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It’s the end of the world as we know it December 7, 2006

Posted by Andreas in Environment, Society.
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… and I feel fine!

Most of the people I know agree that the world is a pretty fucked up place in a whole number of ways. The violence, the exploitation and the wars. Against poor people, women, children, the environment, workers, animals. The racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia…

Baring the odd psychopath,I think everyone to the left of Hitler would agree that these things are entirely undesirable for individuals as well as society and the planet as a whole. So what do we do in the face of this outrage?

We spend US$5 billion on Christmas presents for our pets!

Yesterday I was sitting in a traffic jam thinking about resources (you’re thinking “Nerd Alert”, I know, but bear with me). It wasn’t a big traffic jam at all, just some sluggish traffic going over Kloof Nek, but suddenly the scale of our society’s oil addiction became so very obvious.

I probably put about a hundred bucks’ worth of petrol into my car every week. I think I’m a fairly ordinary car users, so that’s probably very similar for all of the other cars that were creeping up the hill with me, and for all the other ones in all the other towns and cities around the world – all 400-600 million cars on this planet today, constantly guzzling away the go-juice.

That is one shit-load of petrol and therefore oil! And I’m not even thinking about all the other things we use oil for in huge quantities, like plastics, fertilisers and all sorts of other stuff – we, as a civilisation, are completely dependent on it.

The thing is, we’re running out of oil and life will never be the same again. Most experts think that worldwide oil production has already peaked or will do so in the next few years.

Peak Oil

Global oil production will start to drop, while consumption keeps on accelerating. The looming end result is obvious.

Now what?

“No problem,” you say, “our scientists and engineers and politicians are aware of all this and they’re working on solutions: hybrid cars, hydrogen fuel cells, carbon trading and more”.

The spanner in the works is that none of these alternatives are truly sustainable in the long run either. OK, my thinking here may be somewhat tainted by the fact that I’m reading Derrick Jensen’s new book Endgame (Volume I – The Problem of Civilization) at the moment.

Great book. Well written and totally challenging on all sorts of levels! One of his basic premises is that “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that any social system based on the use of non-renewable resources is by definition unsustainable: in fact it probably takes anyone but a rocket scientist to figure this one out.”

I’m no anarcho-primitivist (yet – hahaha), but I can’t but agree with a lot of his points. So what am I doing about all of this and my own role in it? Honestly: I’m not sure yet, but I’m working on it!

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