Conversation with Chris Martenson

Transcription of our teleconference call with Chris Martenson on October 25, 2011, kindly transcribed by our fabulous volunteer Katie Michels.

Carolyne StaytonCarolyne Stayton: This is Carolyne Stayton with Chris Martenson, founder of and creator of The Crash Course, and Eric Curren, co-founder of Transition Staunton-Augusta and the online publication Transition Voice, who will be our host today, and you’ll hear more about them both in a few minutes. My name is Carolyne Stayton, and this call is sponsored by Transition US, the national hub of the Transition Network, which is now in 34 countries.

In the US, there are 103 official transition initiatives in 31 states, and a host of others that are in various stages of formation. Our goal for 2012 is to have transition initiatives in all 50 states and to have 200 of them, so, look forward to celebrating that at the end of next year. There are also a number of fantastic organizations and efforts out there that are working hard to transition their communities, many of which we have the good fortune to be working with at this time. If you have not had the opportunity to do so, we invite you to contribute to this work by going to our homepage and pressing the donate button. Contributing enables us to put on programming like this and various webinars, to build our resource library, and to develop new trainings in support of the emerging transition initiatives, so thank you very much for your support and help.

So today’s topic is A Conversation with Chris Martenson. Chris has been very active in analyzing the economy, so we’re really fortunate to have him on the call today. We expect the call to last upwards of 75 minutes. In the first 20 minutes or so, Eric will be introducing Chris, and Chris will talk to us about what he sees as currently happening in the economy, in his assessment. Then Eric will ask Chris a number of questions, which many of you submitted, and we will also try to take some live questions as well. Then we will end with some closing remarks and an opportunity to shout out your greetings and your thanks. So without further ado, I will introduce Eric Curren to you and we will get started. Eric, let me say a little bit about you.

Eric is the publisher of Transition Voice, and with his wife Lindsey, they are editing Transition Voice and they’re celebrating their one year anniversary, so congratulations, Eric, on that. They founded Transition Staunton-Augusta, in December 2009, and they’ve been involved in this work ever since. Eric is a businessman and a community leader, and has worked for two decades to create companies and organizations that are built to last and to move the community where he’s lived to support clean energy and a sustainable economy. He is currently the managing partner in the Curren group, a communications and marketing agency in Staunton, Virginia. In 2009, he ran as Democratic candidate for delegate to the 20th House of the District of Virginia. He earned a Bachelor’s in English from Washington and Lee University in Lexington and a Doctorate of English from the University of California-Irvine. He’s also a graduate of the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia. So thank you Eric, thank you so much for being our host today, and we look forward very much to this conversation between the two of you.

Eric CurrenEric Curren: Well thank you Carolyne, thanks for all the good work you do at Transition US and thanks in particular for convening this call with Chris Martenson, who I’ve admired for a long time from afar, but now I get to speak to him. I think this is the second time in person, I think I met him at an ASPO meeting to start with. I’m really looking forward to hearing Chris’s thoughts on the economy and how folks on the call and in the Transition movement can prepare themselves for a world of massive changes in the next 20 years, as Chris has talked about so eloquently in his video series The Crash Course, which I understand has been watched by more than a million people around the world and translated into several different languages. It’s now come out in book form just this year, and I can say I’m about a third of the way through and it’s really gripping reading, especially the section at the beginning where Chris talks about exponential growth with things like gas and population and use of resources and why exponential growth matters to people who are looking at the future. So I’ll look forward to, if Chris feels like he can address that topic, to hearing a little bit more about that too.

You may know Chris as the author of The Crash Course, but Chris has got a very interesting background. He’s got three young kids. Of course he’s an author, of course he’s an obsessive observer of the financial world. But Chris actually trained as a scientist. He got a PhD in neurotoxicology from Duke, and he planned to go into academia. As did I when I got my degree in English. But Chris, for various reasons which he may want to address, decided instead that he was going to go into business, so he got an MBA from Cornell in finance. He started working for a Fortune 300 scientific application company, where he reached his fairly high position, had a comfortable, middle class, professional life.

Then, when the market crashed in the early part of the last decade, and Chris started looking at his investments, it got him thinking about the larger picture of the economy, and how that was connected to other things, like the environment and energy. He started digging around, as many of us do who are interested in peak oil and climate change and economy, and he came to some interesting conclusions, which he’ll tell us about, I’m sure. And, basically he decided that he wanted to change his whole life.

So Chris, now that I’ve given you a bit of an introduction, I wonder if you might jump in and talk about how you decided to make that pretty big change in your life, to move from a large house in the midst of Connecticut on the waterfront, to a small farmhouse in western Massachusetts, where you can make your family more resilient and be part of a community. I wonder if you might talk about that shift a little bit, and then if you might go into talking to us about the economy and where you see it heading. 

Chris MartensonChris Martenson: Sure, Eric. Thank you for that kind introduction, and thank you Transition Towns, and thank you to everyone on this call for taking this time. It’s a pleasure to here to talk with everyone today. When 2000, 2001 came along, and I was just living my life and doing what I was supposed to, and discovered that my portfolio was getting ruined, I became curious, actually I was frightened and curious, so I started digging into the economy and very quickly I discovered two very important things.

One is that I knew almost nothing about how the economy actually worked and how money was created. They’re not hard topics, but somehow I missed out on these really seminal topics as I went through all that schooling.

The second thing was that I was able to outpace my broker in about a month in terms of actual market knowledge and depth, and that didn’t seem right either. So when I first came to this, it was really a little bit self interested. What’s happening? I need to understand this so that maybe I can take some steps to protect myself, my family, our money, our savings, and the more I dug in, the more I realized that there was a much, much larger story here, and that it went well beyond me and my loved ones, and that the future was going to be just absolutely, fundamentally different from the past. That’s an important concept because, as humans, what we tend to do is model, to develop a model in our heads for what’s about to happen next, based on what just happened. I came to the conclusion that what just happened, meaning the last 10 or 20 years of economic expansion, was a particularly poor model to understand the future.

To cut to the chase, it took me a few years, actually about 3 years of intense inquiry, another couple years of practicing this stuff in front of audiences. Finally, by 2008, I converted all these thoughts into something called The Crash Course, the video series online, and was very successful there. That’s been translated into numerous languages now by volunteers: full German, full Spanish, other ones in various text translations. So it actually resonated pretty widely, and it should have been a complete disaster. As a business model, it wouldn’t have gotten off paper, because what I did is put a whole lot of data into a spot of a powerpoint and I talked over it, that just doesn’t sound very compelling. But it turned out, it was the right information for enough people at this time. And what it is is just the synthesis of the idea that we can no longer look at any one spot, one of these big areas in isolation. Which we really tend to do: we have a lot of silos and silo thinking, both in how we train ourselves, our educational establishment, and how people go into the workforce, various policies and decision making capabilities.

