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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LVII–Ecological Overshoot Cannot Be ‘Solved’

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LVII

July 2, 2022 (original posting date)

Rome, Italy (1984). Photo by author.

Ecological Overshoot Cannot Be ‘Solved’

A quick morning contemplation based upon an article posted to the Peak Oil Facebook Group I participate in.

Almost everywhere the pursuit of the infinite growth chalice (primarily by the ruling elite) and/or population growth along with a disregard for/ignorance of biophysical limits has put a community/region/nation into ecological overshoot. As a result, the people have become dependent upon fragile and complex long-distance supply chains — to say little about the creation of communities in areas that never should have been occupied by humans as they were never sustainable without such supplied resources.

There’s no ‘transitioning’ to something ‘sustainable’ in such a scenario — at least not for the significant majority of those caught up in it.

Many who are aware of the pending consequences (especially shortages of basic resources) are desperately clinging to the (false) hope that ‘clean/green/sustainable’ energy (non-renewable energy-harvesting technologies) will somehow stave off the inevitable die-off that seems to be charging our way. Although, there also seems to be a growing chorus of others who argue that all we need to do to avoid our situation is allow the expansion of fossil fuel extraction.

Denial, however, is not just a river in Egypt; it is a powerful psychological mechanism to avoid anxiety-provoking cognitions such as the predicament we’ve created for ourselves. And in our mass psychosis it seems we are championing strategies that evidence suggests will serve to exacerbate our plight (and it doesn’t help — in fact, it encourages the false beliefs — that our ruling elite are pushing specific ‘solutions’ for mostly monetary gain; a gain that serves to aid them in maintaining their privileged positions atop the power/wealth structures of our complex societies).

The longer we fail to accept and face our predicament (and abandon the false ‘solutions’), the worse we make the consequences charging our way.

I am increasingly reaching the conclusion, unfortunately, that the path we are on and will take is not towards some utopian nirvana of existence supported by ‘clean’ energy and ‘sustainable’ lifestyles as many believe. We are more likely to waste the last of our one-time cache of ancient energy stores on misguided technologies and resource wars.

This is perhaps not because we humans don’t want to attempt to address our issues but because we, in our uniquely human way, are lying to ourselves about the impediments of a finite world and its biophysical limits and thus are looking in the completely wrong direction for answers. It also doesn’t help that we have lost our realisation that we are not a unique species when it comes to ecological principles and thus can’t have our cake and eat it too.

There are some tremendously difficult decisions to make and the vast, vast majority of us don’t wish to even consider them; better to remain in ignorance or distraction.

As I have written previously:

Personally, I’d like to see our dwindling fossil fuels dedicated to decommissioning safely those significantly dangerous complexities we’ve created (e.g., nuclear power plants, biosafety labs, chemical storage, etc.) and relocalising as much potable water procurement, food production, and regional shelter needs as possible rather than attempting to sustain what is ultimately unsustainable given the fossil fuel inputs necessary. Perhaps, just perhaps. by doing these things a few pockets of humanity (and many other species) can come out the other side of the bottleneck we’ve created for ourselves.

As this is unlikely to be done for a variety of reasons, perhaps the best thing for those who have accepted our predicament to do is search for like-minded family/friends/community members and pursue relocalising strategies that might be ‘resilient’ in the face of disrupted supply chains and sociopolitical and/or socioeconomic upheaval.

It is increasingly likely that the unwritten and unknowable future is going to be messy…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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