What Kind of Mindsets Lead Us Into Traps?


First picture: Morning, Hamilton Ranch (aka Carroll Ranch), Big Hole Valley, Montana
Second picture: Beaverslide used for hay. Agriculture is what led into civilization.

After quite an interesting last week, I have a better understanding of why so many people fall into the different "traps" and mindsets that we do. Rarely do we see the bars around us and as such, we often forget precisely which boundaries are real and set in stone, which ones are real and temporary, and which ones are only illusory and imagined. This brings a new aura to the forefront; one which explains why it is so necessary to Live Now. Peter Russell points out one of the big issues surrounding modern humans, looking for external items we think we are missing in our lives.  

One of my friends, Simon Michaux, just came out with a new video describing precisely where we are with regards to mining and extraction and the Limits to Growth. The content probably doesn't surprise anyone who has been paying attention, but the implications of where this leads should be noted to those who think that technology is going to help society dig out from ecological overshoot. Technology use and addiction is precisely what has put us in this position, so giving it up and letting go of it is the only useful way to dig out from the collective hole we find ourselves in. The longer we continue using technology, the more damage we do to the environment (resulting in more climate change, pollution loading, ocean acidification, SLR, species and biodiversity decline, extinction, less carbon sequestration, etc., etc.). 

This new study accurately points out how most of society views climate change as the biggest predicament society faces rather than its parent predicament, ecological overshoot; and in the process ignores the main driver of collapse, quote:

"We argue that while the GND narrative is highly seductive, it is little more than a disastrous shared illusion. Not only is the GND technically flawed, but it fails to recognize human ecological dysfunction as the overall driver of incipient global systemic collapse. By viewing climate change, rather than ecological overshoot—of which climate change is merely a symptom—as the central problem, the GND and its variants grasp in vain for techno-industrial solutions to problems caused by techno-industrial society. Such a self-referencing pursuit is doomed to fail. As Albert Einstein allegedly said, “we cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them”. We need an entirely new narrative for a successful energy transition. Only by abandoning the flawed paradigmatic source of our ecological dilemma can we formulate realistic pathways for averting social–ecological collapse."

Gosh, that looks surprisingly like parts of this blog! In fact, many different articles (including this one from Antonio Turiel) are now coming out showing that most of the ideas surrounding emissions reductions are flawed in the underlying assumptions most people have missed because they are not aware of the true difficulties and impossibilities inherent in these energy schemes to begin with. 

As the previous four paragraphs display, human society is facing a disaster unlike any other we have ever dealt with in our entire history, and it appears that most of society is still onboard with ideas which, instead of reducing our harm, actually INCREASE it instead. Once again, rather than accept the predicament for what it is, most people seem to want to attempt to bargain with the predicament instead, gambling any potential future we may have away because they are afraid to let go of what cannot be continued. 

It is precisely this fear of letting go of the current paradigms we exist within; the very mindsets of which lead us into the traps of thought that propel us to "double down" on the very efforts which led us astray to begin with. As long as we continue looking for easier ways to reduce emissions instead of simply consuming less of everything, emissions reductions will only come as a result of running out of available fossil fuels to burn. As long as we continue to try to build our way out of these predicaments, we are failing to see that such a program is not only impossible (because it is unsustainable), but it also takes us in the wrong direction; promoting emissions rather than reducing them.

When one takes into account just how long we've known about the atmospheric changes causing climate change, it seems rather ludicrous that we have only kept emitting more and more, and we're now set to emit even more over the next year or twoAs time moves forward and more people begin to realize what collapse is and what it really means, fewer and fewer articles claiming nonsensical headlines like this one will appear: Meeting global climate targets will lead to 8 million more energy jobs worldwide by 2050

Moving on from energy to other types of insanity with regard to ecological overshoot has been the theme of several other articles of mine as well. Most every one of them includes some form of denial of reality and optimism bias to arrive at ideas which don't actually solve anything more than kicking the can further down the road because they only take PARTS of the system into consideration and ignore the whole system as it actually is. Many of them also don't recognize lack of agency as an issue. For instance, one of the most perplexing issues of our time involves conservation, a very noble goal indeed. The trouble is that we lack agency to save species from extinction. With the power of fossil fuels and technology, we can provide artificial habitat to almost any species today or move these species to a different location. But this ability cannot be extended into the future because fossil fuels and advanced technology will not be available in the future due to the fact that they are unsustainable. The other fact is that climate change and the other predicaments we face are changing existing and future habitats, reducing the ability of species to exist in current AND future habitats because of this. Nature will ultimately be the determining force, not human beings, allowing species to continue or condemning them to extinction. Nowhere on the planet will be "safe" from these changes in habitat from climate change. These same facts are why human beings are also threatened with extinction. There are those who think that we should try anyway, and I happen to agree with that thought, provided we are doing what is sustainable (many/most ideas do not qualify). Just because the end result is still death, while we are here, we might as well do something constructive, right? I have chosen to leave it up to the reader as to what path he or she wants to take on that issue. Moral ethics suggest doing what is sustainable to the best of one's ability is the correct strategy, but I see very few people attempting this and the richer (financially) a person is, the less likely it is that he or she will follow this strategy. The sad truth is that almost nothing we do today is sustainable. The concept of "lying flat" is probably the closest thing which qualifies.

Can you think of other mindsets which lead us into traps? Live Now!


  1. Excellent article again, joining the dots and seeing the bigger picture.
    Not heard of the Lying flat movement, but the link you have is paywalled, so here's another:

    Other mind sets? Advertising is a hideous evil. I dunno if it was a link from this blog, or elsewhere, but I recently saw an article that showed how consumption works. Typically I didn't save the article. We don't get a dopamine hit from actually buying, but from the anticipation of buying. An important distinction. Which is why online shopping works too well. Or historically shopping by mail order catalogues, or the journey on the bus to the shops. Clicking on the "buy now" button and salivating about the impending arrival of said item gives us the high, then the product arrives, and it's oh well duh, next.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Thanks for the link, Sultanbev. I didn't have any problem viewing the link I posted, so I'm not sure what the issue is.

      Yes, I agree about advertising, marketing, propaganda, etc. You might have read about this in my article titled, "Fantasies, Myths, and Fairy Tales," which also contains a link to my article, "Agency - Do We Have Free Will?"

  2. What if we used the emissions already emitted to provide the energy we are used to having?

    1. I'm glad you asked this question, Herb, as it is an excellent example of precisely what this article is about. First of all, if you didn't visit all the links in my article, please do so in order to comprehend precisely why this won't work; concentrating on Jevons Paradox and Liebig's Law of the Minimum.

      Secondly, for a more thorough examination of this subject, I have two articles that fit the bill:



      Last but not least, here is another post which also goes into more detail about why such an idea can only cause more damage and not solve anything:


  3. Another great article, Erik. I continue to believe one of our more significant genetic predispositions that contribute mightily to our various predicaments (as well as our constant denial/bargaining behaviour and efforts to reduce cognitive dissonance) is that of Thorndike's Law of Effect; better known as our tendency to avoid 'pain' and/or seek 'pleasure', something that all animals display.


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