My view is that the economy has to be understood in the context of energy, as well as with the environment. Those 3 E’s. And then with this understanding of the fourth E, called exponential growth, under there, which I’ll get to in a second. The whole thing, and I don’t want to re-summarize really what those 3 E’s are in this call, I can do it in 3 facts really quickly.

The first is that our economy is built on growth, that is actually a function itself of our money system. We have a type of money system, I’m not going to say whether it’s good or bad or put any judgement on it, but just understanding our system of money leads you to the conclusion that we have an exponential money system. That is, we like our money, and the flip side of money, because we loan all money into existence, is debt. So money and debt both have been growing exponentially, since the 1950’s and 1960’s, it’s been on an almost perfect exponential trajectory, both money and debt. So here’s the most compelling statistic I know about debt that tells me the next 20 years are very unlikely to resemble the last 20 or even the last 40 years. Start in 1970, take total credit market debt, total debt, and then start watching your growth go forward. How many years does it take before that credit market debt, and that’s everything, state, federal, local, corporate, private or household. Take all the credit debt you can possibly think of, and put it all in one pile and start at 1970 and by 1977 it’s doubled. And then just eight more years later it’s doubled again, and then in another nine years it’s doubled again. Another ten years it’s doubled, another eleven years it’s doubled. So we have five-fold doublings of our credit market debt in just four decades. Long story short, if we want this next decade to resemble any of those prior four, we have to go from $52 to $104 trillion dollars in debt. We have to accumulate another $50 trillion in debt.

Well, here’s the thing: to really support that kind of debt, you have to have a story to go with it. You need a railroad to be invented, you need an Internet, you need an industrial revolution... you need some really massive economic story to support that kind of debt growth. And we just don’t have that kind of story right now because it turns out, 95% of everything that goes from point A to point B gets there because of liquid fuels, and when I say liquid fuels we’re talking almost entirely, completely, without exception about petroleum, with very marginal biofuels and other things sort of adding to the mix, but petroleum. Petroleum is how we grow. It’s our economic lubricant, it’s how we do everything.

And there, the second thing, is that oil discoveries peaked in the decade of the 1960’s, with the actual year of the peak in 1964. That’s so far in the rear view mirror, and we have not even come close to matching the level of oil discoveries in any decade since. In fact, there’s been a very steady downhill slope in discoveries since the peak. And there’s this rule in the oil business that you have to find oil before you can pump it. We have this peak, that’s now approaching 50 years in the rear view mirror, and that stands as a fact. And guess what: in about 2005, we hit a peak in conventional oil production. That’s cheap, easy oil. So we look at this, we say gosh, we have this economy, it’s built on this type of money that requires growth to be happy, and that form of growth requires this special form of energy that we call liquid fuels, and those don’t look like they can grow anymore. All we have to do is just put those 2 facts together and say, hmm, gosh, how are we going to double our credit market debt again, how are we going to do that if we don’t have the fuel we need to support a story that will allow us to engage in a continuation of this massive debt accumulation?

And oh, by the way, that debt accumulation, I didn’t just cherry pick and only go back to 1970. That’s about when this story really took off. Through all of history prior to that in our country, we’ve never seen a pace of debt accumulation like that. That story, from 1970 to current, is a really fundamental shift in our approach towards, our beliefs around, our expectations, our implicit assumptions around credit, credit growth, and what the future is going to look like, because ever-growing debt has the implicit assumption, maybe even explicit, that if you have the right assumption baked into it that the future is going to be larger than the present, much larger, exponentially larger.

Then the third fact that I would throw on top of this, that we’ve got this economy that must grow, we have this concern that maybe its main source of fuel, that its most economically important source of fuel can’t grow, and, against that, we have this other story of depletion of key things from the environment, be they water, soils, minerals, species... whatever these things that we’re talking about, they’re key signs of stress. So the third key fact is that population at six, now approaching seven billion, is clearly, quantifiably hitting limits. Maybe they haven’t hit to actual shortages quite yet, but gosh, it’s so close that as prudent adults we should really be looking at it. And by this I mean that we can see, for certain key minerals, it may be only a decade or two from here, at current rates of consumption, that these minerals will be completely depleted from known reserves. Okay, maybe we’ll find different minerals. If we don’t have as much tin, maybe we’ll find a substitute for tin. Certainly there will be part of that. But the story here is that, after only 150 years of industrialization, we are already staring into the windshield of this global car we’re driving and we see the end of the road for a bunch of key minerals. And oh by the way, we’ve used many of these in a way that they can never be recovered again. We’ve taken fairly concentrated ores, really concentrated them in the smelting process, and then lost them at the molecular level into the ocean, the atmosphere, the soil, wherever, never to be economically recovered again.

And so the fact that really caught me and made me sit up and take notice is this one: somebody who is 22 years old today has been alive since half of all the oil ever has been burned. So what happens in the next 22 years, and how about the 22 years after that? This is a story, if you’re thinking anywhere further than just the next month or the next quarter, if you’re in charge of endowments, pensions, if you’re a leader of a country, you’re a planner of a community, if you just happen to be a concerned individual. I think if you stretch your view out just into these next couple of decades, there’s enough there to make you say, OOH!, maybe there’s some risks here, maybe there’s some modifications, maybe there’s some things we can do, should be doing, consider doing, that would make a lot of sense in this environment.

And so the chief concern I have is around the economy, and I focus on the economy for a couple of reasons. One is, I can engage anybody from any part of the spectrum on things that relate to their own pocketbook. It is a very easy topic, so that’s the easy reason I focus on it. The more important reason is that, without a functioning economy, practically nothing else is possible. So all of the things we are really hoping to do: having technology play an important mitigating role, having progress and advancement, having a stable society to live within, having the kinds of opportunities available that do allow for progress and advancement and fun and all those other things. For all those other things to happen, having a functioning economy is much better than not, in my mind. My concern is that, since our economy is predicated upon growth, what happens when we don’t have that growth?

