My Daughter

My Daughter
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Monday, June 30, 2008

Abandoning Cargoism & Embracing Our Options

As humans, we tend to be very shortsighted; driven by short-term gains. We live for today and assume tomorrow will take care of itself. The first thing we must learn to do as humans and custodians of the future is to consider the impact of our present actions on that future and modify those actions accordingly. If we cannot do that, the time will come - and soon - when the future will definitely be worse than the present.

We are largely a Cargo Cult, and we suffer from Cargoism: the belief that carrying capacity can "always" be raised anew by further technological breakthroughs. We blindly copy something, without understanding it, to get some positive effect that we’ve observed.

As Catton observed in his book Overshoot: “People continue to advocate further technological breakthroughs as the supposedly sure cure for carrying capacity deficits. The very idea that technology caused overshoot, and that it made us too colossal to endure, remains alien to too many minds for"de-colossalization" to be a really feasible alternative to literal die-off. There is a persistent drive to apply remedies that aggravate the problem.”

Bottom line: There is no techno-fix. But we are obsessed with the notion that one exists.

As James Kunstler points out: " It only made me more nervous, because this longing for "solutions," strikes me as a free-floating wish for magical rescue remedies, for techno-fixes that will allow us to make a hassle-free switch from fossil hydrocarbon power to something less likely to destroy the Earth's ecosystems (and human civilization with it). And I think such a wish is, in itself, at the root of our problem -- certainly at the bottom of our incapacity to think clearly about these things.”

As Sharon Astyk writes: “That is, we're betting our kids lives on the hope that at some point renewables will become self-perpetuating, even though we have no idea how that will happen, that would require major, multiple large scale technical breakthroughs in many cases that might or might not happen, AND, we're not willing to do it now, when we have energy to burn, lots of money and no crisis - instead, we're going to bet the farm (and lives) on the fact that we'll be able to do this 20 or 30 years into a depletion crisis with much less money, much less oil, much less availability in a society that we simply don't know the shape of. That is, we're going to stick the next generation with the problem, and hope it isn't too serious. But if we can't do it now, when we have lots of energy and lots of money and all the time in the world, the chances are excellent we won't be able to do it.”

The Planning Forum has been discussing our options for years, so we know what they are. It’s time to start embracing those options and learn to cope and adapt to the coming changes.

Trying to dodge the die-off bullet is not an achievement to pursue; it is a detour to the same destination.

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