Addiction to Fossil Fuels, American Horror Story, Arctic Ice Melt, Ayn Rand, Capitalism, Chandran Nair, China's One-Child Policy, Climate Change, Climate Tipping Points, Collapse of Industrial Civilization, Consumerism, Corporate State, Eco-Apocalypse, Environmental Collapse, Extinction of Man, Financial Elite, Inverted Totalitarianism, Jörg Friedrichs, Mass Die Off, Military Industrial Complex, Natalia Shakhova, Overpopulation, Peak Oil, Peter D. Ward, Police State, Prison Industrial Complex, Resource Wars, Robert Hunziker, Techno-Optimists, The Elite 1%, War for Profit
“One of my psych professors told me that people tell stories to cope with their fears. All art and myths are just creations to give us some sense of control over the things we’re scared of. Afraid of dying? Create reincarnation. Afraid of evil? Create a benevolent God who sends evil doers to Hell. I’ve treated soldiers with PTSD by having them draw pictures of what happened over there.”
~ Ben in American Horror Story
Seething just below industrial civilization’s thin veneer of normalcy lies an ocean of grim reality – overpopulation, peak oil, poverty and starvation, hormone-altering pollution and cancer clusters, nuclear radiation from the mishaps of distant countries, pandemics from mutagenic viruses, climate chaos, mass extinction, etc. Working to suppress the fear of such real-world nightmares is an assortment of psychological and cultural defense mechanisms such as the myth of technological progress, religious dogma, Madison Avenue propaganda, and the unconscious tricks of self-deception we are all vulnerable to (emotional detachment, rationalization, retreating into fantasy, etc.). All the while and in the background is the constant hum of the global consumerist machine churning out endless promises of satisfaction and happiness if only you buy this or that product. Most have bitten the fruit of materialism and swallowed whole the false truism that human progress is always on an upward trajectory with science and human ingenuity solving all problems. Citizens of ‘developed’ countries are blissfully unaware their life of leisure and comfort is supported by dozens and dozens of energy slaves working day and night all year long, year after year. Grocery store shelves brimming with food, a high animal protein diet, personalized auto transport in and out of sprawling suburbs, globetrotting air travel, and a machine-dependent society powered at the convenient flip of a switch have all been made possible by a fast-depleting source of cheap, energy-dense fossil fuels.
We were born into this energy-rich cocoon of modern industrial civilization with each successive generation growing more and more accustomed to its skyscrapers, concrete sidewalks, asphalt roads, and cacophony of automation until it is now all simply taken for granted. Restless and agitated, we no longer are connected to the natural cycles of the seasons, the rising and setting of the sun and moon, and nature’s own biological clock which measures time with the migration of animals, the blooming of plants, birth and death. Instead, time is measured in quick sound-bites on TV, the hours in a workday, the quarterly profits of corporations, and the microseconds of high-frequency stock trading. Time is money, and the bottom line reigns $upreme. Social and environmental consciousness has been paved over with consumer icons, and the future is a barcode
stomped stamped into your forehead. Industrial civilization’s coveted energy resources, frantically ripped out of the ground and burned up into the atmosphere, have irrevocably disrupted the stability of a climate that has allowed life to flourish. The Earth itself has been thrown off kilter and its natural clock has been broken. Plants are blooming when they shouldn’t, succumbing to invasive pathogens and insects, and withering from drought or unusual cold snaps. Animals are migrating north earlier and earlier and dying off from disease and starvation in a warming world. People are losing their homes to freak storms and rising tides. The word “extinction”, when uttered in a public forum, is treated as mere hyperbole, and the fragility of the biosphere is neither acknowledged nor truly appreciated.
“…The so-called Holocene climate is “the only state of the Earth system that we know for sure can support contemporary society” (Stephen et al. 2011, 739). It is the linchpin of humanity’s life-support system and stands at the core of its safe operating space (Rockström et al. 2009). It can even be argued that keeping the Holocene climate resilient is an essential system function not just for human society but for the planetary system as a whole (Lovelock 2000)…”
~ Jörg Friedrichs, The Future Is Not What It Used to Be
“…there is no worldwide plan on how to move forward to avoid an extinction event. As a consequence, except for a few scientists, the world community will be shocked by the carnage because nobody anticipates it really happening. Otherwise, the governments of the world would be furiously working on solutions, but they are not…”
~ Robert Hunziker, Looming Danger of Abrupt Climate Change
Ah, but Peter Ward just said humans are more than “average” and won’t go extinct:
“Species don’t age out of existence, species are killed off, lose competition, they go extinct because they’re driven to extinction. It’s not inherent. It’s not within them.