I think we’re already at the beginning parts of that story. In fact, I’m positive. So when we look across the US landscape, we see signs of stress. Maybe we’re noting headlines barraging us lately: income levels have slid to 1996 levels. Housing prices are continuing to slump. Record food stamp utilization. We’ve got Occupy Wall Street going on. Hey, record levels of poverty. Really stubborn unemployment, underemployment. Hey, what are all these things telling us? I think what they’re telling us is that the total economic pie is just shrinking. And when it shrinks I have this view of the world that says when a system gets stressed, what tends to happen is it starts to stress and it starts to fall apart from the outside in. Meaning the weaker, more marginal elements of that system, those are the ones that fall off first. So this could be what we’re looking at Europe. It’s a single economic system, but when the economic difficulty started to hit in Europe, it was really Ireland that got hit first, then Greece got in trouble, now Portugal, now Spain, and it might be progressing into France and Germany, certainly into their banking systems. That’s another example from the outside in. And as I look across this landscape, there’s so many examples of this outside-in collapse happening. Maybe collapse is too strong of a word, but retreat or signs of trouble.

That fits very nicely with this model where we say what would we predict, if we took a complex system, like an economy or a political system or cultural system, any of these things: what would we predict if we took a complex system and starved it for energy? And the answer is you would see exactly what we are seeing today. Maybe the details can’t be predicted. Certainly not exactly what’s going to happen and when: no one can predict those things, that’s another feature of a complex system. But we know this about complex systems: that they require energy for their complexity and their order, and if you remove that energy, the complexity starts to go away. That’s a loaded statement that may not sound very pleasant: Oh look, we have less complexity, that’s a wonderful thing, it is in my life. But in economics it is not a wonderful thing, because we have a highly interdependent, interconnected economic system. It’s very cost-effective, it’s delivered just incredible returns on investment, it’s been very monetarily successful, but it’s not resilient. These very long global supply chains with very thin inventories, the fact that everything has to be moving at just the right time and ending up in just the right place in order for it all to function, there’s risks embedded in that.

So here we are in our country, in the US, heading into this landscape where we can clearly see peak oil, where we absolutely, unarguably have passed cheap, easy oil. We have a system that is utterly dependent on cheap and easy oil and we don’t have any plan B. And so that’s the larger context into which I see things like Occupy Wall Street or the Transition movement or local efforts to create food networks or whatever these things are that are popping up everywhere now. And the context for those is that there are very serious, very definable, quantifiable, observable risks out there that suggest that the way things have been offering is not going to be the way they’re operating in the future. And that whatever we can possibly do to step into that and create resilience in our own lives, in our communities, as far as our own personal sphere of influence can extend, those are really good things to do.

Ultimately, this whole story can be summed up in a very simple statement, which is that anything that is unsustainable is going to stop. We were clearly on an unsustainable pace of debt accumulation, and it stopped in 2008. We were on an unsustainable course of action with respect to our energy consumption patterns, so that will stop. Anything that’s finite that you’re consuming at increasing rates, eventually your ability to consume at an increasing rate will stop, because it is an unsustainable practice. So we have multiple unsustainable practices all converging into a very narrow window of time, which will be the twenty-teens. It’s happening right now: three or four years ago, I used to say change is coming, and I’m modifying that. Change is here. It’s here.

The key thing here, if anybody on this call happens to have gone to my website and checked out the Crash Course series online or looked at it in the book form, is to really take a look at the part on exponential growth, because that’s the key to really understanding why things are going the way they are. First of all, if anybody shares this assessment with me, does it seem like everything is kinda speeding up, it’s going faster and faster, my answer is yes. It’s not a quirk of your vision, it’s absolutely true. Things are speeding up and exponential functions have this funny way of seeming to operate relatively slowly and then they speed up really rapidly right towards the end, that’s how they operate. And we’re not wired to really understand exponential growth, we’re wired with linear stuff. Linear: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. We get that, easily. Exponential stuff is much more difficult, and we have to put really concerted effort into understanding it, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it because we’re surrounded by exponential charts and graphics, everything: water use, flora and species extinctions, money supply, population, energy use, utilization, anything you can imagine, everything is measured exponentially now. And driving all of that, driving every bit of that is population, that’s been the main driver.

We are now at a really, really unique piece of history, where all of our institutions, all of our muscle memory, as it were, is around how things work: economically, monetarily, culturally: all of those are about to run into something we’ve never encountered as a species before, and that is a global shortage of resources. Again, this doesn’t mean we run into that brick wall, it’s all over, it stops. It means that how things used to work is not how they will continue to work.

And that’s a story which has opportunity in it, and it has challenges. The challenges I reserve for those people, institutions, communities who don’t see this coming, adhere to the idea that we will have business as usual, or recovery, some set of conditions that will somehow prevent the need to make adjustments or modifications or changes to our lives. I think those disruptions, for those people, companies, individuals, are going to be potentially quite profound. On the other side, if you see this story coming and you see it’s a big shift and you understand that there’s just a whole new direction that a lot of things are going to go, I believe that it’s entirely possible to have and fashion a perfectly abundant and perfectly joyful, prosperous life, and to live into that new future.

But it requires us to do something really bold, and that’s to have a new story, a new narrative that we operate by. If the old narrative was economic growth, we have to have economic growth, let me put that into shorthand, so really saying, by economic growth, is we want to have an increasing rate of throughput, of resources, from the natural world, through our human derived economic engine, out into the other side as waste stream that goes back into the world. That’s what we mean by business as usual or economic growth: we want that story to continue. That’s our narrative. We’re the species that takes stuff out of the earth, does stuff to it, dumps waste back into the earth. That’s our story. It’s been a great story for a long time. But here we are, and I think the opportunity here is to say, can we shift that story? Is there something we need to do to modify that story so we can create a world worth inheriting, a legacy, can we leave some things behind not just for our children but for all the species that might need it in order to have a really functioning world?

The answer is absolutely, we can shift that narrative. We certainly can. But we’ve got to get that story running. So that really is what my work is around: is trying to frame the discussion, add the pieces up, such that we can start to have an adult sized open dialogue about what stories are working for us and which ones aren’t. It’s my belief that we have a money system that’s poorly designed for this current reality, and as a consequence we have an economy that’s poorly designed for this new reality. It means that, because we have a defective money system where we’ve mispriced money, it’s too cheap, the federal reserve is giving zero percent interest rates. What we’re doing is mispricing money, they’re giving us bad signals about where we need to be headed, and our priorities are all goofed up as a consequence.

