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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXV–Decoupling Energy Use From Growth: More Bargaining

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh LXXV

November 9, 2022 (original posting date)

Chitchen Itza, Mexico. (1986) Photo by author.

Decoupling Energy Use From Growth: More Bargaining

Today’s short piece is a comment I shared on an article by Nathan Surendran that highlights a debunking of the idea that energy can be decoupled from growth and thus reduce carbon emissions whilst supporting continued economic expansion. Nathan has a number of great articles to read on our energy conundrum and related topics; if you’re not familiar with his writing, I recommend it.

Great piece, Nathan.

I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that all such narratives (those that argue for the continuation of ‘growth’) are readily accepted by most since they are part and parcel of our denial/bargaining of the bio- and geo-physical limits of existence on a finite planet.

More ‘nefariously’ these stories are simply marketing/propaganda by the ruling caste and its sycophants to support their primary motivation: the control/expansion of the wealth-generation/-extraction systems that provide their revenue streams and thus positions of power and prestige. Everything, and I mean everything, is leveraged to meet this overarching goal.

For example, the idea that a massive transition to ‘green/clean’ energy and related industrial products and processes — that are marketed as ‘net zero/carbon-free’ — can alter our climate trajectory completely overlooks the significant environmental/ecological damages that such a shift would entail.

That the ruling elite has created an Overton Window such that most people buy into this tale and cannot think outside the box created is not surprising. Carbon is our enemy and can be overcome via ‘carbon-free’ thinking and products; anyone who points out the flaws in this narrative are climate change deniers or shills for the fossil fuel energy.

Nowhere in the discussion is a realisation that the knock-on effects of the significant industrial processes that are involved or necessary to transition away from fossil fuels are problematic — in the extreme. Or, that land system changes[1] created because of our constant expansion are detrimental to our hydrological systems and thus creating the extreme weather events we are experiencing — perhaps even more so than ‘climate change’[2].

That land system changes are having a significant impact on our weather patterns cannot be considered at all since the idea that we need to stop altering the landscape of our world runs in a diametrically-opposed way from the expansion and growth of our human experiment. And this, of course, undermines the ruling caste’s power base. Better to leverage crises in a way that allows status quo power/wealth structures to be maintained and/or expanded, just as the idea of decoupling does.

The growth imperative must be maintained at all costs and perhaps as importantly the idea/belief that it can be must be adhered to by the significant majority of the population (or, at least, passively accepted) so that there is little to no rejection and thus counter-narratives to it.

For despite the seeming strength of the concept that infinite growth on a finite planet is entirely possible (because of technology and human ingenuity), if a tipping point of the populace comes to understand that our pursuit of growth is what has destroyed vast portions of our planet and other species leading us deeply into ecological overshoot — and subsequently rejects its pursuit — then the entire foundation of the ruling elite crumbles. And we can’t have that!

Better to double or triple down on the propaganda and censor/ostracise counter-narratives, thus allowing the game to go on just a bit longer…

[1] See this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, and/or this.

[2] See this.

Olduvai IV: Courage
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