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Dark Age America (PDF)
Climate Change, Cultural Collapse, and the Hard Future Ahead
After decades of missed opportunities, the door to a sustainable future has closed, and the future we face now is one in which today's industrial civilization unravels in the face of uncontrolled climate change and resource depletion.
What is the world going to look like when all these changes have run their course? Author John Michael Greer seeks to answer this question, and with some degree of accuracy, since civilizations tend to collapse in remarkably similar ways.
Dark Age America, then, seeks to map out in advance the history of collapse, giving us an idea of what the next 500 years or so might look like as globalization ends and North American civilization reaches the end of its lifecycle and enters the stages of decline and fall.
In many ways, this is John Michael Greer's most uncompromising work, though by no means without hope to offer. Knowing where we're headed collectively is a crucial step in responding constructively to the challenges of the future and doing what we can now to help our descendants make the most of the world we're leaving them.
John Michael Greer historian of ideas and one of the most influential authors exploring the future of industrial society, writes the widely cited weekly blog "The Archdruid Report" and has published more than thirty books on ecology, history, and nature spirituality. His involvement in sustainability issues dates back to the early 1980s, when he was active in the Appropriate Technology movement and became certified as a Master Conserver. He is the author of numerous titles, including The Long Descent, The Ecotechnic Future, The Wealth of Nature, and After Progress. He lives in Cumberland, MD, an old mill town in the Appalachians, with his wife Sara.
"Greer's Dark Age America is the essential education and impetus for boomers who choose legacy focus over longevity fixation. We've lived through peak oil, peak debt, peak comfort, peak me-ness, peak pettiness. Now, let us become ancestors our grandchildren will be proud of."
Connie Barlow, science writer, creator of Torreya Guardians and TheGreatStory
"John Michael Greer is a modern-day prophet speaking on behalf of Reality. Dark Age America draws upon Greer's vast knowledge of the patterns and rhythms of history to yield insights grounded in our best evidential understandings of ecology, economics, systems science, and human nature. The result is a work of remarkable clarity and searing wisdom vital for these confusing times."
Rev. Michael Dowd, author, Thank God for Evolution and host, 'The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness'
"If the future trajectory of our civilization follows the same general patterns laid down by previous ones, then John Michael Greer's new book gives us perhaps the best view of the future currently available. His thoughts on the great unraveling ahead are rooted in a broad and deep knowledge of history: even if you disagree with him about the future, you will learn a great deal from his survey of the relevant human past."
Richard Heinberg, author, The End of Growth
"Dark Age America argues cogently and compellingly the inevitable decline of industrial civilization and its ramifications within the next five centuries. Whereas the human psyche may hold out for a faux Great Turning or the fantasy that "this time it will be different," Greer demonstrates that ecologically, politically, economically, and technologically, the decline is not only inevitable but well underway. How the demise unfolds and whether any members of our species prevail may well be determined by the choices we make now. Business as usual is not an option."
Carolyn Baker, Ph.D., author, Love In The Age Of Ecological Apocalypse and Collapsing Consciously
"Whether you only just figured it out or have known for a long time that globalized consumer culture is a sinking ship, it really helps when a polite steward comes to your cabin and offers to guide you to the lifeboat and then chats breezily, easing your fears, as he guides you down the metallic corridors with blinking fluorescent lights, describing all you may need to know to get your life back on track once the lifeboats reach safe harbor. Dark Age America is John Michael Greer's finest work. He does not cut any slack, even for his own predictions. Read it slowly, in a comfortable chair, with a cup of your favorite warm beverage."
Albert Bates, author, The Post-Petroleum Survival Guide and Cookbook, The Biochar Solution, and The Paris Agreement
"Civilization isn't selling too well. The would-be masters of the universe want billions of consumers, productivity gains, growth and profits. In return they offer open borders, fancy widgets, gender equality for a rainbow of genders and space exploration pipe dreams. But there are no takers; what the people want is nine hours of sleep, summers in the country, family and friends around and somebody to buy their rutabagas. A dark age cometh, but don't worry. As Greer explains, this is perfectly normal-just takes some getting used to. A dark age is a great time to catch up on sleep."
Dmitry Orlov, author, Reinventing Collapse and The Five Stages of Collapse
"Dark Age America is a courageous, thoughtful, timely and well-researched prognosis for the next five centuries of life on Earth. John brings to bear a thorough knowledge of how past civilizations have unraveled, an appreciation of how complex systems work (and when they don't), and an understanding of how humans behave in crises that are not sudden and transitory, but gradual, uneven, profound and enduring. No matter where on the political spectrum your sensibilities lie, this intelligently reasoned, thought-provoking and important work will challenge your ways of thinking and prod you to take useful preparatory actions."
Dave Pollard, author, How to Save the World