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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XL

The Road Not Taken
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

-Robert Frost, 1915

While reportedly written as a joke by Frost for his hiking companion, Edward Thomas, who often struggled to pick a path among diverging ones when they were out on walks together, this poem has been commonly interpreted as a narrative about our choices and how these shape our future. The decision to take the road ‘less traveled’ versus the one ‘not taken’ speaks to the meaningful impact this seemingly innocuous choice can have upon subsequent events[1].

I was reminded of Frost’s poem and the general interpretation of it as I contemplated the request to post for a wider audience a comment I had made regarding an article someone added to a Facebook group I am a member of. In composing this ‘contemplation’ I reflected upon this request, my thoughts regarding humanity’s choices as we consider how best to deal with our existential predicament of ecological overshoot, and some of the conversations I’ve engaged in with others over the past week or so.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXIX

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Another contemplation prompted by an email my mum sent me. This is a lengthier article than usual (and intended) since I added further points each time I proofread it…

“This was sent to us from a college friend of XXX’s but I think he has a valid point!

___

I’ve always doubted mankind’s impact on the issue of climate change. After all, earth has had two ice ages that were followed by two warming cycles, all before humans left their caves. So, to me, the debate is whether there is a new natural, million year warming or cooling trend. If there is, there is nothing we can do about it. The following is a mixture of pictures and political comment on the matter [not included]. I am disappointed no one has followed the money and identified all those who gained notoriety, wealth, and power over the past 20 years of fear mongering.

I will begin by stating there are a growing number of people who have (and for some time) been following the ‘money’ and have uncovered growing manipulation by the ‘elite’ in a variety of areas and ways (it goes far beyond global warming/climate change). G. Edward Griffin, for example, talks about this entire situation of environmental concerns being leveraged by the ‘ruling class’ to profit from in some detail at the end of his in-depth and biting critique of the U.S.’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, in The Creature From Jekyll Island (1994) — given the world reserve currency status of the U.S. dollar, the Fed is perhaps the most pernicious institution currently on our planet, for it those who control the creation and distribution of ‘money’ that are amongst the most powerful on the planet.

Most of those who have done this type of research, however, do not have the platform or finances for disseminating their ideas in the way that the mainstream media and/or politicians do, and for the most part their concerns have been overwhelmed by the constant propaganda of the ruling class and suppressed (and increasingly so given the expanding calls for censorship amid accusations of ‘fake news/misinformation’ by ‘the-powers-that-be’). I believe that’s changing but the impediments to revealing those manipulating the dials behind the curtain are huge; and when one does throw light upon the dark corners of our elite, more often than not if the challengers of mainstream narratives cannot be ostracised or marginalised, they are increasingly ending up like Edward Snowden or Julian Assange.

Regardless, here’s my spin on things ‘environmental’ and the connection with those who would use them for profit.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXVIII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

The following contemplation has been prompted by some commentary regarding a recent article by Megan Seibert of the Real Green New Deal Project. It pulls together a couple of threads that I’ve been discussing the past few months…

There is no ‘remedy’ for our predicament of ecological overshoot, at least not one that most of us would like to implement. While it would be nice to have a ‘solution’, we’ve painted ourselves into a corner from which there appears to be no ‘escape’ — for a variety of reasons.

Most people don’t want to contemplate such an inevitability but the writing seems to be pretty clearly on the wall: we have ‘blossomed’ as a species in both numbers and living standards almost exclusively because of the exploitation of a one-time, finite cache of an energy-rich resource that has encountered significant diminishing returns but whose extraction and secondary impacts have led to pronounced and irreversible (at least in human lifespan terms) environmental/ecological destruction;  this expansion of homo sapiens has blown well past the natural carrying capacity of our planetary environment and like any other species that experiences this the future can only be one of a massive ‘collapse’—both in population numbers and sociocultural complexities.

