News from the Other End of the World: May 2020

The Newsletter for

This is a monthly newsletter for where I introduce new friends I have met in the Deep Adaptation community, give an update on current and future projects and essay ideas, and share what I’m currently reading and watching.

My last update was before the Coronavirus arrived in the United States. Since then, I’ve been working from home. I had thought I would get more writing done during this time, but I have been inexplicably unproductive. I have taken some solace in the dozens of articles that have come across my feeds about others experiencing the same thing–a kind of pandemic malaise. (The end of Bernie’s campaign didn’t help my mood, either.)

In spite of this, I do have some news to share …

New Films to Watch

Planet of the Humans

The new documentary produced by Michael Moore, Planet of the Humans, was just released on Earth Day. You can watch it for free on YouTube. The underlying message of the film is that transitioning to solar and wind will not solve our problems without a drastic reduction in human consumption. That’s because, at its root, the problem is that we have an infinite growth economy on a finite material planet.

This message has received a mixed response from environmentalists, ranging from relief—that the message is finally reaching a wider audience—to outrage—that anyone would question what has become an article of faith for the mainstream environmental movement, i.e., that renewable energy will save us. Planet of the Humans is not a perfect movie, either as a film or as an environmentalist text, but the movie goes to the heart of the problem—industrial capitalist civilization—and it correctly calls out the complicity of the mainstream environmental movement in that problem.

For more analysis, check out my article, “Damn Dirty Humans!: Planet of the Humans and Progressive Denial”.

I also recommend the following reviews, which acknowledge some of the flaws of the film, while also embracing its message:

Our next climate grief group on May 30th will actually include a viewing and discussion of the film, in the context of our Step 2 (“Acknowledge that you and all of us are part of the problem.”) and Step 5 (“Let yourself feel your feelings.”)

How to Let Go Of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can’t Change

I finally watched this film and I recommend it. Warning, the first 30 minutes were depressing (not as hard as Michael Moore’s film, though). The highlights for me were a couple of things Tim DeChristopher said in the movie:

“I stopped trying to avoid despair and then I even stopped trying to get through despair. And I just picked it up and carried it with me everywhere that I go, and just realized I had to make a place in my heart for despair and keep doing the work. One way of looking at it is that carrying around a heavy weight is a burden in tranquil times. But in turbulent and stormy times, that heavy weight is an anchor and that big rock that you carry around can be what prevents you from getting swept away.”

–Tim DeChristopher

“There’s a lot of ways in which a collapse can be a step forward for us–of saying, ‘Oh, maybe greed and competition weren’t the best values to be basing our society off of.’ It can be that opportunity to refocus. Because in this period of being too late to stop climate change, we’re going to be navigating through the most intense period of change that humanity has ever seen.” –

-Tim DeChristopher

“How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth, but Not Civilization”

The is an excellent video lecture by Toby Hemenway, a consultant and lecturer on permaculture and ecological design. You can watch it on YouTube. I then posted a discussion I had with a family member on the subject. You can read it here.

I have been working in my garden too, and I received my first delivery (12 cubic meters) of free (yes, free!) wood chips from ChipDrop.

New Writing to Read

“Damn Dirty Humans!: Planet of the Humans and Progressive Denial”

After viewing Michael Moore’s latest film, Planet of the Humans, I got into some provocative discussions with progressive friends who intensely disliked the movie and my promoting it online. The outcome was my essay, “Damn Dirty Humans!: Planet of the Humans and Progressive Denial”. (As a lot of people have learned, if you get into an involved argument with me online, there’s a better than average chance I’ll end up writing an essay about it.) The movie and the discussion the followed really jolted me out of my malaise.

“Anarchism for Civilians” Series

I’ve been promising an article on anarchism for months now, and I kept putting it off. Well, it’s finally done and it will be published at next month. Actually, the article turned into a 4-part series.

It is inevitable that there will be some people who will disagree with my representation of anarchism in the series. My own interpretation of anarchism is most influenced by green anarchism, anarcho-primitivism, and anarcho-communism. I’m still learning about it, and in any case, I could never do justice to the complexity of anarchism. So rather than attempting any kind of authoritative definition of anarchism (which would really be contrary to the spirit of the thing), I wanted instead to dispel some of the myths that I had to unlearn in order to grasp what anarchism is about. In each part of the series, I use something unrelated to anarchism to elucidate some aspect of anarchism.

In “What Unitarians Taught Me About Anarchism”, I discuss hierarchy and democracy. In the second installment, “What Bonobos Taught Me About Anarchism”, I talk about community and cooperation. In “What Midwives Taught Me About Anarchism”, I talk about whether we’re really better off because of this thing called civilization. And, in the last installment, “What Pirates Taught Me About Anarchism”, I talk about violence. The four-part series will be published in weekly installments starting on the first Thursday of June at

“Is This the Beginning of the End?: COVID-19 & Civilizational Collapse”

This is my take on the meaning of the Coronavirus.

