What would it take?

The unspoken word

The master resource

Overshoot

Contrary to modern beliefs, but very much in alignment with thermodynamics, there is no way putting this fart back into the horse.

Not much has changed in the past 50 years apart from China ramping up its coal use in the early 2000’s. If you look at the global annual per capita energy use, progress is nowhere to be found. Can you spot wind and solar for example without heavily magnifying the image? Even nuclear looks like a statistical error on this image… Data from Our world in data (divided by global population numbers)

“Governments claim to care about risk mitigation, but ignoring the real dilemma is the biggest risk of all. It’s like turning on the air conditioner when the house is on fire.”

Implications

  1. True economic growth is no longer possible, nor desirable. We no longer have the cheap energy and resources to do so. Not to mention a biosphere left to be turned into humans, or their wasteland.
  2. The cost of maintaining complexity will continue to rise exponentially while providing ever lower (diminishing) returns. Adding more “renewables” will result in even more complexity and instability to the human system, while dealing further damage to the ecosphere.
  3. Not even steady state economics is a sustainable option today. (Actually, it never was.) This level of consumption will end: whether we want it or not.
  4. A global survey of petroleum reserves needs to be made. Not an investor friendly one, an honest one with realistic prospects and energy requirements of recovery for each and every field. A global rationing agreement needs to be put in place to spread out the transition period into a low energy / low tech future as much as possible.
  5. Human affluence will shrink relentlessly, with inequality being the only thing left growing. Measures must be taken to prevent the wealthy siphoning the last remaining resources from the poor. Basic foodstuff must be made available for free, for all.
  6. All nuclear weapons must be dismantled and buried under miles of rock together with spent fuel rods — literally collapsing a mountain on them making these materials completely inaccessible. A plan needs to be established on dismantling all running nuclear plants while we have the resources to safely do so.
  7. In the not so distant future we will no longer be able to rebuild infrastructure and housing lost to climate chaos (floods, hurricanes etc.) and other natural, or man made disasters. Infrastructure must be reinforced, but only where it makes sense (safe from rising seas and hurricanes). An evacuation, then eventually an abandonment plan needs to be put in place for coastal cities, and places becoming uninhabitable otherwise.
  8. We are in overshoot. Promoting population growth at this point or resisting a slow, natural population decline will make matters even worse for even more people and thus borders psychopathy. Contraceptives and abortion should me be made free for all, and performed without questions, but only at the individual’s will. Same is true for ending one’s own life peacefully. Child-free living needs to be cherished.
  9. The way forward is going backward. We need to shrink our consumption and impact on the planet back to sustainable levels. Our only option is to perform a managed de-growth: cutting back on fuel use (cars, flights) and electricity. Insulating homes. Stopping all new transit infrastructure projects (yes, including high speed rail). Then devise a plan on how to live without liquid fuels and electricity. Working animals (horses, oxen) must be bred to establish a stable population for future use. At the end of the process almost all remaining fossil fuels must be directed to agriculture and healthcare, and to maintain water treatment facilities. This is where we need to install the last working “renewable” energy sources: to operate sewage plants and wells bringing fresh water to the surface. Eventually, (lacking an industrial background by then) these options will fail too — but at least we will have a chance to figure out how to live without them.
  10. The resulting collapse of industrial capitalism would naturally result in previously unimaginable levels of unemployment. The workforce will need to be retrained on how to grow food in whatever small plot of land is available, how to cook what has been produced and how to repair or re-purpose consumer goods and industrial equipment. Others will need to work on regenerating natural habitats in voluntary work (planting trees, restoring wetlands, removing an burying industrial waste).
  11. De-growth will be painful and far from easy — but also restorative.

“Problems have solutions; predicaments have outcomes.”

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A critic of modern times - offering ideas for honest contemplation.

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A critic of modern times - offering ideas for honest contemplation.

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