After a woefully inept introduction, this essay forces me to stare into the abyss of planet-destroying myth. If you believe we’re headed for a muddle-through future in which we correct massive ecological overshoot with the tranquility of Buddhist monks, this is the essay you’ve been waiting to read. Come on along, if you dare, keeping …
Balance is a central tenet of Buddhism, foundational to the four noble truths and the eight-fold way. Balance is a superb notion and I strongly support, for individuals at least, balance, moderation, and many other principles of Buddhism. Indeed, had Buddhism found roots in this country a couple hundred years ago, we probably would have avoided, or at least delayed, the series of catastrophes we now face. But with fewer than one percent of the American population dedicated to Buddhism, it’s a little late for balance and moderation to work their magic at the scale of this country, much less planet Earth.
Yesterday I delivered a presentation to a room full of Honors College students, peppered with a few faculty and administrators. The response was overwhelmingly disappointing. Seems nearly everybody in the room — and in the country, for that matter — wants to keep the current game going, no matter the costs. They don’t view civilization as a problem at all, evidence notwithstanding, and they think the solution to our fossil-fuel dilemma is to drive less and bicycle more.
Cheap oil allowed us to build the suburbs and treat our houses as ATMs. Thus, cheap oil allowed the fiesta of economic growth and the packaging of bank loans into increasingly complex bundles of surreality. When reality bitch-slaps the banks, it’s really peak oil doing the slapping. When banks fail, or are baled out by … well, you and me … the failures are induced by peak oil and the “baling out” is a tax on you and me.