Free audio mp3s for personal use (Please support the authors and publishers by also purchasing a book)
with links to original text
(Please support the authors and publishers by also purchasing a book)
"Sustainability as usually understood is an oxymoron. Industrial man has used the found wealth of the New World and the stocks of fossil hydrocarbons to create an anti-ecological Titanic. Making the deck chairs recyclable, painting them red or blue, feeding the boilers with bio-fuels, and every other effort to 'transform' or 'green' the Titanic will ultimately fail. In the end, the ship is doomed by the laws of thermodynamics and by implacable biological and geological limits that are already beginning to bite. We shall soon be obliged to trade in the Titanic for a schooner in other words, a post-industrial future that, however technologically sophisticated, resembles the pre-industrial past in many important respects." ~ William Ophuls
It is a tough time for authors and publishers. Many people, myself and my wife included, love to listen to audiobooks. Yet since audiobooks are often not profitable, many great books past and present are not available in audio form.TESTIMONIAL: "Michael, I've been listening to your 'Grace Limits / Deep Sustainability' audio recordings for months; they've given me tremendous joy, insight, and food for thought. I even enjoy the real, amateur nature of the recordings: the mispronounced words, the banter and corrections from your wife, Connie. I especially love how you repeat sentences and paragraphs that you feel are important. After listening, I bought several in paperback form so I could take notes and capture favorite quotes.
These recordings provide much needed stimulation during my commute, monotonous data entry on the job, and the dull spaces in between. And like you and Connie, I'm inspired by the writings of John Michael Greer. I just finished After Progress...and wept along with you at the end of the book. Thank you! Please let me know how I can support this important work." ~ Bill Schmidt
When I listen to a truly significant audiobook, such as those below (i.e, a book whose core message I want to take to heart and remember), I also buy a copy so that I can mark it up upon re-reading. I encourage you to do the same.
The following are unofficial (non-professional) audio recordings of what I (Michael Dowd) consider to be:The best and most important books, essays, and blogposts related to living in right relationship to Reality, especially the inescapable geological, ecological, and thermodynamic constraints to which humanity must rapidly adjust. Both the nonrenewable ("stock") resources and the renewable ("flow") resources upon which we depend I call natural grace. The one-time endowments of stock resources and the sustainable use rates of flow resources are both necessarily constrained on a finite planet. These constraints I call grace limits. These are the limits that ecologists point to when discerning carrying capacity. When we overshoot Earth's bounty and renewal capacities, we effectively remove ourselves from paradise and put ourselves on the path to hell. To learn to recognize and then scrupulously honor carrying capacity as Reality's grace limits is a task to which the authors included here are devoted. I think of these advocates as prophets of sacred realism, or factual faith. Each one, in his or her own way, reveals how the future is calling us to greatness. If we hope to spare our grandchildren from hell and spare ourselves their condemnation, we must now urgently attend to, not just personal piety, but systemic piety. We must immediately begin measuring 'progress' and 'success' in long-term, life-centered ways, rather than short-term, human-centered ways; nothing is more important than this.
The reason I've invested more than a thousand hours over the past two years recording these books, essays, and blogposts is this: each is far too significant to not be available in audio format and, where possible, freely available to all.
Because these freely accessible audios are home-made recordings, you will occasionally hear me stumble or mispronounce a word. At the end of some chapters or passages you may hear my wife (science writer, evolutionary educator, and fellow climate activist, Connie Barlow) and I spontaneously comment or even be moved to tears. You will also sometimes hear me say, "Now that paragraph was so important, I'm going to read it again..." I consider this to be a significant advantage over professional, studio recorded books. I was not able to do this when I recorded the Penguin audio of my own book. You can sample my reading style here (Thank God for Evolution) and here (the audiobook of John Michael Greer's Dark Age America.)
Please do support the various authors and publishers by purchasing a physical copy of their books from the publishing houses, from Amazon, or (ideally) from your local bookstore. Links are provided. Some of the blogs (all free) have donation buttons. I encourage you to support them, too. (If you find the audios here valuable and wish to express your gratitude by supporting Connie's and my pro-future work, see here.)
Table of Contents
(click to advance to each author or topic)
Nate Hagens (videos)
Sustainability Canon Vital for Knowing What's Inevitable, What's Possible, What's Urgent
Positive Visions, Practical Tools, and Inspiring Examples of Eco-Wise Thinking & Living
William R. Catton, Jr. ♦ Tom Wessels
Edward (Teddy) Goldsmith
Walter Youngquist ♦ John Perlin ♦ Christopher Clugston ♦ Ugo Bardi
John Michael Greer
James Howard Kunstler
Richard Adrian Reese
Joanna Macy ♦ Miriam MacGillis ♦ Dolores LaChapelle ♦ Lynn Margulis
Green History / Environmental History (various authors)
Collapse How & Why Civilizations are Mortal and Die (various authors)
Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment (various authors)
Countering Ecomodernism / Technofetishism (various authors)
The Dark Mountain Project (Paul Kingsnorth & Dougald Hine)
Will & Ariel Durant ♦ Lindsey Grant ♦ Roy Scranton
Miscellaneous (various authors)
Michael Dowd (series editor and audio reader)
Nate Hagens (videos)Dr. Nathan J. Hagens is a well-known speaker on the big picture issues facing human society. Until a few years ago he was lead editor of The Oil Drum, one of the most popular and highly-respected websites for analysis and discussion of global energy supplies and the future implications of energy decline. Nate serves on the Board of Post Carbon Institute, as well as the Boards of the Bottleneck Foundation, IIER, and Institute for the Study of Energy and the Future.
Nate teaches an Honors course at the University of Minnesota, titled, "Reality 101: A Survey of the Human Predicament". A helpful half-hour interview with him about the wide-ranging focus of this course, on Radio EcoShock, can be found here: "Is Our Future Possible?". Nate's personal website (with links to most of his best stuff) is The Monkey Trap.
This 2018 presentation, "Energy, Money, and Technology," is a fabulous introduction to and overview of many of the themes showcased on this "Deep Sustainability" webpage. (NOTE: See descriptions for the two Earth Day videos, below, for a sense of the content of this one.) Here's what Nate posted on his Facebook page...
"I delivered this keynote at the new King Abdullah University for Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. I discuss how all of our lives will be influenced by how we react to the coming era of harder to extract and more costly fossil fuels that will be combined with cleaner but more stochastic energy types.
"My first trip to Middle East reasserted my belief that people the world over are pretty much the same. There are crazies and jerks in every country but most people are kind, warm, and pro-social. I had great conversations with taxi drivers, students, janitors, store clerks etc. I met a guy from Tunisia at airport and we laughed about all the world problems and what a time it was to be alive. Most humans just want to spend quality time w family and friends, tell stories and listen to music, play with their dog, do meaningful interesting work, and be free. It gives me hope that despite being African, Asian, European or American, despite being Christian, Buddhist, Muslim or Atheist, there is a growing group that transcends these tribal boundaries towards thinking about and working on the future transition (another of a handful of silver linings facing some serious global storm clouds)."
This 2017 Earth Day presentation, "Living Within Limits: Blindspots and Superheroes," is another excellent introduction to "deep sustainability" issues, and highly recommended, even if you watch one or both of the others. The following 'disclaimer' is the first comment on the Youtube page accompanying the video...
"Nate Hagens is a former Wall Street analyst turned human ecosystem analyst. The linked talk is a synthesis of dozens of aspects bearing on our urgent global predicaments. Nate believes if we don't look at our situation holistically, including energy, economy, environment and most importantly human origins/behavior, we won't be effective towards navigating the coming bottlenecks.
Of particular note, he describes the functioning of global society akin to an energy hungry superorganism. From this vantage many of the current strategies of how to live more sustainably and reduce environmental risks will be ineffective. He predicts a 'great simplification' in coming decades due to the mismatch of 'credit' and underlying resources and offers suggestions on how to navigate these events, both as individuals and as societies. Utlimately, he posits that we 'own' who we are and where we came from and a great humanism towards different cultural aspirations is possible this century."
This 2016 Earth Day presentation, "A Guide to Being Human in the 21st Century," is another excellent introduction to many of the most important sustainability issues featured on this "Grace Limits" webpage. Highly recommended! Here's a description of the program...
This talk is a synthesis of 3 aspects of our modern human predicament:1) that energy underpins nature, as well as human systems, and the fossil energy that modern civilization is built upon is taking more and more fossil energy (oil) to extract, thus having major implications for our economies
2) that humans in aggregate are large enough to impact planetary ecologies, and that we are in the midst of the 6th mass extinction, and it's of our doing (though not our 'fault')
3) that underpinning all of this are brains and behaviors that were adapted to living on savannahs of Africa over tens of thousands of hunter gatherer generations, and that our stone age minds are ill-equipped to handle a modern techno-industrial global culture. Quite simply, we evolved to be wrong.
There is a list of 25 Flawed Assumptions underpinning modern (western) culture, and a concluding list of 30 things we can do as individuals to better prepare for a future different than most expect, and a plea to engage in that future, however you see fit, in pro-social ways.
