Solutions, Outcomes, and Unsustainable Systems


Lake Powhatan Swimming Beach, North Carolina

Recently, as I have mentioned several times before, my search for the current discourse within social media have come up with a broad range of ideas which are constantly evolving. Before I get on with it, a forewarning: this article is a longer one with lots of links. Many of these links have been posted here before, but there are also a large number of new ones. I have been involved recently with more than a few conversations where people got pretty heated with me when I bring the unfortunate facts into the mix. I realize the information isn't pretty, but there's no need to shoot the messengers (I'm just one of many). This article continues exploring our lack of agency with regard to reducing overshoot, and much of this has to do with the inherent rules of our behavior established for us by our genetics, biological programming, indoctrination, cultural programming, and the nurturing and environment we were brought up in. Propaganda, financial interests, governmental and corporate manipulations, and our ruling caste also play into all of this and drive our behavior into certain norms.

I am excited to see much more discussion of ideas NOT focusing on the search for "solutions" which are always illusory in nature because we are not suffering from problems. Problems can be solved. This blog doesn't focus on problems, however. It focuses on predicaments, and those predicaments have outcomes. This is where the magic of Living Now (see last paragraph for link to what this entails if you haven't already come across this) comes into its own as a means to deal with the ups and downs of collapse, primarily because there is little else that can be done which would guarantee a particular outcome. It's not a "solution" for the predicaments we face because there are none. It doesn't necessarily reduce ecological overshoot, because likewise, only people who WANT to reduce overshoot will actively work towards such ideas, as I have been pointing out in my last several articles. 

With regard to ideas that might help, one item in particular to note is that local conditions will dictate what types of ideas will be workable and which ones will be either maladaptive or flat out unworkable. Regardless, every idea has its own limitations, and this is very important to keep in mind. The present and recent past allowed us to live almost anywhere due to the energy of fossil hydrocarbons and the technology to unlock their power. The future, on the other hand, is going to be much less certain with many areas becoming unsafe for a multitude of reasons. Symptom predicaments of ecological overshoot will cause many areas to be hazardous or uninhabitable, and this is already happening now. As energy and resource decline (one of these symptom predicaments) continues to worsen, so too will conditions in many areas of the world where people are entirely dependent upon technology use for sheer survival (most of the developed world today). If you live in a city, then you are entirely dependent upon technology use. Your water and natural gas are pumped to you, your food is acquired at the grocery store, your electricity is transmitted to you, your trash is hauled away, and your sanitary waste is pumped through the sewer system. How is your home, apartment, or other living dwelling maintained and repaired? These repairs and maintenance, not only for your home or apartment but also for all other platforms of infrastructure as well, require the maintenance and repair of the fossil fuel platform first and foremost in order to supply the energy and resources to maintain our road networks. Railroads are also part of this network of infrastructure which brings you everything you need on a daily basis. Once these networks and infrastructural platforms can no longer be maintained, most other networks and platforms will likewise soon thereafter be relegated to history.

OK, so far I have reiterated information that I have disclosed in this space frequently before. Previously over the last few articles I have spent quite a bit of time discussing Degrowth after taking the time to reacquaint myself with the subject as it is today. While I am supportive of the movement, degrowth by itself will not solve or reduce overshoot without the cooperation of society as a whole (not something that will happen voluntarily), and this still requires a reduction of technology use and over time an abandonment of civilization and even if ALL of this is accomplished, there is still no guarantee of a happy ending due to the fact that this cannot be accomplished in a time frame suitable for reducing overshoot to the necessary extent to reduce climate change to a level that won't trigger tipping points soon (see this and this and this and this). 

Notice that I used the word "overshoot" that needs to be reduced? If we don't reduce overshoot, we cannot reduce emissions. Overshoot is the predicament which is causing emissions (along with all the other symptom predicaments). Few people even want to discuss reducing overshoot because it involves sacrifice and a loss of convenience (and it doesn't make money). Loss aversion is a serious issue with most humans. Furthermore, the following comments I had with Steve Bull point to the powerful interests keeping us from doing much if anything about overshoot in the first place. I began the conversation, quote:

EM: "I think too much focus is placed on climate change and not enough focus placed on ecological overshoot. There are MANY different symptom predicaments of overshoot which are just as much a threat as climate change - energy and resource decline, pollution loading, biodiversity loss, and extinction."

