innovation and discovery of the last two hundred years been a boon or a bust.

What will future anthropologists write about us and how we left the world for them.

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Government &







With so many competing forces, all struggling to dominate, there is not much room left for self expression or individuality. Our lives become scripted prescribed, predictable and not very special.

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Poisoned Mind Body & Soul


From Natur


Commercial Culture

Factory food

Modern life is not so good to modern man. The factory food we eat causes obesity. The television and advertising we watch dumb’s us down and conditions us to behave in ways that undermines our best interest. And finally being away from nature and the outdoors destroys our sprit.

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Poisoned Body

Factory Food

The factory food is not only unhealthy and expensive, it destroys our connection to the past, and our culture. Eating food you had no role in preparing gives others untold power over you. You loose your sovereignty when a multination does your menu planning for you.

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Poisoned Mind

Commercial Culture

Modern life is full of media and messaging. There is lot of great drama, music, and literature available . Unfortunately most of the good stuff is hard to find and isn’t generally on the television or you Tube. Most of what passes for entrainment is incredibly stupid or incredibly violent. This toxic mix is what passes for entertainment.

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Poisoned Soul


From Natur


When you don’t have something it’s hard to miss it. That the problem nature has, it has become such a small part of people everyday lives that that it almost doesn't matter. Caught up in hours of screen time there is little regard for preserving our natural habitat. There isn’t time in the day to connect with the natural world. So we miss the most powerful spiritual connection we can have as terrestrial bodies.

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DESPITE ALL OUR MATERIAL WEALTH We are sicker, weaker, and less happy. People are overweight but

malnourished. People graduate with advanced

degrees in nothing useful, unable to find work.

The use of prescription drugs climbs every year creating more dependencies.

Westerners consume vast quantities of everything yet are no happier now than compared to previous generations. Based on our poor physical and metal health we are probably worse off.

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FAILURE The post war projections were for a life of

much more leisure. With modern machinery there would be much less drudgery and more time to spend with family and friends.

Some of the drudgery of manual labor did go away but rather than spend less time working we needed to spend more time refreshing our skills and working to pay for our exorbitant lifestyle.

The industrial world is not deliving.

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Discovery & Innovation

Longer healthier lives

Peace & Prosperity


The second half of the 20th Century was defined by a rising standard of living and thus the appearance of progress.

Underlying the allusion

of progress was economic


Rising Population

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The end of growth

Economic contraction and consolidation Increased

Tensions Higher Unemployment Shortag

e Conflict

A world economy predicated on growth is extremely fragile.

Without economic

growth our entire

system is at risk of failure

Decline in Population ?

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THE COST As westerns we have lots of stuff, but we

pay for it in ways we often can’t imagine. Acquiring all the good things in life crowds

out most of what all previous generations thought was precious and sacred.

The toll on the planet is worrisome to any one interested in looking.

Industrial scale, food and resource extraction threatens all life on the planet.

Life as corporate drone is not very fulfilling.

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AND With so many of us we are crowding

out life for everything else. With billions of middle class or striving

to join it we are putting the earth’s ability to provide for us at serious risk.

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PROSPECTS, PREDICAMENT OR PROBLEMOur future could pay out a hundred different ways but I see two distinctly different but likely outcomes.1. Mass dies off.2. Deindustrialization & radical

downsizing.Considering such a bleak alternatives our future is not very uplifting. Successfully averting a mass die off will be our greatest achievement as a species.

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MASS DIE OFF If we do not change soon there will be a mass die off. There will be too much pressure and too little margin for

error distributing resources needed to maintain a population of 7-8 billion people

Any number of tensions or system failures could result in a mass die off the leading contenders.1. Civil unrest, conventional, or nuclear war2. Famine and starvation3. Pandemic4. Sever Power Outage or energy shortage5. Global warming, sea water rise +/or loss of arable land

Too often we fight on principle rather than find peace in compromise.

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1. CIVIL UNRESTWith over half the world’s population living in cites and dependant on the industrial global economy it might be impossible to turn it off with sparking internal tensions resulting in civil unrest, trade wars. Rising numbers of unemployed dispossessed and are likely to increase pressures on governments to act. Governments will be forced to take radical steps to sustain the unsustainable. Or they will be replaced with a government that will try.

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FAILED STATED As the economy continues to stall and

tensions rise expect more internal pressure on the nation state, wealthy regions separate to form new nations. This may lead to more civil wars.

The number of failed states is climbing. Trouble regions in the middle east and

Africa lead the list.

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2. FAMINE AND STARVATIONWe struggle to feed everyone and have struggled for the last 60 years despite great advances in agriculture. A crop failure from drought, a storm, or even a flood could greatly reduce food production in a any given year. With a shortage in corn, grain or rice many would go hungry and starve. In recent years there have been shortages that caused increase in commodities prices that resulted in civil unrest in many countries. Feeding 7 billion people is a feat, any disruption has dire consequences.

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3. PANDEMICThe Spanish flue pandemic killed more people than the first World War,75 million vs. 15 million. A Pandemic today on par with the Spanish flue of 1915 could claim 300 million causalities. The loss of life would be heart breaking but the disruption to our industrialized supply chain could be a greater disaster then the contagion itself. A pandemic could be the first event in chain of events that could topple industrial world. The fate of billions of people would be at risk of starvation. A serious pandemic could decimate humanity and irrevocably change of world.

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4. POWER SHORTAGEA sever power outage or prolonged shortage of fissile fuel would not only damage the economy, it could delay critical food and medical care from being delivered or applied. Our system require constant power, any disruption result in catastrophic failure.