Instead, what we really should be doing, and it’s magic wand time here, is we should be figuring out a way to organize ourselves around energy, not money. Money should be a derivative of energy, not the other way around. Energy is the primary lens through which I think the main sweep of the story can best be interpreted, but I look at it through the economy because that’s where we feel it most acutely. That’s where we’re going to detect a sense of loss or abundance depending on how the story turns out, and that’s where we explore opportunities as we come into jobs, explore those careers, things like that.

So, yes I talk about the economy, but really this is an energy story that needs to be discussed more fully. So, anyway, that’s a quick summary there. Anybody who isn’t familiar with my work can get the whole thing for free online at my site, and just start watching the video series there. Three and a half hours for the whole one, 45 minutes for shorter ones, and they go even shorter. It’s a story that ultimately I would really encourage you to look at and share because it’s prudent to be... well, here’s how it helps. I think knowing what is happening provides a relief valve. Just understanding the story a bit and the framework that makes sense and matches with the news and the information cycle, that’s great relief. The second thing is that it informs all kinds of decisions that I make from where I do invest or how I choose to store my wealth or what sorts of things I do buy or don’t buy or where I am going to live, all kinds of things. How I educate my children, literally everything flows off of this story in my life. And, maybe I’m just one person, but it’s been enormously beneficial to me and my family to hold this framework. So, I guess I’ll leave it there, cause I can just keep going on but I’d rather field questions.

Eric Curren: Great, Chris. Thanks, thank you so much, you’ve given us a lot to think about. So what I’d like to do is I’d like to start out with a couple of my own questions. Then, we did receive some questions through the Transition US website and I’d like to share some of those questions with you and get your response as well. The first question that came up for me when you were talking about the complex system of the economy and how so many parts of it are unsustainable, that complexity will likely end up being simplified, and as you said, that is an unthreatening way of describing a process that could actually involve a lot of suffering for people we know and maybe even for ourselves if not done right. It already has involved a lot of suffering; all the measures that you talked about, all the people on welfare and food stamps, all the people who are unemployed and the people who have lost their homes and -- it’s a very difficult environment, not only economically but psychologically and emotionally.

My first question for you, Chris, is fear can be a really counterproductive response to the type of challenge that we’re facing. I wanted to get a sense from you of, realistically, what can we expect in the next ten years? I wanted to throw out there the work of James Howard Kuntsler, who’s written the nonfiction book The Long Emergency, where he essentially talks about a half century or longer period where industrial society just kind of comes apart. In his couple of world-made-by-hand novels, Kuntsler has visualized what that might look like on the ground, taking his own small town in upstate New York as sort of a model for a fictional town he calls Union Grove. And Union Grove, in the days after the post peak oil, post economic collapse is a place that’s more or less gone back to the nineteenth century. There are no cars, there’s no petroleum run transportation, there’s no electricity, people are plowing fields with draft animals, bandits are roaming the countryside, and there’s not only no international trade or international order, but it seems like the government of the United States has also collapsed.

So I don’t know how willing you are to be that specific about what you see the possible future to be, but I wonder if you could be as specific as possible in telling us what you think we might expect over the next twenty years of massive change.

Chris Martenson: Well, Eric, the simple answer is, let’s constrain ourselves just to the economy, just for a second, this will make it easy. What we did in those four decades of quintupling, or not quintupling, going through 5 doublings of debt. At the same time, over 20 of those years we ran this really massive trade deficit. So here’s the position the United States was in for at least 1991 to current: we have been exporting dollars and we’ve been importing stuff. That’s a really good job if you can do it, that’s good work. What that means is we’ve been living beyond our means. We’ve been borrowing, borrowing from the rest of the world, the producers, in order to consume their stuff.

And just on that basis alone, if that means we were living above our means for 20 years, what do we need to do to correct that?  All other things being equal, we have to live below our means for 20 years, so an equal and offsetting amount of consumption gets undone. That tells us that, just on that basis, we can look into the future and say, we have lower standards of living, meaning we’ve got less consumption of stuff. We’ve got fewer goods and products flowing in from overseas and allowing us to consume that undebt and credit.

So right there I can just say, lower standards of living. Okay, so that’s sort of the general trajectory of this thing, but on top of that of course we have the other sort of conditions that I tossed in there, peak oil being one, we’ve got demographic issues I didn’t raise... There’s a whole host of things. And so the worry here is that there is a chance that there could be a fairly large perturbation in this complex system over some relatively small insult. Chaos theory, right? Butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil and there’s a hurricane next year in the Gulf. You know, something like that, right?

And so where Kuntsler’s gone ahead and said very prescriptively “this is the future we’re going to have,” I have this risk based background, and I think that 80 percent chance, the biggest chance here, is just like today. We have periods of seeming recovery, there’s another big scare, another big period of recovery, oops another big scare, and we basically stair step our way from this living standard to that one. That’s the most likely outcome that I see.

However, I reserve a reasonable chance that we will see something much less favorable and more disruptive. And, there, I’m just holding open the idea that we’ve never-- we’re in really uncharted territory-- we’ve never, as a globe, had a full, 100 percent integrated, debt based money system. All money is the same at this point. You can differentiate between Euros and Yen and Dollars and Rubles, but there’s no difference. All of our markets are linked, they’re really tightly linked now. You know, when the US market goes up, the French market goes up, the German market goes up. And later that night the Japanese market goes up, and then they all go down. So there’s no more of this bull working. You know, there’s no firebreaks, the whole world is now in this one, pretty tightly integrated system. And that says that if any one part of that system goes down, we’re going to have a chance of the whole thing going down. Boy, we came (and I’m holding my fingers close here) this close to having that actually happen in 2008 when the UK banking system, within hours, according to Mervin King, head of the Bank of England, we were within hours of seeing the whole banking system over there shut down, which could have necessitated a cross border shut down of all the associated banks--basically a system shut down. And that’s a scary situation because we’ve never been through it and we don’t know what would happen and it’s not clear how you restart something like that, and it’d just be messy for a while.

So I think there’s another 15% chance (and I’ve got 80% reserved for exactly what we see, you know, maybe the shocks get a little closer and a little deeper as we go forward), another 15% chance, bringing us up to 95%, that there’s something a bit more disruptive that happens, that really is worse than anything we’ve currently seen. This could be a fiscal crisis in the United States that morphs into a dollar crisis that very, very rapidly reverses the fortunes of this country for anything that’s traded on the world markets. That’s food, fuel, clothing, anything you can imagine that’s something that could really skyrocket. There’s a  very reasonable chance that something like that might happen.

