Friday, February 25, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Curmudgeon Report

The Curmudgeon Report

Maybe, just maybe, a couple billion people have some awareness of climate change. Maybe, just maybe, 500 million to a billion people have some awareness of peak oil and fossil fuel depletion. Maybe 100 thousand really have knowledge of these and other defining issues. Maybe a thousand people are writing about these issues. It is all speculation and it doesn’t matter one iota.

We will do anything and everything to maintain our present personal level of energy use and the comfort it affords us. We will do anything and everything to the earth, to other people and even to ourselves to continue on this path. And if we don’t have the energy level we see others have, we will do anything and everything to the earth, to other people and even to ourselves to attain that level. The proof of this assertion is simple; we are doing it.

There are relatively few who are personally doing something major to confront these problems. They are uncountable because you will not hear from them. They are not writing on computers or blogging or selling books.

It isn’t about guilt. That is moral stuff that has nothing to do with real the human animal. We, as any life form, will fill the niches where energy and materials are available to sustain our lives. For some it may be about rationalization in the classic defense mechanism definition. Or we may use other modes of self-image defenses to fool ourselves. (See list at bottom)1

It could be hypocrisy. There certainly is a tinge of that. An old tale from the 1970s, a major energy person while flying to an energy conservation conference figures he will use the last drop of gas on the way. Peak oil aficionados and global warming protagonists each flying to and fro to enlighten the world. The humility of self-importance?

Is there self-delusion about our preparedness physically? Perhaps. Self-delusion about our preparedness psychologically? Absolutely. Is it the old standby of cognitive dissonance, a piece of that for sure. It is more like accepted schizophrenia where one foot is in the present world and a toe or two of the other foot is in the future.

The fossil fuel resources we are using will not be available for future generations. The seventh generation concept can easily be narrowed to one or two. They may have access to non-fuel minerals in junk cars and dumps. I remember a woman in a gated community in Arizona during an interviewed in 1974 saying, “I got mine, let them get theirs.” So little changes, aren’t we saying/doing the same thing?

We will believe what we want to believe regardless of the facts.2 The old “my mind is made up don’t confuse me with the facts” act.

It is about power for those of us at the top of the per capita energy pile because our power militarily and economically allows the continuity. It is about privilege because of the circumstances of our birth and the power we are nested within. It is about accepting responsibility for what we are willing to continue to do to the earth, to other people (them) and to ourselves to maintain this lifestyle. We will gouge the earth, pump contaminating chemicals into ground water, poison our rivers, kill our oceans, poison our food, kill our land, pollute our air, kill millions of people, enslave millions more, stuff ourselves to exploding, and cram ourselves into hives far from our natural connections. We are choosing to do this.

Oil Sands Could ‘Delay’ Peak Oil - Candice Beaumont

http://www.hardassetsinvestor.com/features-and-interviews
/1/2419-candice-beaumont-oil-sands-could-delay-peak-oil.html
** from a portion of the interview****

Ludwig: Where else are oil sands located besides Canada?

Beaumont: There are some oil sands in the United States as well. In Utah there
are some oil sands, and in West Texas. But it's harder to produce in the U.S.,
because it's still environmentally very difficult.

In Canada, it's in very remote places, it's 40 below zero, nobody is
going to that neighborhood. In the U.S., in West Texas, people live
where the oil reserves are and so you couldn't have the type of
environmental impact that they are doing in Canada, where they are
basically destroying the environment. If a bird flies over a river near
the oil sands, the bird dies just from flying over the river. It's that
toxic. They are just dumping all the waste into the waterways. If you
did that in the U.S. you would be in jail.

Ludwig: Is that going to be an issue over the long term?

Beaumont: It's an issue. But because it's in remote areas and not
inhabited, they aren't worrying about the pollution, because nobody
lives in that area. So, they can do it.

We do live there, it is the earth.


Few will speak to the problem of population; to the problem of overshoot.3 There are too many of us fostered by fossil fuels, chemicals from fossil fuels and industrial agriculture. It is not sustainable. What to do about population is a two edged sword. On the one hand we need to reduce the population and keep it reduced. Reducing it may be “nature’s job” in the long run. Keeping it reduced is a conundrum that reeks of eugenics.