SB: "Erik, I think the focus on climate change (mostly carbon emissions) is because the ruling caste discovered a great means of monetizing it while advancing their ability to control the populace at the same time. Addressing overshoot requires an entire dismantling of their wealth-generating/-extraction systems and the perpetual growth that keeps all the schemes from collapsing."

EM: "Steve, exactly. This is why I don't think any of the current ideas floating around will cut the mustard. If we don't discontinue the unsustainable systems that we as a species are using, then the natural systems we depend upon cannot function properly either."

Below, I will go into more on funding and financing of certain agendas, but first, Steve has provided me with a list of quotes and articles (including this one having to do with the Degrowth Movement) related to all of this that I want to highlight here due to his "eagle-eye's" view of the situation:

"Ever-increasing costs and ever-decreasing marginal returns typify peer polities in competition—a negative feedback loop that a State’s ruling caste will not abandon for fear of losing their privilege/power. This ends in either domination by one state and a new energy subsidy, or collapse of all. 

Collapse, if and when it comes again, will this time be global. No longer can any individual nation collapse. World civilization will disintegrate as a whole. Competitors who evolve as peers collapse in like manner. 

Be it from ecological overshoot (the root cause of all the above) or sociopolitical machinations of our ruling caste, the writing would seem to be on the wall for this latest hominid experiment we have, in a self-congratulatory manner, termed ‘wise man’…

- From Today's Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXXIII

"You’ve hit the nail on the head of the dominant narrative and mass magical thinking that goes on in our world around notions of limitless and ‘clean’ energy: given time (and funding/resources), our human ingenuity and technological prowess can ‘solve’ any problem thrown our way. Limits imposed by our existence on a finite planet are minuscule compared to our unfettered imaginations and abilities provided by our opposable thumbs. Finite limits? Meh. Ecological destruction? Who cares. Global collapse? Nothing to see, look over here… 

And you ask a pertinent question: “Who in their sane minds approved the budget for all this?!” "

- From Today's Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXXVII

"And I cannot help but interpret this as further confirmation of my growing belief that this is primarily (totally?) about narrative control and forced adoption of industrial products by those who own/control the industries and resources as they attempt to consolidate/maintain/enlarge their slice of an ever-shrinking economic pie as we increasingly bump up against the limits to growth on a finite planet. To say little about the blindness to the many layers of our predicament, especially when it comes to energy and other finite resources.

- From Today's Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XCI

Now, just one link (out of hundreds if not thousands of these types of foundations) demonstrates just how these powerful interests fund politicians, political parties, think tanks, organizations, corporate lobbying groups, and other special interest organizations. I happened to notice Home Depot listed as one of the recipients of $1.1 million from this foundation and that link also details how Home Depot is linked to ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) which is a corporate bill mill designed to rewrite state laws that are favorable to member corporations and that govern the rights of people in each state. Look up The Heritage Foundation or the Heartland Institute for much more info along these lines in a historical context. In many countries this is known as corruption, but it is perfectly legal here in the United States. One can search the DeSmog site to find more info.

The bottom line with regard to practically ALL of our systems is that they are designed to be unsustainable by definition because they all rely on civilization to begin with. It really doesn't matter HOW great an idea is; in order to undo the damage we are doing, all the systems that we rely on every day would be required to be dismantled and start over with sustainability in mind. This is unrealistic at best. That doesn't make such an idea impossible, but who would be interested given the sacrifices necessary? How could a person ever sell these ideas to the public at large? Knowing that even degrowth will very likely not get much traction in the political spotlights, how could we ever get what is actually needed to reduce overshoot sold to the public AND get it all passed legislatively? In other words, like I have repeated so many times before, we could do these things but we most likely won't.

Related to lobbying and politics is the financing of "clean, green, renewable, and sustainable" edicts and ideas. Green financing or "sustainable financing" is shown to be yet another false solution in this video with Frederic Hache. He is a co-founder and executive director of the Green Finance Observatory. Further monetization of the planet is described in the article, The Defense of Nature: Resisting the Financialization of the Earth and an expose of "biodiversity economics" about this phenomenon is available here. Here's an article from Max Wilbert about this topic.