Then there’s a one in 20 chance that we could see something more disruptive than that, which is some sort of an unfixable breakdown in the banking system such that things don’t move. So a while back I was talking about how we have this just-in-time global delivery system, but it really deserves talking about for just a second. You know, Chicago probably has about 6 days of chlorine on hand for its water treatment facilities. And the way it gets more chlorine, and this is the way practically any good or product moves, is they call up the chlorine distributor and Chicago has a line of credit or a banking arrangement and that banking transaction occurs or is promised to occur in a certain amount of time and more chlorine comes. Anything you can possibly think of-- the food, the fuel, medical supplies-- anything you can imagine, it’s all connected by this system of having our 1’s and 0’s, digits across fiber optic cables and phone lines and whatnot, representing money, moving hither and yon. And anything that can create a disruption in that system will very, very rapidly cause disruptions throughout the world’s larger supply chains. And we’ll experience as a certainty, nobody will know what’s where or who owes who what and there will be failed institutions, nobody will know which institutions are safe or not, and we could see a fairly significant disruption. And how that plays out, whether it plays out like Mr. Kuntsler has described or some million other ways is we don’t really know.

That’s the key uncertainty that brings the fear angle up that you opened with. That uncertainty leads to and breeds fear. It’s because it’s the unknown. Instead though, I would suggest that the larger risk to individuals and communities actually exists anywhere in the spectrum but in the 80%. What we learned from the collapse of the former Soviet Union and the Russian Satellite states was that it wasn’t the economic collapse that was the killer there. It was people’s responses to it. In Russia, the number one killer of people aged 54 and under, during the years after the collapse, was alcoholism, in one fashion or another. 52% of all deaths of people were associated with alcohol for people aged 54 and under, which is just astonishing. It’s literally a 4% statistic for a healthy society.

So we might be tempted to think that Russia has a predilection for vodka and that was sort of their response and that we would respond better. But a study just came out and it says that in the US, communities and areas with highest foreclosure rates, which are coincident with job losses and economic stresses and all that, that emergency room visits for heart attacks and for acute illnesses and for even general malaise is something that they’re recording. Those are up sharply higher in those communities.

So really the key risk here in economic decline, first and foremost, the biggest one, like if we’re structuring these and we’re saying what is the biggest risk we face, I would say that at the bottom of that would be that maybe everything collapses, goes really, really chaotic and we end up back in the 19th century. It’s possible, not probable. What’s entirely probable is that the responses to it, which are leading to various forms of isolation, like sitting on the sofa, watching too much tv, sleeping too little, drinking too much, illicit or licit drug use and abuse, things like that are things that tend to really knock people out during these periods of economic turbulence. And I think it’s compounded in our country by the fact that we have a very, very insular society and culture.

Recently I was talking with a psychiatrist, and she mentioned to me that she lives in one of the richest counties or zip codes in America. She’d seen a real uptick in business on her end from people who were coming in, leaving the privacy of their living rooms, and coming to her with, to them, very horrific tales of economic woe.  They were bearing it alone, and often that leads to these responses that I talked about before. So that’s something that we’re really starting to focus on, at my website and in my writings. It is not so much chronicling the breakdown, I think that that’s pretty much… we’re just observing it now, it gets to remind us where we are in the story, and that we have a way of understanding why we think this to be. The challenge now is to figure out how we’re going to support ourselves, come out of our I culture and more to a we culture, come into community. Not simply to plant gardens and put in fruit trees which are just excellent activities. But because of the risk, the key risk here, that’s it’s going to be our neighbors’ response or our own response to this economic difficulty that probably represents the biggest risk to our happiness and well-being over this next period of time as we go through this adjustment.

Eric Curren: So it sounds like you give the psychological component a lot of weight and that, while you see that there are definitely real risks out there, that you might agree with FDR when he said during the Depression that “The only thing to fear is fear itself?”

Chris Martenson: Yes. Well, maybe it’s not the only thing, but it’s certainly something to worry about. The psychological component turns out to be really, really important. Our minds and our bodies are connected and when our minds are stressed, our bodies get stressed. And so, really, what’s the goal here? My goal, personally, is to be happy and healthy no matter what unfolds. And whatever unfolds, I want to be not only standing on the other side, but I want to, if at all possible, have a great time getting there. That’s the operating environment I’m in.

It took me a long time to even get to that spot, though, so I recognize as well, and one of the pieces that we deal with and work with at our site is the idea that, when we as individuals confront this big story of change, it’s an emotional progression that is usually our first body of work.

In parallel with that we might do things which I think are very very important, and we have a whole What Should I Do series on my website which is around how you might take initial, very important, very necessary steps towards personal, physical resilience: food, water, shelter, things like that.

Very important as well, and parallel with that, we will find that people are moving through an emotional progression that really mirrors the 5 stages of grief. Loss around grief that Kubler-Ross identified, so that’s coming out of denial and moving into anger, then coming into a form of bargaining and maybe going through depression and then coming into acceptance. And along the way, I insert another stage in there which is fear. And, so, what we focus on quite a bit, especially in the seminars that I offer in conjunction with my wife, is that progression. Understanding where are we, emotionally, and what do we need to do in order that we’ve liberated ourselves to a point where we can take action. Because it’s really the actions that count.

Here’s the most common thing that I hear from people when I’m out in public. They say, you know, I’ve heard all this and, frankly, I have a huge amount of anxiety around it, I really do, and what do I do? So I’ll ask them some questions and I’ll discover, almost invariably, they know a lot about where we currently are in the story. They know a lot! They can recite all kinds of statistics. They can chronicle really well what’s going on. They get it! And then when I ask them other questions about how their life is configured, we find a big gap between what they know to be true or what they think they know to be true and what they’re actually doing about it. There’s all sorts of reasons for that: Well, I have to finish my job out, six more years til I’m 59 and a half, my kids are still in high school... there’s all sorts of reasons and they’re all very compelling. But ultimately, it’s the gap between what we’re actually doing, our actions, and what we know to be true. And it’s in that gap, that’s where anxiety dwells.

So what I try and do is to close that gap up, and it’s surprisingly simple. Any actions at all that start to demonstrate an alignment with what we’re thinking or what we know to be true often provides outsized relief. It’s really impressive. So we do have a heavy focus at my site and in my work around how do we boost actions, knowing that these actions are entirely necessary but maybe insufficient for some of the stories that we might imagine could come forward. That necessary but insufficient piece, it’s still absolutely necessary.

