This is an essay from reader wis.dom project who describes his painful personal journey of connecting dots to achieve awareness of our overshoot predicament.
I was born in 1969, at a time when everything still seemed possible. On July 20, two people walked on the moon, which is probably the greatest technological achievement of man to this day. In my youth, I devoured novels by Asimov, Clarke, Lem, Dick and Herbert. The galaxy’s colonization seemed within reach.
45 years later, I realized that I was a victim of mass hypnosis, what I refer to today as techno-utopia – a belief in the limitless human development, genius and almost divine uniqueness of Homo Sapiens. I realized that industrial civilization, like any other dissipative structure, is doomed to inevitable collapse.
In 1972 – 3 years after my birth, a book titled The Limits to Growth was released by the Club of Rome. It was the first scientifically compiled report analyzing future scenarios for humanity. It indicated that unlimited development is not possible on a finite planet. The book was published in 30 million copies and was one of the most popular at the time. Surprisingly, despite the wide range of my readings, the book did not appear on my horizon for a long time. As if it was covered by another intellectual “Säuberung”. In fact, it was the subject of an intellectual blitzkrieg and relatively quickly evaporated from the media circulation. I experienced this myself by talking to several university professors. Every one of them dismissed the LtG concept with a shrug and an unequivocal, non-debatable conclusion that the theory had long been discredited.
Since then, there have been many other events that have offered an opportunity to change consciousness and thus the trajectory of industrial civilization.
On June 15, 1979, during the ongoing second oil crisis, President Jimmy Carter gave a famous speech in which he announced: “The energy crisis is real. It is worldwide. It is a clear and present danger to our Nation. These are facts and we simply must face them”. Photovoltaic panels were installed on the roof of the White House to symbolize a new trend – energy conservation and an attempt to develop alternative sources.
American people responded by choosing Ronald Reagan as the 40th president of the United States, who had the panels dismantled. Before he did so, he announced: “There are no great limits to growth because there are no limits of human intelligence, imagination, and wonder.” As a result of the use of “intelligence, imagination, and wonder” American analysts probably came to the conclusion that if we do not have the resources ourselves, they should be organized from a different source. Therefore, on his first overseas trip, Reagan traveled to Saudi Arabia, where he probably proposed the following alternative: petrodollar, protection and weapons for cheap oil… or American aircraft carriers will stay anchored in the Persian Gulf for longer – as in the Al Capone quote: “You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone”. Same logic. Following, we got post-colonial globalization with all the necessary tools like the IMF, World Bank, BIS, and Washington Consensus. Pax Americana in full release. A decade of crises had begun.
In 1980, a group of “loyal Americans” constructed Georgia Guidestones, “The American Stonehenge”. On 4 granite slabs, in 8 languages, the authors recommended 10 commandments of a healthy civilization, including limiting the global population to 500 million. This humanist monument was recently destroyed by fanatical terrorists and then demolished by the county authorities for “security reasons”.
In 1984, the publisher of George Orwell’s famous book, which regained popularity as a result of events at that time, advertised it with the slogan “maybe not 1984, but there is always 1985”. We solved the waves of hunger that engulfed African countries with “Live Aid”. The eastern block began to fall apart.
For the growth protagonists, their optimistic belief in progress was confirmed in the 1990’s, after the collapse of the Eastern bloc and another “gold rush”, this time in the oil fields of Western Siberia. Another wave of globalization had begun. The ceiling of the ecological capacity of mankind was raised again, and the extraction of natural resources accelerated to planet limits. China joined the WTO and “the sky was the limit” again.
The digital revolution restored belief in unlimited development, and Hollywood started showing “happy endings” again after years of dystopian themes. However, the honeymoon of unipolar globalization was short. In 2001, cracks started to appear. US president, George W. Bush, announced that the prosperity of the Americans was not negotiable. Invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan clearly showed the intentions of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s “The Grand Chessboard” strategy. After all, the 9/11 organization required remarkable synchronization, and its presentation to the public was another masterpiece of the hypnotic power of mass communication. Undoubtedly, its organizers were aware of the challenges ahead. In 1998, Colin J. Campbell, a highly respected geologist dealing with oil field analysis for companies such as BP, Texaco, Amoco, together with Jean Laherrère published an article titled The End of Cheap Oil. Shortly after, he recalled, gentlemen from the Pentagon / CIA visited him with a proposal to cooperate. They wanted to know more about the impending peak-oil. They knew the matter was serious. Campbell’s relatively precise predictions materialized in 2006, when we reached the peak of conventional oil production.