Sustainability Canon "Must Read or Listen To" ResourcesSince April 2002, my wife, Connie Barlow, and I (Michael Dowd) have traveled North America and addressed more than two thousand secular and religious audiences. Since December 2012, my message has centered on our sacred responsibility to future generations and the need to honor Grace Limits and measure "success" in life-centered, rather than human-centered, ways. In addition to inviting feedback and suggestions from audiences, throughout our travels I have always made a point of asking scholars and scientists in many fields (ecologists, environmentalists, conservation biologists, anthropologists, biophysical and ecological economists, historians, futurists, etc) "What are the books and essays that you consider truly essential for understanding our times and the future especially those you hold as vital for helping someone learn (a) what's wrong with our civilization and how we got in our current predicament, (b) what's now inevitable, (c) what's still possible and inspiring, and (d) what's futile i.e., what's simply not possible given reality as it truly is, not as we might wish it to be?"
Vital Knowledge for Distinguishing What's Inevitable, What's Possible, and What's Urgent
[Please remember to apply the "meat and bones" principle to everything you read on this webpage (i.e., eat the meat; don't choke on the bone). Just because I recommend (or even highly recommend) a particular author, book, or essay does not mean that I agree with or advocate every idea, attitude, or claim it contains.]
NOTE: The two biggest obstacles to clear thinking on the subject (beyond the perennially misguided and mistaken myth of apocalypse) were consistently said to be: (1) a failure to understand the life-cycle of civilizations and why ALL complex societies and empires inevitably decline and fall, and (2) forms of "techno-optimism" and "eco-modernism" that are ignorant or dismissive of basic ecological principles and unbreakable laws of physics, energy, and complex systems. Thus, if you believe that technology or the economy will allow industrial civilization to continue (or easily become sustainable), and/or if you believe that we can avoid a Great Reckoning, it is highly recommended, in addition to the books and essays listed below, that you also read one or more of those linked here, here, and/or here.
The following are resources discerned as essential by a wide range of sustainability professionals. The first list are mostly essays. The second list are the books most often cited as "necessary for understanding our times and the future". Without this knowledge it is very difficult to distinguish between what's inevitable, what's possible, and what's futile (given the reality of our inner and outer nature).
The third list (blue box, below) are some of the most respected resources in the fast growing, empowering field of "Okay...now what?" practical tools, potential solutions, positive visions, and inspiring examples of ecologically wise thinking and living.
1. Erik Lindberg: "Economic Growth: A Primer" / Read/Listen ESSAYS for Getting Reality, Moving Through Grief, and Engaging in "Active Hope"
3. Teddy Goldsmith: Summaries/overviews of THE WAY: An Ecological Worldview, and his essays and interview / Read/Listen
4. Walter Youngquist essays, "Our Plundered Planet and a Future of Less" (42 min) AND "A Geomoment of Affluence Between Two Austere Eras" (30 min) AND "The Scale of Things and Demographic Fatigue" (24 min) / Read/Listen
5. Michael & Joyce Huesemann: "Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment" (Overview, Presentation, Interview) / Read/Listen
6. William Ophuls: Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail (2 hr) AND Sane Polity: A Pattern Language (3 hr): Systemic piety! / Read/Listen
8. Richard Heinberg: "Climate Holism vs. Climate Reductionism" (16 min) AND "Sustainability Metrics, Growth Limits, and Philanthropy" (23 min) AND "Exploring the Gap Between Business-as-Usual and Utter Doom" (20 min) / Read/Listen
13. Theo Kitchener's video: "What the Economic Crisis Really Means and what we can do about it" (Watch: 12 min)
AFTER reading or listening to some the above essays (and perhaps one or more of the books in this second section) I suggest reading or listening to the first three items listed under the Dark Mountain Project banner below: (1) Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine's "Uncivilization: A Dark Mountain Manifesto", (2) their hour-long presentation, "Five Years on a Mountain", and (3) John Michael Greer's essay, "The Falling Years: An Inhumanist Vision." (Here.)
"Sustainability Canon" BOOKS Considered "Essential Reading"
1. William Catton: Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change (here)
2. Tom Wessels: The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future (here)
3. Michael & Joyce Huesemann: Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment (here)
4. John Michael Greer: The Long Descent AND The Wealth of Nature AND Dark Age America AND Not the Future We Ordered (here)
5. William Ophuls: Plato's Revenge AND (see #4 above) Immoderate Greatness AND Sane Polity (here)
6. Richard Heinberg: Afterburn AND Our Renewable Future AND Chapters 1-2 in The Party's Over (here)
7. James Howard Kunstler: Too Much Magic AND The Long Emergency (here)
8. Charles A.S. Hall and Kent A. Klitgaard: Energy and the Wealth of Nations: Understanding the Biophysical Economy (here)
9. Tom Butler, ed.: Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot (here)
10. Walter Younguist: GeoDestinies: The inevitable control of Earth's resources over nations and individuals (here)
11. Clive Ponting: A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations (here)
12. Jared Diamond: Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (here)
13. Joseph Tainter: The Collapse of Complex Societies (here)
14. John Perlin: A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization (here)
15. Will & Arial Durant: The Lessons of History (here)
16. Roy Scranton: Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (here)
17. Samuel Alexander: Entropia (here)
18. Joanna Macy: Active Hope (here)
19. Thomas Berry: The Great Work AND The Dream of the Earth (here)
20. John Michael Greer: Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush AND The Ecotechnic Future AND Decline and Fall AND After Progress (here)
21. Charles Hall: Energy Return on Investment (here)
Positive Visions, Practical Tools, and Inspiring Examples of Eco-Wise Thinking & Living
(Unfortunately, most of these excellent resources are not yet available in audio format.)
2. Richard Heinberg and Daniel Lerch, ed.: The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises
3. Dominique Hes and Chrisna du Plessis: Designing for Hope
4. Daniel Christian Wahl: Designing Regenerative Cultures
5. Pamela, Mang, Ben Haggard, Regenesis: Regeneration Development and Design: A Framework for Evolving Sustainability
6. Melissa K. Nelson: Original Instructions: Indigenous Teachings for a Sustainable Future
7. Gregory Cajete: Native Science: Natural Laws of Interdependence
8. Robin Wall Kimmerer: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants
9. Ellen LaConte: Life Rules: Nature's Blueprint for Surviving Economic and Environmental Collapse
11. Edward Goldsmith: The Way: An Ecological Worldview
13. Wendell Berry (essays selected & edited by Paul Kingsnorth): The World Ending Fire: The Essential Wendell Berry
14. Jamaica Stevens: ReInhabiting the Village: Co-Creating Our Future
15. David Gershon: Social Change 2.0: A Blueprint for Reinventing Our World
16. John Michael Greer: Green Wizardry: Conservation, Solar Power, Organic Gardening, and other Hands-On Skills from the Appropriate Tech Toolkit AND Not the Future We Ordered: Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Progress
18. Rob Hopkins: The Transition Handbook: From Oil Dependency to Local Resilience AND The Power of Just Doing Stuff: How Local Action Can Change the World AND The Transition Companion: Making Your Community More Resilient in Uncertain Times
19. Shaun Chamberlin: The Transition Timeline for a local resilient future
20. Sharon Astyk: Depletion and Abundance: Life on the New Home Front (OR One Woman's Solutions to Finding Abundance for Your Family while Coming to Terms with Peak Oil, Climate Change, and Hard Times) AND Making Home: Adapting Our Homes and Our Lives to Settle in Place (Mother Earth News Books for Wiser Living)
21. Peter Bane: The Permaculture Handbook: Garden Farming for Town and Country
23. David Holmgren: Permaculture: Principles & Pathways Beyond Sustainability
24. Juliana Birnbaum and Louis Fox: Sustainable [R]evolution: Permaculture in Ecovillages, Urban Farms, and Communities Worldwide
25. Sepp Holzer: Sepp Holzer's Permaculture: A Practical Guide to Small Scale, Integrative Farming and Gardening
26. Mark Shepard: Restoration Agriculture: Real World Permaculture for Farmers
27. John Thackara: How to Thrive in the Next Economy: Designing Tomorrow's World Today
28. Cortney White: Grass, Soil, Hope: A Journey Through Carbon Country AND Two Percent Solutions for the Planet: 50 Low-Cost, Low-Tech, Nature-Based Practices for Combatting Hunger, Drought, and Climate Change
29. Kristin Ohlson: The Soil Will Save Us: How Scientists, Farmers, and Foodies are Healing the Soil to Save the Planet
32. Rob O'Grady: 150 Strong: A Pathway to a Different Future
33. Ross Chapin: Pocket Neighborhoods: Creating Small-Scale Community in a Large-Scale World
36. Matthew Stein: When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance, Sustainability, and Surviving the Long Emergency
37. Lindsey Schiller and Marc Plinke: The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse: How to Design and Build a Net-Zero Energy Greenhouse
38. Jerome Osentowski: The Forest Garden Greenhouse: How to Design and Manage an Indoor Permaculture Oasis
39. Greg Jeffers: Prosperous Homesteading
William R. Catton, Jr ♦ Tom WesselsNothing is more important at this time in history than re-thinking everything in light of ecology. These two MUST READ books promote the ecological paradigm with more grace and prophetic power than anything I've ever read.
