Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The World In a Nutshell

This poster to The Oil Drum summarizes the human dilemma much better than Chaos could at this very moment:

"What are you willing to do to change things in the Future?" Ultimately most here and elsewhere are not willing to do enough. For all the knowledge that is present on this board, wisdom is woefully lacking. Like the allopathic doctors that keep the westerner alive, the symptom reigns supreme over addressing the cause of the disease. Peak oil (a facet of resource depletion), like global warming, overpopulation and ecosystem destruction are symptoms of humanity's inability to recognise the limits of its host to support life and organise accordingly. In the end, the one question that has yet to be asked, and really should before any other, is how long do we really want to provide for the survival of humanity? If we want to make it until the sun reaches the far end of its life-cycle and begins to consume everything in its path during its red dwarf phase, we need to return to a stone age existence. If we want to live a little higher on the hog for somewhat less than a few billion years, we can attempt a form of iron age existence. If we want to survive less than a millennia further, we can approach any of the combination of silver bb's currently in vogue herein. All of the silver bb's use finite resources. No amount of recycling is going to get around the fact that sooner or later, sooner being the operative word, all that is basically mine-able will have been. Now couple that with the nature of ultisation rendering a percentage of each round of mining unrecoverable/unusable beyond one life cycle, and you have a recipe for disaster, not sustainability. It is a basic condition of wants being pursued instead of needs. The desire to continue this way of life at present is wrought out of a fear of loss. Life is fun now. Life is fulfilling now. Life can be fulfilling with a lot less. Just as we can talk about going through our stuff and paring down to fit into a smaller living space and find it rewarding, we can go through the trappings of modernity and do likewise and feel likewise. Science and its progeny technology are pursuits to satisfy curiosity. I will posit, so what? Do we really need to know anything more about the nature of matter for humanity to be complete? We could, with what is left of finite energy resources, embark upon a powering down that would result in a fully rewarding lifestyle that preserves knowledge, gives us a full enough understanding of existence and insures that humanity can successfully ride out the planet's life-cycle for a very long time. But that would require sacrificing our addiction to technology, a wholly unnecessary part of what it means to live and exist. For disclosure, I am not some doomer luddite hiding in the woods with a hoard of guns and beans. I am a degreed librarian at a R1 institute. I have utilised my education in researching the calories per capita per year consumption and compared it to the silver bb's potential for utilisation. I have researched the impact of continued mining of finite resources required for widget production. I have studied the history of the rise of civilisation and its attendant impacts. My life will not see the worst of PO and the mad dash to interject silver bb's. But my life is more than the total of its days. Even though I choose not to have children, I have a responsibility to those who will inhabit this planet after me. You do too. To that end, why are we not choosing to sustain needs as opposed to wants?

No comments: