Addiction to Fossil Fuels, Capitalism, Climate Change, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Corporate State, Dr. Michael Huesemann, Eco-Apocalypse, Ecological Overshoot, EROEI, Extinction of Man, Inverted Totalitarianism, Mass Die Off, Optimal Foraging Theory, Overpopulation, Peak Oil, Robert Scribbler, Security and Surveillance State, Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won't Save Us Or the Environment, Techno-Optimists, Wall Street Fraud
I was poking through my email looking for a reference article on China’s plundering of the oceans when I came across some comments made recently over at Scribbler’s site. Now before I get into a discussion on these comments, I need to say that I am not anti-technology per se, but there are very serious problems with technology as it’s utilized in the current socio-economic paradigm we have – capitalist industrial civilization. We have become a society in which techno-optimism is dangerously ingrained in our thinking and culture, especially in the United States. I just discovered the work of Dr. Michael Huesemann by way of an excellent interview he did on this subject. His book Techno-Fix: Why Technology Won’t Save Us Or the Environment came out just last year. I’m going to break down the Huesemann interview in a later post with all the salient points he makes.
Now to get to the comments, the first one sets a dire but realistic tone…
Viewed from a purely biological perspective, humans are following the optimal foraging theory whereby an organism exploits sources of food with the highest energy content first. In terms of humans and industrial civilization, the most energy dense source right now is fossil fuels. This partially explains why we see the following news-bite:
One of the big problems with so-called renewable energies is that, as I pointed out in the last post, intermittent and diffuse energy sources cannot support the current energy-intensive, high consumption way of life promoted and exercised by capitalist industrial civilization. This isn’t a matter of politics, it’s a matter of physics.
Yes there are too many of us. Just as with any organism which has overshot the carrying capacity of its environment, there will be no soft landing for humans when the laws of ecological balance cull our numbers. Modern man has dominated the Earth to the point of altering the biosphere on a planetary scale, destroying the once stable climate which allowed our clever (not wise) species to proliferate. Did humans think they could continue to rack up an ecological debt without consequences? Governments can print money, but the Earth cannot print forests, arable soil, healthy oceans, and clean air.
Rather than seek solutions to the root of the problem – our unsustainable mode of living and exploitive socio-economic system, techno-optimists will look to geoengineering for a fix which, even if such a “solution” would initially appear to “work”, will inevitably have unforeseen side-effects. Then other techno-fixes will be deployed to fix those unintended consequences, and so on.
So Scribbler responds to the above comment:
When, pray tell, are we going to suddenly be gifted with a sustainable system with which to apply our technology? From where I’m sitting, just the opposite is occurring. Governments are becoming more corrupt and totalitarian, printing money with abandon and hardening their surveillance state apparatus. The global human population is exceeding the growth estimates of the United Nations. Extreme weather events are accelerating. And yet business-as-usual persists with the requisite talk of growth and expansion in every economic periodical and newscast. Albedo management? What the hell is that – installing millions of snow-making machines in the Arctic? Since when has anyone on this site ceded to a “defacto business as usual mindset”? We’ve talked of nothing but changing the mindset of a system hellbent on converting every last bit of nature into digits on an accounting ledger for Wall Street.
Then the following comment:
Dave, you’re harassing a techno-optimist monkey in his self-imposed cage of normalcy bias and delusion. Don’t do that. He’ll just sling shit at you, as we’ll see:
He finds the reports “radically too pessimistic”. Did he check the backgrounds of those people behind the reports? Sorry, but I’ll take their decades of experience and education over Scribbler’s childlike foot-stomping of the bad news being too scary for his delicate ears to bear. And the cheap name-calling of “modern incarnation of Ludditism” is simply a scapegoat for avoiding root causes, as Dr. Huesemann explains:
Labels like Luddite distract from an objective and scientific examination of technologies and modern societies… What Luddites did in the past is irrelevant to our critical analysis of technologies today. Many technologies facilitate exploitation by creating a safe distance between exploiter and exploited…
To clarify for Scribbler what my previous post was about since he evidently did not read it or comprehend it, the post was not about saying that all energy technologies are bad, but an explanation of their limitations due to the reality of EROEI and the laws of Physics. As Kevin Moore noted, “Geochemistry overrides ideology.”
Now having said all of the above, I appreciate Scribbler’s climate tracking expertise and hope he continues his writings.