Replacing one bad idea with another bad idea – Is that wise…?

Albert Einstein

First Coal, then Oil, then Gas, then Tar sands-Oil, then Fracking Gas – replacing one fossil fuel with another one, with another one, and another one – Is that going to fix it…?

Re-using ideas again and again, isn’t that somehow the essence of Industrialism – “mass-production”…

When looking at the current equation there seems to be only one fixed variable – that our current “western” lifestyle is untouchable – while all other variables such as depletions of species and resources and destruction of our climate “apparently” are changeable… or can be disregarded…

…Any chance that the situation in reality is the other way around…

I am neither a scientist nor a mathematician, but it doesn’t take rocket-science, just connect some of the dots and use the basic arithmetic from school – It just doesn’t “add up!”

At least I am pretty sure we need to look elsewhere to find the solutions we should go for.

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples…

Here I am going to use the same “silo-thinking” as seems to be common practice – to worry about my specific issue only, without even scanning the consequencs to others…

Cars
Cars
Is it a fair assumption to say that the 1 Billion cars we have today are “necessary”? – In such case we need within a couple of decades 1 Billion new ones or, if you take into account the 166,000 “fossil-fuelled” cars, currently being produced daily probably some more, this time equipped with 1 Billion+ electrical batteries, not unlikely including some Lithium in them – is that the right way to solve our “emerging” problem with scarcity of resources? Are we going to generate that “extra” electricity also with photovoltaics? And what about the developing countries, do they want cars as well… (More about cars in a previous article – Link)

Flying
Deforestation 2
UNWTO stated in a recent report that 2012 we made at least 538,200,000 international airline journeys (>52% mainly for pleasure) and combined with national air travel close to 3,000,000,000 – if we are going to fuel them with bio-oil from the seed of Jatropha Curcas, from the nuts of the Babassu-tree or Coconut palm-tree we would need to clear an area larger than the size of France (>547,000 sqKm) somewhere in the tropics for the plantation, and that’s just to keep up with our current traffic – is that going to affect nature and the different species? What about all the existing palm-oil plantations, and what about the Orangutans? What about the developing countries, do they also want to fly…

It is easy to be Ironic or even Sarcastic at the situation, but this is reality, and for every day we continue to hesitate on wich direction we should take, or continue to “truly believe” that there will come “a technical solution” in the future, allowing us to have infinite growth in a finite environment – 166,000 more fossil-fuelled cars hit the roads (some are of course “scrapped” as well) and >150,000 people (+3%/year) more make flying into a “habit” or increase their current behaviour…

There is NO Planet #2…

Regardless if you think Climate Change is real or if you are a “Climate Change denier”, regardless if you are from the US, EU, Africa or China, regardless if you are a Democrat or Republican, regardless if you are Gay or Heterosexual, regardless if you are a Muslim or a Christian, in fact regardless of whatever – this is a fact – We only have one planet!

Bank of the Universe…and there is no “Bank of the Universe” where we can get a credit or a “Universe Planetary Fund” that can bail us out when we face a “Bankruptcy”…

This is the real case of “TOO BIG TO FAIL

(…I think even the eminent US Senator Elisabeth Warren would agree…Clip)

And yet we seem to instead “put the pedal to the metal” and give full throttle over the edge – not even the slightest worried on the fact that we have our kids in the backseat…

Well – maybe not all of us and especially not the Billions that” not even have a car yet” – but, mind you, we are all instead sitting on the trailer that is hitched behind the car…

(Excuse me for this travesty of “Thelma & Louise” – it is simply an archetype, too good to miss…)

We need structural change – a shift of paradigm!

In the earlier mentioned equation the only variable that is truly changeable is our “Western” Lifestyle. Everything else is beyond our “jurisdiction”. I think we can all agree that we only have one planet. Over time our knowledge about the reproduction-capacity of many of our ecological systems as well as the availability of non-renewable resources have increased to a point where we now, using the “Precautionary Principle”, can define the boundaries of our “allowable exploitation”.

This is it folks – This is what we have to stick to, regardless if you are a “greedy” profiteer, a middle-class person, one of the billions of poor and hungry or a destitute with little or no possibility to influence our destiny at all.

There is no more time to constantly argue that if we do this little modification or that small adaptation, maybe we can stick to the current model where the “western” lifestyle, which is impossible to reach for “the many”, dictated by the few rich and powerful, serve as the role-model that all should strive to fulfil. – That model simply doesn’t fit within the boundaries of our planet – not Now and definitely not in the future.

So – Lift your eyes from the details, from your “Silo”, and take a look at the big picture first, then if you are still really convinced that your part of the model is valid just the way it is also in a Different future, within our Planetary boundaries and is also within reach for a population of 9 Billion – then, but only then a “search and replace” approach could be the right way forward.

“If moderation is a fault, then indifference is a crime.”

Jack Kerouac

It is time to leave the pettiness of Egoism and Greed and to climb out of the “Silo” – We are in this together and regardless whether you are at the wheel or on the trailer…

…If we go over the edge, we go together!

  • Tiffany

    Well-said!

  • Hanssebisse

    Sören. I forgot in my LinkedIn comment the other day to add that the way we live in the Western so called civilized countries, our glory days are over. That the “drill baby drill” and “shop til you drop” mentality is not possible with soon 9 billion people on this planet. But unfortunately still too many people and especially ignorant Americans won´t face the truth and reality, still dreaming of long good old days.
    I will end with another excellent quote by Einstein: “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I am not sure about the former.” -As you said. Let us start looking at the bigger picture.

    /Hans

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