On Meta-Denial

There's No I In Denial

Meta-denial is a common and unique human behavior where reality denial is seen and discussed without acknowledging the existence of reality denial.

The scientific foundation for meta-denial is explained by Varki’s MORT theory which states that a brain which evolves the power to understand complex reality must simultaneously evolve reality denial to exist. The probability of these two otherwise maladaptive behaviors emerging simultaneously and fixing in the gene pool to create a new highly adaptive capability is low and has apparently occurred only once on this planet.

MORT explains how a species can be smart enough to visit the moon and yet not be able to understand something as obvious as its own overshoot and imminent collapse.

Meta-denial is essentially denial of denial and is the strongest form of realty denial because acknowledgement of reality denial would collapse the house of cards our brains construct to keep us motivated to replicate.

If you look you will see meta-denial everywhere. For example:

  • Environmentalists that lament the denial of ecosystem destruction yet support green growth and reject population control.
  • Climate scientists that lament the denial of climate change while themselves denying the relationship between wealth and carbon energy and their own desire for more wealth.
  • Social activists that lament the widening wealth gap while denying the decline of energy quality that drives it and the austerity required in their own life to reverse the trend.
  • Many other examples here.

Here we have a recent example of meta-denial. The entire article is about the insanity of climate change denial and yet it does not once mention reality denial nor ask what could possibly be causing this bizarre and destructive behavior.

https://www.sciencealert.com/us-heatwave-burning-up-media-climate-change

The US Is Burning Up, But No One Wants to Talk About The Elephant in The Room

Shhh don’t mention it.

It’s hot. Too hot. And climate scientists agree that it’s only going to get hotter. Yet despite the record-breaking heat wave impacting millions of Americans right now, barely anyone in the mainstream media is talking about the elephant in the room.

A new and distressing report from Media Matters reveals that most major broadcast TV networks are completely ignoring the link between unprecedented heat waves and climate change.

By Dave: Dear God

Jesus is calling the shots

A poem by Dave…

dear god, who does not exist
please help me through this day.
for what reason, i don’t know.
since you don’t exist, neither do you.
but the facts remain, i’m hungry, i’m thirsty, i want sex.
i beseech you. please help me.
plus, it’s way too fucking hot.
do something about that.

http://megacancer.com/2018/07/01/are-humans-irrational/

I, of course, think genetic denial of reality is a much more plausible explanation for the ubiquitous irrationality of humans.

By James: Are Humans Irrational?

And why is it that most people do not have an intellectual interest in a well-constructed natural philosophy? Could it be that there is no tangible reward at the end of the process? Like a child that scoffs at having to learn Calculus, “What do I have to learn that for, I’ll never use it.”

An unnatural philosophy as provided by religion is rewarding or at least fear suppressing for those that entertain its simple tenets. A natural philosophy that approaches the bullseye of reality strips away imagined rewards and dictates against the uncontrolled hedonism of technological civilization. Promotion of false ideas and suppression of reality generally serves the consumers of a gradient. “Nationalism” serves the government and favored corporations while religion serves the metabolism of the church, no matter how small. The “Federal” Reserve takes on the identity of a government agency and thereby evades the attention of the immune system which would likely destroy it if its true parasitic drain on the economy were known. To foster its continuance it maintains a revolving door system, essentially paying the immune system to look the other way in return for future employment rewards and even provides the opportunity for well-compensated speeches to disarm potential presidential adversaries. Meanwhile, the citizenry struggles under greater and greater amounts of debt while their income slips away, perhaps to some overseas sweatshop.

By Alice Friedemann – On Fake Peak Oil Demand

oil pump

Friedemann here argues that leaders understand the threat and intractability of peak oil and thus actively mislead their citizens.

She might be right but I think it more probable that our leaders are as deeply in denial as their citizens about our predicament. After all, the inherited behaviors of leaders are the same as the inherited behaviors of their citizens.

While it’s true that leaders have more access to peak oil data and analysis, I know from many years of close observations that data and analysis do not shift the beliefs of most people, especially when it involves unpleasant realities their genes wish to deny like mortality, climate change, peak oil, and overshoot.