However, also this time the convulsions of civilization were prolonged. For optimists, the shale revolution, fracking, deep and arctic oil were another confirmation of human genius and the possibility of unlimited expansion of the species. Changing the definition of oil production to ‘all liquids’ and the inclusion of bizarre products such as biofuels once again gave the impression of unlimited resources. For the more inquisitive observers, it was more like “last drops from the bottom of the barrel.” The IEA’s prediction of production scenarios, with a price of $300 per barrel, did not seem to scare the public. For some, they were another opportunity for tempting profits. The oil price reached $147 a barrel in 2007 and has yet to be beaten. However, it had far-reaching consequences in the form of a global financial and economic crisis. In November 2018, we probably achieved the final peak of production of all liquid hydrocarbons. Peak oil has become a fact.
Germany’s Bundeswehr 2010 publication on the consequences of the peak extraction of critical resources has not reached a wider audience. Instead, we got another installment of mass hypnosis in the form of such oxymorons as “renewable energies” (which for semantic precision are not renewable) and “sustainable development” (whatever that means). The energy transformation, changed by all cases, was called a revolution by its followers. Apparently, none of them noticed that revolutions are by nature bottom-up. The current attempt at energy transformation, on the other hand, is a top-down, elite-bureaucratic decree forced into the economy with an enormous organizational, financial and propaganda effort, and has nothing to do with the revolution. Except perhaps the inevitable failure.
Further memes of the Holy Grails of energy appear in the widespread public perception. From nuclear fusion projects, new categories of nuclear reactors, SMRs, large-scale energy storage to the recently very popular multicolored forms of hydrogen. Already every moderately educated inhabitant of Western countries can cite further possibilities of increasing our chance for a vacation on Mars in the near future, a vision presented by Elon, the most popular techno-utopian messiah. The knowledge on this subject is usually so shallow that it only causes confusion. After all, if all these solutions are at hand, why are we living in times of a global energy crisis? Undoubtedly, if not terrorist inclinations, this can at least provoke rage against such inept politicians. Greta is disappointed, as are her millions of unsuspecting millennials. False hope is a source of frustration expressed by aggression. This generation will inspire a wave of radicalism and eco-terrorism in the near future.
So here we are. Pandemic, wars, revolutions, hunger, migrations, financial crisis, stagflation, new cold war, de-globalization – we got a jackpot in this draw.
In 2011, a public opinion research company surveyed Western countries’ populations on the threats to human civilization. 11% expressed the opinion that events that threaten civilization will occur during their lives. I wonder what the result would be today, but I have no doubt it would be significantly higher. Still, the wider population was not frightened by the fact that in 2018 Sweden mailed instructions to its citizens on how to prepare for war, which was also a pocket prepper plan. The city of New York is preparing for a nuclear attack right now. A day like any other, nothing to see here. Yet all over the world there are no reactions, no demonstrations, no prayers for peace. The masses are hypnotized. Most of the younger generation of Western societies fear climate change. Nobody told them that the greatest threat to their welfare is, paradoxically, an end to environmental rape.
A breakthrough on the legendary World3 Model Standard Run is happening right before our eyes. Except the fall, like in Hemingway’s novel: How did you go bankrupt? Bill asked. “Two ways”, Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly”. “Gradually” was already there, now “suddenly” begins. As if we were watching Seneca Cliff live. Yet most people believe this is just a temporary stumble on the way to permanent happiness and prosperity. Almost every statement of people in the media contains hidden optimism when they make plans for 10, 20 or 30 years, visions of smart-cities, hydrogen-economy, electric cars and universal happiness. Even the so-called pessimists that see the crisis and the forthcoming World War III, believe in the following reconstruction and further progress after the victory of the only right one, i.e. OUR SIDE. Spes decedit ultimo, amorem non moritur.
The pandemic, the genesis of which should be sought in biological weapons laboratories, was presented efficiently and with amazing media synchronization as a natural zoonotic epidemic. At the same time, the health service suffered global Münchhausen’s surrogate syndrome and concluded that injecting 5 billion people with experimental gene therapy is a good idea. And this despite the fact that for the vast majority of them the disease is relatively harmless, while gene therapy turns out to be ineffective and risky. I mean, safe and effective. How the “vaccine”, which should be injected in your body 4 times in 1.5 years is effective, no one explained and few asked.
