I wish we could talk about it, in the dark somewhere preferably, to avoid being vilified by the bullying that mysteriously appears to enforce the silence,… and prevent our true celebration of life on an interconnected planet…
There’s a remarkable pattern of historic scientific breakthroughs concerning how we fit into earth’s energy budget, that were deliberately discredited by social attacks. Pejorative gossip has been used to fight otherwise clear and valuable insights, over and over.
It’s useful to look why it is socially unacceptable to see how we fit into earth’s energy budget. It seems to point to exactly what people, mistakenly, think they’re avoiding, and find so objectionable.
It doesn’t make sense, actually, to hide from our being just one part of nature, or avoid seeing how unprofitable it would be to need ALL the earth’s energy resources for ourselves, as we are presently acting. …. But people go to the mat over and over to defend a social system that can’t remain stable without taking ever more of the energy resources of everything else around it. It’s always been very clear why that would become unprofitable, as it now has,… but we *still* can’t talk about it.
Malthus pointed out that there are natural limits to food. Jevons pointed out how being efficient exhausts energy resources even faster. Keynes pointed out that at natural physical limits money has to come to a limit too.
Those ‘ugly’ insights of leading scientists were set apart from the rest of their major contributions to science, cut out and discarded by the social environment around them. Science is after all a social activity and subject to public censorship that kills publishing and funding.
The same thing happened with the Limits to Growth discussion of the 1970’s, proven valid over time. It was socially discredited and removed from public discussion and public policy regarding economic stability and the environment.
Even the elementally simple principle of global warming, heat retention from greenhouse gasses, and the IPPC process for understanding the pace and options, were derailed by social denial of natural limits. The whole IPCC process was also actually altered to promote ever growing energy use, to satisfy the funding agency, rather than examine adapting to natural limits as an option.
That major concession to the cultural and institutional “forces of blindness”, more eager for money than a world to live in, now leave the world agreeing in principle to the much delayed need to act on climate change, with hands tied and unable to take any of the practical steps. Across the board, science today is being used to lead the ever more rapid exhaustion of the earth as a resource, blinded by social prejudice preventing public discussion of how our budgets might fit with those of the world around us.
To our great detriment our usual faith in “the truth will out” has proven to be “the truth gets buried” over and over and over, for discussing our place in the earth’s energy budget. We can’t even publicly talk about it!
What’s actually being avoided, though, seems to come down to something quite simple, and quite non-threatening. That’s the oddest part the monumental fears piled up to keep us from considering the matter. They are quite unwarranted.
What all the mountains of evasion appear to be about is just blocking simple curiosity, about what we are outsourcing when we earn and spend money, to just asking: “How do we fit into life?”
“How do we fit into life?” Just isn’t a threatening or evil question at all, honest!
If you look at it scientifically, it’s best to start thinking of what we outsource from the environment as we earn and spend money being “about average” and not “zero”. The math works out that way, and the economics does too, that every dollar mostly comes from and goes to the diverse spending of people, making all money uses count for about average resource use per dollar.
That change in attitude is bigger than it might first seem, though. If you estimate what services you get from the rest of the world with “zero” as your starting point, and see it as “impacts”,… then you’re tempted add nothing to what you count that someone can’t prove to you… hmm.
Your goal becomes to be as unaware of what physically connects you to life as you can, taking no more responsibility than the next person will. It leads you to reduce what you see of your extended use of other things by denying all you can find excuses for, impishly allowing only one grudging admission after another when someone shows you proof of it… Sadly, that does actually fit how professionals do actually go about assessing our roles in the world, picking and choosing what to prove or ignore, and rubbing out things we don’t like.
From a scientific view, that becomes a very large effort, that’s also a real waste of time, guaranteed to give you highly mistaken answers because you miss so much even when trying to count it all. The main harm is how it makes you think the question being posed is “how much evidence can one avoid”.
The real question is “how can I see my whole effect” to see “what connects me to life”. That question is much simpler, more truthful, satisfying and productive on balance. For that you start from “about average”, not from “zero”, and then exploring it expands rather than shrinks your view.
Treating the value of money as inherent in the tokens themselves, rather than as an equal share of all the resources you can call upon the world to use for you, is where our little evasions come to have accumulative effect. It treats money as a separate reality, and presents our world as something to separate ourselves from, rather than be part of. The latter would be a FAR more profitable approach in the end, of course.
Looking for how you are part of the world is the choice that allows economies to become ecologies, and as ecologies potentially live forever as they continue to evolve. Advanced human societies have behaved more like short lived organisms, for thousands of years, growing rapidly to then die as quickly. It fits the picture of people living with social pressures keeping them from looking at what their money is connected to, fighting recognition of any effect that that can’t be proved, avoiding blame.
“About average” is the obvious, easier, and far more accurate place to start your thinking about your use of the earth, skipping over entirely the trap of viewing your connections to life as being “impacts”, estimated as close to “zero” as possible. That’s just what our image of the earth and the life around us becomes, when seeing our connections through a lens of deniability.
Well, … so I hate to mention it and all, but…
and… see yourself as outside of life if that suites you,
but how we connect is more likely to be “about average”.
We can’t really change that without moving the whole.
And what we’d then have to ask is “What moves the whole?”, and for finally asking the right question find some real answers.