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ENERGYWe don’t give it much though but everything we have in the modern world is possible because of fossil fuel. Our ability to converted millions of year of sunlight energy ( stored in coal, gas and petroleum) make the modern world possible. Without these energy sources our lives would be embellished with candle light and houses, not smart phones and jet travel. The world’s supply of this energy is finite. We can fight over what remains or we can use it wisely.

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5. GLOBAL WARMINGThe biggest unknown in our future is the how will the casino game we have played with climate will be settled. Rising sea levels, sever storms, multi year droughts and violent weather are all part of the new normal. A less stable climate will likely only serve to intensify tensions on our food security, and competition for natural resources. Global warming could be really bad, but its impact will be magnified in our world of high expectations and population.

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NOT IF WHENThe current state the industrialized world is not one where there is a remote chance of a “Black Swan” event could bring untold destruction to our world. It is more along the lines of when, sooner or later. The efficient mechanized computer controlled world we have constructed does not have enough slack to deal with serious disruptions. A system failure is only a matter of time.

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HOW ARE WE DOINGIf you agree that we are at a precarious point in time where a misstep could trigger the premature death of billions of people and to avoid such a miss would take tremendous change, we are not doing so well. We are great builders by nature. The challenge

we face pits us not only against our nature, but gravity too. We must climb down of the ledge and then deconstruct the complex world we made.

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RADICAL CHANGE A radical change is possible but it would upset

all the current ruling and power arrangements. It would also require the 20% of the population

at the top of the food chain( westerners) to give up most of their creature comforts and live much simpler modest lives.

This is possible but not likely. It requires a major shift in the direction from the one we have been travelling on for decades.

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RADICAL CHANGE1. Make do with less.2. De-Industrialize.

These two steps are necessary if we hope to a avoid a human catastrophe of un imaginable scale and severity. Yet they require us to defy some of our most deeply ingrained values, esteem, progress self interest. We must resist the urge for more and better. This flies in the face of the thousands of hours of commercial conditioning we have been programmed with. Modern life has become all about getting more and better, so we must disconnect and jettison the industrial way of life. Secondly we must do with less so our grandchildren can have something.

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MAKING DO WITH LESS We can all make choice to consume

less in an attempt to reduce our impact on the planet… and preserve something so others.

However without leadership from government we will be doomed. Government needs to stop trying to force

economic growth. ( why it’s easier to govern with economic growth putting wind in your sail).

Governments scale down and simplify the rules that govern us.

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INDUSTRIAL IS NEVER HUMAN SCALE Because business is always concerned

with improving the cost structures, we generally build as big as possible. This is great for efficienceis or when things expand for prolonged period however, things done really big are not very satisfying for people. Further really big things are specialized and don’t react well to change. A great deal of what we made over the last century will need to be scrapped.

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FIRST STEPSIt’s okay to admit we made a mistake. We are after all human. Making our world a wealth pump to funnel prosperity from every corner of the globe to the very wealthy was in hindsight not a good idea. It marginalized and impoverished millions and damaged the ecology to a point that the plant’s ability to sustain human life is threatened. If we hope to mend our ways we need to admit we have a problem and change course.

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STEP TWO Industrialization was great while it lasted but in

truth the sooner we get off this ride the better everyone will be...especially our descendants.

Replacing craftsmanship with mass production was one of the first steps taken in our quest to industrialize the means of production.

Rediscovering craft is probably a good place to start the journey of turning away from the industrialized world.

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GETTING OFF THE TREADMILL No one said it would be easy. Our future

will require a good deal of the thing we loath, EFFORT.

The good old days of easy living are rapidly coming to an end, reality can be a bitch.

By acting now we can preserve some of our creature comforts, delaying much longer we put everything at risk.

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DEINDUSTRIALIZE Live a life to human scale. Learn hard skills. Barter and trade. Consider the hours of work needed to pay

for something before you buy. Avoid single use and disposable. Choose craft over mass produced. Reduce your the energy consumption. Be healthy.

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DEINDUSTRIALIZE The natural end point for

industrialization was always globalization…the multinational.

But without economic growth trade scales down, supply lines shorten and most everyone becomes concerned with local.

Globalization has or will shortly peak then decline.

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WHAT MIGHT WE EXPECTWithin the next five years Economic stagflationAny growth will be negated by inflationLess trade between countriesLess consumptionMore trade barriersUrban and suburban decay

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FIVE TO 10 YEARS FROM NOW Less private automobile usage Much less air travel and increased rail and bus travel More bicycle use Less fashion and celebrity culture Contraction of major sports leagues, fewer games, fewer teams, less travel Collapse of vacation industry, (airliners, cruise ship lines, large hotel chains, destinations) Change in diet, ( fewer calories & less protein rich food) More home gardens More international crises ( leading to a greater potential of armed conflict) Multi family dwellings Housing located on the peripheral of lager cites deconstructed for farm use Fewer luxuries Growth of repair industry Higher prices for all types of energy including electricity More refugees, ( climate, economic, political) Less 7/24 operations Few city services, ( illuminated streets, garbage pick up snow removal) More user fees Extended cycle rates for established technologies

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DETROIT Is the decline of Detroit a metaphor for the US

at large, probably. Will all cities become as desperate, as

dangerous and as hopeless, I hope not. How can we avoid their fate, it won’t be easy

but it starts with facing reality, we can’t delude our selves indefinitely.

We need to take responsibilities for ourselves, our families and our communities.

Government will follow the voters.

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CLOSING The future of humanity rests on one

idea, we must deindustrailize our way of life.

We need to lower our expectations and our lives to be less energy intensive.

Making do with less stuff may sound difficult but the alternative are much more terrifying.

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LAST WORD Often our fascination with things trips

us up, we begin to think having good things is the same as having the good life.

After a century of building a very complex civilization we are at an inflection point, we can realize industrialization is not good for humans and deindustrerilize or we can destroy the species.