The paradox

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britinbe's picture
britinbe
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 28 2008
Posts: 381
The paradox

I've been reading the forum posts you all make for a few months having been drawn to it by a feeling that change was happening to fast with too many problems lurking around the corner yet to be faced. For a long time, I have yearned to slow down whenever possible as the pressures of work have often been very high (foreign travel at 65% for example) and remembering how the best vacations have often been simple camping breaks with friends and family rather than the "luxury" of a hotel. I noticed how hobbies were changing so rapidly on a technological level beyond what would be actually beneficial and how the same existed for consumer goods.  Essentially, change for change sake and corporate greed.

After watching and reading Al Bartlett's video and articles on You Tube (most important video ever) and his website, what really hit me was the ethical and moral dilemma we are facing. Looking at Darwinism (dangerous area I know), there is the theory of survival of the fittest and the most adaptable at exploiting new areas to ensure the species thrives. Now man-kind has certainly been successful in embarking on an energy fueled journey down a dead end street. But as we hurtle or (perhaps more appropriately) sleep walk into the brick wall at the end of the street and the impending future; for those that have decided to stand still or to turn around and walk away from the wall, there is a dilemma.

Why do I say, this? Al Bartlett's presentation and articles are clear, succinct and to the point. Many people do not understand the implications of exponential growth even though they rely on its effect in daily life. I, as a scientist always understood the concept but had never applied to the 3Es issue and Al's slide on the factors that can influence population was a smack between the eyes, its a bit of a Utopia vs. a nightmare!

My dilemma, given the limited capacity of the earth to support human life, is it in everyone's interests (folks on this and similar sites) to promote the issue of peak oil etc? How does one wrestle with this paradox?

ceci1ia's picture
ceci1ia
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 7 2009
Posts: 79
Re: The paradox

britinbe, thank you for your thoughtful post. I may not be understanding your questions.

Is
informing people about the problems of peak oil the same as
"promoting"? When I read Kunstler's book on peak oil, I felt
exhilarated--finally someone was telling me the truth.

Is it in anyone's interests to not inform or not discuss uncomfortable issues?

Please tell me more about your thoughts on this.

Ready's picture
Ready
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 30 2008
Posts: 917
Re: The paradox

Excellent question.

My first reaction is one of moderation. I know there are folks out there who think oil will run out tomorrow and we will have Mad Mad in a week. There are others, after all there is always a spectrum, who think status quo and the gov't will save us, or cold fusion will come along, or other such nonsense. I tend to be more down the middle.

I think our actions to help direct our gov't, while it still exists, to understand status quo is not really an option, will take far more people than are currently on board. I believe the number Chris was hoping for was 10% of the population. The more Peter Shiffs a Ron Pauls we have with the backing of the polls, the better our chances are of having a soft landing vs. full steam into a brick wall.

Non-petroleum based carrying capacity of the earth is roughly 1B souls. I doubt we have anywhere near that number thinking along the lines of the CC. If there are roughly 300M in the US and Chris is aiming for 30M, that's only 3% of the earths capacity. That's a bit like picking fly shit out of pepper, don't you think?

Still, there are those who would say it is useless to try to change anything now, our future is now set and there is nothing you can do about it but prepare yourself. Even if you subscribe to this theory, one of the best ways to prepare is to have a group of people who are like minded and skilled all working together to prepare. What better way to get like minded people than to further the cause?

On the other end of the spectrum, folks who don't want to hear / face / understand the realities, unfortunately if they cannot be made to understand, they are probably the folks who won't last long, or who will become a problem to others who have prepared. Understanding where we are headed, doesn't conscience dictate we try to educate these folks? It may not work, but at least you will be able to sleep at night  and worry about the paradox because you did what you could, and ultimately there are less than 1B folks prepared for what is coming, but you and your family are.

Best regards,

Rog

mpelchat's picture
mpelchat
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 10 2008
Posts: 214
Re: The paradox

Hey Britinbe,

You hit the nail on the head and no one likes to talk about it.  Darwinism is the long term solution.  Oil goes away, we can not make the food like we once did and the rest is natural selection/ supply and demand.

Heck if you look at the new simulus package, the new health care will take care of a lot of this by being cost effective based vs the need based system we have now ((look at topic "Health care fascism up for Senate vote")).

Solution for your family and community:

Heirloom seed

renewable energy (wind, solar, hydo, etc.)

safe water source and method to cleanse it

gold

guns

Mike Pilat's picture
Mike Pilat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 929
Re: The paradox

I think most of what's been said is pretty much accurate. We are not running out of all resources overnight, though exponentially increasing population and the potential for fast decreasing resource production can create large shortfalls very quickly. I don't think that we have flat out exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth. But I think there is no doubt that we are basically at the carrying capacity of the earth for the McMansion / suburbia lifestyle. Still, there is a huge difference between voluntary and free downsizing (even of population) and Darwinian or conflict-based downsizing as a result of ignorance and inaction.

Thomas Jefferson reminds us that we do not need hoards of people to recognize the issues: "One man with courage is a majority." This means the courage to discuss and acknowledge unpleasant issues head-on and then (most importantly) the courage to act on this information and beliefs. Information and understanding are step one, and without it, there could be scary social consequences. That is why I strive to inform the 10%. If that 10% understands the significance of the issues on a deep enough level and has the courage to discuss it, that is all we need. The funny thing is that information dissemination is likely akin to exponential growth or a nuclear chain reaction (sorry, I'm an engineer). If each person on average informs just a few additional people, the knowledge can spread rather quickly. With the knowledge and understanding that this site creates comes a responsibililty of sorts. I'm not tasking people with extreme degrees of self sacrifice, but I am saying that the future is truly in our hands more than it ever has been before.

