Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CXXIX


Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

My morning comment on The Honest Sorcerer’s latest post regarding the physical realities facing our energy ‘transition’.

Never let ‘facts’ get in the way of a good story. And this is what the entire ‘green/clean’ energy ‘anthology’ is desperately attempting to avoid: facts that derail the popular narration being provided to the masses. Of course, this is entirely possible when the stories are built on fictional storylines that are malleable to the whims of the writers, and a receptive audience that defers to ‘expertise’ and is looking to reduce their cognitive dissonance.

This growing collection of stories, as I see it, is about establishing a narrative that convinces everyone that our modern, industrial world of technological conveniences and the dreams of a future of ‘everything for everyone all at once’ is entirely achievable; if we just believe and funnel our wealth into the ‘correct’ industries and institutions (that the ruling caste just happens to own).

It does appear, however, the mythos surrounding this compilation of tales is requiring increasing support (aka marketing propaganda and legislation) as, among other impediments, the limits of the physical throughputs needed to achieve the energy transition are being exposed (see Simon Michaux’s work for the most recent analyses; but also via posts like this one of yours).

The late Dr. Albert Bartlett was entirely correct when he opined that ‘The greatest shortcoming of the human species is its inability to understand the exponential function’ for the main storyline of our energy transition tends to be that of ‘sustainable growth’. That this obviously oxymoronic declaration is repeatedly bandied about without the slightest raising of eyebrows by virtually everyone speaks volumes regarding the power of repeating a lie until it is accepted as truth.

Infinite growth should not, cannot, and will not continue upon a planet with finite resources and sinks. This should be self-evident to everyone but is not. In fact, the idea is mostly abhorred when presented to growth advocates. It is a sad but also very frustrating reality that we exist within. And for those that do understand the exponential function, we are acutely aware that no more doublings of physical throughputs can take place no matter how much people want to believe otherwise.

The aspect that concerns me more is the avoidance/denial/bargaining that accompanies this latest and greatest ‘revolution’ with respect to ecological systems destruction. I have repeatedly attempted to raise this with ardent supporters of the ‘green/clean’ energy transition and almost every one dismisses/ignores it. Like actually ignores it by refusing to respond to/address it. Those very few that do invariably rationalise it away with statements such as ‘Well, fossil fuels are worse’, or ‘Recycling and better extraction/processing technologies will address that’, or, ‘We can simply reduce our overall energy use and Bob’s your uncle’.

And, of course, these are the rationalisations of a very small minority of people that are actually aware of these issues. The vast, vast majority of our world is completely ignorant of them for they are simply dealing with the typical daily struggles of existence within our complex societies and have no time nor inclination to worry about such existential concerns; or, as James Howard Kunstler wrote in The Long Emergency: ‘These facts are poorly understood by the global population preoccupied with the thrum of daily life, but tragically, too, by the educated classes [everywhere], who continue to be by far the greatest squanderers of fossil fuels.’

It seems that the ‘naysayers’ who raise the flags concerning the popular myth of an energy transition will continue to be the subject of scorn and disdain by the ruling elite but also by many others (especially the true believers) since few, if any, humans like having their illusions destroyed. Mythos are difficult if not impossible to destroy.

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...