An excellent year-end piece by Chris Martenson.
Truthfully, there’s a lot about which we should all be concerned, and I think that people’s sense of unease heading into 2017 is well-deserved, if sometimes misplaced.
What do I mean by that? Well, it is misplaced to be worried about symptoms instead of causes. The fever is worrying but it is not the cause of the illness.
Perhaps the most vexing challenge remains how to more effectively communicate the various predicaments and problems we face.
It’s not having more numbers, or more data, that’s for sure. If numbers and data ‘worked then we’d have taken a very different path sometime back in the 1950’s.
As Admiral Hyman Rickover said in a speech to a group of doctors in 1957:
“I think no further elaboration is needed to demonstrate the significance of energy resources for our own future. Our civilization rests upon a technological base which requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels. What assurance do we then have that our energy needs will continue to be supplied by fossil fuels: The answer is – in the long run – none.
The earth is finite. Fossil fuels are not renewable. In this respect our energy base differs from that of all earlier civilizations. They could have maintained their energy supply by careful cultivation. We cannot.
Fuel that has been burned is gone forever. Fuel is even more evanescent than metals. Metals, too, are non-renewable resources threatened with ultimate extinction, but something can be salvaged from scrap. Fuel leaves no scrap and there is nothing man can do to rebuild exhausted fossil fuel reserves. They were created by solar energy 500 million years ago and took eons to grow to their present volume.
In the face of the basic fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite, the exact length of time these reserves will last is important in only one respect: the longer they last, the more time do we have, to invent ways of living off renewable or substitute energy sources and to adjust our economy to the vast changes which we can expect from such a shift. Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank.
A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.”
His logic was as irrefutably sound then as it is today. Such information was known at the highest levels throughout government and academia. But there was no, and continues to be no, sustained and well-funded efforts to grapple with the basic dilemma posed by increasing population as dramatically as we have all the while living on, literally eating, fossil fuels to encourage that rapid population growth.
“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?” ~ Al Bartlett
The predicament we face is really quite profound. I submit to you that people know this in their guts and the fact that they do goes a long way towards describing the feeling dread many people report they are carrying here at the start of 2017 and cannot seem to shake.
And of course they are. Not having a plan for how to even feed 7.4 billion people, heading to 9 or 10 billion people, without massive fossil fuel calorie subsidies is a troubling thought. If it’s not troubling, then more thinking needs to be applied.