The first three audios listed below are my recording of the late environmental sociologist William R. Catton, Jr's masterful, paradigm shifting book, OVERSHOOT: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. The publisher, University of Illinois Press, knows of this version and I was recently notified that an official, studio-recorded audiobook is also now available, here. The softcover and e-book editions of Overshoot can be ordered from Amazon, here, or from the publisher, here.
Because it articulates and furthers the ecological paradigm like nothing else dealing both compellingly and compassionately with humanity's relationship to Primary Reality Connie and I both consider Overshoot to be the single most important book we have ever read. Our Tribute Page to William Catton (he died in January 2015) will help you see why so many of us consider Overshoot to be essential reading. I especially recommend the tribute posts linked from that page, such as those written by John Michael Greer, Richard Heinberg, Kurt Cobb, and Will Catton (William R. Catton, Jr's grandson) and other family members. I recorded all of these moving tributes (plus a couple of book reviews) in one audio file, which is available here: William Catton tribute posts and reviews (3 hrs).
EDITOR'S NOTE: I highly recommend listening to the first hour or more of the above audio. These tribute posts are invaluable for getting the significance of Catton's work.
Peter Montague has written an exceptionally helpful overview/summary of Overshoot. See 6-page pdf or listen to 21 minute audio. This "Jensen/Catton interview #1" (30 min audio), from Derrick Jensen's book, Listening to the Land, is also a fabulous overview of the depth and breath of William Catton's ecological wisdom.
I recorded Overshoot mainly so that Connie and I could listen to it again and again (as you can see here, and hear here, many of us consider it the most significant book written in the 20th century). Because the recording was not intended for a wider audience, however, occasionally you'll hear us moved to tears by Catton's clarity of insight and generosity of soul. You will also hear me say a couple dozen times, "Now that paragraph was so important, I'm going to read it again!"...
Overshoot Preface and chapters 1 - 7
Overshoot chapters 8 - 14
Overshoot chapter 15 and glossary
Interview of Catton from the documentary, What a Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire (77 min)
Interview of Catton by Frank Rotering (50 min)
Interview of Catton by Derrick Jensen (52 min)
* * *Tom Wessels' little 140 page volume, The Myth of Progress: Toward a Sustainable Future, is the book I recommend second only to William Catton's, Overshoot (my top recommendation, see above), as it covers so much in so few pages. An ecologist, conservation biologist, environmental activist, and gifted teacher, Wessels shows how our current path toward "progress", based on continual economic expansion and inefficient use of resources, violates three fundamental scientific laws that govern all complex natural systems: (1) the law of limits to growth, (2) the second law of thermodynamics, and (3) the law of self-organization.
Wessels makes mainstream science easily accessible by offering many examples of how the three laws of sustainability function in complex natural systems all around us. He shows how systems such as old growth forests can be templates for developing sustainable economic practices that will allow true (pro-future) progress. Demonstrating that all environmental problems have their source in a disregard for the laws of sustainability that is based on the myth of progress, he concludes with an impassioned argument for cultural change.
Here's my unofficial recording of the entire thing. (Please support the author and publisher by buying a copy; I promise that you'll want to mark it up!)...
Overdevelopment, Overpoplulation, Overshoot is a one of a kind, "must see" book!
Dedicated to William Catton, it contains powerful and evocative images showing the ecological and social tragedies of humanity's ballooning numbers and consumption. Compellingly, this coffee table book makes readers acutely, immediately, and viscerally aware of the dangers and deprivations facing people and the planet.
(I did so and they freely sent me five copies to distribute to others!)
Five minute video introductions to the book (in many different languages) can be found here.
Edward (Teddy) GoldsmithEdward (Teddy) Goldsmith was one of the most important ecological and environmental thinkers, writers, and editors of the 20th century. I was introduced to him in 2015 through the writings of John Michael Greer and now consider him to be one of my most significant intellectual mentors.
Goldsmith founded THE ECOLOGIST magazine (also here) and spent decades publishing and preaching that industrialization was endangering our species and the biosphere. He never tired of passionately advocating a return to, as he titled his Magnum opus, The Way: An Ecological Worldview. His archival website is EdwardGoldsmith.org (lots of great stuff there although the site is sometimes down; not sure why).
Goldsmith's 1973 book, A Blueprint for Survival sold more than 750,000 copies and and there were three substantial obituaries published when he died in 2009, in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Independent.
The following are extremely helpful summaries and overviews of the essential message in THE WAY, plus an interview and a few brilliant essays.
PDF files with text versions of the following can be found HERE and HERE.
3 Summaries / Overviews of The Way (40 min audio by Dowd)
Religion as a control mechanism of a stable society (39 min audio by Dowd)
Goldsmith: The Way - Synthesis (1:52 audio by Dowd)
Goldsmith: The Way - TALK (49 min audio by Dowd)
Goldsmith: The Cosmic Covenant (21 min audio by Dowd)
The Way: A Detailed Chapter-by-Chapter Overview (2:25 audio by Dowd)
Goldsmith: Towards a Biospheric Ethic (57 min audio by Dowd)
PDF files of other important Goldsmith writings: The Stable Society (Book) and The Great U-Turn (Book) and The Way: Table of Contents.
William OphulsWilliam Ophuls (the pen name of Patrick Ophuls) rocks! Having now read and audio recorded three of his books (pictured above and linked below), I consider him to be, as do many others, one of the most significant ecological/political thinkers alive today.
I've now added BOTH Plato's Revenge: Politics in the Age of Ecology and Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail to my short list of "the most influential and paradigm-expanding books I have ever read." (Several other authors on this "Grace Limits & Systemic Piety" page have books on that list too.)
For those not yet familiar with him, Ophuls served for eight years as a Foreign Service Officer in Washington, Abidjan, and Tokyo before receiving a PhD in political science from Yale University in 1973. After teaching briefly at Northwestern University, he became an independent scholar and author. He has published five highly acclaimed books on the ecological, social, and political challenges confronting modern industrial civilization. The three I have recorded below are all extraordinarily well written, historically grounded, philosophically wise, and, to my mind, indispensable for understanding why we're in the mess we are and our only way forward. Each of these volumes is chock full of ecological wisdom and practical insight.
Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail (2012), is a 75 page synopsis and truly 'must read' synthesis of generations of research on the self-limiting nature of civilizations. The perspective that emerges is crucial for understanding why civilizations have a lifecycle, just as individuals do. The book can be purchased from Amazon here.In chapter five of Immoderate Greatness, Ophuls quotes extensively from (and highly recommends) a 26-page essay written by Sir John Glubb, titled, "The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival". This is a vitally important read! Here is the 26 page text. I also recorded the 90 minute audio, here...
Immoderate Greatness - 2.5 hr audioPlato's Revenge: Politics in the Age of Ecology (2011) is a prophetic call for a new ecological politics that starts from a radical premise: "sustainability" is impossible. We are on an industrial Titanic, says Ophuls, fueled by rapidly depleting stocks of fossil hydrocarbons. Making the deck chairs from recyclable materials and feeding the boilers with biofuels is futile. In the end, the ship is doomed by the laws of thermodynamics and by the implacable biological and geological limits that are already beginning to pinch. Ophuls warns us that we are headed for a postindustrial future that, however technologically sophisticated, will resemble the preindustrial past in many important respects. With Plato's Revenge, Ophuls envisions political and social transformations that will lead to a new natural-law politics based on the realities and limits of ecology, physics, and psychology. The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival - by Glubb Pasha (1.5 hr audio)
Below is my own (unofficial, non-studio) recording of the entire text. Please note, however, that because I recorded this book mostly so that my wife Connie (also an MIT Press published author) and I could listen to it again and again, you will occasionally hear me mispronounce words and names, or being moved to tears. There are also a number of times where I say (imagining Ophuls is speaking directly to me), "Michael, I'm looking at you". Obviously, this is not in the text itself.Sane Polity: A Pattern Language (2013) is a concise and vitally important "systemic piety" resource! It proposes a radically different, truly systemic way of thinking about governance. Inspired by Christopher Alexander's ecological approach to architecture, Ophuls articulates a 'pattern language' of politics - a set of thirty-five design criteria for constructing sane and humane polity grounded in ecological reality. The hundred page book can be purchased from Amazon here. Please do support the publisher and author!
Plato's Revenge - Prologue through chapter 5 (4:42 audio)
Plato's Revenge - Chapter 6 to the end (2:43 audio)
Sane Polity: A Pattern Language - 3 hr audio
Walter Youngquist ♦ John Perlin ♦ Christopher Clugston ♦ Ugo BardiIn order to understand our precarious relationship to the renewable and nonrenewable resources that make human life and civilizations possible (i.e., Primary Reality), the writings of Walter Youngquist, John Perlin, Chris Clugston, and Ugo Bardi are invaluable.