I see evidence everywhere that our leaders are in denial.

How is it possible that not one leader anywhere in the world speaks frankly about peak oil, even after leaving office? Jimmy Carter, the one leader that tried to prepare society, is silent in his latest book in which he frankly discusses most big problems except peak oil.

If leaders understand peak oil and its implications, how is it possible that not one leader anywhere advocates population reduction, degrowth, or Colin Campbell’s depletion protocol. These policies would help with all of our overshoot issues and thus could be sold without even mentioning peak oil.

How is it possible that (aware) leaders continue to invest in projects like airports, highways, and pipelines? It would be easy to impede these wasteful projects that will strand scarce resources without publicly acknowledging peak oil.

How is it possible that political parties with an environmental and sustainability foundation, like the Green Party, and that have no chance of winning and thus nothing to lose, do not address the implications of peak oil in their platforms?

How is it possible that (aware) leaders of countries that still have some surplus oil to export, like Canada and Saudi Arabia, do not quietly implement policies to reduce exports to buffer the future for their own citizens?

 

Since the goal of fake peak oil news is to prevent panic and social disorder, and there’s little governments or businesses can do to prevent a die-off during the transition from fossils back to biomass and muscle power (extreme overshoot of carrying capacity), I can’t help but wonder if I were in charge if I might also put out stories like this to keep fossil fueled civilization going as long as possible. Offering hope, such as renewables, carbon sequestration, and so on, is one way to hold things together as long as possible. Why crash civilization before it will happen anyhow? And why bother to tell people the truth since they won’t believe it anyway (best books on this: Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology, and the Fate of the Nation)

As an observer of the biggest and most tragic event in human history, past or future (until the sun expands and swallows the Earth anyhow), I am just one of many journalists following the story as it unfolds, and hope that future historians will find articles debunking peak oil demand of interest.

There have been dozens of articles about Peak Oil Demand and the end of Peak Oil lately, often due to electric cars or other technology saving us. Here are just a few from 2017:

No, peak demand will happen because of peak oil when we’re forced to cut our demand as it declines exponentially at 6% a year. In capitalist countries, it will be the poor first (already happening since the financial crash), then middle class, and finally upper middle class. Even the rich won’t be able to continue driving whenever they want because social unrest will be so high they won’t dare leave the gates of their armed compounds. Only the military will have oil to the very end…

The idea that electric cars are lowering demand is ridiculous. Electric cars haven’t made a dent, just a small scratch in oil demand. Electric cars are only 0.2% of light-duty vehicles, and cost so much only the upper 5% can afford them, even with subsidies.

Meanwhile, consumption of oil in developing countries is increasing at a fast pace. There’s no sign of peak demand. And they’re not buying electric cars in India, Brazil, and other nations where the electric grid comes down a lot.

Only in Europe is demand slightly dropping, but that’s because their governments are so much more far-sighted, less corrupt, and peak oil aware than nation’s elsewhere. Europe began planning for oil decline decades ago, especially since they don’t have much oil of their own or a giant military to grab it from oil producing nations. Mass transit is so fantastic and cheap in many European cities that people don’t drive. For example, in Munich, Germany, the rail, tram, and bus systems run very often, and we spent just 6 euros a day to ride their quiet and modern trains, trams, and buses. When I came back to San Francisco, BART and other mass transit here looked like they were from a third world country, with their very infrequent service, filthiness, and on BART, enough decibels to harm hearing.

I suspect the peak oil demand idea is one more attempt by the wealthy and powerful to hide peak oil, because peak oil studies have shown that if peak oil were acknowledged, stock markets all over the world would crash since the economy would be shrinking from then on and debts couldn’t be repaid. Credit would freeze and dry up. Panic and social disorder would follow. Michael Lynch and other analysts have been trying for years to quench the idea of peak oil and Lynch even used to float his peak-oil denial theories on peak oil yahoo groups to learn what the counter-arguments might be.

http://energyskeptic.com/2018/robert-rapier-oil-demand-is-growing-not-shrinking-there-is-no-peak-oil-demand-in-sight/

James Hansen On and In Denial

James Hansen

James Hansen is a great man, and a great example of the power and ubiquity of Varki’s MORT theory.