And I find that the recent turmoil, obvious failures of Washington to "fix" the economy, and the great amount of doublespeak has left a great number of people with significant skepticism that we are even shooting in the right direction. People are looking for an explanation and they are looking for truth, and not political demagoguery. I'd like to think that truth is a popular thing. Perhaps it is a test of our own degree of understanding and courage for each one of us to be able to raise these unpopular issues with others. We all have a vested interest. An uninformed, lied-to population that is forced to lose complexity is undoubtedly not a happy place to be. But a common understanding, individual liberty to prepare for the future, and an environment that welcomes change (i.e. a political atmosphere much different from the one we have now) would likely be a unifying force. I have hope, but my hope lies in action and education, not idleness, and not empty political promises.

My two cents.

Mike 

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 486
Re: The paradox
Mike Pilat wrote:

I think most of what's been said is pretty much accurate. We are not running out of all resources overnight, though exponentially increasing population and the potential for fast decreasing resource production can create large shortfalls very quickly. I don't think that we have flat out exceeded the carrying capacity of the earth.

<snip>

Thomas Jefferson reminds us that we do not need hoards of people to recognize the issues: "One man with courage is a majority." This means the courage to discuss and acknowledge unpleasant issues head-on and then (most importantly) the courage to act on this information and beliefs. Information and understanding are step one, and without it, there could be scary social consequences. That is why I strive to inform the 10%. If that 10% understands the significance of the issues on a deep enough level and has the courage to discuss it, that is all we need.

<snip>

 
But a common understanding, individual liberty to prepare for the future, and an environment that welcomes change (i.e. a political atmosphere much different from the one we have now) would likely be a unifying force. I have hope, but my hope lies in action and education, not idleness, and not empty political promises.

My two cents.

Mike 

Mike,

Great post!

On the carrying capacity of earth issue, I think we have exceeded it but simply haven't noticed it due to inertia. The population is what it is only because of the abundant source of fossil fuel energy. That will be declining now.

 On good old TJ ... I couldn't agree more! Acting on principal for the benefit of all is a much more interesting life than status quo!  There will be survivors and they will likely be those that can see their way through the forest of inaction, idleness and the endless empty promises from politicians. I'd love to figure a way to get the CC into Obamas hands!

Coop

Mike Pilat's picture
Mike Pilat
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 929
Re: The paradox

Thanks, Coop.

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, but Obama already knows the content of the Crash Course. The CIA is telling him. These people at the top are not dumb and have access to far better, more privileged information than Chris.

The point is that Obama is a politician like any other. His success is largely resting in his ability to keep enough people happy to let him maintain his power. That is the issue here. There is no harm done in trying to influence Obama, but he would shrug his shoulders as 1,000x more people beg for bread and circus in other areas.

Our message is inherently politically unpopular. Further, consider that many in our society benefit greatly from the status quo. That is why there is so much inertia in the system. The potentially uncomfortable nature of our message is why education is key. We must inform the populous to the point that it becomes politically impossible to ignore these root issues any longer. That is, instead of asking Obama how he's going to provide jobs and fix the economy, we need people swarming and asking him "What about Peak Oil?" Not just imported oil Peak Oil, and all that comes with it. We The People are the change. This is as grass roots as it gets.

And yes, being the change I wish to see in the world is far more interesting than asking our government to determine how to change my life for me.

Mike

britinbe's picture
britinbe
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 28 2008
Posts: 381
Re: The paradox
ceci1ia wrote:

britinbe, thank you for your thoughtful post. I may not be understanding your questions.

Is
informing people about the problems of peak oil the same as
"promoting"? When I read Kunstler's book on peak oil, I felt
exhilarated--finally someone was telling me the truth.

Is it in anyone's interests to not inform or not discuss uncomfortable issues?

Please tell me more about your thoughts on this.

Hi Ceci1ia,

With my head still buzzing over breakfast with my 2 young daughter (1 and 4) and during the laughter and fun over the breakfast bar, the question of what their future holds really hit me.  I don't mean as a passing thought but as something that made me stop.  I was suddenly filled with the protective urge and feeling I had when I first held my girls after their birth.  I recall Aaron in a post a few days ago talking of "Entitlement" syndrome and given that the 3E are overlapping exponential graphs, it doesn't seem out of the realms of possibility that the will have the same downward trend. Can every one have in a world without oil?

In asking my question, I remembered a conversation with a doctor that treated him in his last days. He knew that death wasn't far away but said that he hadn't told him because the hope of seeing his second grandaughter was all he had left.  I respected the doctor's actions and his views.  What I also have to share here is that I live in a different country (a Brit in Belgium, hence the tag, my father lived in the UK), and the doctor's actions distorted the message my father gave me and I missed being there at the end, again I had some tough choices; an ill father who needed my support vs. pregnant wife and young daughter who needed support.  As I say some tough choices.

Looking at the widely banded figure of the world being able to support 1 billion, this could mean dramatic changes in a very short space of time if the exponential decay mirrors the rise.  Using the example of the doctor and my father, the doctor acted in what he thought were my father's best interests.  Hence, I see parallels with the 3Es and so see a paradox.

Sorry for this being a little heavy.  I've no desire to be a "doom sayer" but equally, I desire to look at the collective issues with "rose tinted glasses".  

 

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 486
Re: The paradox

Mike,

Having read the Creature from Jekyll Island I have no counter to your viewpoint as regards the politicians and their knowledge of the situation.  Occasionally I consider that perhaps it might be new news to someone in higher office.  Then reality sets in. Thanks for the dose!

Coop

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