Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CLX. Solace Will Not Be Found Within Our Sociopolitical Systems — Biogeophysical Limitations Cannot Be Overcome By Way Of Policy.

Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)
6 min readNov 4, 2023
Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Solace Will Not Be Found Within Our Sociopolitical Systems — Biogeophysical Limitations Cannot Be Overcome By Way Of Policy

The following Contemplation is composed of some thoughts I had as I read through and reflected upon an article that was posted on the website Zerohedge. It argues that the policies being pursued by our political systems to address climate change are likely to result in greater human suffering and what is needed is better policy by governments.

While there are some pertinent points made (such as highlighting the abuses imposed upon some local populations where resources for non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies are being extracted from), my very first thought when I finished the article was “Why, that’s so cute that you still believe we live in a ‘democracy’ that ‘serves’ the citizens it purports to and is responsive to and cares about those citizens.”

This, however, is the default belief system for a very significant portion of a nation’s population and particularly those of the West that claim to live in ‘representative democracies’. It is one of the overarching narratives that people are exposed to from a very young age and it’s hard for any to see behind the curtain that has been erected by our socialisation/enculturation and the massive propaganda that is a part of that. The denial/bargaining/rationalising others engage in when this particular core belief is challenged is breathtaking to behold at times. Very, very few wish to view critically the notion that our political systems are ‘representative’ or ‘responsive’. They accept it as a given and do not wish their illusions to be destroyed lest cognitive dissonance overwhelm them.

I have written numerous times about this and won’t dwell on these points except to share links to a handful of those Contemplations:
Collapse Cometh X (Who Do ‘Representative’ Governments Truly Represent)
Collapse Cometh CXII (Our Banking System: Government vs. Private Control, Part 1)
Collapse Cometh CXIX (Local Community Resiliency and Political Systems)
Collapse Cometh CXXX (Only Local Leadership Can Help Communities Now)
Collapse Cometh CXXXVII (Local Self-Resilience Is Imperative to Pursue In Light Of Ecological Overshoot)

In addition, just as problematic (perhaps more so) in the rhetoric of the authors is their blindness to the limitations of what is being proposed and the bargaining and magical thinking that this entails. Yes, the policies being pursued by our governments are going to increase human suffering; but ultimately not in the way that the authors believe — they are going to exacerbate our ecological overshoot predicament and cause Nature’s reversion to the mean all the more chaotic and widespread.

While the sociopaths in our world leverage each and every worry/risk (e.g., climate change/global warming, war, economy, the ‘other’, etc.) to meet their primary goal of control/expansion of the wealth-generation/-extraction systems that provide their revenue streams and thus power/influence/prestige, such analyses as presented here are as guilty of leveraging magical thinking to argue for something as profoundly misguided: the continuation of perpetual growth/progress on a finite planet through improved political policies. For example, they suggest implementing ‘responsible mining’ and ‘domestic production of complex technologies’ to avoid human suffering.

Such an approach appears blind to the energy/resource limits on a planet with biogeophysical constraints, and what can/cannot be accomplished with respect to ongoing growth and ‘progress’. Exponential growth of any species beyond the natural carrying capacity of its environment always leads to ecological overshoot and eventually collapse of the population. And there is ample evidence that humans are well into overshoot and have been for some time eating our seed corn (and creating self-congratulatory narratives) to avoid this truth.

Homo sapiens are no different from any other species in this regard. Except that we have a ruling caste that is leveraging the various symptom predicaments of overshoot (via ‘solutions’ to predicaments that have none, or to justify/rationalise invasion and occupation of resource-rich lands) in order to keep padding their offshore bank accounts and control their respective populations; and all the while they are helping to expedite the collapse of our complex societies and ecological systems in the process — mostly by drawing down finite resources to keep the mythos of perpetual growth/progress alive just a bit longer.

Yes, the vast majority of ‘solutions’ being marketed to address ‘climate change’ are mostly (if not totally) rackets being perpetrated upon society (e.g., ‘green/clean’ energy production, carbon capture and storage, Net Zero, electrification of everything) and the threats of our overarching predicament of overshoot (i.e., biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, atmospheric overloading, chemical pollutants, etc.) are getting lost in the kerfuffle — mostly through denial and bargaining.

And, yes, as diminishing returns on our investments continues to pick up speed with our exponential drawing down of resources, it is likely that the threat of ‘climate change’ or ‘war’ will be used to rationalise the need for massive ‘austerity’ (except of course for the ‘privileged’ minority) as our ruling caste attempts to protect and insulate themselves.

In fact, there’s a good argument that this approach has actually been occurring for a century+ and reality has simply been ‘papered over’ through massive currency devaluation and debt (hundreds of trillions of interest-bearing debt to date), and the increase of resource theft from regions outside the centre and not already overexploited (especially of hydrocarbons, the lifeblood of our societal complexities — there’s a reason the Middle East has been a quagmire for decades and the dominant nation coming out of World War 2 created the Petrodollar System).

But as William Yeats reminded us in The Second Coming: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold”. The fall/decline of complex societies is a recurrent theme in human pre/history regardless of the policies of the ruling caste and the best technologies of the time. Diminishing returns on investments in complexity along with the predicament of ecological overshoot is resulting in this cyclical phenomenon shifting from regional collapse to being global in nature.

How this proceeds exactly this time around is anyone’s guess, but the process cannot be avoided…and without recognising the actual predicament of overshoot and its inevitable consequences our approaches to what is unfolding will continue to be misguided and simply make Nature’s correction all the more devastating.

And our political systems and ruling caste members are likely the very last place we should be looking for guidance on all of this given their primary motivation/goal requires doing the exact opposite of what our species needs to be pursuing: rapid and significant degrowth.

If you’ve made it to the end of this contemplation and have got something out of my writing, please consider ordering the trilogy of my ‘fictional’ novel series, Olduvai (PDF files; only $9.99 Canadian), via my website — the ‘profits’ of which help me to keep my internet presence alive and first book available in print (and is available via various online retailers).

You can also find a variety of resources, particularly my summary notes for a handful of texts, especially Catton’s Overshoot and Tainter’s Collapse: see here.

Recently released:

It Bears Repeating: Best Of…Volume 1

A compilation of writers focused on the nexus of limits to growth, energy, and ecological overshoot.

With a Foreword and Afterword by Michael Dowd, authors include: Max Wilbert; Tim Watkins; Mike Stasse; Dr. Bill Rees; Dr. Tim Morgan; Rob Mielcarski; Dr. Simon Michaux; Erik Michaels; Just Collapse’s Tristan Sykes & Dr. Kate Booth; Kevin Hester; Alice Friedemann; David Casey; and, Steve Bull.

The document is not a guided narrative towards a singular or overarching message; except, perhaps, that we are in a predicament of our own making with a far more chaotic future ahead of us than most imagine–and most certainly than what mainstream media/politics would have us believe.

Click here to access the document as a PDF file, free to download.

NOTE: Beginning to post these thoughts of mine also on my website. I began a couple of years ago posting them on Medium exclusively but have found that their subscription practices are somewhat restrictive. I will attempt to post one of my previous Contemplations per day on my website until I am caught up…in the meantime, I will be posting all new Contemplations in both locations.

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Steve Bull (https://olduvai.ca)

A guy trying to make sense of a complex and seemingly insane world. Spend my days pondering our various predicaments while practising local food production...