Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh CXXXIV


Mexico (1988). Photo by author.

Today’s post is a sharing of a back-and-forth I have had with a supporter of non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies (NRREHTs). This is an individual I’ve discussed this particular aspect of our predicament with a number of times, continuing to disagree on a number of levels. I post this to demonstrate the nature of disagreement that exists between people regarding our energy future and ‘hopes/thoughts’ about this. The conversation is followed by some personal reflections.

His reply to my last Contemplation (the culmination of a 4-part series on the proposed nationalisation of banking systems) focused upon my use of NRREHTs as an example of the ruling caste’s tendency to leverage demands from some in the public to expand their revenue streams while marketing such policies as responsive to the public and beneficial to society-at-large, and doing the exact opposite of what humanity likely should be pursuing to address our ecological overshoot predicament.

That almost all cheerleaders I’ve communicated with ignore/dismiss my oft-repeated concern over the ecological systems destruction that would result/is resulting from this push for NRREHTs says much about the persistence of humans to deny reality — through a lack of acknowledgement of evidence — when anxiety-provoking thoughts intrude upon their beliefs.

SP: Counterpoint: passage of the IRA, which quantifiable moves society rapidly in the direction of sustainability.
Then there is EU fit for 55… carbon border pricing…
China building astonishing quantities of renewables capacity. India banning new coal fired power…
Etc etc etc

My response: Sure, non-renewable, renewable energy-harvesting technologies are going to ‘solve’ our overshoot predicament…except, they’re not. They’re only going to make it worse.

SP: prove it. Support that with any data that addresses modern tech of the last 3 years, and not some 10–15 years old dated doomerism.
You can’t.

Me: You have your bias and I have mine. It would be completely pointless to list or share any arguments, evidence, data, ‘proof’, with you since your perspective is well displayed in your constant support of NRREHTs. We will simply have to agree to disagree, especially if you believe that ‘sustainability’ involves massive mining, mineral processing, and construction, distribution, maintenance, and reclamation of NRREHTs.

SP: it’s simple. You want to dismantle society and “power down”.
On the behalf of about 7 billion people that want to live: NO. We will transition to sustainable sources without the suicide part.

Me: No, I ‘want’ no such thing. I am an observer and student of pre/history, sharing a story. Good luck with that transition, however. Especially with the halting or reversing the laws of physics that would be required.


It was at about this juncture that another individual became involved in the conversation.

LN: Irrelevant — FF GHG’s are not being displaced.
And, in the process, we are critically degrading global ecological capacity.
In addition, we are only now / already beginning to hit materials bottlenecks… which people like me predicted would happen after a short rapid increase in production.
E.g. Shortage of Metals for EV Batteries Now a Key Concern for Automakers’ C-Suites — Bloomberg —
Ease up: are we about to hit a bottleneck for EV resources? —
Analysis: GM’s 2025 EV output could be crimped by battery bottleneck | Reuters —
But the oil and gas exploration provisions are going ahead just fine!

SP: EVs do not displace fossil fuel emissions? That’s farcical.
Oil is punching itself out due to natural depletion (see: peak oil), and regulatory forcers are helping accelerate that globally.
EV supply chains surely do have growing pains, but oh my they are growing and at an astonishing pace.
Cobalt is being obsoleted.
Sodium batteries are hitting the market now that use no lithium and no cobalt and have the same energy density as a low end Tesla. Fielded by the largest battery manufacturer in the world. If you tell me we are about to run out of salt, I will block you on principle.
All these things are why the IRA is important, to spoil up these supply chains.
I am personally building plants that are IRA supported that decarbonize cement production and aviation.

Me: “I am personally building plants that are IRA supported that decarbonize cement production and aviation.”

SP: attack the source of you want. I just dropped a half dozen data points that support my assertions, versus a couple of opinion pieces and comments that are absurd on their face.

It is incomprehensible to me why people that care about energy or the environment would fight the best tools that we have that are actually doing something about it because it isn’t… *checks notes* …shutting down civilization.

Me: Not attacking anything. Merely pointing out that your perspective is impacted greatly by the fact that you are deeply involved (earning a living) with the industry that some of us are quite skeptical of. It is natural to deny/ ignore/justify/rationalize away the criticisms and fight hard to reduce your cognitive dissonance. The fact that your income depends on these technologies means you have a very vested interest in them being seen as favourable and worthy of further investment. This causes you to interpret evidence in a specific way and that serves to reinforce your beliefs.

It is incomprehensible to me that the cheerleaders of these technologies don’t understand that what they are actually doing is exacerbating our ecological overshoot while telling themselves they are ‘saving the world’. The massive mining (perhaps one of the dirtiest industries on the planet). The continued use of fossil fuels to carry out the mining and processing of the minerals — I.e., continued industrial production. The fact that alternative energy sources have not supplanted fossil fuel use only added to it. The fact that having already encountered significant diminishing returns on the energy that powers all of our industries (fossil fuels) there is nowhere near the ability to replace even a fraction of our fossil-fuel based infrastructure — to say little about the mineral restraints. The huge number of as-yet-to-be-hatched technologies that still haven’t succeeded much outside of lab tests or small-scale prototype applications. The massive debt bubble of our Ponzi-type economy that must fund all this but is reaching its endgame of collapse. The hugely significant loss of biodiversity that is a far greater threat to human existence and yet will suffer greater threats with the massive technology buildout being proposed by the ‘renewable’ cheerleaders.

