Our geopolitical situation
Some quick, incomplete thoughts
Do you agree? Any other ideas? Please let me know in the comments.
Our current situation:
Climate change is spinning out of control.
What is happening now is worse than the worst projections made a few years ago.
The IPCC’s models were conservative because they didn’t take into account feedback loops.1
Many feedback loops in the climate system have now been engaged.
The fossil fuel companies knew fifty years ago that their business would inevitably cause global warming, biodiversity loss, and civilizational collapse.
Eventually these companies will be prosecuted for crimes against humanity, and disbanded / nationalized.
The short-term benefits from fossil fuels — and the massive profits made from them — overwhelmed all ethical and long-term concerns.
According to the ideology of technological progress, there would eventually be “tech fixes” to the problems. As of now, those don’t exist.
In general, it was easier not to worry about the distant future or our grandchildren’s lives.
Corporate executives and lawyers are trained to think and behave like sociopaths / psychopaths.
They are trained to ignore concerns for ethics, human rights, and eco-systems to fixate on the narrow goal of profit-making, which benefits them and their cronies directly.
Even if they were off by a few years, the projections of The Club of Rome, “Limits to Growth,” were essentially correct.
Democratically elected, representative governments are easily corrupted by lobbying interests.
The fossil fuel companies are the most powerful lobbyists and the wealthiest companies.
The military-industrial complex and the fossil fuel industry are deeply interwoven.
Power is as addictive as heroin.
Sociopathic / psychopathic character types — or Asperger-ish types — rise to the top of corporate and government hierarchical structures precisely because they lack conscience and empathy. They are motivated by short-term goals and can’t think systemically / holistically.
The fossil fuel infrastructure is the largest collective technological project humans have collectively constructed.
The “sunk costs” put into this infrastructure over the last 150 years are enormous.
In the 20th Century, oil became the basis of the world economy.
Everything in this society depends on the continued production and distribution of cheap fossil fuels.
Steel, plastics, and fertilizer are all fossil-fuel based products.
American media and Hollywood were propaganda machines that sold the totally unsustainable American way of life around the world.
Over the last century, many countries that were more or less sustainable at a low income and GDP — mainly agrarian — were forced to join the global economy, or seduced into it.
These countries followed the example of the West: They became consumerist, wasteful societies as their economies grew. China and India are examples.
Modern financial Capitalism is based on the limitless growth model that was promised by the extraction of fossil fuel, with its temporary bequest of unbelievable power.
One barrel of oil contains the equivalent of an estimated 20,000 man-hours of labor!
Essentially, fossil fuel acted as an almost limitless supply of slave labor without needing slaves anymore.
“Peak oil” remains a real constraint; most of the easily accessible oil is already gone.
We are already in “the oil end game,”give or take a decade or two.
Renewable energy has relatively limited capacity compared to oil and nuclear energy.
Energy from solar and wind is intermittent and hard to store.
Renewable energy costs more to make (and still requires fossil fuel inputs for mining rare materials and welding steel) and produces far less energy than fossil fuel.
Continuing a post-industrial, consumerist civilization similar to this one will not be possible with renewable energy as the primary energy source.
Nuclear energy has tremendous drawbacks: Examples include Fukushima, Chernobyl, and the current extremely dangerous situation in Ukraine.
In France this summer, the rivers have been too warm to cool the reactors, forcing shutdowns.
It does not seem likely that nuclear energy can scale up to fill the gap in energy production caused by the phasing out of fossil fuels.
Billionaires like Bill Gates and Elon Musk maintain the fiction that we can deal with the climate emergency without fundamentally transforming the economic system.
This illusion will soon become impossible to maintain.
What do we do?
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