Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CIX

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Teotihuacan, Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

My response to The Honest Sorcerer’s latest post (another great read).

It’s become fascinating to me to watch the machinations of our society (particularly our ruling caste who overly influences — via their control of mass media — the narratives we are exposed to and that ‘guide’ our thinking and beliefs) to deny/bargain and rationalise away the realities of the physical and biological constraints and consequences of existence upon a finite planet.

The magical thinking you discuss is but one aspect of it; a very significant one to be sure. I’ve even had the words ‘finite planet’ banned from my town’s most popular Facebook group and result in a 30-day suspension for me — that’s how desperate the mainstream/status quo is to deny reality and control the narratives.

Believing that non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs) can replace fossil fuels — or, at least help to mitigate the coming energy descent — most certainly falls into this category.

I am sensing three primary aspects to the denial/bargaining that occurs within the belief systems of those who hold out ‘hope’ that these complex technologies can ‘save’ us from our over-exploitive tendencies.

First, there is the idea that some kind of ‘virtuous circle’ of ‘renewables’ exists that is capable of producing enough energy to produce, maintain, and distribute ‘renewables’ without the need for the highly-dense (and very transportable) energy of fossil fuels — or will exist if we can discover a means of achieving it. Any. Moment. Now.

Second, finite resource limits for the widespread expansion of NRREHTs are either ignored or rationalised away through the dominant economic-based argument that human ingenuity will always find adequate substitutes for materials that are limited in nature.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the environmental/ecological systems destruction created by the continued/expanded procurement of the minerals and materials required for these ‘renewable’ technologies is almost always left out of consideration. When it is raised, the bargainers point to supposedly ‘cleaner’ methods of extraction and production — oftentimes in a the circular fashion of arguing that electric-based machinery and industrial processing is the ‘solution’ (see first point above).

As I responded to someone who commented on one of my own posts about our predicament, stating that what’s the point of anything if there is no ‘hope’:

“‘Hope’ is a two-edged sword, and can be interpreted in a variety of ways.

For some it is as you suggest: the only reason to carry on. But this way tends to lead to the belief that others (especially those within our political systems) and technology will ‘solve’ the predicament of ecological overshoot and its various symptoms. I consider this to be false hope and a form of hope that often, if not always, results in a lack of positive action/behaviour: it leads to prolongation of the status quo, business-as-usual systems that includes continued ecological destruction and putting the planet further into overshoot.

For others it is a clarion call resulting in a change of behaviour. For if we acknowledge that the complexities and energetic conveniences we currently depend upon have a very limited lifespan that is quickly approaching their expiration date, and prepare ourselves for that eventuality, then behavioural changes and actions — that can help mitigate the simplification that will accompany this — can be pursued.

Without moving to acceptance, people tend to continue to remain in the denial/bargaining stages of grieving. And this is not what we likely need to address the coming storm. In fact, it seems to be exacerbating our predicament as we chase the very technologies that have significantly contributed to it in the first place.”

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). Encouraging others to read my work is also much appreciated.

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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...