I don’t wish to shut down civilization; not even if I could. It is doing that job itself…just as all the experiments in complex societies have done before us.

Oh, and could you please explain to me from your perspective how the ‘electrification of everything’ is an improvement over our current destructive fossil fuel-based society, apart from the mainstream, hyperfocus upon carbon emissions — which, if truth be told, have actually been increasing despite decades of alternative energy production and are likely to experience a significant increase with all the industrial processes required for the buildout of what you and others are cheerleading in the realm of ‘renewable’ energy and ‘carbon capture’…

The conversation between SP and myself stopped at this point since he has yet to answer/address my last request for an explanation about how the buildout of NRREHTs would be an improvement over fossil fuels — at least to my posting this. But he has carried on extensively with several others in the meantime.

It is my belief, at this time — and I am always open to changing this as circumstances/evidence and, yes, biases guide me — that we are being led astray in our penchant for ‘solutions’ to perceived existential threats by individuals/groups seeking to profit from our fear, uncertainty, and desire to maintain our energetic conveniences.

These people are leveraging circumstances and human psychological mechanisms to manipulate emotions and beliefs in pursuit of their own economic self-interest, which can then be leveraged to increase political influence and power.

That virtually every cheerleader of NRREHTs highlights their benefits (i.e., ability to sustain/maintain industrial society basically as is, or in some cases, as slightly powered-down) but ignores/rationalises away the continuing ecological systems destruction inherent in what they are proposing (except the hyper-focus upon a single symptom predicament of our ecological overshoot: carbon emissions) says much about the issue and the human predilection to deny/omit information that increases our anxiety/stress due to cognitive dissonance. And this reinforces for me the notion that we all believe what we want to believe and use supportive data/evidence to enhance our perspective while dismissing/ignoring contrary information.

Here are just a couple of articles I came across yesterday morning on this ecological destruction that is being uncovered and reported upon as a result of NRREHTs and their increasing rollout:

Of course, those who support supposed no-/low-carbon fusion/nuclear and/or fossil fuel continuation will use these reports to justify their perspectives and therein lies the rub in our human story-telling: while certain ‘facts’ can be agreed upon, it is in the ‘interpretation’ and ‘application’ of these facts that most (all) differences in opinion lie and the multitude of narratives get their legs.

As I was attempting to claw back some of the plants encroaching on the footpaths in my garden and trim/train my raspberry and blackberry canes, I was reflecting upon this Contemplation and how novel it would be to see more of our governing functionaries aware of or schooled in biology and/or ecology rather than the usual backgrounds one sees in them (e.g., economics/business, law). The difference, hopefully, being that those aware of biological principles (such as seen in population biology studies of overshoot) and/or ecological systems impacts (like biodiversity loss due to human expansion) would be far more reticent about chasing the perpetual growth chalice that those schooled in economics, for example, place at the forefront of their policies and decisions.

And there is, of course, no guarantee that such a shift in the knowledge/background of some would change things for the better. Self-reinforcing echo chambers, groupthink, and other pressures would be overwhelming for anyone attempting to upset the apple cart of economic growth (which is what probably needs to be done to mitigate ever so slightly our trajectory), just as we see the ostracization/deplatforming/cancelling of any individual or group that challenges popular mainstream/regime narratives.

That we have a system that places economic growth at the forefront of all else says much about how we have lost touch with the natural world and its significantly important biosphere integrity. We give only passing recognition and a perfunctory nod to our environment, probably due to the increasing voices shouting about its importance. And it could be that this shift away from an awareness of the significant importance of biosphere integrity began with our first large, complex societies and the development of human institutions (e.g., religion) that attempted to explain/justify power and wealth structures.

Regardless of the increasing evidence that we are upon a suicidal path in our attempts to ‘tech’ our way out of our overshoot predicament, my feeling is that we will continue to support not only status quo power and wealth structures through our pursuit of NRREHTs, but expedite our journey over the ecological overshoot cliff and make it worse.

It does not matter one iota to the power brokers of this world if the consequences in the long run (perhaps even medium term or shorter) are absolutely devastating for our planet and its inhabitants. The elite will continue to manufacture consent for this path regardless of the ecological destruction it portends, for in the here-and-now they are profiting and enriching themselves. And the overwhelming majority of people will be supportive as they either continue to live in ignorance of the repercussions or rationalise it away as the best possible ‘solution’ given all the alternatives (and the way in which the ruling caste has framed the narratives).

Or, as I concluded in another post some months ago:

“…I am convinced we will attempt the push into NRRs (non-renewable ‘renewables’) that you advocate as we slide down the Seneca cliff of resource/energy availability. For, after all, the ruling class that controls/influences the mainstream narratives (and what most people think/believe) stand to profit handsomely from the effort for they also control/influence all the industries and financial institutions that are required to pursue such a path. The result will surely be a trajectory further into ecological overshoot and thus a more massive ‘collapse’ (which always accompanies a species overshooting its environment). Nature always bats last and we continue to deny this and end up putting ourselves in greater danger. And, unfortunately, it would seem even a lot of the most well-intentioned individuals and groups are cheerleading us along the wrong path.”

And there seems no way out of the morass we have led ourselves to. As I was putting the finishing touches on this post I came across this beauty by Daniel LaCalle about the ever-increasing size of the Ponzi our global economy has become:

We have guaranteed that the trip over the cliff we have embarked upon will be a fall from stupendous heights and getting ever higher with every ‘solution’ we attempt…

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...