Despite working harder than any scientist on the planet to bring reality to government climate policies, Hansen himself is also in denial about one aspect of climate change, namely the implications of reducing CO2 emissions.

Wealth is proportional to energy consumption. Over 90% of energy comes from burning carbon. Most “renewable energy” is dependent on burning carbon for manufacture, installation, and maintenance. Basic physics dictates that reducing CO2 emissions must also shrink the economy.

Notice that in this and almost every other article on climate change there is never an honest acknowledgement of the implications of reducing CO2 emissions.

The reality is that one way or the other we are going to have fewer poorer people soon.

A carbon tax is one way. Raising interest rates is another. A one-child-policy is another. Starvation, forced migrations, disease, and war are another.

We get to choose. Doing nothing is also a choice.

 

“All we’ve done is agree there’s a problem,” Hansen told the Guardian. “We agreed that in 1992 [at the Earth summit in Rio] and re-agreed it again in Paris [at the 2015 climate accord]. We haven’t acknowledged what is required to solve it. Promises like Paris don’t mean much, it’s wishful thinking. It’s a hoax that governments have played on us since the 1990s.”

Hansen’s long list of culprits for this inertia are both familiar – the nefarious lobbying of the fossil fuel industry – and surprising. Jerry Brown, the progressive governor of California, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, are “both pretending to be solving the problem” while being unambitious and shunning low-carbon nuclear power, Hansen argues.

There is particular scorn for Barack Obama. Hansen says in a scathing upcoming book that the former president “failed miserably” on climate change and oversaw policies that were “late, ineffectual and partisan”.

“The solution isn’t complicated, it’s not rocket science,” Hansen said. “Emissions aren’t going to go down if the cost of fossil fuels isn’t honest. Economists are very clear on this. We need a steadily increasing fee that is then distributed to the public.”

“It’s not too late,” Hansen stressed. “There is a rate of reduction that’s feasible to stay well below 2C. But you just need that price on carbon.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jun/19/james-hansen-nasa-scientist-climate-change-warning

By Norman Pagett: The oilparty is over (and so is our food party)

oilparty is over

With denial of reality, we excavate the foundation of the cliff that we continue to climb.

With acceptance of reality (and wisdom), we would climb down while building a softer landing zone.

 

Our oil age will not end through lack of it, but by fighting over what’s left.

The critical nature of oil made WWII inevitable. To sustain their empires, the Germans and Japanese slaughtered their way across Europe and Asia in a grab for resources, primarily oil. They promised infinite prosperity and their peoples cheered them on while deaths elsewhere were being counted in millions. With most of the world’s known oil supplies in the hands of his enemies, Adolf Hitler knew he had to have the oilfields of southern Russia and the Middle East to sustain his war machine.

He failed, and his dream of a ‘Greater Germany’ collapsed not because of inferior soldiers but because there was insufficient energy input to sustain his plan for world domination.

We now have maybe 20 years worth of usable oil left. There are certainly no more than 30, perhaps as little as 10. If one of the crazy sects running loose in the Middle East managed to get hold of a nuclear device, setting it off on the Gharwar oilfield of Saudi Arabia would end our industrialised infrastructure overnight. That is perhaps too bleak a prospect, but we should not discount that notion entirely.

No one dares to stand up and make the rather obvious point that we are not going to reach 9 billion. Something has to give, and that giving is going to be very unpleasant.

For the moment, nature keeps us supplied with oil, and we’ve pulled off the neat trick of converting it directly into food. Not knowing when our oil is finished and our food supply will run out is the little teaser for the early 21st century. Right now, most people think that food comes from supermarket shelves and freezers, which is just as well. The food trucks moving around the country are basically mobile warehouses, delivering food just in time for it to be consumed. When the realization dawns that the food trucks have stopped, the food held in stock by retailers will be stripped bare in hours. The oil age for everyone will have come to an end.

