Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I have been trying to understand the inaction worldwide to the convergence of various issues facing humanity and the earth today – population overshoot, clean water shortage, climate change, fossil fuel depletion, mining the last dregs of oil and natural gas, ocean acidification, ocean rising, species extinction, massive environmental degradation of life support systems, soil denaturing and loss, inequality, continual war to name a few important ones.

The quick and dirty.  There are no viable solutions unless everyone, I mean everyone, reduces their energy consumption, non-fuel mineral use, birthrate and pollution of air, water and soil.  This ain’t gonna happen!

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.
From: The Curmudgeon Report

Many parents work hard to assure their children’s future.  Many if asked would give their lives for their children and grandchildren. If a culture/society is at threat from outside forces, starvation or environmental stress, this support for the next generations falls by the wayside.  However, in general, mothers, fathers and grandparents will protect the future of their offspring.

We are surrounded by a litany of threats to the future - fracking, deep ocean drilling, tar sands; pollution from mountain top removal, destruction of natural resources, dying oceans, climate disasters of epic proportions, dangers of genetic engineering; corporate control, and population overshoot to name a few of the less subtle. Some would have more technology to combat these problems or at best forestall them.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Albert Einstein

For citizens of developed nations, this is about lifestyle – energy and other resource consumption – will we change our lifestyle for the children and grandchildren’s future?  NO.

And now for a rousing chorus of “Yes, but” from all the morally and ethically indignant.  .  .
There is no legitimate “Yes, but .  .  . 
You can’t get there (wherever there is) from here!

If we don’t do this equitably globally, there will be riots and revolts.  Oh, we aren’t even beginning to do it equitably.  Oh, there are riots and revolts. 

This from a friend:  I asked her how she handles her impact of the earth.  This is a person who has lived off the grid for decades. She is a major and very knowledgeable gardener.  Makes maple syrup, cans, splits wood, and has done this for decades. She is an amazingly capable person and is wonderfully honest and sincere.

Hi John, to try to answer your question.....I can't and don't want to live a life in a "cave". To totally disconnect from society, which is pretty much what you would have to do to live without any use of fossil fuels, is something I wouldn't be able to do. To give up driving, never seeing some of my children or grandchildren is not something I'm willing to do. Do I realize I am contributing to greenhouse gas when I drive or God forbid, fly? Yes. How do I wrap my head around that fact that I am not fixing the world? That I am adding to the problems of the world? I try to make good decision when I use resources. Example, I don't go to town for just one thing....usually. Try to combine chores. I feel good that I have renewable energy on our house...sure it took mining to get the products to create the panels but what is the alternative?.....coal fire power plant for my lights (and etc etc) or sit in a cave? I guess I'm choosing the lesser of two evils. I'm far from being perfect! but I feel the work I've done, and the life style I've chosen to live is respectable. I hope it has done some good...some where or for someone. I try to give back more than I take.....but that is very debatable if scrutinized carefully. I guess I'm saying I'm doing the best I can with the talents I have. And when the hammer comes down???? I guess I'll play it by ear. And be on the team that tries to help others and carry on/survive/ remake a life....and not be on the marauders team. Almost everything we do involves fossil fuels. I'm going to the eye doctor tomorrow....burn gas to get there...she'll exam my eyes with equipment that took fossil fuels to make. I'll probably have to get new glasses that took fossil fuels to make. Not to mention the education the doctor got....all the resources involved in that.... But what is the alternative?...stumble through life? Not be a very full functioning person?  Like I said before doing the best I can...trying not to be too lazy, too blinded, too indifferent. Not really denial....not really who gives a f--- but....       Marcia

From me.
Marcia - I would have answer with similar reasons.  I would add:
1. I enjoy the power that my world affords me.  I know it makes me at the top of the heap energywise.  I know it entails a certain sense of privilege.  
2.  I enjoy the comfort my world affords me.  Even when I lived off-off-the grid, I was still floating on top of a sea and bed of fossil fuels that made it possible.  I wasn't initially aware of that but it slowly dawned on me.
3. I enjoy preparing for the eventuality of climate and peak change.  I know deep in my gut that it won't be pleasant and know that there is not a damn thing I can do to change it.  And there never was, it is the nature of the beast (life that is) see:
4. I have had quality medicine and medical. I would not be alive without them.
5. Relatively safe food, clean water and access to them.
6. I feel I have been blessed with living in the age I have and where I have.  Life has been open with many possibilities.  My generation may well be the last to have such access.
7. All of the above and I am truly at the end of life for myself.  And am having a ball.

We are on a trajectory that simply is what it is.  All studies show this is what happens to "civilizations".  It just has never been this global and consequently this dire.
It is tough for you and Kathy (my partner), with children and grandchildren that you love and would do anything for, to realize the inertia of this train we are on.

Several excellent books and articles many with excellent bibliographies:

Brafman, Ori and Brafman, Rom.  2008.  Sway: the irresistible pull of irrational behavior.  Doubleday. N.Y.

Fonseca, Eduardo Giannetti da.  2000. Lies we live by : the art of self-deception. St. Martin’s Press. New York.

Goleman, D.  1985.  Vital Lies Simple Truths.  Simon and Schuster. N.Y

Heffernan, Margaret.  2011.  Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril.  Walker.  N.Y.

Hirstein, William.  2005.   Brain fiction : self-deception and the riddle of confabulation. MIT Press. Cambridge, Mass.

Janoff-Bulman, Ronnie.  1992.  Shattered Assumptions.  Free Press. New York.

Kurzban, Robert.   2010.  Why everybody (else) is a hypocrite.   Princeton.

Lifton, Robert Jay and Greg Mitchell.  1995.  Hiroshima in America: A Half Century of  Denial.  Avon. N.Y.

Lockard, Joan S. and Paulhus, Delroy L. Editors.   1988.  Self-Deception: An Adaptive Mechanism.  Prentice Hall.  New Jersey.

Mele, Alfred R.  2001. Self-deception unmasked.   Princeton University Press. Princeton, N.J.

Nicholsen, Shierry Weber.   2002.  The Love of Nature and the End of the World.  MIT Press.   Cambridge.

Norgaard, Kari Marie.  2001.   Living in Denial.  MIT.  Cambridge.

Spector, Michael.  2009.   Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives.  Penguin.  N.Y.

Tavris, Carol and Aronson, Elliot.  2007.   Mistakes Were Made (but not by me).  Harcourt. N.Y.

Triandis, Harry Charalambos.  2009. Fooling ourselves : self-deception in politics, religion, and terrorism.  Praeger Publishers. Westport, Conn.

Trivers, Robert.  2011. The Folly of Fools.  Basic Books.  N.Y.

Twerski, Abraham J.  1997.  Addictive thinking : understanding self-deception.  Hazelden. Center City, MN.

Vaillant, George. 1992.  Ego Mechanisms of Defense: A Guide for Clinicans and Researchers. American Psychiatric Pub.

Watzlawick,P.; Weakland, J; and Risch, R.  1974.  Change: Principles of Problem Formation and Problem Resolution.  Norton.  N.Y.

Zerubavel, Eviatar.  2006.  The Elephant in the Living Room.  Oxford. London.   

The Many Faces of Denial by Paul Chefurka

In Defence of Inaction by Dave Pollard

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