Also like every other animal on this planet, we are hard-wired to avoid pain and seek out pleasure. But unlike other species we have a unique tool-making ability that we can use to help us address this genetic predisposition. So instead of accepting our painful plight and because of our complex cognitive abilities we have crafted a variety of pleasurable narratives to help us deny the impending reality — few of us ‘enjoy’ contemplating our mortality, so we avoid it or create comforting stories to soothe our anxieties and reduce our cognitive dissonance (an afterlife of some kind being one of the most common).

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXVII

Teotihuacan, Mexico (1988) Photo by author

Got involved in a discussion after an Facebook Friend (Alice Friedemann, whose work can be seen here) posted a study on the decline of ‘rationality’ over the past few decades.

My initial response was as follows:

My initial thought is that this shift is more the result of a paradigmatic shift in academia itself from ‘Modernism’ to ‘Post-Modernism’ that has slowly filtered into the mainstream than anything else. As a university student during the entire decade of the 1980s, I was exposed to A LOT of Post-Modernist philosophy that questioned ‘Rationality’. Off the top of my head I recall a number of the philosophies I was exposed to coming from such academics as: Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Claude Levi-Strauss, Michel Foucault, Clifford Geertz, Friedrich Nietzche, Martin Heidigger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Stephen Jay Gould, G.W.F. Hegel, H.G. Gadamer, Thomas Kuhn, and Jurgen Habermas. The topics included: rationality, literary criticism, deconstruction, deconstructive criticism, hermeneutics, philology, metaphysics, and dialectics. These all reflected a questioning of the strict ‘factual’ or ‘rational’ universe at one level or another — especially the ‘subjectivity’ verses ‘objectivity’ aspects of ‘science’. Here’s just a few of the books I still have in my dwindling collection:

The conversation has brought back some of my interests that arose during my university education (the ten years were in the pursuit of four degrees from biology/physiology to psychology/anthropology that culminated in an M.A. in archaeology and B.Ed. for a career in education; retired almost ten years now). It’s been a while (decades) since I studied this stuff but here are my two cents on the topic:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXVI

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXVI

On Narrative Control and ‘Fact Checking’

One of the areas of interest for me as I weaved my way through my ten years of formal post-secondary education (yes, I spent the entire decade of the 1980s pursuing four degrees at several different universities; some of it part-time as I waffled between education and full-time work for relatively good pay in a grocery store) was that of epistemology (the nature and origins of ‘knowledge’). It was likely the result of some of my required readings: Stephen Jay Gould’s Ever Since Darwin, Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and Clifford Gertz’s The Interpretation of Cultures. Regardless, I ended up exploring (outside of my regular classes) such topics as deconstructive criticism, hermeneutics, and philology; interesting topics for someone who ended up teaching elementary school students (10 years) and as a school administrator (15 years).

Upon reflection, this exploration of how humans come to ‘know’ what they know (or at least what they believe) has led me to be rather skeptical of dominant narratives, especially of ‘authority figures’. My challenging of ‘authority’, as it were, may have come somewhat ‘naturally’ given I grew up in the household of a police officer. Not that I consider my dad to have been ‘authoritarian’, not at all, but the somewhat ‘natural’ pushback children can give to parents was slightly coloured in our household by the simple fact that my dad was a sociocultural authority figure on top of his role as a father.

Anyways, I believe I have always questioned to a certain extent the ‘popular’ stories we are exposed to. And as I’ve read more widely over the years, I’ve come to hold that these stories tend to always play to the pursuits of the people that dominate society’s economic and power structures.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXIV

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXIV

Athens, Greece (1984) Photo by author

Supply chain disruptions and the product shortages that result have become a growing concern over the past couple of years and the reasons for these are as varied as the people providing the ‘analysis’. Production delays. Covid-19 pandemic. Pent-up consumer demand. Central bank monetary policy. Government economic stimulus. Consumer hoarding. Supply versus demand basics. Labour woes. Vaccination mandates. Union strikes. The number and variety of competing narratives is almost endless.

I have been once again reminded of the vagaries of our supply chains, the disruptions that can result, and our increasing dependence upon them with the unprecedented torrential rain and flood damage across many parts of British Columbia, Canada; and, of course, similar disruptions have occurred across the planet.

