Monday, June 13, 2022

Refusing To Accept Reality

Andrew Nikiforuk writes that we are trapped between two false narratives:

We are now trapped in what I have called “the poverty of two narratives” that pits the business-as-usual crowd against the green transitionists. This supposed debate avoids unpleasant realities such as rising global consumption and growing rates of energy use in a finite world. Moreover, both groups believe unlimited economic growth is the only answer to our multiplying emergencies.

Both narratives are false because they refuse to recognize a very hard fact. Our present economic model is unsustainable. The business as usual folks think things are just fine:

They celebrate the endless spending of fossil fuels as an economic miracle and political right with no catastrophic ecological consequences let alone any moral quandaries.

Investigative reporter Amy Westervelt documented that the messaging of this death cult has found a new impetus in response to inflation and Putin’s war. Business-as-usual elites now clamour that “American fossil fuel production ensures freedom and national security, high gas prices are caused by climate policy and the solution is more drilling, and climate change is something only liberal ‘woke’ elites care about.”

Amid all this bluster we rarely hear talk about reality. About 20 years ago a real energy transition actually occurred. That’s when the petroleum industry started, by geological necessity, to extract extreme and costly resources such as fracked oil, bitumen and deep-sea oil. As a consequence energy price volatility began to rock the globalization project. Extreme resources make ugly ecological footprints, require mountains of cash and deliver fewer energy returns.

We are getting to the point where all of this is about to implode. But there is another narrative, which Nikiforuk calls the "techno-green" narrative:

Meanwhile the green technocrats offer an equally distorted narrative about the state of things. They get climate change, but pretend a transition to renewables can be achieved without a massive investment of fossil fuels (try making a solar panel or windmill without oil) and the brutal mining of rare earth minerals. They even pretend that inflation, which makes every renewable more expensive, is not a barrier.

They also ignore that it took 160 years to build the current energy system at a time when petroleum and minerals were abundant and cheap. Now they propose to “electrify the Titantic” as ecologist William Ophuls puts it, at a time of expensive fossil fuels, indebted financial systems and mineral shortages.

The techno-greens also pretend that civilization can substitute fossil fuels, which are densely packed with energy, with renewables, which are less energy dense — and do so without subsequent reductions in demand or changes in behaviour. 

It's the problem of demand that trips up both narratives. Both narratives refuse to recognize that there are limits to growth. We cannot continue to expand our population and gobble up resources as we have for the last two hundred years.

Bob Dylan warned us that "it's a hard, hard rain gonna fall."

Image: AZ Quotes


The Disaffected Lib said...

I think Nikiforuk refers to a great die-off in the decades to come.

A few years ago I spoke with an analyst from the Global Footprint Network about overshoot and how it may impact humanity. GFN's research concludes that at some point in the first half of the 70s, when the human population reached 3 to 3.5 billion, we first entered overshoot. Earth Overshoot Day has worsened ever since. This year it arrived on July 28th.

Now, as we're closing in on 8 billion and factoring in gains in longevity, per capita consumption, resource depletion and exhaustion, soils degradation, it's thought that our maximum sustainable population is now around 2 billion, max. That means a 6 billion overload.

Environmental collapse is a global problem. It requires global solutions that may bring mankind back within our planet's sustainable carrying capacity. Those who operate the levers of power in the wealthy countries won't hear of such ideas. To them, equity and rough equality are economy busters.

I have often tried to imagine a world where humans choose to live in harmony with their biosphere. That sort of change is truly revolutionary.

Owen Gray said...

And it requires a selflessness which is very rare, Mound.

Anonymous said...

We definitely can't make it without limits to growth and significant lifestyle changes. But after seeing the fight to get people care about one another enough to wear a mask in public, I've pretty much lost hope in our species! But it's a lovely day out there.

Trailblazer said...

The 'ultra Greens' are as delusional as their right wing opponents.
Years go I attended a Green Party promotion at a cooperative housing project in Nanaimo.
The attitude of those that attended was that we could save the planet by the the use of dry toilets at the bottom of the garden!!
Make no mistake, environmentalists feel just as entitled as their Greed is good counterparts.
President Kennedy was correct when he asked,,

I would take issue with Kennedy over his 'god' inference , unless god is nature itself and the true welfare of man.


Owen Gray said...

I agree without, Marie. Mark Twain was right when he called us "the danmn'd human race."

Owen Gray said...

"Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life."

That was true in 1961 and it's true in 2022, TB.