So I spend a lot of my time urging people to action and spending time trying to figure out how to craft a message, work with a message, delivered in such a way, what’s the best way to move towards action? Because the first step is often the hardest, and once that ice is broken, I find that people race along and often come back and say, you know what, I feel a ton better. And I am like great! That, to me, is a very important, measurable, and should not be overlooked component of all this. Which is, how do we wake up each day and feel good about where we are. Because the sun still rises, we have lots of resources, there’s plenty of opportunities out there, there’s all kinds of things. We are not, certainly, absolutely nowhere near game over in any stretch, but sometimes people interpret it that way. So anything I can do to help nudge them out of this cul-de-sac of paralysis back into moving is really what I spend quite a bit of time doing.

Eric Curren: Now it sounds like the approach you’re talking about shares a lot in common with Transition, and the Transition movement. While not monolithic, this approach does seem to have certain themes that most Transition groups and most discussions in Transition communities share, and one of them is an emphasis on action. The other one is an emphasis on positive, proactive action and positive solutions.

So many people in Transition have already begun to do some of the things to prepare for a very different economy that you’ve been talking about. I think a lot of us who work with local Transition groups or are involved in national and international Transition discussions are eager to reach out to a larger audience and connect to trends that are happening in society. And of course with the economy being so tough, so many people out of work, so many people experiencing economic hardships in fairly wealthy places who maybe have never experienced it before in their whole lives. You do have people who are getting depressed, who are sort of... they’re looking for something, they’re looking for something to do, they’re looking for a solution. And whether it’s they think that the economy is going to come back and that everything is going to be fine, or they’re starting to think that maybe they need to do something themselves that’s more proactive, people do seem to be looking.

My question is, Transition seems t to draw from people who are traditionally interested in the environment and in energy. And those are issues that, it may just be my reading of the national consciousness, but energy and environment seem to have taken second place to the economy, to the economic crisis. And since gas prices are not as high as they were in 2008, that doesn’t seem to be as much of a concern as it was before. The environment, unfortunately, seems to have been really pushed down after the climate change legislation failed to pass through congress, and now the tea party and the Republicans are making such an issue of how climate change is a hoax. Bill Clinton may be embarrassed for the rest of the world, but somehow many Americans are not embarrassed, and we’re the only country that seems to really still argue about this issue.

So, with energy and environment not at the top of the agenda, and with the economy definitely on the top of the agenda, I’m wondering how you think, Chris, that Transition groups and the Transition movement can connect to that economic language, those economic concerns, the financial issues that are on everybody’s lists, on everybody’s minds, and that are scaring many many people to death. How can we bridge that gap and start to be more economy savvy and connect with people who are having a tough time in the economy and offer them some hope, some solace, some solutions?

Chris Martenson: That’s a great question. You’ve touched on one of the reasons why I chose the economy as the avenue I wanted to go down. Mainly it’s because, in large measure, it’s where we’re probably going to experience all of these things that we’ve talked about, things that are going to unfold out of sight really, as it were, in the environment and the energy. Nobody really knows where the oil comes from, but we connect with the price of gasoline. The economy gives us an opportunity to really bridge every possible grouping out there.

So where we are in this particular predicament is such that everybody’s gotta be on board. Just everybody. I know Transition supports this as a concept. And I’ve found that whether you’re left or right or old or young or rich or poor or Hindu, Christian, Muslim, whatever, it doesn’t matter where you are on any of these so-called left-right spectrums: conservative, liberal. What I care about is whether we’re going to start making the right choices instead of the wrong ones. So that’s a whole different axis. Let’s put that one up-down and all these other ones are kinda left-right. And so, when we get into the up-down axis, we need to organize around something that’s really neutral, which means we can’t really engage with anything that either is belief oriented, around which people already have formed beliefs, or which already have magnets associated with them, which would polarize people into left-right camps.

Fortunately, the economy is something that we can all agree on. It’s really non-partisan, non-denominational, a very approachable subject for almost everybody. So it’s a great thing to focus on because everybody cares about it. And the second thing is that we can have really wonderful fact-based discussions around it, which is nice. And the third thing is that it’s a great place around which to develop some skills and expertise and to be able to bring those and offer those to the larger community.

I know that there are groups that have been enormously successful. I was out in California with Adam, who I believe is on this call, and this was my second time through a little town called Sonora, out in the foothills to the east of San Francisco, maybe about an hour away from Yosemite. And I’d been there in 2009 and the person in town had used the crash course and showed it again and again and again. This local architect, he just said every Thursday night, I’m just going to show one of these three discs and we’re going to keep rotating. He did that about six months and had a little over 440 people show up in the opera hall to hear me talk.

I talked and I went away and I came back this year and they said we have a special present for you and this wonderful girl walks up and hands me this potato handbook where they are now, as a consequence of his efforts and using the economic lens to focus people. They’ve gotten the whole town, well not the whole town, but a big chunk of the whole town to agree to do some really unusual things. And growing potatoes was one of those things. So every year they take a 5 acre plot on somebody’s land and they plow it up and they plant potatoes and the kids have all gotten involved and they plant the seeds. They created this handbook about where potatoes come from and how they got them, it’s called the Dirty Kids Club.

So they used the economic lens as an organizing force to really cut across social spectra and they’ve been doing it with really great success and a lot of joy. They’ve managed to keep all the momentum and they’re getting a lot done.

So there’s an example of, I think, there’s already-- the Crash Course happens to be already, pre-made materials. It really worked very, very well for showing in public settings to enable people to come and watch and say, I see that, now what? Transition offers a now what, which is a great thing. Other people come to different sort of conclusions and have a different sort of now what response, and that’s fine, too. The point here that I think is really, really important to get people really crystallized around and to really internalize the idea that things might not be going back to normal. And once they can really embody that, and by the way it takes some people a couple of years, it takes other people a couple of minutes, it’s a process for everybody.

Once people hold that, though, and see that things aren’t going back to normal, now they’re really ready to engage and put their time in. For people that happen to be unemployed, one of the things they do have is time, and once we can start getting away from the idea that each of us has to bear our own economic burdens in isolation, I think that gives us an opportunity to come out and help each other through these times. But we can’t do that unless we have a common understanding around what the issues really are. And they’re not that hard to explain, and people can get them and once they do, I find that it’s pretty remarkable how they manage to hold onto that framework and not get lured back into the conventional thinking.