Instead of a recognition that perhaps a rethinking is needed of the complexities of our current systems and the dependencies that result from them, particularly in light of this increasingly problematic supply situation, we have politicians (and many in the media) doubling-down on the very systems that have helped to put us in the various predicaments we are encountering.

Our growing reliance on intensive-energy and other resource systems is not viewed as any type of dependency that places us in the crosshairs of ecological overshoot and unforeseen circumstances, but as a supply and demand conundrum that can be best addressed via our ingenuity and technology. Once again the primacy of a political and/or economic worldview, as opposed to an ecological one, shines through in our interpretation of world events; and of course the subsequent ‘solutions’ proposed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXI

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXXI

                    Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

So, dozens of political leaders, their hundreds of staff, multitudes of corporate leaders, and who knows how many ‘celebrities’ have all gathered in Glasgow, Scotland for an elite confab (#26) to discuss the ‘Climate Crisis’. Heaven knows how many resources have been extracted and pollutants dispersed in this latest political theatre (mostly? all? at taxpayer expense). The irony is not lost on many, except perhaps much of the mainstream media that tends to simply regurgitate political media releases and share simplistic narratives for exceedingly complex issues — it is indeed difficult to get someone to understand something if their income depends on them not understanding it.

Needless to say I expect little of substance to result from this event. In fact, I am increasingly seeing this event as an expo for marketing of ‘green/clean’ energy products (and making sure most? all? countries pursue purchasing them) that do not address our fundamental predicament — ecological overshoot — of which greenhouse gases is but one negative consequence (and not even the worst). And, of course, all of this provides the justification to create trillions of more dollars out of thin air (the debt held by a variety of the ruling class) that will be funnelled towards specific industries (owned by others of the ruling class) while doing little to reduce actual consumption or ecologically-destructive extraction industries.

This is increasingly looking not like a problem that can be solved but a predicament that may at best be mitigated on the margins. One of the most significant dilemmas, however, appears to be the ‘solutions’ that are being bandied about also appear to be the ones that will simply make the situation worse: increasing technology and complexities in the form of ‘renewables’.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXX

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Today’s post has been prompted by some thoughts regarding the inability of our political systems to respond in a timely manner to our plight of ecological overshoot penned by Rex Weyler, co-founder of Greenpeace, and posted by Alice Friedemann of energyskeptic.com.

I agree with virtually everything Rex argues, especially the role of self-interest by our political class for their apparent rejection of the notion of ecological overshoot and what needs to be done to address the negative impacts this predicament will have on our societies (we can’t avoid these impacts but we might be capable of mitigating their worst outcomes somewhat). My experience with government (I spent many years involved with unions/federations/councils and their political action committees, including chairing some and being directly involved in negotiating contracts, thus having to deal directly with senior administrators and politicians) and readings pertaining to various sociocultural areas (e.g., economics, geopolitics, political systems, pre/history, etc.) have solidified for me the notion that our sociopolitical institutions are for a variety of reasons the last place we should be looking to ‘correct our course’ and attempt to confront the many complex issues of our overshoot and that are beginning to become more obvious. In fact, it is likely (I believe guaranteed) that our ‘ruling class’ will continue to do the exact opposite of what is needed.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXIX

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Today’s contemplation was prompted by an email my mum sent me. As she closes in on 80, I find that she’s becoming a bit more open-minded about things but remains somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to global warming/anthropogenic climate change. We periodically share thoughts on the state of the world, especially politics, and I think I’ve almost got her convinced to abandon her faith/trust in government…

Anyways, here is the comment about global warming she forwarded to me and my relatively quick response (typed up while I was engaged in replacing a floor/foundation for one of our greenhouses — I never considered a decade ago when I installed the first greenhouse, of three, that the mini-garden ties I was using to terrace our backyard would decay/rot so quickly so I am replacing them with concrete blocks and putting in a patio stone floor so that my eldest daughter who has taken over the greenhouse can have many years of use with it, hopefully). I have added some minor supplemental thoughts (in italics) and supporting links to a few sources (see endnotes).

