Monday, September 10, 2012

“There’s No Tomorrow”

Animated video explaining peak everything, how it came about, and what we should do about it.

After 31 minutes patiently detailing why none of our available alternatives are adequate, the video concludes:

The issues of energy sources, resource depletion, top soil loss, and pollution are all symptoms of a single larger problem: growth.

Exactly! Unfortunately, this is where a natalist blind spot prevents an obvious conclusion.

As long as our financial system demands endless growth, reform is unlikely to succeed.
Reform? What reform? We just spent half an hour learning how no reforms can succeed. Our dire situation is caused by the way we count our money? Financial systems are artificial—life support systems are based on reality. Blaming economics for our overshoot of carrying capacity ignores the root cause, perhaps because the subsequent solution is unthinkable.

What then will the future look like? Optimists believe growth will continue forever without limits. Pessimists think that we’re headed toward a new stone age or extinction. The truth may lie between these extremes.
Is it possible that society might fall back to a simpler state, one in which energy use is a lot less? This would mean a harder life for most, more manual labor, more farm work, and local production of goods, food, and services.

It could also mean a massive dieoff, but never mind what those pessimists think.

What should a person do to prepare for such a possible future? Expect a decrease in supplies of food and goods from far away places. Start walking or cycling. Get used to using less electricity. Get out of debt. Try to avoid banks. Instead of shopping at big box stores, support a local business. Buy food grown locally at farmers’ markets. Instead of a lawn, consider gardening to grow your own food. Learn how to preserve it. Consider the use of local currencies, should the larger economy cease to function, and develop greater self-sufficiency. None of these steps will prevent collapse, but they might improve your chances in a low energy future, one in which we will have to be more self-reliant, as our ancestors once were.

How quaint. Seven billion of us will roll up our sleeves and live as one billion did back in our ancestors’ day. In keeping with the moderate, even euphemistic tone of the video, they could have concluded, “Because none of these steps will prevent collapse, consider carefully before increasing your family size.”

Instead, we are given a few good-but-admittedly-inadequate steps from one of the popular “100 easy things you can do” lists.

Either the evidence failed to convince its own makers, or they had to pander to natalist misconceptions to get it approved by the producers. Imagine ending with, “And so, creating even one more of us can’t be justified at this time. Let’s take care of everyone who’s already here, and make the most of our unfortunate future together.”

Perhaps the video would have been rejected by most as anti-baby and anti-human, but there’s too much at stake for us to continue ignoring the effects of our redundant breeding. The luxury of time for incremental advancements in awareness is running out with the rest of our resources.

My advice for the coming weird times

Advice for benefit of individuals and their community:
Don’t create more offspring.
Downsize possessions, but increase storage of long-lasting necessities.
Develop a support community—especially among your neighbors if possible.
Increase alternative transportation choices and use motor vehicles efficiently if at all.
Gain useful skills and the tools for them, specializing in personal aptitudes.
Retrofit dwelling unit for conservation and efficiency—perhaps for security
Grow and preserve food.
Reduce throughput of money. Avoid debt.
Have fun and enjoy life.

Advice for the benefit of society and biosphere:
Don’t create more offspring.
Reduce consumption and environmental impact in whatever ways seem best for your situation.
Mitigate negative human impacts in whatever way your situation allows and inclination leads.
Move toward a plant-based diet.
Avoid acquiring more companion animals.

I welcome your additions to the above advice, as well as feedback on my analysis of this outstanding video’s conclusions.