Many of us in the sustainability movement consider Walter Youngquist's classic 1997 book, GeoDestinies: The inevitable control of Earth resources over nations and individuals, to be indispensable reading. (I consider it one of the most important books written in the last half century, as it is impossible to truly understand human history without this perspective.) Throughout 2017, with the generous permission of both Dr. Youngquist and The Social Contract Press, I am recording the audio of the full text of GeoDestinies (revised and updated in 2012, though not yet published in book form). The completed chapters are below, followed by several reviews:An important and helpful introduction to the significance of Youngquist's analysis can be found in his online essay, "Our Plundered Planet and a Future of Less," originally published by Negative Population Growth, here (PDF here), and reprinted in the Winter 2015 (Volume 25, Number 2) issue of the Journal of The Social Contract Press, here. (This is truly a "MUST READ" or "MUST LISTEN TO" essay!) GeoDestinies: Introductory Overview (38 min audio by Dowd) Chapter 1: Minerals Move Civilizations (1:18 audio by Dowd) Chapter 2: Minerals Move People (48 min audio by Dowd) Chapter 3: Minerals and War, and Economic and Political Warfare (1:12 audio by Dowd) Chapter 4: The Good Geofortune of the USA (30 min audio by Dowd) Chapter 5: The Extraordinary Geodestiny of Saudi Arabia & Gulf Nations (48 min audio) Chapter 6: Metal Riches and How They Are Spent (1:38 audio by Dowd) Chapter 7: Minerals, Money, and the "Petro-Currencies" (1:05 audio by Dowd) Chapter 8: Energy and Population (1:34 audio by Dowd) Chapter 9: The Oil Interval (1:26 audio by Dowd)
Chapter 26: Myths and Realities of Mineral and Energy Resources (1:02 audio by Dowd)
GeoDestinies: 2 reviews (Watt and Thurston) (14 min audio by Dowd) / text
Review of GeoDestinies, by Anne Manetas (10 min audio by Dowd) / textIn addition, these two essays of Walter Youngquist's are also highly recommended, both published by NPG (Negative Population Growth, Inc)... Our Plundered Planet and a Future of Less (42 min audio by Dowd)
"A Geomoment of Affluence Between Two Austere Eras" (7-page PDF) (30 min AUDIO)
"The Scale of Things and Demographic Fatigue" (5-page PDF) (24 min AUDIO). _______________
John Perlin has written the definitive book on the role of trees and deforestation in the rise and fall of civilizations: A Forest Journey: The Story of Wood and Civilization.
Until the ascendancy of fossil fuels, wood has been the principal fuel and building material from the dawn of civilization. Its abundance or scarcity greatly shaped the cultures, demographics, economies, internal and external politics, and technologies of successive societies over the millennia. This book's comprehensive coverage of the major role forests have played in human life is told so masterfully that it gained recognition as a Harvard Classic in Science and World History and as one of Harvard's "100 Great Books."
A 72 minute video of Perlin presenting on the subject can be accessed here.
My wife and mission partner, Connie Barlow, is recording excerpts of this vitally important book and we will post the audio recording of it here sometime in 2016.
In the same issue of the Journal of The Social Contract Press as Walter Youngquist's essay (mentioned above), Christopher Clugston, author of Scarcity: Humanity's Final Chapter? -- The realities, choices, and likely outcomes associated with ever-increasing nonrenewable natural resource scarcity, has written a helpful overview of our predicament: "America the Vulnerable! The impact of depleting Earth's nonrenewable natural resources (NNRs)" (online text) / audio (58 min recording by Dowd).
Ugo Bardi has an important 2014 book, Extracted: How the Quest for Mineral Wealth is Plundering the Planet. It is a report to the Club of Rome. A short video introduction as well as a longer presentation by Bardi on the subject can be found on the Club of Rome website here.
Ugo Bardi posted 2 essays on his blog that I recorded together: "The Syrian Sickness: What crude oil gives, crude oil will take away" (22 November 2015) and "Ten Years that Changed Everything and Prevented All Change" (2 November 2015): 20-minute combined audio.
I also recorded (and highly recommend) Bardi's exchange with John Michael Greer on the subject of "The Next 10 Billion Years". The original blogposts can be accessed here (in order): Bardi 1, Greer 2, Bardi 3
John Michael GreerJohn Michael Greer is my favorite writer. I have read twelve (yes, 12!) of his books over the past three years, plus some 350+ of his Wednesday evening blogposts (many of which I have audio-recorded; linked below). Greer's deeply ecological, historical, and evolutionary take on everything is unparalleled, in my experience. You can see my endorsement of his 2015 book, After Progress: Reason and Religion at the End of the Industrial Age, on Amazon (it's the first one listed). Likewise, you can read both Connie's and my blurbs of his latest, Dark Age America: Climate Change, Cultural Collapse, and the Hard Future Ahead (they're the first two listed).
THREE OF GREER'S BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE IN STANDARD AUDIOBOOK FORMAT (I highly recommend them all):
Because all of John Michael Greer's writings are brilliant and full of timely ecological and historical wisdom, I audio-recorded for personal use several of his other books that were otherwise unavailable in audio format.
Decline and Fall: The End of Empire and the Future of Democracy in 21st Century America - Post Hypnotic Press or Audible (For a thrilling fictional account of similar themes, see Greer's novel, Twilight's Last Gleaming.)
The Ecotechnic Future: Envisioning a Post-Peak World - Amazon or Audible - This was the first of Greer's books that I read and it's still one of my favorites. I especially recommend reading it after The Long Descent (see below) and/or Dark Age America, which will also be available as an audiobook in December 2016. (Yes, I recorded it for the publisher.)
Apocalypse Not: Why Everything You Know About 2012, Nostradamus and the Rapture Is Wrong - Audible
Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush: The Best of the Archdruid Report (2015) is a "best hits" selection drawn from nine years of his weekly blog posts on The Archdruid Report. Tens of thousands of people read Greer's new post every Wednesday evening. Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush: The Best of the Archdruid Report, can be purchased in paper format from Founders House Publishing, here, and from Amazon here. Please do support the publisher and author! My own unofficial audio-recording of the entire book is downloadable here:
One of the best (and most enjoyable to read) books in the fast growing field of ecological economics is Greer's The Wealth of Nature: Economics As If Survival Mattered. It can be purchased from the publisher in paper format here and from Amazon here. Please do support the publisher and author! My unofficial audio-recording of Greer's Wealth of Nature is also in two parts:
I'm a full-throated "Amen!" to William Catton's assessment of Greer's first (and arguably most important) book on the "Grace Limits" theme, The Long Descent: A Users Guide to the End of the Industrial Age (New Society Publishers / Amazon / online pdf):
"Candidates for public office, and the voters who elect them, should be required to read John Michael Greer's accurate diagnosis of the terminal illness our fossil-energy subsidized industrial civilization has too long denied. He shows how stubborn belief in perpetual progress blinded us to the abyss toward which we were speeding and thus impeded wise preparation for our unavoidable descent into a deindustrial age. We must hope that the array of mitigating tools he prescribes may yet render that descent down the back side of Hubbert's peak less devastating than it will be if we insistently claim a right to be prodigal in using this finite Earth."
Below is my unofficial recording of the entire book, in two files. Please support the publisher and author by also purchasing a copy (see above). You'll want to mark it up, I assure you!
After Progress is a bracing introduction to John Michael Greer's big-picture thinking grounded in an all-too-rare knowledge of history, ecology, and evolution. Environmentalists and social activists will need to take courage in facing the raw realities that Greer reveals. But on the other side of grief comes gratitude for the chance to re-shape our activism in ways that might actually count.
Below is my unofficial recording of the entire book, in two files. Please support the publisher and author by also purchasing a copy (see above). You'll want to mark it up!
Carolyn Baker nailed it when she said: "In Not the Future We Ordered: Peak Oil, Psychology, and the Myth of Progress, Greer offers two inspirational challenges to the reader. One is a new definition of the word hope. 'Hope is not optimism,' he says. 'It is not the passive expectation that good things will inevitably come one's way. Rather, it is the recognition that no matter what the circumstances might be, there are positive goals that can be achieved if they are pursued with forethought and a sustained willingness to try.' Additionally, Greer issues a clarion call to ministers, psychotherapists, and other helping professionals to move through their own denial and learn the realities of our predicament because they will 'find themselves called upon to deal with the individual and collective psychological impacts of the arrival of a future unpleasantly different from the one most of us expect.'...This book abandons all hubris and radically redefines 'hope,' moving it from passive expectation to pro-active empowerment. Unarguably a must-read."
