As happens so often (always?), the ruling elite are manipulating what is possibly one of our more (most?) existential dilemmas so as to have their cake and eat it too. The chicanery that takes place within statistical calculations is widespread and occurs in virtually everything they touch but of course gives the impression of ‘objectivity’ and ‘transparency’ because figures can’t lie (although liars can figure, simply take a look at the statistical manipulations that take place in determining a nation’s consumer price index). The trickery goes far beyond numbers, however, for the use of statistics is just one of many narrative control mechanisms used to support the stories they want citizens to believe.
They have leveraged carbon emissions as THE most pressing environmental/ecological issue (even though it is only one of many predicaments resulting from humanity overshooting its natural carrying capacity on a finite planet) and have presented a variety of ‘solutions’ from carbon taxes to widespread ‘electrification’ of society to ‘net-zero’ policies. I would argue all of these ‘solutions’ derive from their primary motivation: the control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams. From ever-increasing taxation to capital reallocation towards ‘green/clean’ technology to increasing curtailment of once-expected liberties and mass surveillance, the ruling elite are enhancing and consolidating their grip on wealth and power but marketing it as a necessary societal shift to ‘save’ humanity from itself.
There is certainly a grain of truth in all of the efforts to shift society away from fossil fuels. Apart from the fact that fossil fuel exploitation has encountered significant diminishing returns on its investments, I am increasingly convinced humanity has blown past several very important biophysical limits that exist on a finite planet and if it wishes to make it out of the other side of the very narrow bottleneck we have created for ourselves some very difficult choices need to be made. The ruling elite, however — as they always do — are taking advantage of various crises for their own self-serving ends. They are selling a ‘Build Back Better’ narrative to the masses — as snake oil salesmen do — as beneficial for everyone while accruing the benefits to themselves that may come from this shift in what remains of our dwindling resources, especially energy, for our use.
There is massive evidence that we have reached significant diminishing returns in our exploitation of fossil fuels and there exist no comparable replacements. This has gargantuan implications for our exceedingly complex and global industrial world. The energy decline it portends CANNOT, with current technology, be offset. Yes, there are ‘potential’ alternative energy sources but none are currently available at scale or cost, or offer the energy-return-on-energy-invested that fossil fuels have — in fact, many are just concepts on paper or test projects and critical views of them show they offer little if any surplus energy; to say little about the hard fact that they all depend upon the fossil fuel platform from the mining and processing of raw materials to the construction and maintenance to the after-life care and disposal of waste products (resulting in further environmental/ecological distress).
And even if by some miraculous turn of events we were to discover a truly ‘green/clean’ new energy subsidy to replace the relatively inexpensive and easy-to-access/readily-transportable fossil fuels that have allowed almost all of our expansion and ‘progress’ the past couple of centuries (but especially the past 100–150 years), this would do little to address the variety of other negative consequences of humanity’s spread and impact across the globe (e.g., biodiversity loss, soil fertility issues, etc.). Powering all of our technology and complexities does NOT address the underlying cause of our dilemmas: ecological overshoot.
Rather than acknowledging our plight, our elite are actually doing the exact opposite of what very likely needs to be done to address overshoot. They continue to pursue the perpetual growth chalice taking humanity even further down a path that is becoming both narrower and far more dangerous for most if not all.
The elite are well aware of the human tendency to defer to ‘experts’ and ‘authority’ (think Stanley Milgram’s shock experiments) and think in ‘herds’ so as to go along with the ‘mainstream’ narrative even if it goes against our own experiences and observations, so they dispatch their narrative managers/propagandists. These people have been working overtime crafting comforting and cognitive dissonance-reducing tales to overwhelm the contrarian evidence that shows the emperor has no clothes. To say little about Big Tech increasingly censoring alternative narratives.
The ‘net-zero’ propaganda is a perfect example. It continues to push expansion (the very cause of our dilemmas), particularly of certain ‘solutions’, while marketing itself as the road to sustainability because, you know, it all evens out in the end. Sit back, relax, fire up the Netflix, watch another sports event, your ‘leaders’ have everything under control. Pay no attention whatsoever to the kerfuffle behind the curtain over there. We can have our cake and eat it too!