10 April 2015
A Few Reasons for Optimism
Or why our decadence will be our salvation
The staggering amount of energy we waste means that we could reduce energy 'consumption' by 50% without suffering any real hardship. The (yes, staggering) amount of food we waste, combined with our (not staggering exactly, maybe alarming is better here) overweightedness, means we are assholes but also implies that mass starvation must be a long way off.
Think about all the money and energy invested in the growing / sale / transport of flowers, most of which are barely edible (with or without catsup).
Consider all the chatter in internet chatrooms, all the blogificators and comments sections overflowing with opinion and argument. People have a lot of time to communicate. We used to write long letters to each other, generally to people we cared about but also to those we hoped to influence or engage. Their reply might take weeks, or months, and run to pages and pages of well-conceived prose. Now we tap out telegraphs of a few haphazardly strung together phrases to those we care about, while engaging in lengthy, often acrimonious disputes with strangers over petty matters often of no more than theoretical concern.
The above suggests that we have plenty of time and energy available, and mostly we are hungry for meaning. Humanity appears to be yearning for a crisis and if nature won't send us enough good ones, we will make one ourselves. Indeed it seems we are currently making a crisis for ourselves with nature's involvement, and won't stop until we slam headlong into the brick wall otherwise known as the future. Things could get bad before they get worse. Check this space periodically for important updates on the unfolding crisis.
Please excuse me a moment while I step behind this screen so I can pull a solution to Our Giant Predicament from my hind quarters. Ohhhhh kay, here we go, the obvious answer: we must turn our foolishness to our own advantage. The things we have overinvested in can be leveraged for their most valuable impacts. The conversion of all rollercoasters to efficient low-cost high-speed rail is a perfect example. In the area of food waste, a simple system must be established by which leftovers are passed down the food chain from the richest to the poorest humans and then to beasts, birds and creepy crawlies and ultimately back to the soil where this waste becomes an 'investment' that will bear long-term fruit.
Of course, much of what has been invested in is fundamentally worthless. What about, say, collectible dollhouses? Of what use might they be? Perhaps in small-scale agriculture, they could serve as breeding houses for hamsters or edible grasshoppers. Or we could sell them to rodents or possibly birds under the new mortgages banks are now giving credit-worthy animals. All those hutches full of fine china, arrays of figurines and other priceless knick-knacks scattered across middle America, not sure what we're gonna make from those, although if I'm not mistaken I believe I may have read somewhere that ceramics can make excellent groundfill in certain organic gardening schemes.
In any case we shall make of things what we can, repair bridges as we come to them and generally take things one step (forward and two steps back) at a time. Things gonna get rough and troubled times be a-coming down the tracks (lawd), but come what may we shall muddle through. We shall abide. Because we're humanity, gang, and we can't ever forget that for a single nanotenth of a picosecond. Now let's get out there in the second half and win this thing, let’s go men and women of civilization, let's bring this thing on home.