I fully agree and absolutely love this little book! Here is my 4:40 audio recording of the entire thing. Please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy; you'll certainly want to mark it up! (Amazon page)
In September 2016, New Society Publishers published Dark Age America: Climate Change, Cultural Collapse, and the Hard Future Ahead. Because Greer's insights on this subject are so compelling, and my enthusiasm for how he handles it is so infectious, I was invited by both author and publisher to record an official, studio-recorded audiobook of Dark Age America, which is available HERE. The first two endorsements on the book's Amazon page are Connie's and mine..."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"
In 2013 Greer posted a 3-part series in his Archdruid Report blog that I audio-recorded and assembled into a distinct file here:
I did likewise for two other series of blogposts (2015), the 5 episodes of "Stages" and 3 of "Cimmerian", combined in one audio:
Many people have an erroneous view of evolution, history, complexity, and energy. In the fall of 2007 and fall of 2008 John Michael Greer wrote several posts I've brought together here that offer a most helpful corrective a more evidential, Reality-based view of adaptation, historical change, technological complexity, and energy:
Evolution, History, Complexity, and Energy (83 minutes)
Finally, John Michael Greer and Ugo Bardi engaged in a series of posts, each on their own blogsite, about what the long-term future may portend. It began with Bardi's post in September 2012, followed by Greer's a year later, with a follow-up by Bardi. While their perspectives overlap in many ways, Bardi tends toward a linear and somewhat more techno-optimistic view of where history may lead, while Greer's understanding of history is more cyclical. Crucially, they both agree that for humanity to survive the 21s century we must come home to Reality (my language) by honoring ecological limits. Greer, in particular, sees no reason to expect that our own civilization will be able to avoid the stages of collapse to which all previous civilizations have succumbed. (William Ophuls' masterful slim volume, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail linked below is stupendously insightful on this point.) Here is my audio-recording of Greer and Bardi's 3-part exchange:MY AUDIO-RECORDINGS OF GREER'S BLOGPOSTS: JMG began posting every Wednesday evening on a blog, The Archdruid Report, in 2006. Over the past two years I audio-recorded (primarily for my wife's and my personal use) the following:
The Next 10 Billion Years (Bardi v. Greer)
The original text blogposts can be accessed as follows: Bardi 1, Greer 2, Bardi 3
I expect to record the rest of JMG's Archdruid Report posts (5-3-06 to 9-6-06 and 7-18-12 through 08-12-15) in 2017.
Greer - ADR 01 (09-13-06 to 06-11-07)
Greer - ADR 02 (06-25-07 to 10-17-07)
Greer - ADR 03 (10-24-07 to 12-26-07)
Greer - ADR 04 (01-02-08 to 06-25-08)
Greer - ADR 05 (07-02-08 to 12-31-08)
Greer - ADR 06 (01-08-09 to 06-24-09)
Greer - ADR 07 (07-01-09 to 12-23-09)
Greer - ADR 08 (12-30-09 to 05-05-10)
Greer - ADR 09 (05-12-10 to 09-22-10)
Greer - ADR 10 (11-03-10 to 03-23-11)
Greer - ADR 11 (03-30-11 to 07-27-11)
Greer - ADR 12 (08-03-11 to 11-16-11)
Greer - ADR 13 (11-23-11 to 03-21-12)
Greer - ADR 14 (03-29-12 to 07-11-12)
Greer - ADR 2015-B (08-19-15 to 12-09-15) Greer - ADR 2016-A (12-16-15 to 5-04-16) Greer - ADR 2016-B (05-11-16 to 8-24-16)
Richard HeinbergNOTE: If you have never experienced Richard Heinberg's powerful ideas and cogent writing style and would appreciate a quick sample, I recommend "Can We Afford the Future?" (13-minute audio) AND "Climate Holism vs. Climate Reductionism" (16-minute audio) AND "Exploring the Gap Between Business-as-Usual and Utter Doom" (20-minute audio) I consider these three posts to be essential reading (or listening)!
TWO OF RICHARD HEINBERG'S BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE IN STANDARD AUDIOBOOK (I highly recommend them both):
The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality - Amazon or Audible
Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines - Amazon or Audible
I consider Richard Heinberg's 2015 book, Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels, to be one of the most important books in print...and one I recommend to everyone. New Society Publishers (a truly stellar publisher) has not yet decided to create an audiobook version, but the book itself can be purchased (softcover or e-book) from them, here, or from Amazon, here. Please do support the publisher and author! Below is my own (unofficial, non-studio) recording of the entire book, in two parts:
Afterburn - first half
Afterburn - second half
NOTE: Post-Carbon Institute (also here), of which Richard Heinberg is Senior Fellow, is one of my favorite organizations on the planet. They've produced a superb 4-part series of VIDEO shorts featuring Richard Heinberg speaking on topics central to Afterburn. Whether or not you read (or listen) to the book, you'll want to watch these videos! (There are only two websites I check every day, without fail. One is Resilience.org, which is connected to Post Carbon Institute. The other is Joe Romm's Climate Progress).
Richard's book, The Party's Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies is not available in audiobook format. The first two chapters, which are foundational to the entire book, "tell the tale of energy's role in ecology, history, and the economy." I found these chapters so insightful and important that I audio-recorded just that part of the book. The AUDIO is available here: Heinberg - The Party's Over (chapters 1 and 2). The text of the first five chapters is freely available online here.
Richard's book Snake Oil: How Fracking's False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future is also not available as an audiobook. So I recorded the first chapter (on Peak Oil) in AUDIO format here: Heinberg: This is What Peak Oil Looks Like. (Text here.)
I also audio-recorded a fabulous and vitally important essay (keynote presentation) by Heinberg here: Sustainability Metrics, Growth Limits, and Philanthropy. (Here is the online text version of his presentation.)
Finally, an INTERVIEW with Richard Heinberg on his book, Afterburn, and an audio recording of a FABULOUS POST he wrote during the United Nations COP-21 gathering in Paris can be found here:
Interview of Heinberg, discussing AFTERBURN (with Greg Moffitt of LegalizeFreedom.com)
"Can We Have Our Climate and Eat It Too?" - December 2015 text or audio (narrated by Dowd, 23 min.)
James Howard KunstlerJames Howard Kunstler is a prolific and prophetic writer and an absolute joy to read or listen to! Connie and I always make time to read aloud Jim's twice-a-week blogposts on Clusterfuck Nation. His straight shooting, take-no-prisoners writing style is almost always a bracing treat.
The only book of his that is not available in audiobook format is his 2005 classic, The Long Emergency: Surviving the Converging Catastrophes of the Twenty-first Century, which I consider a "must read". Very little of it is outdated even a decade after its publication.
Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation is likewise an essential read.
Jim Kunstler has also written a series of novels, set in the not-too-distant future, that embody the heart and worldview articulated so powerfully in his nonfiction. Each is available in both audiobook and paperback and I enthusiastically recommend them all...KunstlerCast" podcast is consistently good, too.
Erik Lindberg (also here) is another of Connie's and my favorite authors. Read about him here: "Lindberg balances environmental activism and fatherhood," and then enjoy these gems of wisdom:
"Economic Growth: A Primer" 58 min audio (VITALLY IMPORTANT...TRULY, A MUST READ!)
"Growthism Parts 1-4" 1 hr 50 min audio
"Whole Systems, Humility, and Empathy" 31 min audio
"On Surplus - Parts 1-3" 2 hrs 26 min audio
"Why I am Not Devastated (Trump election)" 32 min audio
"The Krugman Function" (text) or 70 min audio
"Saving the Planet in 3 Easy Steps" (text) or 12 min audio
"Ecotheology, Limits, and Freedom" (text) or 40 min audio
America's Story (text) or 32 min audio
"Earth Church" (text) or 12 min audio
"Lived Crisis vs. Systemic Crisis: Notes on a "New Narrative" (text) or 43 min audio
Interview ("Beliefs Matter") and 3 fabulous essays: (1) "One and a Half Cheers for Bernie: Decision 2016 and the (Deep) Sustainability Agenda", (2) "Moral Discomfort, Privilege, and the Politics of Air-Conditioning", and (3) "Six Myths About Climate Change that Liberals Rarely Question" / 2 hr, 35 min audio
Richard has written three excellent books, each of which I intend to record in 2017. The first focuses on "sustainable population, sustainable worldview, sustainable food, and reconnection with our past, our ancestors, and our non-human relatives the living world." The second two consist largely of well written and thoughtful book reviews of many of the classic writings in sustainability; his version of a "sustainability canon"...
Thomas Berry was one of the most significant evolutionary and ecological thinkers (and writers) of the 20th century. A self-described "geologian" and cultural historian, he was a mentor to both me and Connie, from the late 1980s until his death in 2009. You can quickly experience the depth and breadth of Thomas' thinking by reading (or listening to a 7 minute audio) of some favorite quotes: "Thomas Berry: Gems of Deep Time Wisdom". Better yet, I suggest finding a quiet place where you can be comfortable and undistracted for 40 minutes, and listen to my audio recording of his 1991 E. F. Schumacher Lecture, "THE ECOZOIC ERA". This unforgettable presentation is both an extraordinarily powerful articulation of Thomas' core message and a brilliant summation of his life work (text and other versions here).
