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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLV–Chasing Maladaptive Strategies

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XLV

March 24, 2022 (original posting date)

Knossos, Greece (1988) Photo by author

Chasing Maladaptive Strategies

Today’s very short contemplation was in response to a post I was asked to comment upon that calls for sociopolitical ‘leadership’ to ‘tackle’ natural disasters that have been linked to the climate crisis.

I believe that most still don’t understand that the existential predicaments we are experiencing are but symptoms of the over-arching predicament of ecological overshoot[1]. Until and unless we acknowledge our overshoot we seem to be chasing maladaptive strategies in attempts to deal with its catastrophic symptoms and, in my opinion, asking the wrong people to address the situation.

For example, most people, in their well-intentioned desire to confront the effects of climate change, believe that if we abandon fossil fuel use and transition to some alternative (that has been mislabeled ‘green/clean’ and ‘sustainable’), we can maintain our energy-intensive complexities. Understanding that energy-harvesting technologies (e.g., solar, wind, wave, nuclear) not only depend upon the fossil fuel platform but upon finite resources that require a continuation of environmentally-/ecologically-destructive processes to retrieve and refine radically alters how one should perceive our path forward.

We need to be pursuing radical degrowth in all its iterations, from population to economics. Modern living standards of advanced economies (even of ‘emerging’ economies) are not in any way shape or form sustainable on a finite planet. If we cannot accept this and acknowledge that this needs to guide our responses and actions, then we are in all likelihood destined (some argue it is all but guaranteed) to experience the collapse that always accompanies overshoot. And such collapse will only increase in severity when it eventually occurs if we continue to chase misguided ‘solutions’ that further reduce the natural carrying capacity of the planet.

Given that our sociopolitical systems are built on power/wealth structures that for some time now have come to rely almost exclusively upon chasing the perpetual growth chalice, it seems to me that looking to them to correct our path is completely misplaced and increasingly more destructive in the end. Their tendency is to talk a good talk about addressing issues but when push comes to shove they almost always leverage such crises to their own advantage in one way or another to expand upon and prolong the Ponzi schemes they preside over[2].

As I argued in a recent article[3], people: “are encouraged to focus on relocalising the basic aspects of living (i.e., potable water procurement, food production, and regional shelter needs) as much as possible and reconnect with community members who will be your primary supports as things go increasingly sideways. Do not put your faith in our so-called political ‘leaders’. Despite their propaganda, they do not have your best interests at the top of their agendas; if such an incentive even makes the agenda except perhaps around election time when the marketing of more, more, more really blossoms. Because, you know, more is in your best interest…only it’s not.”

Yes, we need to shut down our fossil fuel industry but we also need to realise there is no ‘replacement’ for the significant energy it supplies society. The post-carbon world will be radically, and I mean radically, different than today. The illusion of a modern utopia with electric vehicles and all the accoutrements painted by the techno-cornucopian snake oil salesmen (that are little more than grifters lining their pockets) must be abandoned if we are to have any hope of getting through the bottleneck we have created for our species and most others on this planet.

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[1] If you have yet to read William Catton Jr.’s Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, I highly recommend it. It is fundamental to understanding overshoot. You can find my personal summary notes here.

[2] I use the term Ponzi scheme intentionally given the fact that such contrivances require continual growth to keep from collapsing and that they are, for all intents and purposes, rackets that benefit a few at the expense of the many participants.

[3] https://stevebull-4168.medium.com/todays-contemplation-collapse-cometh-xliv-b81abc961f4c

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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