What I Learned From Facilitating My First Climate Grief Support Group”

#1 No politicians. #2 Breathe. #3 Lots of people need this. #4 No, really. I mean it about the politicians. (Find out why here.)

“How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Earth But Not Civilization”

This is a discussion I had with a family member after watching a video lecture by Toby Hemenway on the subject. You can watch the lecture on YouTube.

“Why I Stopped Protesting and Started a Garden”

This isn’t a new piece, but I’m proud that Films for Action (which promoted Michael Moore’s recent film) reblogged my essay.

Future Writing to Look Forward To

“Why Our Legal System Will Not Save the Planet”

There’s been a lot of talk about “rights” lately, as people protest restrictions on their ability to work, travel, and shop due to the pandemic. I think it’s time for a discussion of what a right really is. I will be building on an online course I taught recently about the legal system and systems thinking as well as my essay, “Do Trees Have Rights? Toward an Ecological Politics”.

“How the Movie Interstellar May Kill Us All”

I love the movie Interstellar, directed by Christopher Nolan, for the visuals, the music, and the story–and I absolutely hate the message of the movie, which is techno-optimist, escapist, and wishful thinking–three things we don’t need right now. In the process, I’m also going to bring in the concept of “the Destiny” from Octavia Butler’s Earthseed.

Against Identity Politics: The New Tribalism and the Crisis of Democracy” by Francis Fukayama

My father sent me this article and we had a good discussion about it. It will probably turn into an essay once I process it a little more.

Along the same lines, I recommend the 2-part PBS documentary, “America’s Great Divide”, about the Obama and Trump presidencies.

Three Opportunities to Hear Eco-Theologian Michael Dowd

“Love at the End of Our World”

I’m excited that Michael Dowd posted our discussion, which he entitled “Love at the End of Our World”. It’s available on YouTube. Michael and I talked about a post-doom perspective, living beyond both hope and despair, embracing death, mental health during collapse, and the power of gratitude and love.

I’m grateful to have had this opportunity to talk to Michael Dowd and I’m honored to be a part of his Post-Doom project. Michael has interviewed such inspired voices as Joanna Macy, Jem Bendell, Stephen Jenkinson, Trebbe Johnson, Dahr Jamail, Barbar Cecil, Dougald Hine, Shaun Chamberlin, and many more.

“Finding Meaning in the Dark: A Post-Doom Big Picture”

In addition to the honor of being interviewed by eco-theologian, Michael Dowd, I was fortunate to be able to host a webinar by Michael, entitled “Finding Meaning in the Dark: A Post-Doom Big Picture” (available on YouTube). Michael spoke about living beyond hope and despair in a time of civilizational collapse. His message was especially salient during this time of social distancing and global pandemic.

“Corona, Climate, and the Myth of Perpetual Progress”

The webinar was then followed by a sermon Michael gave (virtually) for my Unitarian Universalist congregation and others, entitled “Corona, Climate, and the Myth of Perpetual Progress” (available on YouTube). (I’ve been facilitating our congregation’s worship services via Zoom since the church shut its doors.)

Climate Grief Groups

I been continuing to facilitate the Climate Grief Support Groups online. The groups are for those living with an awareness of loss–present and future–due to climate change and the collapse of our environmental and social systems. The groups are intended to create a safe space to share and process complex feelings which are harder to share in other activist spaces–feelings like grief, despair, fear, and guilt. We discourage talking about proposed solutions or action items, as there are many other spaces for that.

I posted an article about the group, its purpose, how its structured, and so on: “What I Learned From Facilitating My First Climate Grief Support Group”.

At our next climate grief group, on May 30th, we will have a viewing and discussion of Michael Moore’s film, Planet of the Humans, in the context of our Step 2 (“Acknowledge that you and all of us are part of the problem.”) and Step 5 (“Let yourself feel your feelings.”)

ON SALE NOW: We Live in the Orbit of Beings Greater than Us, edited by Patrick Farnsworth

You can now order your copy of We Live In The Orbit of Beings Greater Than Us, a collection of interviews of 30 scientists, feminists, theorists, psychologists, journalists, and environmentalists–including yours truly–addressing the most overwhelming crisis of our time: climate change and the collapse of industrial civilization. I’m honored that Patrick included my interview with him back from in 2019.

If you’d like to connect with me or send me recommendations for websites, articles, or books to check out, just email me at

Published by John Halstead

John Halstead is the author of *Another End of the World is Possible*, in which he explores what it would really mean for our relationship with the natural world if we were to admit that we are doomed. John is a native of the southern Laurentian bioregion and lives in Northwest Indiana, near Chicago. He is a co-founder of 350 Indiana-Calumet, which worked to organize resistance to the fossil fuel industry in the Region. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” He strives to live up to the challenge posed by the Statement through his writing and activism. John has written for numerous online platforms, including Patheos, Huffington Post,, and Gods & Radicals. He is Editor-at-Large of John also facilitates climate grief support groups climate grief support groups affiliated with the Good Grief Network.

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