I recommend the following resources for those who would like to dive more deeply into the heart and mind of this great soul...
For kids, parents, teachers, families, and the child in all of us...For adults and teens...
Evolutionary Curricula for Children and Youth - a web portal to "self-guided, science-based lesson plans, stories, dramatic scripts, and songs for teachers and parents," created by my beloved bride of 15 years, Connie Barlow. Epic of Evolution - an extraordinarily rich and helpful educational website, created and maintained by Cathy McGowan Russell. Universe Stories - Amazing children's books and programs for kids and families, by Jennifer Morgan, who also serves as President of Deep Time Journey Network, "a global community exploring an Evolving Universe as a foundational context and offering professional development for teachers."
In preparation for the June 2001 "EarthSpirit Rising" Conference held in Louisville KY (where Connie and I were married), Connie (over the phone) and John Cock (in person) audiotaped Thomas Berry reading short passages (selected by Connie) from his 1999 book, The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future, published by Bell Tower / Random House. (Free downloadable STUDY GUIDE.)
Journey of the Universe - website featuring the brilliant (and for many of us, life-changing) work of Thomas Berry's most well-known student and collaborator, Brian Thomas Swimme, professor of cosmology at California Institute of Integral Studies and co-author (with Thomas Berry) of the acclaimed 1992 book, The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era - A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos
Emerging Earth Community - website created and maintained by Thomas Berry's two other closest and most gifted students: John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Co-Directors of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale.
Thomas Berry Foundation - the official website furthering Thomas Berry's legacy. Lots of really great stuff here! I especially recommend all four films on this page. "Fate of the Earth" tape (now digitized). Countless people, including thousands of Roman Catholic nuns, were first introduced to Thomas Berry through this presentation by Miriam MacGillis, O.P.. Other online audios/videos of Sr. Miriam can be found here; interviews here and here. Center for Ecozoic Societies - website and organization devoted to furthering Berry's legacy, founded by long-time friend and student, Herman Greene, who is also Executive Director of the International Process Network. Metanexus Institute, as well as the various books, videos, essays, projects, and services of William Grassie. "What Is The Great Story?" - Connie Barlow's and my webpage linking to lots of great videos, audios, and quotes related to "The Great Story" (a.k.a., the Epic of Evolution, Universe Story, or Big History). Deep Time Journey Network - A web-based global community grounded in Big History, appreciative of the wisdom of traditional sacred stories, and dedicated to empowering educators and furthering Thomas Berry's vision of Ecozoic education that promotes "a mutually enhancing human-Earth relationship." Recovering a Sense of the Sacred: Conversations with Thomas Berry - 2012 book written by Carolyn Tobin. Mary Southard Art - stunning artwork inspired by Thomas Berry, by Mary Southard, CSJ. 48-minute YouTube video of Thomas Berry reciting his own poetry Terra Vita - website linking to essays, poetry, music, and performances by Lauren de Boer, who was Executive Director of EarthLight, a national journal for Ecological and Spiritual Living, from 1995 to 2005. Also see this collection of most popular essays (written by many authors) published over 15 years: "EarthLight: Spiritual Wisdom for an Ecological Age". The Ecozoic Times - A resource center for the emerging Ecozoic Era. Begun in 2010 by Allysyn Kiplinger, the website explores both the philosophy and the real-world expression of "Ecozoic", as lined and defined by Thomas Berry: "a geologic era of mutually enhancing human-Earth relations."
"The Mystique of the Earth" - An interview with Thomas Berry, by Caroline Webb, published in issue 59 of "Caduceus".
All 11 passages that Thomas read aloud during those sessions (each 2 minutes or less) are available here:
Short AUDIOS of Thomas Berry reading from The Great Work
(right-click to download as mp3)
Youtube VIDEOS/AUDIOS of Thomas Berry (Lou Niznik Legacy Collection)Lou Niznik's great work included journeying to speaking events of Thomas Berry in order to capture the talks on the pre-digital technology available at the time. All this he did with no remuneration. Now, The Thomas Berry Foundation has made the Niznik film collection available to everyone everywhere by way of youtube. The selection below is a sampling of the best.
NOTE: Connie and I like to repeatedly listen to the AUDIOS of the above presentations. We use software (Wondershare AllMyTube) for freely and easily downloading just the mp3 audios from the youtube webpages.
"The Celebratory Liturgy of the Universe"
"The Art and Crisis of Planet Earth"
"The Universe and the University" (pt 1) and (pt 2)
"The Historical Mission of Our Time"
"Thomas Berry at Port Burwell" (pt 1), (pt 2), (pt 3), (pt 4)
"Thomas Berry - The Twelve Principles" (filmed 1984, with Brian Swimme also speaking)
Joanna Macy ♦ Miriam MacGillis ♦ Dolores LaChapelle ♦ Lynn Margulis
I'm blessed to have had the opportunity, over the past three decades, of being mentored by four amazing women, each of whom is widely recognized as an evolutionary/ecological giant: Joanna Macy, Miriam MacGillis, Dolores LaChapelle, and Lynn Margulis. Each, of course, has her own unique style, message, and legacy. What they all agree on is:
the need to treat science as reflecting humanity's global collective intelligence
the necessity of thinking and acting systemically (ecologically)
the imperative of honoring biological and ecological constraints ("Grace Limits"), if we hope to survive
Joanna Macy is a bestselling deep ecologist, Buddhist scholar, and general systems theorist. Author of World as Lover, World as Self, co-author (with Chris Johnstone) of Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy, and co-author (with Molly Brown) of Coming Back to Life: The Updated Guide to 'The Work that Reconnects', Joanna has influenced three generations of activists and others striving to help humanity come home to Reality. Active Hope is a must read in light of all the sobering resources on this webpage! Youtube presentation by Joanna and Chris, here.
Miriam MacGillis, O.P. is best known both as one of Thomas Berry's most gifted popularizers and as Director of Genesis Farm (pictured right), a model ecological center in Blairstown, NJ. My 1991 book, EarthSpirit: A Handbook for Nurturing an Ecological Christianity, drew extensively on the work of Sister Miriam; indeed, she was such an inspiration that I named by youngest daughter, Miriam Joy Dowd, after her. Thousands of people were first introduced to the pro-future significance of Thomas Berry's work through Sister Miriam's "Fate of the Earth" tape (now digitized). Other online audios/videos can be found here; interviews here and here.
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Dolores LaChapelle (1926-2007) was a serious mountaineer and deep powder skier, T'ai chi teacher, eco-philosopher, independent scholar, and leader in the Deep Ecology movement. I consider her book, Sacred Land Sacred Sex: Rapture of the DeepConcerning Deep Ecology and Celebrating Life, to be one of the ten most influential books I've ever read. I also recommend her books, Earth Wisdom and Earth Festivals: Seasonal celebrations for everyone, young and old, as well as "The LaChapelle Legacy" website.
Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) was a world-renowned microbiologist, co-developer of the Gaia hypothesis (with James Lovelock), and originator of the (at first fiercely resisted but now widely accepted) theory of endosymbiosis. My first teacher in Earth systems science and systems ecology, Lynn was one of the great pioneering scientists of the 20th century. I recommend her book (part memoir), Symbiotic Planet: A New Look at Evolution, her son Dorian Sagan's book, Lynn Margulis: The Life and Legacy of a Scientific Rebel, and the Youtube videos here, here, and here. (To download just the mp3 audios of the videos, see here.)
Theo Kitchener is an inspiring utopian thinker, promoter, and change-maker. She is the founder of Doing It Ourselves, and Livelyhood (formerly Resilient Cooperative Network). Self-described apocaloptimist, Theo is positive about the future, focusing on happiness, community, permaculture, participatory democracy, alternative economics, and the potential for social and environmental transformation.
I highly recommend Theo's 12 minute video, "What the Economic Crisis Really Means, and what we can do about it". It's a gem!The following three blog posts appear on the Shift Magazine website (I recommend Theo's other posts there, as well)...
An Alternative Long Shot (21 min audio) - a possible strategy for dealing with climate change and all our other problems Change the Culture, Not the Climate (8 min audio) - a shorter version of the above, without the science Please Read Utopian Fiction! (15 min audio) - a review of Theo's five favorite utopian novels; they can really change the way you think about politics
Green History / Environmental History (various authors)The following Wikipedia pages provide helpful overviews of this vitally important cluster of interdisciplinary fields of study:
Clive Ponting's seminal 1991 book, Green History of the World was revised and expanded in 2007. Republished as A New Green History of the World: The Environment and the Collapse of Great Civilizations, it can be purchased from Penguin Random House, here, and from Amazon, here. Please do support the publisher and author!
Because this 464-page book is so essential for understanding our past, present, and likely futures, several other authors have stepped forward to produce extraordinarily helpful syntheses/overviews freely available in text format online. I have made two of the best available here in mp3 audio format:
"A Synopsis of Clive Ponting's (1991) Green History of the World" (by Martin Desvaux) - 56-page PDF or 4-hr audio.
