Thoughts on our Future


When I think about the future, I think we don’t have much time. There is no way we are going to turn most of the population around to live responsibly toward the environment. Some people take that responsibility more seriously than others, but it’s going to take more than recycling shopping bags and cutting back on mileage and buying a car that uses less gas and runs part-time on electricity. We may find other solutions to the crisis of energy—they may get hydrogen working—but human nature is not going to change that quickly. People will still be what they are.

That’s why I’m especially pleased with the opportunity to write about the life I have made. I don’t have any idea whether in the course of things people will be able to make use of the information and knowledge in these essays. But when the next generation comes around after the destruction that will come at the end of this age, those people are going to go through the same process that all civilizations have gone through, of gradual development and then decline. So if any of this knowledge persists in the awareness or capabilities of some of the survivors, maybe it will be of use. Even if the essays are not of use, they are a record of my experience and my way of life.

I’m not a religious person in the ordinary sense of the word. I’m not a theologian, but I am a philosopher, and I read the Scriptures from the perspective of a philosopher. I’ve seen mayhem going on in the world. After my experiences in World War II,* I decided to figure out what life’s all about and why people are the way they are. That’s what’s behind my writing and my process here. I’m satisfied that I’ve got it worked out pretty well.

Our industrial age is destroying the environment. It’s happening much more rapidly than most people expect or understand. Being human, we don’t want to look at things that we don’t want to see, and many people don’t take the current situation very seriously. That’s one reason I think that we may not have much longer to live in our current paradigm.

There’s a lot of talk lately about Peak Oil, the notion that before long, oil production will not be able to keep up with demand. The price of fuel will then skyrocket, and the world’s economy won’t be able to handle it. Oil energy is key to the way we live now. If we don’t figure out the upcoming energy crisis soon, it will be too late. Maybe it’s already too late. Industrial and automotive emissions are not going to be cut back to avoid the melting of the polar ice, and if the sea level rises by even a couple of feet, that will make a tremendous difference in how and where we can live.

It’s predicted that sea level will rise even more than that, and that the warming that is melting the polar ice will happen even more quickly. When the permafrost thaws, greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide are released. As the ocean warms up, it can’t absorb as much carbon dioxide So it’s kind of a snowball effect, a gathering storm of change.

I think we’ve passed the tipping point of climate change already. That makes the information Ole and I covered in these essays more significant. There may be a time before the end of this age when people are going to need these skills and the mentality that goes along with them. But I fear that for the most part people are just going to die.

Computers are destroying the Earth, too. From small ways, like how much paper is wastefully printed on only one side, to bigger ways, like creating a market that appeals to the worst in human nature.

The world is already full, and it is being destroyed. When you bring India and China into our modern age and everybody wants a computer and everybody wants a higher standard of living—an auto, a big home, fast food, on and on, adding all these people and their entitlements is going to make things worse.

When you think of individuals, you can’t help but want the best for them, for them to have a life that’s more comfortable. But they are humans, and they don’t know that there’s a limit. They want more, and there isn’t the mental discipline to set limits for the welfare of the planet, the environments, or the future.

I’m aware of all the tension about the environment through news magazines. In the Bible, it is shown that these are things we should more or less expect at the end of an age or during the fall of a civilization. In the Scriptures these end-of-age tensions can be interpreted as symbolic representations of the way human societies work and eventually, decline. I’ve made a long effort to comprehend the representation of end times in the Bible and to compare them with what’s going on in the world, and my conclusion is that we are approaching the ending of an age similar to those outlined in Scripture.

That’s one reason I’m especially grateful to put out this knowledge about the subsistence lifestyle. At some time in the near future, there may be more people needing to provide themselves with a home when they don’t have a lumberyard to provide their materials.

Human nature is more emotional than thoughtful. Immediate wants are paramount, regardless of the cost or long-range effects. Of course the politicians in our democracy have to satisfy those wants and keep the economy going in its destructive way, and now when they see that they have to do something about the compounding problems, they find themselves in a situation they cannot fix.

We’re caught in a web of circumstances that we can’t manage. If the ocean rises even a few feet, imagine what is going to happen to New York City or Miami.

All of history is a demonstration of ways of life and cultures that didn’t work. It’s reasonable that this age will end with another such demonstration. Even though we’ve made many intellectual advances and innovations in our industrial age, it’s clear that this is not the answer to Mankind’s problems.

The way people are living now won’t work for very long. People who are willing to try to live responsibly will soon have a vivid demonstration of what happens when we don’t live in the way that most people have had to live down through the centuries.

Things are going to get bad. The end of the age is going to come with a tremendous cataclysm—comparable to the flood of Noah’s time, similar to the plagues that happened when Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt.

I’m not an evangelist. When you experience warfare firsthand, and people are shooting at you, and you are killing them, and you starve alongside starving people, it changes your perspective. People soon forget history. Reading about it isn’t the same as living it, and so we repeat the cycles of history. We lose our way, as we did during the World Wars.

That’s what I see happening now. We’ve lost our way and people are refusing to pay attention to what we should be doing to find our way again. Our actions will determine our future. Some people will have the mentality and skills and faith to get them through it. I hope my work here may be of some help.


* Oliver served as a radio operator on a B-24 bomber in the Second World War. His plane was shot down in enemy territory and crashed. He and several others, assisted by Partisans, evaded the Germans and walked out to safety.

Read more of Oliver’s ideas on the philosophy of life in Thoughts Born of Turmoil, available at

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