A Summary of Our Predicament: Overshoot Is a Bitch

Here is my understanding of the current situation. I think this is the most accurate and concise summary you will find anywhere.

1) 2 degrees rise is already certain and we are on a path for 4-6 degrees in the lifetimes of our grandchildren.

2) 2 degrees will be a disaster for human civilization and many other species, 4-6 degrees will be worse.

3) Wealth is proportional to energy consumption.

4) Wealth (at the current high level we enjoy) is enabled with debt which requires economic growth or else the system will crash.

5) Over 90% of our energy is fossil carbon which emits CO2.

6) Renewable energy does not have the density or qualities necessary to replace fossil carbon energy and maintain our current lifestyle.

7) We and other species cannot afford carbon capture technology and it will not scale.

8) Low cost fossil carbon energy is depleting rapidly and current economic problems are largely due to this fact; economic contraction is imminent even if we reject voluntary conservation.

9) Geoengineering at best will buy us a little time.

10) Self-reinforcing feedback loops may have already taken over from human emitted CO2 as the primary drivers for climate change.


Therefore, we cannot mitigate climate change without reducing total wealth, and we cannot reduce wealth without crashing the system.

If we choose not to voluntarily reduce wealth we will be forced to do so. By volunteering we might be able to control the contraction, rather than being controlled by the contraction.

Unfortunately, even when wealth does contract it may be too late to avoid unacceptable climate change.

Nevertheless, I think we should try to make the future less bad for our children with conservation and population reduction policies. More people and more consumption will make the future worse. Less people and less consumption will make the future better.

I doubt however that we have the ability to override our genes’ desire to maximize resource capture, nor our inherited denial of reality filter.

Overshoot is a bitch.

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