159 - Michael Dowd on Post Doom: Life After Accepting Climate Catastrophe

Season 1, Ep. 159

2021 comes in hot with Michael Dowd, ecumenical Christian preacher turned climate grief advocate, whose Post Doom Conversations are a well of wisdom for anyone prepared to stop fighting the inevitable* and start celebrating what actually can be done in these weird, scary, precious years to come. We discuss his time as an evolutionary biology evangelist and his friction with techno-optimists, what it means to live sustainably within a mature religion of place, urban scaling and collective action problems, a general theory for the collapse of market-based civilizations, and how to reorient one’s faith to planetary and secular values that allow us to accept reality as it is and avoid doing further evil to the Biosphere and each other. (*We spend a lot of time in this encounter digging underneath the surety to ask not “Is there hope,” but “Where am I still doomed by my conditioning?”)

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Intro and outro music by Skytree.

Further Reading:

My appearance on Post Doom Conversations


“Irreversible Collapse: Accepting Reality, Avoiding Evil”


Rafe Brown at the University of Kansas Natural History Museum


“What if preventing collapse isn’t profitable?”


“Six ways to think long-term” by Roman Krznaric


Gordon White and James Ellis on Accelerationism, Meaning, and Exit


John Michael Greer’s The Long Descent


Neil Postman’s Technopoly


Zach St. George’s The Journey of Trees


Further Listening:

MG on cultural mutation rates, network latency, and the collapse of civilizations:


MG with Geoffrey West on Complexity Podcast re: cities and scaling


MG with Scott Ortman on Complexity Podcast re: even ancient rural human settlements obey “urban” scaling laws


MG with Tim Kohler and Marten Scheffer on The Future of The Human Climate Niche


MG with Mark Nelson on Biosphere 2 and the yoga of optimism


MG with Lydia Violet on deep ecology and community as medicine


MG with Jamaica Stevens on crisis, rebirth, and wisdom


Kevin Wohlmut reads The Next 10 Billion Years according to Ugo Bardi and John Michael Greer


And if you just need a breather, here's my music and my recommendations on Spotify.

More Episodes


187 - Fear & Loathing on the Electronic Frontier with Kevin Welch & David Hensley of EFF-Austin

Ep. 187
Find the complete show notes for this episode on Patreon. This episode was recorded live in Austin, Texas at the West China Tea House in partnership with EFF-Austin, a non-profit committed to the establishment and protection of digital rights and defense of the wealth of digital information, innovation, and technology. Founded in 1991 as a local sub-chapter of The Electronic Frontier Foundation and run as an independent organization, EFF-Austin promotes the right of all citizens to communicate and share information without unreasonable constraint— as well as the fundamental right to explore, tinker, create, and innovate along the frontier of emerging technologies. In this episode, I talk with Kevin Welch and David Hensley about why digital rights matter to our analog lives; whether and how the genies of rampant technological innovation can be forced back into the bottle; how to think about the inherent tensions between individuals and institutions; what esoteric traditions and superhero movies may have to teach us about living in the 21st century, and considerably more. I also make entirely too many references to Michael Crichton novels.I’ve collaborated with EFF-Austin on previous episodes of Future Fossils you may also enjoy:33 - Jon Lebkowsky (Pluralist Utopias & The World Wide Web's Wild West)92 - Panel: The Pre- and Post-History of VR, Surveillance, and Swarm IntelligenceAgain, Patreon is really the place you want to be checking out the resources for this show (and, of course, it's the place to go to take a shower in the awesome stuff I reserve for supporters).

185 - What Good Is Conversation? Jonathan Rowson, Bonnitta Roy, Jason Snyder, Ashley Colby, & Stephanie Lepp Play Liminal Lingo Bingo Amidst The Metacrisis

Ep. 185
Don't waste another minute here. Go read the full show notes on Patreon!Be forewarned: This latest episode is some extremely heady stuff. But thankfully, it's also full of heart and soul...Back in February, Jonathan Rowson posted two clips (here and here) from his latest in-progress writing tlimito Twitter, where it succeeded in baiting a bunch of the folks with whom I regularly interact as members of the so-called "Liminal Web" into reflecting on the value of partitioning a global boil of loosely-associated "sensemakers," "meta-theorists," and "systems poets" into well-meaning but ultimately dubious cultural taxonomies.I had plenty to say about this (here, here, and here) from my awkwardly consistent stance of being both enthusiastic and skeptical about apparently everything. But so did numerous other brilliant and inspiring people, including Bonnitta Roy, Stephanie Lepp, Ashley Colby, and Jason Snyder –all of whom I've wanted on the show for a while (with the exception of Stephanie, with whom I had a great chat back on episode 154). So I took it upon myself to press for an on-the-record group discussion about the virtue and folly of putting labels on sociocultural processes and networks that are defined by their liminality: Is this ultimately a good thing, or does it just kill the magic in a foolish servility to economic pressures and the desire to be recognized as A Movement?When we finally met at the end of March for our call, the conversation turned to issues with more urgency and gravitas —namely: Is it even helpful to spend all of our time talking about crises and metacrises when there is so much work to be done?What transpired was easily one of the more profound and inspired conversations I've ever had the good fortune to host on this show, although it was also more beset with insane and infuriating technical problems that getting it ready for release took over thirty hours of excruciating editing. I am so immensely glad I am finally done and can get on with my damn life! But also that I get to share this with you and hear what the rest of our scene(s) have to contribute to this discourse.