We are all witnesses to the Great Dying, a sixth mass extinction, the last one being 65 million years ago which wiped out the dinosaurs. This is not hyperbole; it is a defining feature of our age.
Traits ingrained in the basic human condition may be preventing people from supporting more action against climate change.
We have witnessed over just the last three years, hypothetical Abrupt Climate Change become empirical, where the evidence is so overwhelming, it barely has anything to do with actual observable science anymore, and has everything to do with human psychology, or rather, our shared pathology in the hopium of indefinite growth and progress. And this is why the whole concept of climate change will be, very soon, completely refashioned in context to geo-engineering, if for no other reason, than it sadly now has both the logical and moral high ground compared to doing nothing. Amazing!
Patzek is Professor and Chairman of the Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering Department at The University of Texas at Austin. He also holds the Cockrell Family Regents Chair #11. Between 1990 and 2008, he was a Professor of Geoengineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to joining Berkeley, he was a researcher at Shell Development, a unique research company managed for 20 years by M. King Hubbert of the Hubbert peaks. In November 2012, Patzek became President of ASPO, the Association for the Study of Peak Oil.
After years of being a therapist and a mother, I’ve learned that shouting “wake up” doesn’t work. One of my most dispiriting realizations was that while I wanted desperately to preserve the world I loved, I didn’t even know how to share this fact with my closest friends.
We’ve blown past the mileposts for global peak oil, says Kunstler in his new book, Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation, and we expect technology to save us. Whether our cheap-oil lifestyle falls quickly with a single knockout blow or crumbles slowly with a battery of jabs, Kunstler is certain of one thing: We’re about to be walloped. We’ve definitively entered the epoch Kunstler calls “the long emergency,” an extended era of economic contraction and social stress caused by shrinking resources. Yet we refuse to see this, largely because we’re spellbound by the mighty systems we run with technological magic. Peak oil got you down? No worries; we’ll run those iPads with some other undiscovered, inexhaustible means of power. Writers Paul Smyth and Judy George spoke with Kunstler about the end of the fossil fuel era and whatever comes next.
Looking around at those… around me – family, friends, acquaintances and random faces in the crowd of apathy – the level of complacency is so concentrated I can taste it, yet I can’t even describe how bad it tastes. I’m not really talking about the understanding people lack about the numerous predicaments we face as a species – that’s definitely there too… but what I’m talking about is even worse. It’s the assumption that we can just go about our day to day lives, doing our day to day work, having our day to day fun… and humanity will eventually heal itself, no matter how bad the injuries sustained.
And here is the dilemma we face as a civilization. We march collectively toward self-annihilation. Corporate capitalism, if left unchecked, will kill us. Yet we refuse, because we cannot think and no longer listen to those who do think, to see what is about to happen to us. We have created entertaining mechanisms to obscure and silence the harsh truths, from climate change to the collapse of globalization to our enslavement to corporate power, that will mean our self-destruction. If we can do nothing else we must, even as individuals, nurture the private dialogue and the solitude that make thought possible. It is better to be an outcast, a stranger in one’s own country, than an outcast from one’s self. It is better to see what is about to befall us and to resist than to retreat into the fantasies embraced by a nation of the blind.