I would suggest that Transition should be adopting some sort of curriculum of economic inquiry and discussions and using that as a focus point to say, look, we’re a group of organized people in this community, we’re concerned about these things. And if you held talks on the economy, simple ones. Here’s one: you want to pack a room? Say, we’re going to bring an expert to talk about how you can preserve your 401-K in these troubled times. It’s not a sales pitch, this is a free discussion, and any of you that might be interested or concerned about that, here’s the time and the place. You’ll get all kinds of people to come to that. And that’s fine. That’s perfectly fine.

I’m really agnostic about what moves people towards activism, awareness, or understanding. I have neighbors now that planted fruit trees because I planted fruit trees. I did it because I’m worried about food security. They did it, maybe, I don’t know why, maybe they like the look of the trees and they like the flowers in the spring. I don’t care why they did it. Totally agnostic. They don’t have to share my belief around why I planted fruit trees. Totally immaterial. I do care that they actually planted fruit trees, though. I think that’s wonderful. So again, anything that works now, I think that that’s part of the story we’re in, where anything that works, that’s what we really need to focus on.

As a closing aside, I had an opportunity to teach a couple of classes at Yale yesterday and these students were there. One of the students was pretty distraught with me because I don’t use global warming and really focus on it and talk about it and spend time on it. It’s not that I’m not concerned about it, it’s just that from my mission of getting people to move to action, I’ve learned the hard way that global warming may be one of the largest threats that we’re facing but it is an absolutely horrible motivator to action. Dan Ariely, the behavioral economist, explained to me why that is. I think it’s because, as humans, we are really wired, hard wired, to respond effectively to threats that are immediate and quantifiable. And we’re less well wired to respond to threats that are distant and nebulous. Even though those distant threats might be absolutely, phenomenally gigantic, it turns out that we are just wired to deal with things that are near and immediate. Well, there’s nothing more near and immediate than our own jobs and our own financial circumstances, and if at the end of the day we use one set of information that motivates people to cut their carbon footprint and use less fuel and use the economy as the means to leverage into that action, does it really matter to us that they did it for that reason than because they say I’m doing this because I’m concerned about global warming and it’s the same net effect on their footprint? To me it doesn’t, so what I really am sort of mercenary about is that, when we’re at this part of a story, when there’s so little time remaining and there’s so much urgency and so many things that need to be done, triaging ourselves down into what works best is both an excellent strategy and tactic.

Eric Curren: Chris, I know we’re reaching the close of our call. Would you have time for a couple of quick questions from the web on specific solutions that people are wondering about?

Chris Martenson: Sure.

Eric Curren: OK. So, Diane asks, those of us who are nearing retirement on a limited budget can’t afford to buy gold or silver. Our retirement plans at Vanguard don’t offer it anyway. What are our best investment choices in stocks and bonds?

Chris Martenson: Hmmm. That’s a question I actually can’t answer at this point in time. For two reasons, um, first of all, it’s a very long one. Second of all, I am forbidden by law to actually give specific investment advice. I will mention at this point that, because of that, Adam and I have found a wonderful firm that answers questions like that, they’re very good, I have them managing my own family’s money, things like that. But I’m not allowed to give specific advice like that.

But there are things that can be done and the big answer is this: if you’re not willing to look at different firms, go to your broker or whoever is managing that account or some human you can talk to and ask them about, what are the absolute safest, most liquid possible investments that you possibly can be in, the ones that you’re guaranteed to get return of capital, not necessarily return on capital. And that’s a tough position, and I sympathize enormously because if you’re on a relatively small fixed income, you’re not getting any income these days, because Bernanke, thank you very much, has really punished savers in this story. Zero percent is not really an acceptable rate of return when inflation is running north of three percent officially and probably north of five percent unofficially, maybe six.

That’s really not a great place to be in and so I sympathize enormously. Right now my macro advice is that this is a time to be exceedingly careful about not losing money. We are still in a structural bear market in my opinion, and the job of any bear market is to take your money. So the person who loses the least wins the most, and it’s not really an awesome, inspiring investment slogan, but that’s the nature of bear markets. And we’re in one that I think has probably got a few more years to run at a minimum here. So, safety, safety, safety. Think about how you’re going to keep those funds liquid and safe. 

Eric Curren: This may also be an investment question, so I understand if you can’t answer it, but what do you think of gold and silver?

Chris Martenson: From those are 2 questions, it’s not gold and silver as if it’s one word. Gold is a monetary asset. I like it very much because it is the only monetary asset you can own right now that is not simultaneously somebody else’s liability. And I mean physical gold: coins, bars, whatever, in your possession. Even if you hold coins or bars in a vault, it’s still the liability of the vault holder. If you hold GLB, the tracking trust, you just have paper claims, and that’s not even remotely close to the same thing as gold. If you hold gold mining shares, you are even further removed from the story in terms of liability. Gold is a monetary asset, has money qualities, that’s all it really is, and it’s not simultaneously somebody else’s liability.

That’s awesome, and here’s why it’s awesome. We don’t know where the risks are in this story. Nobody knows. We have $600 trillion in derivatives, notional value, nobody knows, really, nobody. It’s not like they’re hiding it from us, really, nobody can unravel that complexity. So we don’t actually know where the risks are. Is J.P. Morgan a better, safer place than Bank of America or Citi or Credit Suisse or UPS? Nobody knows, we have no idea. So for people who are going to invest and want to have some of their money out of the systems, in that way to at least control part of the risk, gold is great.

The other reason why I like gold is because there’s a chance, a small chance but a chance nonetheless, that the global currency system will break apart. And if or when that happens, gold has a very high chance of being re-monetized. When that happens, take whatever gold is at today and multiply it by some whole number. Two, five, ten, something. It will appreciate in value pretty tremendously if that happens. But again, that’s a small chance.

Silver is different. So you know, I still like gold here. Silver is different because silver is an industrial metal. It has no substitutes for certain applications. We take it up out of the ground and about half of it gets lost to that dispersive process I mentioned a long time ago. Just literally lost at the molecular, atomic level into the environment. Pulled out, concentrated, gone. We have been doing that for so long that at this point there’s actually slightly less silver on the surface of the planet than gold itself, so if we stopped mining right now, silver’s actually technically more rare than gold.

So silver is actually my play on the idea that we’re going to go through a really hard spot here for a while, but we’ll keep moving again. Silver has a very important role to play in all kinds of industrial applications, particularly in the alternative energy space, particularly in health care because of its anti-microbial materials... just look into silver, it’s an incredible substance. And it’s depleting very rapidly.

