Copyright (c) 2003 Toomas Karmo. Permission is granted to copy, distribute, and modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2, or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation. In the terminology of the License, this document has no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. The definitive machine-readable copy of this document is in the "Literary" section of A copy of the License is included in a hyperlinked section, entitled GNU Free Documentation License, of the machine-readable copy.

This License makes it legal for anyone to publish this work, provided some simple conditions are met, rather notably provided my revision history, and the License itself, are attached.

The public is not only welcome, but is encouraged, to copy this work, with its License duly attached, onto public-access Web servers outside my control. The more widely the work propagates in the population of free-access Web servers, the more surfers benefit.

Many readers prefer print to Web. I have typeset the present printed version (including the text of the GNU Free Documentation License) in LaTeX-generated PostScript and PDF, using only open-source software, on a Debian GNU/Linux platform in the current "Woody", or "Stable", distribution. Hyphenation follows the (American) defaults provided by LaTeX, to the possible discomfiture of some prospective British readers. I have tried to adhere to all the canons of good book printing except for the fully rigorous suppression of unaesthetic "widow" and "orphan" page breaks and unaesthetic end-of-page word-breaking hyphens. That compromise was dictated by a need to conserve time and effort. My principal font - more meticulous typographers would perhaps recommend something like Palatino - is the LaTeX default, Computer Modern Roman, adjusted from the LaTeX default 10-point size to a more legible 12 points. The technique assumed for the printing house is offset-plate reproduction or toner-based xerography, onto both sides of a North American letter-sized sheet, with subsequent plastic-spine ``Velo'' binding. In the present typesetting exercise, I thus assume printing of the cheapest imaginable kind, such as can be had in Toronto from Kinko's or Print Three.

Poor persons needing some supplementary income may find it useful to create attractive hand-bound printed copies, selling them in streets or parks.

I am able to supply reasonable numbers of printed copies, where appropriate without even a time-and-materials charge, to interested individuals, libraries, nonprofit organizations, and the like.

There is nothing to stop a large and wealthy corporation from selling electronic or printed copies, the latter perhaps with a standard of typography and binding higher than what I have aimed at here. But any individual or corporation who is not actually poor, and who makes sales, is asked as a professional courtesy to tell me about the operation, so that I can explain it to the world at large in a 'Publication-and-Patronage History' page on my Web site. If I learn, in any way at all, that the work has been published outside the ordinary free-access Web without my receiving payment, I will consider myself at liberty to note the details on my page. If, alternatively, I am given a complimentary payment, I will note that fact, too, in detail, and will not consider myself at liberty to refrain from noting it. Hypothetical example, showing the kind of entries liable to be made on the page: (1) Content published at Trickledown Press in USA, UK, Australia. No payment made to me. (2) Content published at Beaver-Hedgehog Press in USA, UK, Canada, Singapore, and also in German translation in Austria. I gratefully acknowledge patronage payment to me by Beaver-Hedgehog Press of nine percent of cover price, to a total of US$921.33 in 2005, US$2,359.60 in 2006. (3) Excerpts read on Ruritania Public Broadcasting, essentially over the thirty-minute interval 20091224T1700Z/20031224T1730Z. I acknowledge with exceptional gratitude one-time lump-sum patronage payment to me by Ruritania Public Broadcasting, ten days prior to this broadcast, of US$6,500.

Revision history: 20040108T234434Z/version_0003.2007 added remark on Uppsala Hydrocarbon Depletion Study Group to bibliographic notes in the skilled-readers appendix. 20040106T225718Z/version_0003.2005 made minor changes, the most notable of which was the correction of a gross error in the Chapter 2 estimate of the time a horse would have to act to make a litre of cool water scalding hot. 20031212T000753Z/version_0003.2000 added subtitle to "Utopia 2184"; added remarks on many points, most notably on the energy needed for boiling a litre of water, on hydrogen as a medium of energy storage, on the theology of stewardship, and on the desirability of family holdings in land. 20031203T005544Z/version_0003.0000 added appendix with real-life chronicle of our early woes, from the invasion of Iraq onward; added paragraph on low-cost wind systems to the already existing advanced-readers appendix. 20030812T032050Z/version_0002.0060 added remarks on permaculture, gave better references to the energy-crash literature, amplified the concluding theme of contingency, and corrected some small infelicities (notably a failure in the Front Matter to make the intent of the title "Utopia 2184" quite clear). 20030808T174141Z/version_0002.0002 made tiny corrections in such things as spelling. 20030808T025225Z/version_0002.0000 shifted the focus from global warming to the failure of energy supplies (as being the most fundamental problem, having climate change among its sequelae); drew parallels between the peaceful anti-Soviet resistance and what is now required of the ecologically aware citizen; and added a first attempt at a factual appendix, covering energy-crunch doomsday publications, packet radio, and low-energy cooking. 20030707T145653Z/version_0001.0000 (placing the emphasis too heavily on climate change) was the base version.

