for visiting my web site. In order to give
you a better understanding of what I'm doing here, a few words of
introduction are in order.
When I began the journey that led me to create this site I had a very different view of the world than I have today. Looking back, I describe my outlook a few years ago as one belonging to “a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the Bjorn Lomborg School of Don’t-Worry-Be-Happy”. I was living a contented throw-away lifestyle, secure in the knowledge that human ingenuity was boundless and that the world we lived in was more or less predictable. My major preoccupation was increasing my ability to consume, and I did fairly well at it. My employment in the telecommunications industry gave me faith in both the goals of our industrial society and our ability to achieve them.
The only clouds that darkened my optimistic view were being stirred up by some malcontents who kept talking about something called “Global Warming”. They didn’t disturb my peace of mind too much though, because my casual reading on the subject also dug up a number of other people with impressive-sounding credentials who argued strongly and, to my willing ears, persuasively that the malcontents were mere provocateurs driven by Luddite agendas and a hunger for research grants and academic empires.
I was raised in a strongly anti-authoritarian household, one that rewarded me for taking independent and contrarian positions, so the arguments of the naysayers fell on fertile soil. I lived with the comfortable notion that the few of the malcontents’ alarums that turned out to be real would be readily dispatched by the irresistible human forces of economic and technical accomplishment.
Eventually my self-satisfied bubble was popped by a well-meaning friend, who convinced me to take a closer look at the scientific findings for and against Global Warming (or, as I have come to call it, “Climate Chaos”). This reappraisal changed my mind completely on the subject. More embarrassingly, it revealed some disturbing evidence about those brave “dangerous thinkers” whose disdain for the alarmist theory of anthropogenic climate change I had previously held in such high regard. I realized that they were at best looking at only parts of the story; that in many cases their research was being driven by pre-judged conclusions; and that at worst many were paid shills for the fossil fuel industry. While I did discover that there was some legitimate scientific dispute about aspects of the research, I was rapidly convinced that the evidence portrayed just what the “Global Warming provocateurs” said it did: rapid, man-made climate change caused in large measure by rising atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The revolution in my perspective didn’t stop there, however. Once I was convinced that carbon dioxide was the culprit, the next logical question was, “Where is it coming from?” The answer to that was trivially obvious: it was coming from the coal, oil and natural gas used by our civilization to power its defining industrial might. So then the question became, “How much fossil fuel do we use and how do we use it?” Thanks to the magic of Google, within minutes I was being mesmerized by the dystopian vistas of “Peak Oil”.
The idea that we could be on the brink of a permanent decline in our civilization’s master resource was utterly radical to me. I have no background in the oil industry, or even in geology for that matter, so it took quite a while to wrap my mind around all the minutiae and nuances of that arcane subject. As I persisted in my investigations over the following year, the mists cleared. As the full implications of Peak Oil became clear to me, I was seized by a cold dread. It really did look as though our civilization might be walking blindly towards an abyss.
To alleviate my dread I plunged into an investigation of alternatives. Alternative energy, alternative processes, alternative social, economic and industrial structures. Unfortunately the majority of these investigations were fruitless, which just added to my growing despair. In addition, as the reach of my inquiry broadened I began to uncover a very wide range of similar problems, all of which appeared to be similarly insoluble. Even worse, all these problems appeared to be interconnected and mutually reinforcing. The deeper I immersed myself in the state of our industrial civilization and the natural world that supports it, the worse our situation looked.
I would dearly love to report that I have found the door out of the box we have so carefully and unconsciously constructed for ourselves. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to tell you there is a way that our civilization and its 6.6 billion people can achieve a harmonious balance with all the other life on the planet; that we can establish a truly sustainable existence and can expect to continue on our way with only minor adjustments to our activities and expectations.
Alas, life is not so simple. As I describe in articles on this site, there are hopeful signs and useful actions we can undertake, and it is probable that some form of human civilization will continue well into the future. However, the shape of that existence will be radically different from what we have come to accept as normal. It turns out that we have an enormous ecological debt to repay, the result of the profligacy and lack of comprehension that have characterized this cycle of our development. Unlike human societies, Mother Nature does not forgive the debts she is owed. We will be required to pay in full, despite all our protestations, negotiations and attempts at avoidance.
site is my attempt to outline the shape of the situation we
ourselves into. While it is still a work in
progress, I hope to make a
persuasive case and to present some hints of a realistic future
humanity. I have as much as possible
refrained from offering prescriptions for action. There
are many helpful things we can do as
individuals and there is no shortage of people willing to offer such
advice. In my opinion, though, the only
way we can hope to make correct decisions about our future actions,
individuals or as a society, is if we truly understand the nature of
problem. Advancing that understanding is
my prime purpose.
If you would like to communicate further on any of the topics I discuss, you have two options. You may leave a comment at the link on the main page, or you may email me.
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