|Maxfield Parrish clouds above the farm during evening chores|
It's always nice to know someone has thoughts which mirror my own, particularly when nobody that I personally know seems to share them. It's even better when these people have a far bigger bull-horn than I.
I've only read about it (at this point there isn't even a trailer available) but truth-teller Michael Moore has partnered with Jeff Gibbs to put out a new film, Planet of the Humans. As I understand it, the thesis of the film is that the push towards "renewable" energy is misdirected, since such energies are neither truly zero carbon, renewable, nor capable of supporting civilization in its current form. The film suggests that a reduction in expectations is far more important, and I agree.
I just learned of another opinion piece written by Jonathan Franzen in the New Yorker which mirrors my own thoughts as of late. What if we stopped pretending? takes a look at the reality of our situation and our track record to-date, concluding that we have not and will not do what it takes to save our own lives.
It's especially prescient, as I now feel as if I've been pretending to do some good over the last decade with my attempt to eliminate fossil fuel dependency from my life. When everyone around me from my closest family members to casual acquaintances all seem to be enthusiastically embracing the benefits of fossil fuels, my own hard earned yet meager efforts are not going to have any significant impact beyond that of self-deprivation.
It brings me no comfort, but I think I've finally come to an understanding of why people are not going to do anything to save themselves. Sure -- some of us will do the usual protesting or nibbling around the edges with the purchase of a Tesla, or perhaps start farming with horses, but we will not strike at the core of the problem.
People like to focus on eliminating the frivolous use of fossil fuels (i.e. flying for vacations or powering mega-yachts), but that's not the bulk of what they're used for. The fact of the matter is that our lives are now 100% dependent upon fossil fuels, whether for food, shelter, clothing, water, or any of life's other essentials. Fossil fuels are what enabled our population to explode to nearly 8 billion from the pre-industrial level of about 1 billion. That's why I'm certain we will continue to embrace them as their extraction grows ever more harmful (fracking, tar sands, deep-water drilling, etc) and ever less profitable (fracking for oil in the US has never made a single penny).
If we're to eliminate fossil fuels in a very short time frame -- as is clearly the only action to offer even a slim chance of continued survival -- we will be killing our neighbors and ourselves. Nobody is willing to do that, so we continue our support of the status quo of their continued use. We can no more expect to sustain our inflated population with "green" energy than we could expect a vat of yeast to thrive in a solution of nutra-sweet. Yes, there are alternatives to our current way of life (they're what sustained us before the industrial era), but they're not capable of supporting 8 billion people.
This is precisely why politicians are unable to enforce a top down change. It's also precisely why we do not make significant changes at the individual level. It's the reason that two cars still reside in my driveway despite my contempt for them and what their use is doing to our future. The decisions that doomed us were made centuries ago, when the lure of ease and convenience afforded by fossil fuels first took hold.
Though I will never be able to embrace what is now considered a "normal" American lifestyle in good conscience, I now wonder if it's possible for me to shrug it off and accept that fates are already sealed. "When in Rome...", as the saying goes.