Utopia 2184:
A Green Manifesto
in the Traditions of
the Permaculture
and Catholic-Worker Movements


This document is a work of theology or politics, not of science fiction. While essentially belonging to the utopia, or dystopia, genre in didactic fiction, my work also features extended factual asides (in many cases, historical flashbacks), interwoven with my narrative through the literary technique of voice change. My governing purpose is to instruct, not to entertain. The rather vigorous entertaining that I do undertake is incidental to that purpose, as the sugar coating on a pill is incidental to the medicine. My title is a loose reference to two of my literary antecedents: "Utopia" as a polite nod to More's 1516 Utopia, "2184" as a polite nod to Orwell's 1984.

My work seeks to convey a message of hope no less than of warning. We have lately seen high literary fiction reminding us that civilization is headed for destruction through global warming, blunders in genetic engineering, or the exhaustion of natural resources. Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake has attracted much notice, and I for my part have been delighted also by the brilliant realism of Ronald Wright's A Scientific Romance. My own message, however, is that destruction is not inevitable.

I seek to reach a wide readership in my didactic mission. Consequently, I have appended a section with explanations of points that some readers may find obscure - most notably, I give translations of salient foreign phrases - or which they might outright misinterpret. I am very open to suggestions for enlargements to that appendix, as readers query me by phone, e-mail, or paper mail concerning points that puzzle them.

I have also, from "Version 0002.0000" of this work onward, added a factual appendix, handling some technical points which will stimulate the more sophisticated reader. At present, that factual appendix mentions energy-depletion doomsday literature, extremely low-cost wind turbines (a machine generating some tens of watts for a lead-acid battery system can, according to reliable authorities, be built in the home workshop), packet radio (that's a candidate technology for restoring the Internet in a time of social breakdown), and energy-efficient cooking. I am very open to suggesions for additional topics. Perhaps I shall someday succeed in making the factual appendix very long indeed, a veritable "Who's Who and What's What" of permaculturist thinking.

From "Version 0003.000" of this work onward, I have added a further factual appendix, highlighting noteworthy features of our own times, as we move closer toward the perils and promises of 2184. At present, that further factual appendix discusses Toronto protests against the 2003 Iraq war and some Toronto experiences in the power-grid collapse of 2003 August 14.

My narrative method outside the Appendices relies on historical detail. I write of, and go so far as to name, individuals I have spoken with or read, or in whose classes I have enrolled. I explain the technical work of named institutions. I describe my own travels. With one exception, all such details are to the best of my knowledge true. I have checked them wherever practically possible.

The solitary exception: I have not, contrary to what my narrative fancifully asserts, had visions in which Saint Thomas More leads me through the Kent of 2184 or Saint Thérèse of Lisieux exhibits to me a symbol from modal logic. Thus, for instance, where I claim to have seen a single 2184 maximum-size (village-scale) wind-driven generator, I am writing fiction. Where, on the other hand, I intimate that such a generating assembly, following essentially the wind-turbine designs of our own day, and placed on a ridge in open country exposed to winds, may be expected to deliver 500 kilowatts, I am writing fact.

I do not in this document speak for any organization or institution, whether scientific, political, or religious. The point of view advocated is my own. I write as an ordinary Catholic layman, sympathetic to the radically green (permaculturist) and anti-globalization causes in current politics. I have particular sympathy for the traditions of practical spirituality promoted since the late 1940s at Combermere, Canada by Catherine de Hueck Doherty's Madonna House movement and above all in New York and elsewhere since the 1930s by Dorothy Day's "Catholic Workers".

I allow myself a mildly inflated literary persona. If we half-jokingly define the 'horn' to be the measure of swashbuckling bravado attained by Horatio Hornblower in those magical novels of British seafaring, then I pass through real life at the level of a millihorn. In my document, on the other hand (where I turn exaggeratedly ribald at this juncture, exaggeratedly ironic at that one), I operate, as it were, at the mildly hyped level of 1.4 millihorns.

It is possible that, my best efforts notwithstanding, some things in this document, in the particular version you are reading, are not true.

We can offend against truth in more than one way. We can tell a direct lie (as when we say that such-and-such a multinational corporation makes its primary goal the preservation of the biosphere). More subtly, we can tell a lie by implication and insinuation (as when we say that the policies of Stalin led to the death in peacetime of at least two thousand innocent people: although the statement is literally true, it implies that the number of victims lay somewhere in the thousands, when the true number lay somewhere in the millions).

If you, whether or not as a committed Catholic, whether or not as a proponent of green and anti-globalization politics, think you see an offence against truth, I'd like to hear about it, so that I can consider making a correction in later versions. To alert me to a potential problem, send e-mail to, preferably with the subject line 'error in Utopia'. Or send me paper mail at Box 189, c/o Canada Mailbox Services, 253 College Street, Toronto M5T 1R5, Canada. Or phone me on +1 416-971-6955.

Among the viewpoints urged in this writing is a certain skepticism regarding copyright, and more generally regarding the contemporary idolization of "Intellectual Property". Nevertheless, I have not knowingly violated intellectual-property law in using my sources, and would be grateful to have any unwitting infraction pointed out to me.