Democracy holds out a promise that we will get to make choices about what we will do in our community. But each time we choose to ignore the factual truths staring right at us, we ensure that future generations will have fewer and fewer choices.
DENIAL HAS RISKS
Are we willing to continue to deny/avoid/dismiss/ignore [or permit same to go unchecked] what reality, facts, experience, and expertise tell us are likely to happen if we continue to do what we’ve been doing so far to address the challenges of a peak in oil production and climate change—which is … not much? Everyone okay with that choice for our children?
What if we devoted some of mankind’s incredible resources to transitioning away from fossil fuels and working cooperatively to address climate change? Ideology won’t prevent it from happening, after all….
We are unwilling to compromise, much less relinquish, the historically unprecedented material living standards associated with our industrialized American way of life, which we consider to be a birthright. Our vested interest in the continued success of our existing lifestyle paradigm is simply too great to permit us even to consider deviating from our current trajectory, despite the fact that our current trajectory leads to collapse.
We’re all guilty of discounting in the present moment the impact of future developments or problems. It’s not like we don’t have enough to keep us occupied for a while. Most of us also realize—perhaps in our defense, or as a rationalization, or both—that our individual efforts to plan for an energy transition or to take steps to minimize our own impact on the environment don’t amount to … anything. But addressing and preparing for those challenges are not up to individuals. It’s about all of us.
WHAT TO DO?
It will not be enough for us to hope our leaders start planning at some point. We need to educate ourselves and get involved in the process in our own communities.
Given that many billions of people are just now coming into their own industrially and technologically, just as their successful “models” have been for decades here in the United States, the demands to leapfrog their societies into something resembling our own calls for needed energy resources on a scale unimaginable even just a few decades ago. And with those efforts come even more impacts on your climate and our environment. So we will have to meet not just our own demands from the same dwindling pool of resources be shared by billions more, and it won’t be just a select few having adverse impact on the only planet we have. The math just doesn’t work…!
Peak oil and the climate crisis are not figments of our imaginations easily scorned, but real-life conditions based on real-life facts in a real-life world that will have real-life consequences in our own real lives—each and all of us—and much sooner than we’re currently prepared for. We’re all in this, and one’s political leanings or thoughts about government and all the rest will not matter. It cannot.
If oil production can’t grow, the implication is that the economy can’t grow either….This is such a frightening prospect that many have simply avoided considering it.…
Economists and politicians continually debate policies that will lead to a return to economic growth. But because they have failed to recognize that the high price of energy is a central problem, they haven’t identified the necessary solution: weaning society off fossil fuel.
Sooner or later we must make conservation the centerpiece of economic and energy policy. The term conservation implies ‘efficiency’ in the usual sense—building cars and appliances that use less energy. But it also means cutting out non-essential uses of energy. Rather than continuing to increase economic demand by stimulating human wants, we must begin to think about how to meet basic human needs with minimal consumption of resources, while discouraging extravagance.
This of course amounts to a profound change of course for our economic system, and it will not be undertaken except by necessity. But necessity is inevitably approaching. We will have less energy, like it or not. And with less energy, we will no longer be able to operate a growing consumer society….
The transition would go much better if we were to plan for it, pre-adapting to a low-energy global economic regime. However, little of that planning is likely to occur, simply because nearly everyone—from investors to policy makers to ordinary consumers—wants the fossil fuel-fed fiesta of manic consumption to continue as long as possible. So we are most likely in for a wrenching shift.
We need to start making adult decisions about our very serious adult problems. Not one of us is thrilled by that prospect, but I can guarantee we will be a lot less thrilled in the future at having done little or nothing when we had more opportunities and resources at our disposal. Our “system” has been a nearly incomprehensible marvel to and for us all. It must change.
So perhaps the most important question of all: What is the Goal—our Vision for the future—for the kind of nation and people we hope to be?
In the end, although almost none of us will approve, agree, or enjoy this, Naomi Klein’s conclusion about the economic system we’ve built and enjoyed may be our only viable option:
It means that a green-left worldview, which rejects mere reformism and challenges the centrality of profit in our economy, offers humanity’s best hope of overcoming these overlapping crises.
There is simply no way to square a belief system that vilifies collective action and venerates total market freedom with a problem that demands collective action on an unprecedented scale and a dramatic reining in of the market forces that created and are deepening the crisis.
Crisis or opportunity? The choice is ours.
We have the power to decide what that change will be, and what roles we will play. Leaving it all to chance may be the single dumbest thing mankind will ever do. Let’s not find out if that’s true.
NOTE: This is the final scheduled PeakOilMatters post of 2016.
I’ll post if/as needed until I’m back later in January with more discussions on this topic, along with other discussions on the continuing Left v. Right conflicts, as well as Religion & Politics and the continuing examination of what Life Will Answer means.
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Enjoy the holidays & Happy New Year
~ My Photo: October Storm on Cape Ann, MA © 10.03.14
We face a choice going forward. There’s a kind of false dichotomy, a false choice that we’re being presented between policies on the left or policies on the right. It’s not left or right, it’s forward or backward. It’s a choice between investing in the future, leaving a better future for the next generation just like parents and grandparents did for us, or ignoring these hard choices and sentencing the next generation to a lower standard of living, to fewer opportunities, and a future that we could do better by. Former USDOT Deputy Secretary John Porcari
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Peak Oil Matters offers observations and insights about the realities of declining fossil fuel production, and its impact on our future well-being