The link between oil and the ability to eat is clear. The UK has to import 40% of its food, and much of the rest depends on oil to produce it, which also has to be imported. It is the end of the UK’s oil age, but few admit to it being the end of a food age as well.

As the UK detaches itself from Europe, under the delusion that the ‘great’ will be put back into Britain, the reality will hit home that without oil surplus, the UK will be reduced to a third world country at starvation level. British farms cannot feed 65 million people.

The same problem is being revealed in the current fiasco of the rest of the European union, Oil-fueled prosperity is falling dramatically in the poorer southern countries. Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal and a swathe of smaller nations have to import all their oil which only worked when oil was cheap. Now it’s expensive, and they are facing bankruptcy. 50 years of ‘unity’ is dissolving like a mirage in the face of the difficulties that smaller states are suffering. Without cheap oil, their economies cannot function, and so are disintegrating.

https://medium.com/@End_of_More/the-oilparty-is-over-c06d3c723655

h/t Derek Peter Carne

By Respect Silence: Why “Saving the Planet” is a Misleading, Lost Cause

Overpopulation Denial

Nice rant.

Even in darker moods, most people are still worrying about things far more trivial than the 24/7 destruction of their only means of life. Denial is the default programming.

If people were seriously planning to stop the destruction of nature it would be echoed in the things they do and say on a daily basis, but most social chatter is about making money (from depletion) feeling good and staying entertained. Watch and listen to your neighbors and co-workers. Most are ego-driven and the rare ones who dwell on the common good are seen as less than “successful” by bling standards. There’s little evidence that enough people care about the true source of life to protect it from money-hungry urban banality. Let’s stop pretending the planet can be saved from us, by us. Benevolent aliens won’t do it either.

https://evilnoisypeople.wordpress.com/2018/06/24/why-saving-the-planet-is-a-lost-cause/

By Irv Mills: My Peak Oil Journey

Irv Mills

Irv Mills today published a very nice history of peak oil in which he summarizes what has occurred to date, and explains how his understanding of the relationship between energy and the economy has evolved and improved over time.

Mills’ essay is clear, accurate, and accessible. I recommend it as an excellent primer on peak oil.

Mills observes that oil consumption in recent years has grown about 1.7% per year despite little or no real growth in the economy. He speculates that the extra energy is being consumed by the oil industry to produce oil that is now hard, and getting harder, to extract. I suspect he’s right and recently wrote about this red queen phenomenon here.

Mills sees economic problems in our future but also expects some surprises. I agree. As readers know, I am fascinated by the fact that we collectively deny the reality of peak oil, despite it being, by far, the most serious short-term threat to civilization. My hunch is that we will never accept the reality of peak oil. Something else will happen that we can blame for our economic woes. Like war. To admit that growth is over due to nature being more powerful than our hubris, and that we totally screwed up by ignoring obvious facts, is a pill too big to swallow for our egos.

https://theeasiestpersontofool.blogspot.com/2018/06/autobiographical-notes-part-4-my-peak.html

As that average EROEI declines toward about 15, economic growth grinds to a halt and it becomes difficult to raise capital to start new ventures and to maintain existing infrastructure. Below 15 a modern industrial civilization quits working. Because this is a weighted average, choosing to produce more energy from low EROEI sources makes things worse while temporarily seeming to make them better. It has been estimated that the current average EROEI of the world economy is around 11. Of course some lucky countries are doing much better than that.

But because of our “lowest hanging fruit first” approach, EROEI continues to decline. Real economic growth appears to have stopped in the 1990s, with governments using clever new ways of calculating gross domestic product, and unemployment and cost of living statistics to make things look better in the short run. And low interest rate policies to encourage lots of borrowing and keep the economy growing, again, in the short run.

 

The major oil companies were hurt by low prices too, and cut back on their investment on discovery in order to save money. This has left us in a very bad situation as far as oil supply goes over the next few years. Trillions of dollars would have to be spent on discovery to catch up with demand. It seems to some of us that there is no sweet spot where oil prices are low enough to keep the economy growing and high enough to make the oil business profitable.

In any case, it seems unlikely that there are actually sufficient oil resources out there even if we could find the money to spend on discovery.