So silver is really my legacy metal. I own it, not because I have an intention of selling it this year or next year, or even giving it to my kids. I’m thinking of generationally skipping that stuff and it’ll probably go to my grandkids, should I ever have any, and that will be my play on silver. It might get re-monetized, but I really doubt it, because there really isn’t very much of it around. But, locally, it might.

So silver is a different story to me. It is a precious metal, it’s got a depletion story, it’s got an industrial story, it’s got all kinds of things wrapped in it. And at this price, I think it’s still a relative steal. So that’s what I think about gold and silver at this point, and all of those comments were really designed not as investment advice but rather educational.

Eric Curren: Last specific question and then I’m going to ask you to wrap up. You moved from a suburban to a rural area. Do you recommend that people follow your example?

Chris Martenson: We did that because, well a lot of factors went into that. We wanted to live in an area where there was already an endemic habit of resilience and organization. So we moved from what I would call a very sterile, suburban environment, where I really didn’t know my neighbors and I doubt they knew each other, it was just a very isolated environment, into a community which had a very rich set of community traditions, be it community potlucks or an organized cooperative store; Halloween is to die for here, May Day is great. So we moved into a community which had visible signs of community already, that was part one.

And part two is we wanted to have enough land of the kind of quality land where we could meaningfully grow our own food source. By which I mean, we might grow 10 or 20% of our calories now, and that’s great. And if we ever had to go to 100%, boy that’s easier than starting from zero. Most of the work of getting it, the first 10%, after that it’s scaling it up a little bit. So yeah, we moved to a rural area for a bunch of reasons and I don’t know that everybody could follow that model but it works for us, it worked for our family: the age we were, how old our kids were, the kind of lifestyle we wanted to lead. It was the absolute, hands-down right choice for us.

So for other people considering that, we had a very long list of criteria that at first we though were non-negotiable. We whittled that list down as reality set in and we discovered that finding really ideal places to live was actually kind of hard. Turns out that people already live there, for the most part, and they aren’t selling. So our experience was that, for people who have an idea, they’re in the city or some other place, they’re in a living arrangement, they’re in the suburban wasteland, I happen to be of the thinking that, you know, when the day comes, and I’ll know when that is, I’ll just move to the country. I would invite you to consider the idea that it’s actually a much, much longer process than you might expect, that’s what I’ve found.

I’m working with a number of families that are seeking to relocate to this area and they’re finding the same thing. It just takes time to find the right place. So if the decision to move to a different spot makes sense to you, start early and go off. Iit just, it’s going to probably take you longer than you expect, depending on how picky you are. I am very picky about my particular piece of land so that really held us back for a while.

But it just takes time, and right now, I’ll move into the closing remarks phase. We’ve been talking about gold, silver, stocks, bond, maybe real estate, you know, we’re talking about asset classes. Let me talk about the most important asset there is: time. Time is now your most important asset. Anything that we’re talking about, about building resilience, just takes time. Whether we’re saying I am going to have a solar thermal system installed, you better budget four to six months for that, assuming the parts are all available. I’m going to start building the soil in my garden, great, three to five years. I’m putting an orchard in, five to ten years. These things all just take time.

So if there’s any advice I can give, it’s to really understand that these changes, which could be disruptive, are already pretty much afoot in this time. The general theme here is that, whatever is relatively easy today to do, it’s gonna be a little bit harder to do in the future. There will either be less resources, or there might be less availability of what we want. Quick example, if oil suddenly went to, oh pick a number, heating oil in my neck of the woods, I live in New England, if heating oil suddenly doubles, from $3.50 to $7 a gallon, I will bet that people all over the place who are heating their water with oil will switch to solar thermal panels, like I did. Great! The problem is, we only have six local installers, and they’ll be swamped in a skinny minute, and there might not even be parts because there’s only two domestic manufacturers of these panels, and they take time to ship and whatnot.

Long story short, what I’m saying here is that when things become really obvious that it’s time to really get earnest about our preparations, it will be pretty obvious to everybody. Or at least a significant enough proportion of everybody that my prediction will be that we’ll find it just a little bit more expensive, a little bit slower, a little bit more difficult, maybe even impossible in some cases, to do what we really hope to do.

But today, almost everything is possible still today. So my motto in life is that I’d rather be a year early than a day late, and what we’ve learned about the financial crises that have unfolded so far is that they happened over a matter of days, when they finally happened. The flash crash, in May of 2010, happened over a matter of minutes. So these things are accelerating and they’re a little bit chaotic, a little unstable, a little uncertain, and all of that, and don’t give in to the anxiety that gets produced there. Just get busy and get going. And I know I don’t have to say it, almost everybody on this call is already in this camp of getting busy and getting going, and that’s fantastic. So I guess I’m just sort of offering that as my general outlook that I have at this time and what I work most carefully with most people on, it’s just, what’s it going to take to really get moving and start taking action and getting other people wrapped into that story.

And there, just use whatever’s the most effective, whatever works best. Use it and have fun, have fun doing this, because I think this is actually a really interesting, really fascinating time to be alive. My quality of life is really good, my outlook is good, I feel really good about where I personally am positioned, I feel even better about the fact that I’ve helped a number of other people, maybe a lot of people, get to that same sort of position. So yes, everything is still possible, in some respects, so that’s my outlook at this moment.

Even though I didn’t quite wander into this territory, things in Europe still look dicey, something right on the horizon that we can look at and say, oh yeah, if that breaks, that could really be bad or take things in a direction we don’t want to go right now. But those are just going to continue to be, I think, the new normal, as we go into this next period. And, with that, I’ll close.

Eric Curren: Thank you so much, Chris. I think that we can all certainly remember to, it never hurts to be reminded to get busy, get going, and definitely to have fun, in the middle of times when a lot of people are scared, that could make us all more effective, if we’re the ones who are having fun making these changes. So, Chris Martenson, of The Crash Course., go check out his site if you want ideas on how to prepare yourself and your community and your family, and to have fun. And please check out his book, which just came out. I’ll be doing a review of it on Transition Voice very soon.

Really enjoyed talking to you, Chris, I’m sure everybody on the call got a lot of valuable insight from you. Thanks again, Carolyne, for hosting this call with Chris Martenson, and I’m going to turn it back to you.

Carolyne Stayton: Thank you, Eric, and thank you so much, Chris. What a fantastic program, really inspirational and just a galvanizing call to action, once again. So thank you for that. I just wanted to remind people that this program was recorded and we’ll have a link to it up on our website within a day or two. And I also wanted to remind you to consider donating to Transition US. There’s donate buttons all over our website, so thank you.  

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