"Summary of Clive Ponting's (2007) A New Green History of the World" (by Robert Riversong) - blogpost or 1.5 hr audio. (You can support Riversong's blog, "Turning the Tide," here.)
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NOTE: Anand Veeraraj and his wife, Lilly, are committed to building and distributing solar cookers, or sun ovens (using local materials and labor) throughout India. On the inside back cover of Anand's book, it reads, "It is estimated that an average Indian family of five members burns about three to four trees for firewood every year. One sun oven alone can reduce this need for firewood by half. Failure to do this has had enormous consequences for the environment and the people. Floods and drought visit this region regularly. Prime forests vanish, along with animals (such as Bengal Tigers) that live in them. Sun ovens will not only help save forests and animals in India, but also improve the living conditions of rural and tribal people." Each sun oven (of the kind that Anand and Amalia make) costs about $75. To learn more or to become a partner in this project (donations gratefully accepted!), contact: Anand Veereraj: GREEN DEEDS, 22 Colonial Lake Dr., Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 / Phone: 609-406-7815 / Email: email@example.com
Anand Veeraraj's 295-page book, Green History of Religion (2006) is available in hardcover through Amazon here, and in paperback, from Process & Faith, here. Professor John B. Cobb, Jr's uncharacteristically over-the-top Amazon review of this book deserves to be read in full (see here). He begins, "This is truly a ground-breaking book!" I couldn't agree more. This book is essential for understanding the climatological, historical, and environmental factors that inexorably led the world's 'great faiths' (axial religions) to share a common distain for nature and sense of "cosmic homelessness." Because the publisher did not make an audio version available, I recorded the entire book myself, in three parts (with enthusiastic support of the author). I especially recommend the summary/overview (first item below): Green History of Religion summary/overview (paper written in 2015) - 45-page PDF or 1.5 hr audio
Veeraraj, Green History of Religion (A) - 5.5 hr audio
Veeraraj, Green History of Religion (B) - 5.5 hr audio
Veeraraj, Green History of Religion (C) - 1.0 hr audio
"Collapse" How & Why Civilizations are Mortal and Die (various authors)William Ophuls's 75-page book, Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail (2012), is both a brilliant synopsis and an invaluable synthesis of generations of research compiled over many centuries. The perspective that emerges is crucial for understanding why civilizations have a lifecycle, just as individuals do. The book can be purchased from Amazon here. Please do support the publisher and author!
Immoderate Greatness - 2.5 hr audio
Sir John Glubb has written a truly brilliant 26 page essay, titled, "The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival". It is essential reading for understanding the internal (moral/character) dynamics of rise and fall of civilizations. It can be found in text form here. The hour and a half audio is available here...John Michael Greer has written an insightful paper on how and why civilizations inevitably wither and die. See "How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse".
"The Fate of Empires and Search for Survival" - by Glubb Pasha, a.k.a., Sir John Glubb (1.5 hr audio)Robert Riversong has provided a real service by creating the following annotated bibliography, "The End of the World: Bibliography of Collapse". You can support Riversong's work here. JMG blog posts (text): "On Catabolic Collapse" and "The Onset of Catabolic Collapse". Audio of JMG on "Stages of Collapse" Bibliography of Collapse (annotated) - text or 30 min audio.
David Montgomery has written a "must read" book related to Green History and perhaps the most vital natural resource of all, healthy soil, titled, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, which is available in audiobook, here.Ronald Wright's widely acclaimed 2004 book, A Short History of Progress, is another "must read". Better yet, listen to the author read the entire book, chapter-by-chapter, before live audiences, as the 2004 CBC Massey Lectures. (Connie and I did this, and loved it!) I've also included audio recordings of...
"Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations" - A truly "must see" hour-long video - on YouTube.Joseph Tainter has been at the forefront of 20th century scholarship on this subject. His 1990 book, The Collapse of Complex Societies, is one of the most cited texts in the field. An hour-long presentation and a half-hour interview with Ronald Wright.Jared Diamond's 2011 New York Times bestselling book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, is the most well known book on the subject. Why Societies Collapse - and What it Means for Us - YouTube presentation by Joseph TainterPeter Goodchild posted an essay in 2010: Why do societies collapse? TED talk (with nearly a million and a half views) by Jared Diamond. "The Imminent Collapse of Industrial Society" - text or 53 min audio
Lisa Rayner posted an essay:
"Eco-Collapse, Trauma Theory, and Permaculture" - text or 31 min audio
Jay Hanson posted an essay in 2013:
"Overshoot Loop" - text or 39 min audio
Why Technology Won't Save Us or the Environment (various authors)The International Forum on Globalization (IFG) organized a "Teach-In" in New York City in October 2014. Titled, "TECHNO-UTOPIANISM AND THE FATE OF THE EARTH: Why Technology Will Not Save the World", the two-day program featured dozens of world-class speakers:
Jeannette Armstrong, Debbie Barker, Shannon Biggs, Chet Bowers, Tom Butler, Helen Caldicott, Eileen Crist, David Ehrenfeld, Aiden Enns, Joshua Farley, Bruce Gagnon, John Michael Greer, Susan Griffin, Patricia Gualinga, Clive Hamilton, Randy Hayes, Richard Heinberg, Craig Holdrege, Michael Huesemann, Wes Jackson, Andrew Kimbrell, Dave King, Lisi Krall, Winona La Duke, Neisen Laukon, Jerry Mander, Bill McKibben, Victor Menotti, Stephanie Mills, Anuradha Mittal, Pat Mooney, Ralph Nader, Helena Norberg-Hodge, Koohan Paik, Douglas Rushkoff, Linda Sheehan, Vandana Shiva, Katie Singer, Gar Smith, Atossa Soltani, Charlene Spretnak, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, Jim Thomas, Bruce Thompson, Mary Reynolds Thompson, Doug Tompkins, Severine von Tscharner-Fleming, Ralph White, and Langdon Winner.
Free online access to all 50 of the above audios and videos plus PDF of the program.
Richard Heinberg's January 2016 post, "Climate Holism vs. Climate Reductionism" is essential reading (or listening). Among other things, it shows why techno-optimism is not only unwarranted, but counterproductive.Samuel Alexander posted an extraordinarily insightful and important essay in 2014:
Michael and Joyce Huesemann co-authored a crucial book in 2011, Techno-Fix: Why Technology Can't Save Us or the Environment. Although the book is not available in audio format, you can find at the book's website endorsements, videos, and powerpoint slides for educators. Presentations about the book by Huesmann include:
Text and 20-min video presentation (introduced by Richard Heinberg)
Techno-Fix Overview - text (Utne Reader) or 18 min audio
Techno-Fix (Town Hall Seattle 1-hour presentation) - video or audio
Techno-Fix 2-hour Interview with Michael Huesemann (episode of ExtraEnvironmentalist podcast) - youtube audio or mp3 audio "A Critique of Techno-Optimism: Efficiency Without Sufficience Is Lost - PDF or 1-hour audio
Samuel Alexander has also written my absolute favorite Dystopian/Utopian novel on sustainability:
Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilization. Here is the book's official website. My unofficial audio-recording of the entire book is available here: (6-hour audio recording of Entropia) Please support the author and publisher by buying a copy!
Six-Author Collage and 2 Wikipedia pages: William Ophuls, James Howard Kunstler, Sean McElwee, Nicholas Agar, Paul Kingsnorth, and Niall Ferguson (recorded by Dowd from essays posted on the internet):______________
Against Techno-Utopianism (6 essays by various authors, and two Wikipedia pages) - 1 hour audio
Countering Ecomodernism (Technofetishism): The historically and ecologically misguided idea that a just and sustainably life-giving world is possible without first and foremost honoring carrying capacity (Grace Limits) and measuring 'progress' and 'success' in life-centered, rather than human-centered, ways.William Catton's, Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, is, from start to finish, a devastating critique of naive ecomodernist "cargoism". Peter Montague has written an extraordinarily helpful overview/summary of Overshoot, available as a 6-page pdf or 21 minute audio.
A Call to Look Past An Ecomodernist Manifesto: A Degrowth Critique, by Jeremy Caradonna, Iris Borowy, Tom Green, Peter A. Victor, Maurie Cohen, Andrew Gow, Anna Ignatyeva, Matthias Schmelzer, Philip Vergragt, Josefin Wangel, Jessica Dempsey, Robert Orzanna, Sylvia Lorek, Julian Axmann, Rob Duncan, Richard B. Norgaard, Halina S. Brown, Richard Heinberg
"Meet the ecomodernists: ignorant of history and paradoxically old-fashioned" (The people behind a manifesto for solving environmental problems through science and technology are intelligent but wrong on their assumptions about farming and urbanisation), by George Manbiot
Potent critiques by Chris Smaje:Walter Youngquist's essay, "Our Plundered Planet and a Future of Less," originally published by Negative Population Growth, here (PDF here), and reprinted in the Winter 2015 (Volume 25, Number 2) issue of the Journal of The Social Contract Press, here, should be considered required reading on this subject. Also available as a 42 minute audio.