Meanwhile, the frequency of meetings between political elites, presidents, prime ministers, ministers and a whole host of other notables in various configurations has drastically increased. This could hypothetically indicate greater international cooperation, but I am betting that the number of fires to be extinguished has increased instead. And I’m afraid this is just the beginning. Groups from WEF, G7, G20, BRICS, AUKUS, NATO, B&RI, QUAD, RCEP, ASEAN, to the Bilderberg Group meet to agree current positions, preferences, transactions, exchange information and confirm alliances. The chessboard is dynamically reconfigured. Global industrial civilization, like any dissipative structure, bifurcates. The world will divide. We go back in time. Another Cold War has arrived, and as one California senator noted, the truth is its first casualty. The level of propaganda is so advanced that, as in my youth, we will soon be seeing “TV is lying” graffiti. And this is justified. The elites are trying to prepare for the coming crisis, and this requires the right tools of indoctrination, surveillance and control. We can expect more riots, protests, strikes and demonstrations. More state control. More power of brute force. More epidemic passports, debt, digital currencies, vaccinations, bankruptcies, unemployment and migrations. Less money, food, travel, vacation, products, freedoms, and rights. The polarization of opinions is growing, and the spectrum of the narrative is intensifying the schizophrenia of paradigms. Social discontent will grow. As William Gibson stated, “the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed”. Sri Lanka is the proverbial canary in the mine. It’s just a matter of time before it will also show up in my neighborhood. Klaus Schwab from the WEF is supposed to keep me happy, but I only see it in the scenario of Futurological Congress. I can handle “less meat” with pleasure, but a lack of property is a fresh implementation of techno-fascism based on the proven model of CCP. National Socialism has the same imperative regardless of the flag. Klaus’ pupils, the prime ministers of the Netherlands and Canada, are already eagerly implementing the plan heading straight towards Soylent Green. The new techno-utopian prophet Yuval Noah Harari (Noah is quite symbolic in this context) and at the same time faithful to the Great Reset sect defines the challenges facing humanity as, among other things, providing adequate entertainment for these billions of “useless people”. 4th industrial revolution – biotechnology, automation, geoengineering, brain-computer interface, remote control, complete elimination of privacy, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, transhumanism and singularity will save us. In which metaverse, Mr. Harari? Techno-fascism? It looks more like smart-depopulation than smart-dictatorship.
Meanwhile, the war in Europe became a breeding ground for hysterical psychosis, in which a billion people of the Western world decided that preparations for WW3 should begin. Europe has been organizing Seppuku type economic crises on an unprecedented scale since 1929, followed by the depopulation scenario of the anonymous white intelligence agency deagel.com. These two events are another masterful operations on the open brain of global population. Simultaneously the UN forecasts the size of the human population by 2300, and the optimistic scenario predicts 36.4 billion inhabitants of the planet. Are they already implementing Stanislaw Lem’s scenario in their canteens? Is this a pilot?
The process of absorbing this knowledge was painful. The closest analogy is DABDA (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) described by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in the book On Death and Dying (also published in 1969). In her description, the stages of dying may occur many times, and their sequences are individual for each person becoming aware of their own mortality. I saw it myself in my loved ones who passed away. This happened to me also in relation to the revelation that industrial civilization is dying. Such awareness is an extremely difficult experience. In addition to its own emotional consequences, it also brings deep alienation. It becomes a natural need to share your knowledge with others, including your loved ones. As much as I could, I tried to avoid it, knowing from the descriptions of others who had previously had such experiences. Sharing such information brings only isolation, mockery, and being labelled as a “depressive-manic supporter of conspiracy theories”. Despite my sincere desire, I did not avoid ostracism and contempt, like many others before me. Kassandra, the social nickname that had been given to me half-jokingly in my social circle, turned out to be only a sign of intellectual gaps of my friends. After all, Kassandra was right in predicting the fall of Troy. I was doomed, like her, to a consciousness that no one would accept. No wonder, eschatology has a long history and the list of Armageddon prophets is long.
As part of my personal DABDA I am trying to decipher the history and its mechanisms. The question “how did this happen?” is lingering. How is it possible that we have brought our species and the planet to the brink of collapse? And there is the question of who was responsible.
The story leading to the LtG conclusions seems quite obvious from my current perspective. David Attenborough provides the simplest explanation:
We have a finite environment— the planet. Anyone who thinks that you can have infinite growth in a finite environment is either a madman or an economist.