It should be fairly obvious that the monied interests, closed-door meetings, and "back room deals" will generally win out over more common sense degrowth ideals, making the Degrowth Movement similar to all other environmental movements over the past three decades. Lots of talk and hype about so-called "progress" isn't showing any evidence of real-world reflections in actual data as I have pointed out recently. While this doesn't necessarily mean that future data points won't reflect any likewise positive movement, we've all been hearing the hype for multiple decades now and while there may have been a year or two here and there scattered about over that timeframe which showed some positive points, those points have been drowned out by the overwhelming negative points which continue to worsen. The Great Acceleration continues mostly unabated even today as shown by the graphs accompanying it. 

Many people tend to discuss these topics and assign labels to them as "positive" or "negative" which shows a definitive anthropocentric perspective not based in the natural world. If one looks at the last several articles here in this space, they have taken what these people would describe as a notably "negative" tone, yet as I pointed out in my last article, I'm far from the only one who has noted these same developments. Pretty much anyone with a pulse who is studying or following the news regarding topics surrounding overshoot is seeing these same developments. In a recent video, Justin McAffee points out urban sprawl around Las Vegas, something that many people might see as positive whereas most environmentalists will see it from an entirely different perspective. Few people see the habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, and species' extinction that comes with human infrastructural development. Of course, another inconvenient fact revolves around the issue of drought and water availability for Las Vegas...gambling indeed. I'll bring up more about this subject shortly.

One of my friends wrote to me expressing a desire to share ideas on what and how to do things without using today's technology, understanding that the collapse which is unfolding as I type this will eventually take out the global supply chains which provide spare parts and replacement items as well as alternative devices which are currently still widely available. Not only will global supply chains disappear, but technology that is ubiquitous today will become more and more rare as time moves forward due to energy and resource decline. The electrical grid itself, like the rest of civilization which supports it, is unsustainable. Life itself is going to change dramatically in one human lifetime over the next 80 years.

Some areas will become sacrifice zones due to financial or energetical costs as can be seen in this video about coastal areas in Newfoundland, Canada. Likewise, certain parts of the US have existing predicaments such as droughts and/or flooding which are becoming increasingly problematic. As I mentioned before a couple paragraphs back about Las Vegas and the water situation, many areas in the southwestern US will likewise become sacrifice zones once the water from the Colorado River Basin can no longer provide enough water for everyone. Migration from inner cities to the suburbs have created ghost towns inside large cities, and this video focuses on St. Louis, Missouri. But entire regions will look like this once the water runs out. On the flip side of that coin, too much water is affecting the southwestern US in California's Tulare Lake region, flooding the previous lakebed and destroying thousands of acres of crops. A very riveting film documentary of Cadillac Desert by Marc Reisner and Last Oasis by Sandra Postel goes into precise detail about water, money, politics, and the transformation of nature in the southwestern US in four parts here and here and here and here.

Of course, these are just a few of the many possible issues one might have to navigate. Over time in this space, I have pointed out how certain regional areas are far more likely to experience serious issues; but there is no place on the planet that will be insulated from symptoms of overshoot, especially climate change. Many authors over the past couple of decades or so have written books, articles, and given video interviews or podcasts about different ways this will all play out. James Howard Kunstler made himself known with The Long Emergency. John Michael Greer made the quip, "Collapse now and avoid the rush," popular and has a recent article I found rather good (I'm not, however, into the astrology part of his blog). Another name many people are familiar with is Paul Kingsnorth. Still, a really great source of reading material came from Dave Pollard which I highlighted in my article about the iconic book list. Please check it out, you'll be glad that you did.

In a new article about our lack of agency, Steve Genco explains (in a three-part series) how degrowth is inevitable but also why it won't be adopted voluntarily by most of society. The lack of agency part is explained by this analogy, quote:

Imagine a colony of ants living in a tree branch. Imagine the branch breaks off and falls into the river flowing beneath it. It takes the ants awhile to realize their branch is now a log floating down the river, but when they do, they start making plans to save themselves.

Before I finish this article, I just must provide you with some hilarious bargaining from Jesse Jenkins. Sorry to disappoint you Jesse, but that just isn't going to happen as pointed out here and here and here. Still, many people don't appear to comprehend that building all this stuff is the root of the predicaments we face. We cannot build ourselves out of this mess. Seriously, this is the kind of nonsense that we are up against which increases overshoot and causes even more emissions as a result. In that last article, why do you think China might need to burn more coal? No doubt some of it has to do with building non-renewable "renewable" energy devices and other technological devices. UGH.

Last, but definitely not least, I want to remind everyone to run towards life rather than attempt to run away from death. All we really have is today - tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone. Don't postpone your joy - Live Now!


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