Friday, February 15, 2008

Responding to Peak Oil and Global Warming: Beyond Power Hierarchies and Economic Growth

Another excellent article by George Monbiot, published in the Guardian and posted on his website connects some dots amongst Peak Oil, global warming, and the looming environmental disaster known as biofuel. The reality of these crises are becoming slowly accepted by the mainstream, as a new report by Citibank points out the reality of Peak Oil. Monbiot wonders, since governments won't listen to environmentalists or even geologists, will they also ignore the capitalists?

Well, I think this depends on exactly what the capitalists say, and what they continue to ignore and deny. Fossil fuels are decreasing in availability--this is, after all, what nonrenewable means. A switch, even a relatively small one, to agrofuels make our overall situation in regard to environmental degradation and human suffering even worse. There are, however, short term profits to be sucked out of both--which begs the question of what comes next? What the capitalists simply can't bring themselves to publicly admit, however, is that we can neither maintain an elite run class structure nor keep powering a growth economy. They are unsustainable and a barrier to human progress.

So that leaves it up to us (the vast majority of the global population) to take this inescapable conclusion--what Jan Lundberg of calls petrocollapse--to the next step, where the only logical response that I can see is to start being honest with ourselves and admit that dominator hierarchies and a sense of superiority over the other was a mistake based on false assumptions, incomplete information, discounted variables, and self-centered individualism. We must get over and then go beyond the idea that a growth economy is necessary for prosperity and well-being, and that reversing or simply doing away with economic growth need necessarily cause panic, disruption, and massive suffering.

We must start making people aware that in fact, we could do something that would have the opposite effects. We could begin moving into a dynamic, holistic integration with the creative processes and energies used by natural systems to be sustainable. This would allow us to tap into natural abundance, including our own creativity, that natural resource carrying capacity constraints actually provide and which should guide the direction of our efforts to develop and improve.

Our reliance on technology is making us less human physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I don't see that as a sign of progress. Our goals should be to do away with cars and auto dependent sprawl and infrastructure, rebuild our cities to be livable and walkable, reduce consumption and material lust, adhere to the precautionary principle, instill quality and craftsmanship into clean zero waste production, provide health and food security while voluntarily lowering birthrates, and reclaim the commons for the foundation of community sovereignty that is an integral part of interdependent networks of consensus based bioregional governance. That the entire world desires this is demonstrated best by the international acceptance of the common values expressed in the Earth Charter principles: respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, social and economic justice, and democracy, nonviolence, and peace.

We must reconnect the human soul to its home in the soul of the Earth. This is the intellectual and spiritual challenge of the 21st Century. This is the promise of relocalization, which also supplies the antidote to corporate globalization and centralized control. That we continue allowing exploitation and destruction of our life support system by pinning the blame on a lack of political courage is both a distraction and a cop-out.

There is no time to abrogate the personal responsibility to begin making new choices, the first of which is to quit legitimizing the status quo. The second is to accept that we actually deserve to enjoy life naturally, and not by depending on antidepressants, stress reducers, pain relievers, and chemotherapy to make living on a despoiled planet of broken relationships tolerable.

1 comment:

jymmyr said...

Thanks for this post, Dave.

I recently read more about 'the truth behind biofuels' in of all places, TIME. A surprisingly good article, I thought. The photo itself tells much of the story.

Keep up your good work!