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What A Way to Go: Life at the End of Empire

What A Way To Go: Life at the End of Empire is a 2007 documentary film about the current situation facing humanity and the world. It discusses issues such as peak oil, climate change and the effects of global warming, population overshoot and species extinction, as well as how this situation has developed. The documentary features supporting data and interviews of Daniel Quinn, environmental activist Derrick Jensen and academics such as Richard Heinberg and many others. The tagline of the documentary is, “A middle-class white guy comes to grips with Peak Oil, Climate Change, Mass Extinction, Population Overshoot and the demise of the American lifestyle.”
– Don Hooligan: What a Way to Go; TSWabbit: What A Way to Go: Richard Manning; Daniel Quinn; Derrick Jensen; Paul Roberts; Chellis Glendenning; Richard Heinberg; William Catton; Thomas Berry; Ran Prieur; Sally Erickson; Jerry Mander.
» IG: 17-03-19_whatawaytogo; 17-08-06_whatawaytogo-derrickjensen17-08-06_whatawaytogo-mcdonaldsjensen.


What a Way to Go: Harvey Harman

The average piece of food in your supermarket has traveled 3,000 miles or more to get there. So not only is it based on petroleum to grow it, but then it’s transported, and refrigerated. And, you know, it’s a system that’s very dependent on cheap energy, and it’s very energy-intensive. – Harvey Harman, Sustenance Farm.


What A Way to Go: Richard Manning

If we take a look at about 1940, and an American farmer, that farmer was using roughly a calorie of fossil fuel to make a calorie of food. Today that same farmer uses something like 10 calories of fossil fuel to make a calorie of food. That means that petrochemicals, fossil fuel, have become embedded in our food supply. If we run out of fossil fuel that strategy will collapse in a heartbeat. – Richard Manning, Against the Grain

Some people have said, and I think they’re right about this, we’re gonna run out of air to burn before we run out of fossil fuels to burn. In other words, the fossil fuels are creating the global warming problem, the CO2, and the pollution problems. And, if we keep using those, it’s not really a matter of when we run out of fossil fuels. It’s when we befoul the atmosphere so much, and create so much global warming, it’s irrelevant how much gas we’ve got left. Richard Manning, Against the Grain

We can take a lot of punches. Nature takes punches pretty readily. Global warming is a really severe punch. And all that we depend on for natural systems and agricultural systems is about to be wiped out pretty drastically. – Richard Manning, Grassland

Geologists mark geological time by catastrophe. When did the comet hit and wipe out all those species? When did the fossil record change? So what was there yesterday was not there the next day? And we’re in one of those periods right now. But it’s human-caused. And we’re seeing an order of extinctions now that ranks with the great catastrophes on the planet. – Richard Manning

Part of the way we’ve fed the planet over the last thirty years, as we’ve doubled population, is to use a whole lot of water. Our agriculture’s now the leading user of water in the world. And in this nation as well. – Richard Manning, A Good House

Microbes are gonna have a lot more to do with it than humans have to do with it in the end. Nature – we’re still governed by natural rules, we like to think we’re not, but we are – when you put together the kind of biomass that humans represent on this planet, we’re an asset to somebody. We’re a resource. – Richard Manning, Against the Grain

That slippery slope that we’re on right now… we started walking on that ten thousand years ago. And it is because of an inherent problem in agriculture. Agriculture really depends on disturbance. There’s no way you can do agriculture without doing that catastrophic damage. So it makes agriculture fundamentally unsustainable. – Richard Manning, Against the Grain.

As a species, we had food before us for all of our history, which is two hundred… three hundred thousand years. When you look at ten thousand years it’s relatively minor in that space. But we were hunter-gatherers. So nature grew our food in its way. As opposed to our way, which is agriculture. We didn’t grow food. Food grew. – Richard Manning.

If we look at archeological sites around the world – and people have done this – in all the locations – this is not a cultural issue – in all the locations where agriculture began, in Asia, the Mid-East, South America, and Central America, we will find people who are stunted, short, their teeth are invariably gone because of the carbohydrates they’re eating turn into sugars and rot their teeth out, they’re misshapen, they’re assymetrical, they show every evidence of suffering all sorts of disease. – Richard Manning, Against the Grain.

If you go to pre-agricultural towns you’ll see a series of houses, all about the same size. And almost instantly, when agriculture occurred, you can go to any town, in any agricultural site in the world, not just in Western culture, and see a few very large houses with granaries connected to them, and a whole series of smaller houses. That kind of social inequity began almost immediately with agriculture. – Richard Manning.

To survive in our hunter-gatherer days… a very narrow field of vision. You had to be concerned with what was happening around you in the immediate hundred yards. You had to be worried about what was going to happen in the next ten seconds or five minutes. Where was that tiger going to come from that was going to bite your neck and kill you? So our strongest instincts are geared to the immediate. Our adrenaline doesn’t start to flow when we read about global warming. It starts to flow when somebody put a fist in our face. – Richard Manning, Last Stand.

Just think about an animal in a zoo. An animal’s deprived of the very things that keep that animal going: the smells, the sights, the sounds, the instincts, the hunting. And they become psychotic. Literally psychotic. I think that we’ve done something to ourselves that is exactly analogous to that. We’ve put ourselves in a cage – this cage of civilization, of cities. And it’s made us, in a way, psychotic. That if you would have a group of hunter-gatherers – and this has happened a lot – hunter-gatherers watch behavior of people in our society, they would think we were crazy for the way we behave. Because we are. -Richard Manning, Against the Grain.