Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CXIII


Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Fossil Fuel Shills Are Us

This brief Contemplation is the comment I shared on the latest article by The Honest Sorcerer.

Welcome to the club of being a ‘fossil fuel shill’ and ‘climate change denier’, ad hominem attacks I too have sustained in the journey of writing about the inherent problems with attempts to ‘solve’ our dependency upon fossil fuels and the resulting ecological overshoot predicament using complex technologies that simply serve to exacerbate our situation.

While it should be self-evident at this point in our history that fossil fuels are a finite resource with no suitable replacement, for the vast majority of people that even ponder this dilemma for more than a nanosecond this is still not the case. Perhaps one of the main reasons for this is because we are dominated by interpretive lenses that place socio-economic/-political institutions at the forefront of our thinking rather than ecological/biological ones, and because of this believe humans stand apart from Nature and can ‘solve’ any issue.

If my immediate social circle of family and friends, and many of the comments I read online, is any indication of people’s thoughts on the subject and related issues, then it seems clear that most people don’t actually think about this quagmire of fossil fuel depletion compounded by ecological overshoot at all, or only give it passing recognition for the briefest of moments and then delete it from their memories and thinking about the future.

That denial/bargaining/rationalisations tend to dominate thinking about this state of affairs is really not surprising given the human tendency to deny reality in the face of anxiety-provoking thoughts. This is further complicated by the dominant story-telling apes amongst us using it as a means of profiteering to expand/maintain their revenue streams that help to ensure their privileges at the top of our power/wealth structures.

It seems to me that one must pass through Kubler-Ross’s stages of grieving to acceptance before one can clearly understand the severity of the situation and the need to consider its implications — both short- and long-term — and then, hopefully, act in ways that either do not exacerbate our plight or help to mitigate it somewhat.

While predicting the future is certainly a fool’s errand fraught with uncertainty (to say little of Black Swan events), the saying ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ certainly comes to mind when contemplating what the road ahead looks like in a world of quickly diminishing returns on one of our most fundamental resources (certainly THE most fundamental for supporting our globalised, technologically-dependent economies).

Immediately ceasing fossil fuel extraction and use as some call for most certainly leads to a complete breakdown of almost every complexity in today’s so-called advanced economies. And, no, there is no ‘soft landing’ by way of a seamless transition to ‘green’ energy — that way simply compounds our overshoot by further overloading planetary sinks, exacerbating geopolitical tensions over resources, misdirecting/wasting finite resources, hoodwinking consumers, and, perhaps most problematically, misleading everyone about the seriousness of the situation.

The issue I’ve been pondering of late (and writing about) is people’s tendency to appeal to our political systems to alleviate our anxiety and address the issue. But just as the technology ‘solution’ compounds the consequences of overshoot, so too do our political systems that are part and parcel of a ruling caste of any complex society that almost always act in ways to preserve their status and power through the manipulation of narratives that serve to help them legitimise their privileged positions.

We are in the thick of it with not only no agreed upon way out but with no non-chaotic path before us. And what little agency we have in all of this might best be directed towards relocalising the fundamental aspects of survival (e.g., procurement of potable water, food production, regional shelter needs) in one’s immediate community as much as is possible. I, personally, have initiated a local ‘food gardening guild’ and look forward to building positive relationships with many of my neighbours and increasing our local self-sufficiency. It may not be much, but it’s a start…

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.



Steve Bull (

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...