3,000,000 Years is in a way a synthesis of everything I’ve learned and thought about after getting out of horses. In 2011, after I gave up training horses full-time, I spent a year as a student of history, current events, and economics, learning how they are all connected. It all started by watching a movie called “Collapse”, about Michael Ruppert, to whom this song is dedicated. Ruppert wasn’t always right in everything he said, but his discussion of oil- how it has built our world, how we are dependent on it for absolutely everything, and how quickly it is depleting- is brilliant. He understands the nexus between oil, money, debt, and our monetary system, and that nexus is fascinating. We haven’t run out of oil yet, but we’ve run out of the easy oil to get, and that’s why we’re doing risky things like offshore drilling and fracking to compensate. The oil on this planet took millions of years to materialize, out of all the energy embedded in organic matter, and we’ve used about half of it up in 150 years. That’s stunning- both in the ingenuity we have showed in getting to it, and in the complete rapaciousness our species shows when it finds a bonanza like this.
2011 was an amazing experience- I’d ride the subway, read, finish a book, find a new book to start… I think people can learn so much more on their own, when they become curious and fascinated by something, than by simply following a protocol in school. I found a whole set of thinkers out there that you almost never hear about- but they’ve got it right. Aside from Ruppert, I particularly love Chris Martenson (who puts out a great blog- peakprosperity.com), Jim Kunstler (kunstler.com), and Charles Hugh Smith (oftwominds.com).
But it’s hard to take ideas on history and philosophy and make them into a song. You risk sounding very preachy. So instead of trying to teach something, I thought of 3,000,000 Years as an ode to the human animal in all its glory and absurdity. I’m constantly amazed at what we as a species has accomplished in its relatively brief span on earth… and a how much of that accomplishment has been crammed into the last couple of centuries. I’m also I’m also awed at the fact that I happen to be alive right now- it’s such a pivotal time in the history of the species, with all manner of things spinning and growing, merging, flying apart. When oil was discovered in 1859, the human population stood at around 1.3 billion people; it is currently at 7.5 billion, and it’s only headed up. We’re using up everything we have (the ocean fish population is down 93% in less than 100 years- how is that possible?!) and borrowing every cent we can to keep things going. How long can we do it?
There’s nothing controversial about these statistics but as a culture we spend far more time focusing on our material comforts and binge-watching TV than thinking about the implications. One of the lines in the song goes “one thing we always knew we wanted was more, more more.” Now’s a time where we may need to become comfortable with the idea of less. Can we? I don’t know- I’m the first to admit that I’m as addicted to comfort as anyone else. But I do believe that if we’re going to figure things out, we need a critical mass of people to start thinking about them- we can’t just leave things to ‘the experts’. ‘They’ aren’t going to solve everything. So hopefully the song can get people to think and discuss these things. “Put down your phone and come up for the kiss” is a probably ill-fated hope I have that this species can connect, put aside its differences, and build lifeboats for each other. We’ve never quite shown that complete ability to do that. But there’s never, ever been a moment like this.