So if we keep track of Mother Earth and do some good engineering then we’re not going to go extinct. But extinction and misery are two different things. Not going extinct doesn’t mean you’re not going to be miserable, and by misery I mean, wholesale, enormous human mortality.”
Do some “good engineering”? Christ, Peter Ward has fallen for the technological progress myth just as has scientist Natalia Shakhova, a leading expert on the East Siberian Arctic Shelf.
Technology has not created a utopian nirvana; it has created a capitalist dystopia:
“…The inability of most developing countries to meet the basic needs of its population, whilst somehow being swept up in the euphoria of new technologies that cater to more individualistic needs and pursuits (not all socially useless or destructive), has its origins in flawed governmental policies that have defined progress as the quest for productivity gains and economic growth rather than human development. Policy-makers in the developing world adopted a fundamentally invalid economic system that has led to the crisis of capitalism the world is experiencing and the questioning of the perpetual growth mantra. These decision-makers have put their faith in consumption-led growth with its emphasis on technology, and abdicated their responsibility to meeting people’s basic needs and protecting natural resources. This approach is rooted in the Western economic model of the past two to three centuries, when a minority saw the world as their oyster and plundered other countries to create prosperity. As such economic growth through externalizing cost, underpricing resources and promoting relentless consumption has become the world’s one and only economic model, a recipe for disaster in Asia…
…Despite the rhetoric about the pressing need for development and the emphasis on primary education, health care and even resources management, the Washington Consensus has exclusively focused on economic growth. It has advocated broad trade liberalization through privatization and the increase of foreign direct investments, amongst other structural adjustment strategies, as a “first stage policy reform” for developing countries to boost economic growth. The promotion of this set of policies is primarily driven by the desire to secure markets for multi-national companies and Western economies. Local elites benefited from it too…
…From the standpoint of this economic paradigm, the relentless pursuit of technological innovation is supposed to solve global challenges such as poverty and even resources depletion. In reality, technological progress has, in many instances, accelerated resources depletion rather than reduce it. Technological innovation might have served the needs of the global population in terms of productivity and efficiency but not in terms of sustainability.
Forestry technology, for example, allowed harvesting on hitherto unimaginable scales. Whilst cutting trees was mainly done by hand until World War II, advance in engineering led to the development of small and powerful chainsaws, hence transforming the logging industry. Lumberjacks can now cut down trees between a hundred and a thousand times faster than they could with axes. Fisheries are another sector where the lack of strong policies has allowed people and companies to exploit the oceans thanks to technology.
To go further deep into this model’s misconception of the role of innovation, one must cast doubt on the contention that green technology will come to the rescue and create a more sustainable environment. “Greening” the economy by just producing more so-called “green” consumption is actually an intellectual lie. Zero-emission vehicles will remain toys for the rich because they require exotic material and thus will keep being expensive. In addition, they do not address the issues of externalized costs, which more and more cars will impose on Asian cities. This problematic can be extended for a whole range of consumer goods where “greening” and “innovation” are used to camouflage the reality, which is the pursuit of producing more goods cheaply and encouraging relentless consumption….”
~ Chandran Nair, The Myth of Technological Progress
Capitalism certainly feeds off the overpopulation crisis. More people means more potential customers, more consumption, and more profit. I searched in vain to find an article explaining how capitalism would solve the crisis of overpopulation, I found this video by Yaron Brook who appears to be a very ardent supporter of laissez-faire capitalism and Ayn Rand. I recommend watching the video for the sheer amusement of watching this guy execute every mental gymnastic trick he can think of to delude himself into believing that overpopulation is a nonissue. No more land? No problem, we can stuff more people out on the oceans or up in outer space. Of course he too also grasps at the quixotic techno-fix of the future.
I see China is worried about the economic ramifications of its barbaric social engineering project:
It’s a “free market” and the military industrial complex sees a lucrative future in war, famine, pestilence, and natural disasters. Overpopulation will provide more cannon fodder for when America’s war economy goes into hyperdrive for the last remaining resources on the planet. America’s captive pool of dirt cheap labor will be stitching the uniforms.