Civilization represents a grave threat to the existence of myriad cultures and species, including our own species. And we can do better.
Reason is the basis for understanding the material world. Mysticism has proven an insufficient foundation for dealing with peak oil and runaway greenhouse. As such, I suspect it will prove inadequate for saving humanity. Whether or not we’re worth saving is a separate issue.
I’m starting to understand the many peak-oil deniers out there. It’s tough to wrap our hummingbird-sized intellects around these pterodactyl-sized numbers. Our ability to power down with all the peace and tranquility of Buddhist monks seems a little far-fetched (we are, as pointed out by Nietzsche, “all too human”). It’s easier to deny the impending collapse of empire than to deal with facts. On the other hand, as Matt Savinar points out, you’d better “Deal With Reality or Reality Will Deal With You.”
Yep, there are two sides to the peak-oil story. The side we go up (which ended a couple years ago), and the side we go down. We’re on the downhill side of world oil supply, and the slope’s about to get a helluva lot more slippery.
Our last best chance to make it through the ever-tightening bottleneck is to bring down civilization. Although Peak Oil will bring down civilization within the next decade, maybe sooner, we can and should hasten the collapse along.
We have, to the maximum possible extent allowed by our intellect and never-ending desire, consumed the planet and therefore traded in tomorrow for today. And we keep making these choices, every day, choosing dams over salmon, oil over whales, cars over polar bears, death over life.
It is not at all clear that humanity can be saved (or, for that matter, is worth saving). Evolution drives us to breed, drives to procreate, and drives us to accumulate resources. Evolution always pushes us toward the brink, and culture piles on, hurling us into the abyss. Nietzsche was correct about our lack of free will — as Gray points out in Straw Dogs — free will is an illusion. It’s not merely the foam on the beer: it’s the last bubble of foam, the one that just popped. It’s no surprise, then, that we are sleepwalking into the future, or that the future is a lethal cliff.