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The archdruid lays down the Dharma of peak oil

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pscot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:23 AM
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The archdruid lays down the Dharma of peak oil
http://www.energybulletin.net/50150

....one of the crucial facts about the future, after all, is that the fossil fuels that prop up current lifestyles across the industrial world, and provide the basis for survival for hundreds of millions in the Third World, are depleting rapidly with no adequate replacements in sight. That hard fact pretty much guarantees a future in which poverty, hunger, warfare, and early death will be vastly more common than their opposites, and in which a great many of the comforts and opportunities we now take for granted will no longer be available. That, in turn, would certainly seem to define the future ahead of us as worse than the present, in ways sweeping enough that any benefits to be gained from the changes in store could be considered consolation prizes at best. Still, so straightforward an assessment of our prospects is profoundly unwelcome in many circles these days.
The difficulty here is that faith in the prospect of a better future has been so deeply ingrained in all of us that trying to argue against it is a bit like trying to tell a medieval peasant that heaven with all its saints and angels isnt there any more. The hope that tomorrow will be, or can be, or at the very least ought to be better than today is hardwired into the collective imagination of the modern world. Behind that faith lies the immense example of three hundred years of industrial expansion, which cashed in the cheaply accessible fraction of the Earths fossil fuel reserves for a brief interval of abundance so extreme that garbage collectors in todays America have access to things that emperors could not get before the industrial revolution dawned...

That age of extravagance has profoundly reshaped in terms of the realities of human life before and after our age, a better word might be distorted the way people nowadays think about very nearly anything you care to name. In particular, it has blinded us to the ecological realities that provide the fundamental context to our lives. Its made nearly all of us think, for example, that unlimited exponential growth is possible, normal, and good, and so even as the disastrous consequences of unlimited exponential growth slam into our society one after another like waves hitting a sand castle, the vast majority of people nowadays still build their visions of the future on the fantasy that problems caused by growth can be solved by still more growth.
The distorted thinking we have inherited from three centuries of unsustainable growth crops up in full force even among many of those who think theyre reacting against it. Activists at every point on the political spectrum have waxed rhetorical for generations about the horrors the future has in store, to be sure, but they always offer a way out the adoption of whatever agenda they happen to be promoting and it leads straight to a bright new tomorrow, in which the hard limits of the present somehow no longer seem to apply. (Take away the trope of the only way to rescue a better future from the jaws of imminent disaster from todays activist rhetoric, for that matter, and in most cases theres very little left.)

Still, the bright new tomorrow weve all been promised is not going to arrive. This is the bad news brought to us by the unfolding collision between industrial society and the unyielding limits of the planetary biosphere. Peak oil, global warming, and all the other crises gathering around the world are all manifestations of a single root cause: the impossibility of infinite growth on a finite planet. They are warning signals telling us that we have gone into full-blown overshoot the state, familiar to ecologists, in which a species outruns the resource base that supports it and they tell us also that growth is not merely going to stop; its going to reverse, and that reversal will continue until our population, resource use, and waste production drop to levels that can be sustained over the long term by a damaged planetary ecosystem.

That bitter outcome might have been prevented if we had collectively taken decisive action before we went into overshoot. We did not do so, and at this point the window of opportunity is firmly shut. Nearly all the proposals currently being floated to deal with the symptoms of our planetary overshoot assume, tacitly or otherwise, that this is not the case and we still have as much time as we need. Such proposals are wasted breath, and if any of them are enacted and some of them very likely will be enacted, once todays complacency gives way to tomorrows stark panic the resources poured into them will be wasted as well.

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villager Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:49 AM
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1. wow. When you're less optimistic than Kafka ("there is hope, but not for us") that's something
Edited on Thu Sep-17-09 11:49 AM by villager
n/t
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Terry in Austin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-17-09 11:57 AM
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2. JMG nails it again
The hope that tomorrow will be.. better than today is hardwired into the collective imagination of the modern world. ...three hundred years of industrial expansion, which cashed in... the Earths fossil fuel reserves for a brief interval of abundance... the bright new tomorrow weve all been promised is not going to arrive.

Still, so straightforward an assessment of our prospects is profoundly unwelcome in many circles these days.


Despite the last little bit of understatement, there it is in a nutshell. The myth of modernism: "tomorrow will be better than today." Fail.

Clearly, we need some better myths, real soon now!

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Nihil Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-18-09 07:05 AM
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3. K & R for the rest of the article too ...
> Its a very old fantasy. The Roman poet Horace, in his Second Epode, put the
> same sentiments in the mouth of a moneylender, who imagined himself living the
> simple life of a poor farmer off in the Italian hill country, then turned from
> such daydreams back to the work of managing his investments. No doubt there
> were plenty of poor farmers in Horaces time whose daydreams fixated instead
> on the high life of a wealthy moneylender in Rome.
...
> If Tony and his countless equivalents want a chance to really live, in other
> words, nothing is holding them back. If they feel their present comforts are
> obstacles to a better life, nothing prevents them from getting rid of those
> comforts. If they feel that danger and deprivation would make life more real
> for them, those can also be had easily enough by those who actually want them.
> Of course thats the rub. Alfius could have gotten out of the moneylending
> business, donated his wealth to charity, moved to a farm and made his rural
> fantasy real, but of course he didnt actually want to do that; he simply
> wanted to daydream about it. I admit to a strong suspicion that the same is
> true of Tony and his peers.

I found the piece interesting as a whole.
Thanks for posting it.
:dilemma:
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