Here shall I disperse/
A small parcel of wisdom/
Born of idleness.
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Going where popes fear to tread.
Pope Francis is expected to address climate change in a papal encyclical that will soon be sent to all the Catholic Church's bishops and priests. He rightly excoriates global capitalism for its contribution to the problem.
His will join the voices of many outside the Roman Catholic church who demand that we do something about climate change.
To all who are concerned about climate change, I say..
Go ahead - exhort nuclear over hydrocarbon, Cry "let us bring an end to consumerism." Encourage to buy local. Offer ever more treatments for the disease and ignore the cure.
We must admit WE are the disease. This isn't self loathing. Self loathing is sticking to the status quo. Self loathing is thinking our lives are worth less if we live by any standard other than the current one or one that is even bigger and more resource intensive.
People led worthwhile lives centuries before we were born. They lived fullfilling lives without cars, planes, 3D printers, and the "green revolution." Judging by the greatness of their art, music, and architecture compared to our own, life must have seemed worth more to our distant ancestors than to ourselves.
We have been mesmerized by progress. Progress is a false religion. It is a pied piper leading us over a cliff.
Provided unlimited nourishment, bacteria exponentially grow in numbers until they fill their petri dish, and then they rapidly die off. We are bacteria and Earth is our petri dish. We must heed the lesson of Jevons' paradox.
The major emphasis should not be on convincing people to go nuclear, wind, or solar. By all means, we should pursue cleaner energy, more and better public transportation, and increased population density, but don't mistake some good choices for solutions. We need to go where all Popes, including Francis, fear or refuse to treat. We should do everything reasonable to convince human couples to have no more than one child, better none.
This is not selfishness. Selfishness is believing that your genes are more precious than the future of your species and all the species that inhabit this planet.
By curbing our natural urge to reproduce just as be have curbed our use of tobacco, we can do as much to save our world in one generation as the wildest, techno triumphalist dreamers can only hope to accomplish in ten generations. Yes, such a dramatic, voluntary reduction in our numbers will bring about collapse of our global civilization. But isn't it better bring the whole rotten thing down gently, like a deflating balloon than to depend on technofixes that bring along unforeseeable undesirable consequences (as they always have) that will surely bring us to a sudden, violent DEAD end?