Addiction to Fossil Fuels, Albert Einstein, Anthropogenic Climate Disruption (ACD), Capitalism, Climate Change, Consumerism, Corporate State, E.M. Forster: “THE MACHINE STOPS”, Environmental Collapse, Extinction of Man, Ferengi of Star Trek, Inverted Totalitarianism, Joseph Tainter, Kevin Lister's The Vortex of Violence and why we are losing the battle against climate change, Military Industrial Complex, Nuclear Proliferation, Peak Oil, Resource Wars, Rudolph Herzog, Social Unrest, Thermonuclear War, War for Profit, War Profiteers
“Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives is the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now. It has robbed us of the sense of space and of the sense of touch, it has blurred every human relation and narrowed down love to a carnal act, it has paralyzed our bodies and our wills, and now it compels us to worship it. The Machine develops – but not on our lives. The Machine proceeds – but not to our goal. We only exist as the blood corpuscles that course through its arteries, and if it could work without us, it would let us die.”
~ E.M. Forster, “THE MACHINE STOPS”
Insects, birds, mammals, and fish have all been migrating to cooler zones for the past four decades in response to the cataclysmic climate disruption ignited by industrial civilization, but humans are the only organisms inhabiting this blue orb we call Earth who are not altering their behavior. They live within an energy cocoon that keeps them cool in the summer, warm in the winter, stuffed with massed produced food from mechanized factory farms, and entertained by a virtual world of digital imagery. As cracks and holes in the Earth’s biosphere grow ever larger, the natural response of capitalist carbon man ensconced within his protective energy shell is to try to put a price tag on what is being burned, i.e. fossil fuels, rather than deal with the deeper root cause of an unsustainable economic system and way of life which demands such exorbitant consumption of resources.
Our energy slaves feed us and control the climate for us while at the same time destroying the natural world that had enabled humans to create such an artificial environment. Detached from nature and enslaved by our own technological creations, we sleepwalk over the cliff of extinction. Our so-called progress will, in the end, disappear like a mirage in the scorching desert sun as nature is sacrificed to the machine of industrial civilization.
Throwing money into the maw of the ‘free market’ is the predictable modus operandi of technocapitalism’s indoctrinated disciples who believe such offerings will create a technofix, miraculously healing the planet. In the Star Trek TV series, the Ferengi were an extraterrestrial race whose culture was characterized by “a mercantile obsession with profit and trade, and their constant efforts to swindle unwary customers into unfair deals.” Just like the Ferengi species where profit is the first, last and only important factor, the high temples of private enterprise are commodifying and monetizing the atmosphere just as they have everything else in nature. The colonization of the public mind by capitalism is complete and overriding. We ignore unfolding geologic forces and instead put our faith in manmade market forces to our detriment.
In the final days of capitalist industrial civilization, the relentless and compulsive pursuit of profit and growth has subsumed any intelligent and realistic plans for survival. In fact, with the race amongst nations for nuclear technology and sophisticated weaponry, the requisite competitive economy to support such hi-tech militaries nullifies any attempts at reducing greenhouse emissions and pushes the world towards nuclear annihilation. As Kevin Lister, author of the forthcoming book The Vortex of Violence and why we are losing the battle against climate change, points out:
…The fundamental dilemma all nuclear weapons states face is that to maintain a credible nuclear force, be it a force of one or one thousand nuclear warheads on deployment, a massive military industrial complex must be maintained. As well as building the actual nuclear weapon systems, it must also provide the conventional defence screen consisting of fighter jets, patrols planes, anti-submarine warfare technology etc. In an ultimate irony, the purpose of these becomes to defend the nuclear forces to ensure a second strike can be launched rather than to defend people, because there is no defence against a determined nuclear attack. The military industrial complex that delivers this equipment must be continually fed with new streams of contracts at increasing values otherwise the industrial complex collapses. Thus a key objective in the initial gate document which justified to parliament the early procurement of material for Trident was that, “We must retain the capability to design, build and support nuclear submarines and meet the commitment for a successor to the Vanguard Class submarines.” In other words, we build Tridents to continue building Tridents.
