Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

A radical dissident perspective on various topics. Comments welcome at

Monday, June 27, 2016

Radical Conservation

Humanity is in dire straights. We are at the end of the hydrocarbon era, yet our elites refuse to deal with this reality. This is tragic, yet understandable insofar as doing what needs to be done would result in dramatic changes in the distribution of power, something which our power-obsessed elites will resist in spite of the dire consequences. I have concluded that little can or will be done to stave off disaster.

Having accepted the more-or-less inevitability of disaster in the near future, I am nonetheless puzzled and disheartened by the lack of realistic discussion of the situation among the dissident intelligentsia and future oriented visionaries. There continues to be too much idiotic talk about finding alternative energy sources capable of powering our current and future energy intensive society, while ignoring the necessity to restructure society to radically reduce energy consumption consistent with the renewable sources available.

Society has developed an energy intensive mindset which hinders our ability to deal with this problem. We have already depleted the easily accessible reserves of fossil fuels which took eons of time to accumulate, wrecking havoc on the environment in the process. Massive energy consumption is inherently destructive to the biosphere. Only radical conservation, including a significant population reduction, will permit low energy solutions to become viable. In short, virtually all of the so-called solutions to the problem are focussed on finding alternative energy sources capable of supporting our energy intensive society rather than restructuring our society to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Radical conservation is feasible, replacing hydrocarbons at current levels of usage isn't.

A big part of the problem of the failure to deal with the need to radically reduce energy usage involves the failure to recognize the link between technological development and the exploitation of cheap, non-renewable hydrocarbon energy sources. From the steam engine to cars to airplanes to rockets to computers, the explosion of rapid technological advancement was more-or-less powered by the intensive and wasteful use of cheap energy. Without abundant and cheap energy, most of the technological development of the past two centuries would not have occurred. Yet, the science fiction visions of the future continue to depict a continuing and perhaps accelerating technological advancement based upon the assumed availability of abundant and cheap energy. Frequently, this involves the  development and use of nuclear power in spite of the extreme danger posed by the creation of large amounts of radioactive nuclear waste which remain environmentally deadly for tens of thousands of years, possibly already dooming humanity to extinction. Some of these writers are rocket scientists or otherwise involved in current energy intensive research, and have a vested interest in continuing current energy intensive programs. In short, all talk of humans colonizing the stars or even our own solar system are hopelessly out of touch with reality and divert our attention from how to change our society to be able to live within our energy means. In other words, even our visionaries are merely extrapolating the present into the future without due regard to future energy reality, frequently merely assuming that human ingenuity will provide a technological fix. As it is, we likely have already consumed too much fossil fuels and emitted too much carbon dioxide to escape massive environmental disruption. If so, the lack of a vision of a low energy use society was and is a part of the problem.


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