The evidence is gaining increasing clarity: We’ve reached a crossroads unlike any other in human history. One path leads to despair for Homo industrialis. The other leads to extinction, for Homo sapiens and the millions of species we are taking with us into the abyss. I’ll take door number one.
We cannot use politics as usual to deal with energy decline. Ditto for runaway greenhouse. In other words, there is no viable political solution to deal with either issue.
A reminder about online comments is given by John Michael Greer in this week’s version of his blog. His primary point, that our information age is actually dependent on physical substrate, reminds me of the cognitive dissonance running so deeply among the American populace. Example A is the magical thinking that we’ll create new alternatives to oil, despite the absence of any such alternatives so far, even when the price of oil skyrocketed to $147.27. Example B is the magical thinking that we need to keep the cars running at all costs … which means, of course, at every cost to the planet and even our own species. Example C is the magical thinking that our economy is necessary to our survival, when in fact it is a grave threat to our survival.
The quote is from one of my recent books, and I use it here to introduce a
(warning: this is a large pdf file). This report is based on a semester’s worth of thinking and writing by two undergraduate students. I advised these two superb students on this independent-study project, which they sandwiched between full academic schedules and full lives.
As we wrapped up our potluck lunch, at the request of my co-teacher and mentor, I read this bit from Pablo Neruda’s poem, “Keeping Quiet.” It seems fitting, as I step away from one life and move closer to the land.
The industrial economy is slipping through our fingers like mercury from a broken thermometer. Facing a rapid terminal decline in crude oil — the lifeblood of western civilization — there is nothing you, me, or President Obama can do to save the industrial economy. But as we near the end of the industrial economy, complete with the collapse of our fuel-, food- and water-delivery systems, individuals can make arrangements to thrive in the post-carbon era.
For the most part, of course, we prefer to look the other way, rather than staring into the unflinching eyes of truth. Civilized people don’t want to know the consequences of our actions, which include oppression, murder, and extinction, among other uncomfortable costs.