Comment:

With global warming having become as much a political issue as a scientific inquiry, I went from wondering whether mankind might really be influencing the climate to someone questioning a science I do not understand. I am now worried we are being duped by people with an agenda, like keep the money gravy train running. No one has yet explained to my satisfaction the big ice age followed by warming then a mini-ice age, followed by warming, all before mankind was a significant presence on earth and did nothing but have a few campfires.

Response:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVIII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Today’s very brief ‘contemplation’ is a comment I penned on an article that discusses the limits to growth we have probably surpassed, Kuber-Ross’s stages of grief (especially denial and bargaining) that the world seems to be experiencing in the wake of increasing awareness of our existential dilemmas/predicaments, and a call for cooperation amongst the world’s people to address our plight.

I have repeatedly experienced the denial and anger that tends to arise when one challenges another’s personal beliefs. I should know better than to present countervailing evidence/narratives, especially given the defensive psychological mechanisms that arise to preserve such beliefs. We tend to look for confirmation of our strongly-held views by surrounding ourselves with like-minded voices, not disruptive narratives that can lead to cognitive dissonance. Such stories are denigrated and attacked (as the author of the article points out for the Limits to Growth authors).

I do believe, however, that the acceptance of our limits in many aspects leads to a conclusion that degrowth needs to be not only considered and discussed, but widely pursued if humanity is to have any hope of at least some of us transitioning through the self-made bottleneck that is directly ahead of us. Pursing the ‘wrong’ path will only make our predicament far, far more challenging and greatly reduce any opportunities for at least some of humanity to survive.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXVII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Discussing ‘renewable’ energy and its shortcomings with those who hold on to the belief that they offer us a ‘solution’ to the predicaments humanity faces is always ‘challenging’. Today’s contemplation is based on a recent dialogue I have had with a few people who seek to hold on to the belief that we can completely abandon fossil fuels and simply shift support for society’s complexities over to ‘renewables, and my response to someone who complimented my viewpoint (an unusual occurrence on the pages of the online media site (The Tyee) I frequent, whose writers/editors/commenters mostly support ‘renewables’ and the promises the proponents of them make). The story is not so straightforward and most don’t want to hear that. You can check out the conversation here.

Thank you. The root cause of our problem appears to be ecological overshoot brought on, primarily, by our exploitation of a one-time energy cache (fossil fuels) that has helped to ‘power’ amazing technological tools and processes that, in turn, have allowed us to exploit the planet and its resources substantially. This has led to a number of positive feedback loops, particularly exponential increases in population, waste (including greenhouse gases), and the speed at which we use these finite resources.

The crowd that insists ‘renewable’ energy (and it’s not truly ‘renewable’ given its dependency on finite resources, and certainly not ‘green/clean’ based on the processes necessary to produce them) can ‘sustain’ our energy-intensive complexities tend to be willfully ignorant of their negative consequences and deficiencies. In fact, my guess is that many have little experience with or knowledge of them (see Alice Friedemann’s work at Energy Skeptic and especially her most recent Springer Energy Series publication, Life After Fossil Fuels) and are grasping for solutions to our predicaments.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXV

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXV

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

This contemplation was prompted by an article regarding an ‘independent’ think tank’s report that presented the argument that government funding of the oil and gas industry needed to be shifted towards ‘green/clean’ alternatives. I’ve included a few hyperlinks to sites that expand upon the concepts/issues discussed.

Context, it’s always important. This ‘independent’ think tank, the International Institute for Sustainable Development, is part and parcel of the corporate/business ‘greenwashing’ of our world and ‘solutions’ to its various dilemmas. It’s primary mission is ‘sustainable’ development/growth, a gargantuan oxymoron on a finite planet. Infinite growth. Finite planet. What could possibly go wrong?

In fact, the perpetuation of this continued pursuit of perpetual growth is seen quite clearly in the absence of any discussion about curtailing our growth but rather finding ways to ‘sustain’ it, and the misuse of language (that has become endemic in the environmental movement) and the simplified ‘solution’ offered by arguing that government funds need to be directed away from the climate change-causing oil and gas industry and towards the ‘clean’ energy alternatives of ‘renewables’.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXIII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXIII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Today’s thought was motivated by another Tyee article that carries on the notion of ‘clean energy’ and the ‘magical thinking’ needed to buy into such narratives.