The enormous cost of this needs to be covered by taxes, and for this some £500 billion of additional excess economic activity is needed which requires energy from fossil fuels and is the antithesis of making the urgent cut backs we need to tackle the soaring greenhouse gas overburden. Thus once the decision is made to proceed with Trident, it becomes impossible to make the climate change agreements to save the planet. In this context Trident is more dangerous than we ever first thought and it is the ultimate Faustian bargain.
Your commissioners have also failed to acknowledge in their report that the public spending that will be needed on Trident must be made at the same times as scarce public funds must be diverted to building a low carbon economy and mitigating the effects of climate change such as flooding and storm damage. This conflict will arise as tax receipts simultaneously drop through energy price rises.
The impossibility of meeting these conflicting challenges is the reason that much of the negotiations at climate change conferences takes place around the positions of the nuclear weapons states and their need to maintain large military industrial complexes and competitive and expanding economies to fund these…
…to build at huge expense a nuclear force whilst the nation is effectively bankrupt that will never provide secure protection from nuclear attack and merely encourage our competitors to reciprocate. It drives a race to the bottom where rational decisions on climate change can never be taken.
This nexus between global capitalism, the lucrative military-industrial complex, and the strategy of nuclear deterrence has locked the nations of the world into a trajectory of escalating anthropogenic climate disruption, environmental degradation and an ongoing arms race since World War II. Illustrative of this are the energy consumption levels of the U.S. DoD and war profiteering motives of defense contractors:
…The US military is the largest single consumer of energy in the world. If it were a country, the Department of Defense (DoD) would rank 34th in the world in average daily oil use, coming in just behind Iraq and just ahead of Sweden…
…Electricity usage by the military, which accounts for even more greenhouse gas emissions, is also gargantuan. In FY 2006, the DoD used almost 30,000 gigawatt hours of electricity at a cost of almost $2.2 billion. The DoD’s electricity use would supply enough electricity to power more than 2.6 million average American homes.
In fiscal year 2012, the DoD consumed about a billion gigawatt hours of site delivered energy at a cost of 20.4 billion dollars. While consuming that amount of energy, DoD emitted 70 million metric tons of CO2. And yet, total DoD energy use and costs are even higher simply because the energy use and costs arising from the contractors to support military operations both domestically and abroad are not included in DoD’s data…
…The increased propensity for war and conflict brought about by global warming is being exploited by the military-industrial complex which is planning on how to profit from it. Defense contractors are looking at climate change as a growth and profit opportunity due to the potential conflicts produced by food and water shortages. They are salivating over the potential profits to be made leading to increased stock market performance and, therefore, higher CEO compensation.
Defense contractors are setting their sights on a narrow-minded militarist approach. Indeed, the very companies most responsible for climate change are set to make a killing from its intensification. – link
Only one civilization in history has voluntarily uncomplicated/decomplexitized its society in the face of resource scarcity. According to Joseph Tainter, that civilization was the Byzantine Empire:
“After the Byzantine empire lost most of its territory to the Arabs, they simplified their entire society. Cities mostly disappeared, literacy and numeracy declined, their economy became less monetised, and they switched from professional army to peasant militia.”
As commenter James wryly puts it:
…Because the human ape is such a competitive and vicious sort, there must be a constant “progress” in technology and development to prevent being eaten by or dominated by another nation. Evolution writ large. Without a doubt it will end soon and nothing shall remain but the Ozymandian technological skeletons of times gone by…
Yes, where is the evolution? Teeming within the capitalist industrial civilization that is M.A.D. are 7+ billion naked apes, the most dangerous creature to ever walk the face of the Earth capable of wiping itself out within mere minutes from thermonuclear war, if anthropogenic climate disruption, ocean acidification, and global nuclear reactor meltdowns don’t do the trick.
As a warming planet cooks our brains and scrambles our environment, the trigger finger of some mentally ill and agitated soul may just belong to someone sitting at the launch button of a nuke. As Albert Einstein said, ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.’