"Dark Thoughts on Ecomodernism" "Ecomodernism: a Response to my Critics" "Peasantization as Modernization -- an Alternative Ecomodernism" "Retro-modernism"
The Dark Mountain Project (Paul Kingsnorth & Dougald Hine)Connie and I first learned of The Dark Mountain Project (and of its co-founders, Paul Kingsnorth and Dougald Hine) when we read an August 2014 feature article in The New York Times Magazine, titled, "It's the End of the World as We Know It...and He Feels Fine". Related materials accessible here:
In August 2015, after reading the above Dark Mountain Manifesto, I (Michael Dowd) preached a sermon, titled, "Inspired on Dark Mountain: The Big Picture", which was recorded and posted on YouTube, here.
"Uncivilization: A Dark Mountain Manifesto" by Kingsnorth & Hine - text or 52 min audio or 37 minute video
"Five Years on a Mountain" - Kingsnorth & Hine at Schumacher College - 47 min video or audio
"The Falling Years: An Inhumanist Vision" by John Michael Greer - text or 32 min audio
"The Witness" by Paul Kingsnorth - A fabulous short essay that appears on Kingsnorth website - text or 21 min audio
"The Myth of Progress" by Paul Kingsnorth (interviewed by Greg Moffitt, June 2013) - 1 hour audio
"Dark Ecology" by Paul Kingsnorth - 2012 essay in Orion Magazine: text or 1-hr audio
"Why Sustainability Is Bad for the Environment" by Paul Kingsnorth (6-part series) - text or 40 min audio
"Opening Our Eyes to the Nature of This Earth" by Paul Kingsnorth - text (in 2015, Tricycle magazine) or audio (narrated by Dowd + interview, 40 min total)
Friends on Dark Mountain: Rue, Dowd, and Barlow (2015)
Part 1a (50 mins) video or audio • Part 1b (40 mins) video or audio
In September 2015, Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow video-recorded a conversation outdoors at Loyal Rue's cabin in northeastern Iowa. Professor Rue had written 5 books during his academic career in religion and philosophy but he had woken up to the environmental crisis while an undergrad in the 1960s. Here the three explore their understanding of Earth's limits to human consumption and pollution and how each now abides in the world from a dark mountain perspective. Access 9 Rue videos.
Will & Ariel Durant ♦ Lindsey Grant ♦ Roy Scranton
Will and Ariel Durant - The Lessons of History (The celebrated collection of essays compiling over 5,000 years of history) / 102 page book (on Amazon) or 3.3 hrs audio (recorded by Dowd).
* * * _______________
Roy Scranton is a gifted young author. His 2015 book, Learning to Die in the Anthropocene, is excerpted and read by author as the first entry below, followed by my recording of the entire 117 page book, followed by a short essay and, finally, by two of his "Opinionator" essays in 'The Stone' column of The NY Times. Please support the author and publisher, here, here, or at your local bookstore.
Chapter 3 of Learning to Die in the Anthropocene (44 min audio)
Michael Dowd's audio-recording of the entire book: (3 hour audio)
"Learning How to Die in the Anthropocene" (text) or 16 min audio
"Climate Change and the Dharma of Failure" (text) or 12 min audio
"We're Doomed. Now What?" (text) or 15 min audio
Miscellaneous (various authors)
Edward (Teddy) Goldsmith(narrated by Dowd)"The Way: An Ecological Worldview" (1992) - Summary/Overview or 40 min audio (narrated by Dowd)William Rees"Is Humanity Fatally Successful?" (2003) - text or 90 min audio (presentation by Rees) or 75 min audio
Samuel Alexander has written my favorite Dystopian/Utopian novel on sustainability:Entropia: Life Beyond Industrial Civilization. Here is the book's official website. My unofficial audio-recording of the entire text is available here: (6-hour audio recording of Entropia) Please support the author and publisher by buying a copy!Ted Trainer - "Sustainability: The Simpler Way perspective" (2014) - PDF or 39 min audio (narrated by Dowd)
Rev. Michael Dowd is former pastor, sustainable communities organizer, and bestselling eco-theologian & pro-future evangelist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Newsweek, Discover, and on television nationally. His book, Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World, was endorsed by 6 Nobel Prize-winning scientists and other science luminaries, including noted skeptics, and by more than 100 religious leaders from a variety of traditions and across the theological spectrum. Michael and his science writer, evolutionary educator, and climate activist wife, Connie Barlow, have spoken to 2,000+ groups throughout North America since 2002.
Michael has delivered two TEDx talks and a program at the United Nations. He has also conducted two acclaimed online conversation series: "The Advent of Evolutionary Christianity" and "The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness". Dowd's passion for proclaiming a pro-future, nature-honoring message of inspiration what he calls "the gospel of right relationship to Reality" has earned him the moniker Rev. Reality, as he speaks in secular and religious settings about our sacred responsibility to future generations.
Rev. Dowd's core message is this... What matters most now, individually and collectively, is honoring Grace Limits and being accountable to the future, in word and deed.
In addition to evangelizing the gospel of "Standing for the Future" and promoting "Reality's Rules: Ten Commandments to Avoid Extinction and Redeem Humanity", Michael's great joy is encouraging all of us to act in ways that will not only benefit our descendants but would make our ancestors proud.
Standing for the Future videos ♦ Main website ♦ Personal/media site
Rev. Dowd's Other "Grace Limits & Systemic Piety" Videos, Audios, and Essays
17 Minute VIDEO: "Reality's Rules: Ten Commandments to Avoid Extinction"
What Reality is telling us, through evidence, about how we must now collectively think and act if we hope to spare our grandchildren from hell and spare ourselves their condemnation. If you disagree, please let me know why and support your claim with evidence. Email me here: Michael(AT)ThankGodforEvolution.com
This 17 minute video is the culmination of decades of research and collaboration. It showcases today's divine/prophetic wisdom revealed via scientific, historic, and cross-cultural evidence. A 3-page companion document gives the full text of the commandments, with supporting links to online text, audio, and video resources.
In April 2014 I spoke to the Sedona Integral Group, in Sedona, Arizona. In this 9-minute excerpt, I share a "sacred realist statement of faith" ... 6 points of agreement upon which tens of millions of secular and religious people align and through which we all might join together to foster a just, healthy, and ecologically sustainable future.
Religion 3.0 / Evidential Reformation / Sacred Realist CREDO: "Reality is our God. Evidence is our scripture. Big History is our creation story. Ecology is our theology. Integrity is our spiritual path; and Fostering a just and healthy future is our mission."
Video Interview: "Pro-Future or Anti-Future?" In 2014, during my participation in The Great March for Climate Action, I began wearing a green clergy shirt and speaking in churches and climate rallies as "Reverend Reality", as you can see on my Reverend Reality youtube channel. The two most important videos on that channel launch a new playlist: "Pro-Future or Anti-Future?". Episode 1 is "Eco-Theology". Episode 2 is "Right Relationship to Reality." Other than the "Standing for the Future" videos linked above, this is the best and most thorough articulation to-date of my deepest values, priorities, and commitments...in conversational mode. Thanks to Rick Archer, of "Buddha at the Gas Pump" (scroll to bottom), here's a 36 page transcript of the entire interview (both episodes).
BEST 2015 SERMONS: 3-part series at People's Church, Ludington MI
In the summer of 2015, I presented a series of three Sunday sermons at the Unitarian Universalist church in Ludington MI. These presentations occurred during a 4-month period of sabbatical study on ecological and civilization history and the increasing toll of climate change on our hopes for the future. All sermons are now on YouTube:
Sermon 1: "When Religion Fails, Economics Becomes Demonic"
Sermon 2: "Embrace Death To Live Life Fully"
Sermon 3: "Inspired on Dark Mountain: The Big Picture"
BEST 2014 SERMONS
(YouTube - click on image)
RIGHT: Christian (UCC)
WEBINAR / SKYPE INTERVIEWS: "The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness"
Throughout 2014 I presented this richly illustrated program to secular and religious audiences across the United States, along the route of The Great March for Climate Action. Here is a 77-minute voice-over version of my slides. This was also the finale of my 2014 Skype conversation series, "The Future Is Calling Us to Greatness," where I interviewed 56 world-class experts on climate change, peak oil, and sustainability (including a wide variety of spiritual leaders to help us hold this scary stuff without freaking out.) All 56 interviews can be freely accessed here.
A powerful 4-minute video was published on youtube May 2015:
In this video I teamed up with noted climate scientist and climate communicator par excellence, Katharine Hayhoe. My core message: "The most important distinction of our time isn't left or right. It's not liberal or conservative. It's pro-future or anti-future."
"Evidential Mysticism and the Future of Earth" (Oneing Magazine, Fall 2014)
"When Religion Fails, Economics Becomes Demonic" (HuffPost, May 2015)
Rev. Dowd's 2012 and 2014 TEDx Talks
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