After 30 years of studying economics, I came to a similar conclusion. Modern mainstream economics is a scholastic sect that created pseudo-science describing economic mechanisms without considering any environmental factors in their models. Economists rationalized that any limitations related to demographics, resources and pollution will be resolved by the market, and ultimately by another sect – academy of scientific progress in cooperation with mammon wizards, i.e. rulers of the financial system. I am writing this with great respect and admiration for thousands of great scientists. We are also a brilliant species after all. Without them, we would still be jogging through the Central African savannahs. And probably the debt-engineers also deserve gratitude, because as Lloyd Blenkfein, president of Goldman Sachs said at the height of the previous global GFC financial crisis, “I’m doing God’s Work”. In fact, I cannot disagree. Without sophisticated debt magic the pyramid of industrial civilization would have collapsed much sooner.
The population of the planet grew exponentially, and we just recently surpassed 8 billion people on the planet for a while. Paul R. Ehrlich published The Population Bomb in 1968. The book received similar intellectual reception to LtG and was recognized as a Malthusian propagation of fear and defeatism.
In 1959, Aldous Huxley published New World 30 years later: The divergence report. Even then he feared the consequences of overpopulation. His conclusions are being realized before our eyes. The mixture of Orwell’s 1984 and the original Brave New World is more and more obvious, only the proportions change. Orwell is increasingly dominating though, and “War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, and Ignorance is Strength” is increasingly evident in current mass media hypnosis.
So who was responsible?
Politicians? People with sociopathic narcissistic disorders voted in to solve short-term problems? The Kissinger Report was published in 1974 for the President Nixon administration reads:
23. The central question for world population policy in the year 1974, is whether mankind is to remain on a track toward an ultimate population of 12 to 15 billion – implying a five to seven-fold increase in almost all the underdeveloped world outside of China – or whether (despite the momentum of population growth) it can be switched over to the course of earliest feasible population stability – implying ultimate totals of 8 to 9 billions and not more than a three or four-fold increase in any major region.
24. What are the stakes? We do not know whether technological developments will make it possible to feed over 8 much less 12 billion people in the 21st century. We cannot be entirely certain that climatic changes in the coming decade will not create great difficulties in feeding a growing population, especially people in the LDCs who live under increasingly marginal and more vulnerable conditions. There exists at least the possibility that present developments point toward Malthusian conditions for many regions of the world.
The politicians knew perfectly well, at least the well-informed ones. As Deng Xiaoping, chairman of the Communist Party of China and architect of modern China, probably concluded that if China does not join the global economy relatively quickly, it will no longer have a chance to end the Age of Humiliation and “take a central position on the world stage”. In 1992, Fidel Castro delivered this speech at the Rio Environmental Conference.
Hunger and riots have been feared by politicians since ancient Egypt. Because who wants to end on the guillotine? Today, an eclipse is not enough to pacify riots. There are much better methods, as progress can be seen in every area. Alternatives to the horsemen of the apocalypse remain. Eugenics, euthanasia, and birth control were supposedly not humanistic enough.
Financial elites? These people were destined to make more money and power. They try their best playing in the sandbox of techno-utopia. The WEF Great Reset does not look promising either. Rather desperate, though logical. Likewise their contingency plans.
Scientists? In search of clues pointing to our destiny, we can also go back to the discoveries of Prigogin, Odum, Georgescu-Roegen and Lotka, great scientists who brought us closer to the knowledge of what life is. And modern authors describe with high precision our dependence on fossil energy to keep the population alive. Joseph Tainter, Matthieu Auzanneau, Craig Dilworth, Charles A.S. Hall, François Roddier, and many others, described how the world really works and the state it is in. They also failed. Apparently the printings were too small. Science has its own limits, regardless of the symptoms of progressive degeneration to which it is subject, like any large organization. Contemporary philosophers, however, dreamed of this future, but apparently they were not invited to breakfast TVs. Yet they were destined to rule Plato’s state.
Humanity? Each of us with internet access had the opportunity to find this knowledge. Some of us, however, preferred to watch cute cats or modern gladiators running on the trimmed lawn. Panem et circenses.
Philosophers? After all, philosophy, as a love of wisdom, was perhaps the most responsible for the awareness of human destiny. The philosophers were proto-scientists, only with progressing specialization migrated to the role of provincial humanists with an inclination to determine the number of angels dancing on the head of a pin. They also failed. As a result, most of humanity lives in Plato’s cave, waiting for the looming vengeance of Thomas Malthus, the first professor of political economy. What an irony.
Or maybe nobody is to blame, and humanity – as in the Greek tragedy – was destined to follow this last journey of Icarus from the beginning?