*    *     *

As long as language is being manipulated (e.g., ‘clean energy’ is a gargantuan oxymoron), magical thinking employed (e.g., ‘green hydrogen’ or some iteration of it has been on the books for 2+ centuries and is still far, far away, if ever, given the physical and economic hurdles/roadblocks), and fundamental causes of our dilemmas conveniently ignored (e.g., our pursuit of the infinite growth chalice on a finite planet), the ‘solutions’ we so desperately seek will always elude us (if they even exist).

Despite relatively general recognition of humanity’s impending ‘challenges’, we continue to follow the ‘Business-As-Usual’ (BAU) scenario painted for us by Meadows et al. in their 1972 Limits to Growth. Our ‘leaders’ talk a good talk but the reality (given the obvious lack of ‘progress’ in mitigating our issues and their increasingly probable negative consequences) is that we have painted ourselves into a corner from which we apparently cannot extricate ourselves (except through some very convoluted narrative creations).

There is overwhelming and increasing evidence that there is a significant reckoning in terms of energy decline (and various other resources) in our future, regardless of our wishes, ingenuity, and technology. The complexities of our globalised, just-in-time, and highly resource-dependent industrialised societies are losing their support systems in terms of the resources they require. We have encountered significant diminishing returns on our investments and can no longer ‘afford’ them. All the talk of ‘solutions’ is, at this point, seemingly reflective of the first four stages of grief outlined by Kubler-Ross: denial, anger, bargaining, and depression.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXII

Knossos, Greece (1993) Photo by author

A personal view of the ‘Net-Zero’ policy being implemented by governments around the world, particularly those of the ‘West’.

As happens so often (always?), the ruling elite are manipulating what is possibly one of our more (most?) existential dilemmas so as to have their cake and eat it too. The chicanery that takes place within statistical calculations is widespread and occurs in virtually everything they touch but of course gives the impression of ‘objectivity’ and ‘transparency’ because figures can’t lie (although liars can figure, simply take a look at the statistical manipulations that take place in determining a nation’s consumer price index). The trickery goes far beyond numbers, however, for the use of statistics is just one of many narrative control mechanisms used to support the stories they want citizens to believe.

They have leveraged carbon emissions as THE most pressing environmental/ecological issue (even though it is only one of many predicaments resulting from humanity overshooting its natural carrying capacity on a finite planet) and have presented a variety of ‘solutions’ from carbon taxes to widespread ‘electrification’ of society to ‘net-zero’ policies. I would argue all of these ‘solutions’ derive from their primary motivation: the control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams. From ever-increasing taxation to capital reallocation towards ‘green/clean’ technology to increasing curtailment of once-expected liberties and mass surveillance, the ruling elite are enhancing and consolidating their grip on wealth and power but marketing it as a necessary societal shift to ‘save’ humanity from itself.

There is certainly a grain of truth in all of the efforts to shift society away from fossil fuels…

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XX

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XX

Pompeii, Italy (1993) Photo by author

Today’s contemplation is once again generated by way of an article from the online media site The Tyee. It’s topic is the city of Vancouver’s (British Columbia, Canada) attempts to require ‘electrification’ of all new buildings as part of their Climate Emergency Action Plan and the pushback by the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating.

My first comment below was to bring to the surface the Overton Window that most media articles tend to display when discussing climate change actions and associated issues, particularly that it is only via ‘electrification’ of our society that we can adequately sustain our complexities and wean ourselves from the energy provided by fossil fuels; and thus ‘save our planet’.

The comment that follows is in response to another who responded to my comment with the tendency of some to buy into false (magical?) ‘solutions’. We tend to do this for any number of reasons, most (all?) of which are bio-psychological in nature.

The Overton Window established around policies/actions to address our ecological/environmental dilemmas is on full display here.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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