On the other hand, if we honor the natural world, then do we let nature take its course? Do we continue to populate the planet to bursting and let the remainder after the die off be evolution’s babies? There are those who believe upgrading women’s positions in the world, which is an admirable goal that I support, will bring about a natural leveling of births. Is this possible in a diminishing resource environment? Is this possible given some of the creeds manifest around the world about women’s place?

Population has two facets. There is population density, which is how many people per square area. There is population pressure, which is how much does an individual use of resources. Both demand to be addressed. Both are essentially against our animal nature to address.

There are those who charge that community is the answer. I agree. If each and every community can achieve food, water, housing, clothing and security then once the population concern is settled, then all will be well. We will all live in utopian splendor, having trading fairs and exogamous matings. Hmmmmm. We simply cannot get there from here.

If humanity is seen as a person who is 100 years old, the first 99 years of her life would have been spent as gatherer and hunter. She would have only one year to adapt to the changes in family structure, living arrangements, child rearing and all the other pressures and stresses that the shift to agriculture brought. This same 100-year-old person would have five or six days to adapt to the enormous changes brought about by the industrial revolution. And less than a day to adapt to the mass of information made available by electronics. Each adaptation moves us further away from the original social and physical environment of our emergence.4

I hope those that are guiding people towards internal strength and spiritual connection are accomplishing their goals. We are dealing with addictions and obsessions that have been ingrained in each of us since birth. It is the WAY we know. There is a good reason why most addiction counselors have walked the walk. They have been down the hole, have climbed out and know the games.

We all hope for a light at the end of the tunnel. That the world can be like the cooperation that took place during World War Two. I fear it will be more like the world during the fourteenth century during the time of the black death. There is no light at the end of this tunnel.

When I was four years old, I went to my mother and told her there was no Santa Claus. We lived in Florida with no snow, no chimney, it simply didn’t make sense. She said, “You are right, but don’t tell the other children.” Kids, there is no Santa Claus.


NOTES
1 Our mind uses these to protect our view of ourselves and/or the world around us. It is the same sort of protection that the body does to maintain its wholeness including the shock we go into when badly injured.

DEFENSE MECHANISMS

ACTING OUT: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by acting without reflection or apparent regard for negative consequences.

ALTRUISM: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by dedication to fulfilling the needs of others, in part as a way of fulfilling his or her own needs.

DENIAL: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by refusing to acknowledge some aspect of external reality that would be apparent to others.

DEVALUATION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by attributing exaggerated negative qualities to self or others.

DISPLACEMENT: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by generalizing or redirecting a feeling about or a response to an object onto another, usually less threatening, object.

DISSOCIATION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by temporary alteration in the integrative functions of consciousness or identity.

HUMOR: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by emphasizing the amusing or ironic aspects of the conflict or stressor.

INTELLECTUALIZATION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by the excessive use of abstract thinking to avoid experiencing disturbing feelings.

PASSIVE AGGRESSION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by indirectly and unassertively expressing aggression toward others.

PROJECTION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by falsely attributing his or her own unacknowledged feelings, impulses, or thoughts to others.

RATIONALIZATION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by devising reassuring or self-serving but incorrect explanations for his or her own or others’ behavior.

REACTION FORMATION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by substituting behavior, thoughts, or feelings that are diametrically opposed to his or her unacceptable thoughts or feelings.

REPRESSION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by being unable to remember or be cognitively aware of disturbing wishes, feelings, thoughts or experiences.

SOMATIZATION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by preoccupation with physical symptoms disproportionate to any actual physical disturbances.

SUBLIMATION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by channeling personally unacceptable feelings or impulses into socially desirable behavior.

SUPPRESSION: The individual deals with emotional conflicts, or internal or external stressors, by intentionally avoiding thinking about disturbing problems, wishes, feelings, or experiences.

Ego Mechanisms of Defense: A Guide for Clinicians and Researchers
by George E. Vaillant, 1992

2 “When Corrections Fail: The persistence of political misperceptions” Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler. factsBackfirenyhan-reifler.pdf

3 Catton, William. 1980. Overshoot. University of Illinois Press. Chicago.

4 http://sunweber.blogspot.com/2010/05/superman-plays-with-kryptonite-dice.html
This is a paper I wrote around the middle of the 1990s.