Fantasies, Myths, and Fairy Tales


Advertisement from the mid-20th century

I have often used this expression (the title) to describe many things people tend to think of as solutions for one thing or another that either are not solutions or are unrealistic at best in terms of actually solving something. For anyone just joining these articles, this post will help get you started so as to be able to comprehend what this article is about. 

As I have expressed before, my deep passion is to help explain where we are (as a species), how we got here, why we are in this mess, and what can and/or cannot be done to "solve" these predicaments. My very first post explained the difference between problems with answers or solutions and predicaments (or dilemmas) with outcomes. In it, we discovered that predicaments don't have solutions, and that every solution proffered for a predicament winds up causing new problems and/or predicaments or comes with unacceptable costs or just simply doesn't solve anything.

The reason these explanations are necessary is because a very large portion of society is completely ignorant to these facts and tends to buy into industry hype, marketing, advertising, and propaganda. Why does this happen? Because culturally, this is what society has been doing for the last several centuries AT LEAST. In order to sell an item or service, the seller needs to market and advertise the product or service. Making it attractive to the purchaser and making the purchaser feel good about buying it is key to getting the target audience to bring demand for said product or service. Whether the product or service is actually necessary or does more than make the purchaser feel good is often irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Often, in order to market a new item or service, a problem or predicament that is seen as negative by society must be brought into the light to develop demand for a "solution" which these new items or services offer. In fact, the word "halitosis" was brought forth as a condition that needed to be treated with a new product, quote:

"It was during the 1920s that bad breath became more than just a fact of life. And it was Gerald Lambert, the son of the owner of Lambert Pharmaceutical Company, who came across the term, “halitosis,” in an old medical journal. Halitosis is an old Latin word meaning, “bad breath.” But because of its scientific-sounding name, people started to pay attention. It was framed as a medical condition that required treatment, and of course, the prescription was Listerine mouthwash."

This is just one of MANY examples, of course, and there is a video which goes into great detail about precisely how pervasive this phenomenon is in today's world.

My criticism about these myths such as "green" energy, EVs, and other ideas involving technological infrastructure being a solution for climate change is due to the simple fact that none of those ideas deals with removing the cause of ecological overshoot - industrial civilization. In fact, those ideas require the system of civilization to PERSIST, continuing the same destruction long into the future in order for these systems to operate. The actual science demonstrates that these scenarios are just not possible. In fact, several different sources prove that industrial civilization is self-terminating. This isn't comforting, but this article points to the same reality. Arthur Keller explains here why collapse is the only realistic scenario. Yet one more short video from almost 50 years ago tells the same story.

The truth is that we are in the process of going extinct. This used to be a taboo subject, made this way by human denial of reality and optimism bias. These last two items are precisely why industries keep promoting and hyping technological ideas to "fight" climate change or provide "green" or "clean" or "renewable" energy or devices which "will make our lives better and save the planet" and all we have to do is buy or invest in them - a completely false claim but one which many people unfortunately buy into. 

This has to do with our psychological makeup as intelligent organisms. Our minds come with certain modes of operation which actually benefitted us in many ways before civilization "divorced" us from the reality that we are a part of nature and not separate from it. In fact, we have become so arrogant as to think we actually have the power to save species from extinction. This is based upon underlying assumptions which turn out to be false beliefs and not supported by the reality that we don't have agency like we tend to think we do. 

At the end of the day, what all of these fantasies, myths, and fairy tales rely on is human ignorance. Remember Santa Claus? The Tooth Fairy? The Easter Bunny? Peter Pan? The Wizard of Oz? At one point, most of us actually believed in one or more of these, even if it was only for a short period of time (less than the length of the story for the last option). We were ignorant of the truth and na├»ve to reality. As we grew older and wiser, we began to understand that these "people" we believed in did not actually exist except in our minds before we gained certain insights. The exact same thing is true with regard to all other fantasies, myths, and fairy tales. When you were young and thinking about romantic liaisons, did you ever dream of the "right" or "perfect" man or woman who would sweep you off your feet? Once you matured further, you realized that this was inaccurate to say the least, and perhaps you now find such a concept pretty hilarious. This isn't to say that one cannot develop a sense that a relationship becomes "perfect" over the years, but the word comes to represent a quality of understanding between people rather than an idealized view of perfection as a teenager. 

I still remember the grief (and associated stages) I felt upon learning that Santa didn't really exist, even though I had no real idea what grief was at the time. At first I denied it. Then I remember being angry at my parents for lying to me about it. The other stages went pretty quickly although I do remember being sad that Santa wasn't real and that Christmas wouldn't quite be the same ever again. The same scenario unfolded once I learned more about the physics and laws of thermodynamics, energy and resource decline, climate change, and all the other predicaments. It took several years to comprehend exactly where we are as a species and that life as we know it is coming to an end. The reality is harsh at first, but soon morphs into the same stages of grief that we are all familiar with. Eventually, acceptance is finally reached and life goes on. 

I wrote Playing the Blame Game Doesn't Help to help with the anger stage of grief. What Will We Miss the Most explores the depressive stage of grief regarding collapse. I fully accept that despite the facts surrounding the truth about these fantasies, myths, and fairy tales that society will embark on them anyway (because of denial). This is precisely why the Biden Administration is attempting to push a program through to dramatically INCREASE emissions by creating millions of jobs. The link between the economy and emissions is well-known and scientifically robust. Professor Tim Garrett has some of the best studies covering this field. Each layer of civilization provides an additional energetical cost to keep all the layers above it operating. In other words, civilization has inertia. This prevents new technologies from ever reducing energy use (and therefore emissions) due to the necessity to continue the platforms of infrastructure supporting all consequential newer platforms above them. Today's technology REQUIRES the fossil fuel platform in order for it to exist, so emissions cannot be brought down by developing new or more technology (see first link at top of article for more info). We are energy dissipaters, as are all these infrastructural systems, and here are the properties of dissipative structures:

Please note that dissipative structures do not go backwards. We cannot "turn back the clock" and return to an earlier timeframe with regard to energy usage without doing away with the upper layers of infrastructure and returning to life without that infrastructure. These are physical laws not dictated by beliefs, so the nonsense that is being spewed by politicians about "green" energy and jobs and so on is completely ludicrous.

This picture was extracted from Tim Garrett's presentation regarding Jevons paradox. It demonstrates that the common myth of improving energy efficiency in order to "save" energy use and therefore emissions is actually false. Improving energy efficiency actually causes MORE emissions than otherwise. These are the conclusions:

So, as the energy cost of energy continues increasing, less overall energy will be available to do actual work and provide the conveniences we are used to (and probably take for granted because they've always been there).

Meanwhile, BP, Shell, and Exxon have all reported that they intend to produce ~50% of today's output of gasoline and diesel fuel by 2030. This isn't because they are being good corporate citizens or want to help "fight" climate change. This is because they simply cannot continue the level of extraction that is done today because of the energetical cost of said extraction (energy cost of energy). This article offers some insight into the phenomenon. I also point out the fact that fossil fuels are in terminal decline here and here

I could go on and on bringing up more of these fantasies, fairy tales, and myths, and I have now added a new article here on this topic. But for now, this article is beginning to seem a bit long, so I think I'll stop here for now. Live Now!


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