Industrial civilization is a heat engine producing enormous quantities of dangerous greenhouse gasses that vastly exceed the natural carbon uptake cycle of the planet. No viable civilization saving alternative to this emission cycle actually exists, despite the misleading claims of the renewable energy industry. The production of ‘alternative energy’ sources relies upon the same emissions emitting fossil fuels as present energy sources. Clean energy claims are disingenuous at best and inadequate to meet global energy requirements.
The conversation that never occurs is the one that should be happening throughout the world, namely civilization itself. What it means, what it does, why do we have it, and what should be pruned off and left to die. Escalating energy demands indicate that civilization along with endless growth and the euphemistically coined termed ‘development’ represent the greatest threat to a habitable planet.
In 2021, the world experienced back-to-back disasters with extreme heat, hurricanes, flooding, droughts and an ongoing global pandemic. All of these are directly related to the escalating environmental collapse and excessive solar energy now being absorbed by the planet due to extreme levels of atmospheric greenhouse gasses caused by human emissions. Civilization is now killing off the lifeforms of the planet including humans. Extreme wealth inequality corresponds with extreme environmental degradation and destruction, polluting the entire planet with the poisons of human industry and human petrochemicals agricultural emissions.
Resource extraction and environmental destruction has never been higher. Virtually all of the world’s easily consumed resources have long since been devoured. New technologies designed to wring out the very last drops of fossil fuels, gold, water and rare earth elements have been deployed throughout the world. Industrialists, scientists, engineers and technologists are constantly seeking to find new ways to convert the Earth into human consumables. As such, less then 4% of the worlds wild animal biomass now remains from pre-industrial levels having either been consumed, exterminated, poisoned or pushed out of their habitats to starve to death.
The world is already in crisis. If not for the innovations of mankind wresting more energy, more resources and more food from the Earth, civilization would have long since collapsed, having vastly exceeded the sustainable capacity of the planet long ago. Global leaders, industry executives and business interests seem oblivious to this predicament, insisting on more growth, more consumption and endless streams of profit, converting the remaining resources of the planet into fat bank accounts.
This isn’t a paradox, it’s a disaster which can have only one conclusion. The bullet train of civilization has plunged itself into the chasm of collapse, unwilling and apparently completely unable to put on the brakes. Suicidal self-destructive behavior by one particular species will cause the global extinctions of millions of species. What we are witnessing although oblivious, is the ecocide of planet Earth and the death of all living things.
The ‘resources’ will still be here, all the waste heaps, toxic chemicals, poisoned lakes and streams, inaccessible ores, decaying cities, tar belts encircling the world, floating pollution and invisible greenhouse gasses will still be here long after we are all gone, a lasting testament to our stupidity, carelessness and greed. This will be our true legacy, nothing else we have ever done in our entire history will be remembered. There will be nobody around to celebrate the flags planted on the Moon, or the decaying orbits of a wanna-be space faring civilization that failed to look down instead of up.
I cannot pretend that humankind has done the world any favors by building this civilization that is without a doubt, destroying the only habitat humankind has ever had. There is no other place for humans to go. No other place for humans to survive. The enormous technological and physical obstacles to achieving a viable colony anywhere else in the solar system are completely out of the reach of our present abilities. Airless, hostile, devoid of even bacteria essential for survival, these are the reasons life never evolved anywhere else in the solar system. It’s beyond ludicrous to poison the only living world humans can live on while preparing to do the same somewhere else. These are the signs of a species madness.
This crisis is our own doing. It is not natural, evolutionary or anything else. We did this to ourselves through carelessness, ineptitude and greedy disregard, knowing as we did so that we were destroying our only habitat, but we didn’t care enough to stop and still don’t. The results of this madness is now clear, the world is in crisis from a human population addicted to greed and growth. It’s hard to miss the tell-tale signs of destruction and death, but we’ve become very adept at self-delusions.
There is a cure, but it’s never discussed. Never considered, never offered in any real context or discussion. Instead, empty promises of ‘repairing’ this civilization to perpetuate consumption, growth and greed dominate the talk and virtually all of the planning. But this will never work, you cannot keep doing what you’ve always done and expect any different results then what you have already seen. Something entirely different is needed, an economic model that is not based upon growth but sustainability. It’s painfully clear that the world desperately needs to downsize itself on a truly radical level, which is the exact opposite of what happening throughout the world. Our present economic model is 100% incompatible with a habitable planet and needs to be discarded as soon as possible. Value should be placed on what isn’t being done versus what is being built or created.
A great deal of what humankind does is actually unnecessary and simply caters to our greed. The promises of technology, development and growth never revealed their dark sides until it was way too late for us to actually notice, and even when we did, we didn’t really care. Lives of comfort and ease were supposed to available to everyone, but instead we got inequality, poverty, endless slavery and isolation from nature itself. Now our lives are lived in accordance to the dictates of multi-national corporations and advertisers who brainwash entire segments of the population into thinking they can have the “good life” if they just follow the deceptive programming. Millions, even billions do, never realizing that they are actually being robbed of a quality life. Stuck inside hated jobs, toiling endless away for the rich owners who spread a few crumbs to the proletariat, the riches of the Earth wind up in the hands of the wealthy.
We’re supposed to continue to go along with this set of arrangements, accepting our “place” within society and wealth. If you’re born into a working-class family, you’ll likely die in a working-class family, bequeathing the same to your kids. Destined to work for others, they too will help enrich the elite, everyone chipping away at the remaining resources of the world and the ongoing destruction of the biosphere. That is the price “we” supposedly pay, but it’s actually incorrect. We’ve exchanged our very lives and all the substance of our lives (energy, lifespan, money) for the demands of the larger society, which itself is a component of civilization, all being run and orchestrated by the rich and powerful. We can have a few of our toys and fewer opportunities in exchange, but our lives really are not our own and never were. They belong to the faceless overseers that dictate what “life” actually is for the vast, vast majority of us.
Millions are now just slightly waking up to this horrible reality, quitting jobs and finding new paths for themselves, but they’re all still trapped within the same oppressive economic system of slavery and ownership. Even out of the ‘work force’ – a euphemism for wage slavery – the indentured and indebted find themselves still treading down the same pathways as before, unable to truly escape and live unencumbered lives of real freedom. That’s because everything has had a price tag assigned to is, and to pay that price, you have to indenture yourself somewhere – or starve to death. The contract on life held by this economic system is to control everyting and everybody for as long as possible, wringing out the most profits and the most labor as it can. You are not allowed to escape.
It’s a horrible system, designed to enslave everyone, but due to endless brainwashing and glitter, it’s called progress, growth, development and opportunity. Don’t look too hard lest you see the real ugly the lies underneath. It’s a core element of the world in crisis, economic control, manipulation and greed – all human flaws writ large upon the entire planet.
We won’t – we can’t save ourselves unless we first address this core element. Not a chance otherwise, not even a glimmer of hope. The economy drives civilization and society and the rich wouldn’t have it any other way while driving planetary life towards extinction, even their own. But they don’t care, their lives will be over before that all happens and there’s money and power and greed to be embraced in the meantime. They fully intend to leave a world in crisis as their legacy, it’s their mark upon the world, a lasting impression of death and destruction. They call it ‘growth’, but I call it pure folly.
I fully support those the desire another way that does not destroy the biosphere. That do not put profits ahead of real value. Those that realize that we don’t have to “have it all”, but just enough to provide for what we actually need. That economic model was abandoned centuries ago and unless it returns, we’ll soon have nothing we need.