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|Cite as "Consumption crises". Appropedia. 2021. Retrieved 2021-07-31.|
“Fables should be taught as fables, myths as myths, and miracles as poetic fantasies. To teach superstitions as truths is a most terrible thing. The child mind accepts and believes them, and only through great pain and perhaps tragedy can he be in later years relieved of them.” - Hypatia of Alexandria
Indeed a most terrible thing has occurred for superstitions have been sown and many children rose in their belief. These children are the bulk of the “green energy” movement. Though harboring boundless enthusiasm for creating positive change environmentalist groups are misguided. The mainstream environmental movement is ironically channeling their energy into an increasingly corporatist, "productivist," set of priorities. The current environmental movement has been exploited to benifit loggers, energy firms, corporations, and car companies; the movement has become a social media platform aimed at consumerism, growth and energy production. With wind turbines, solar cells, and bio fuels presented as saviors to our insatiable greed. These will do nothing to solve the crisis we face, which is not an energy crisis but rather a crisis of consumption.
The tragedy we would like to avoid is the further degradation of the earth. Due to our past years of unsustainable overzealous consumption we have drastically wounded the earth. Through the burning of fossil fuels we sparked the industrial revolution, beginning a time of great change. With the power from fossil fuels humanity made great advancements, however we have recently come to realize that in our ignorance we blindingly used and used without understanding the consequences. A behemoth example of these consequences is Global warming. Global warming is constantly used as a poster child for the enemy of the green movement. Yet this is but one of the issues caused by our insatiable greed for more energy. With the current direction of the green movement being towards method of alternative energy production, our issues will only grow. We will not fix this mess through more but rather less.
There is no such thing as alternative energy only alternative forms of energy, but converting them requires energy. Practically all of the energy sources available to use stem from our sun or stars before it. Oil and coal are stored energy from the sun that was harvested by ancient plants, biofuels harvest more recent sun , and wind powered by solar radiation. Geothermal actually harvests the heat from the earths birth and moon creating collision. Nuclear energy takes advantage of Heavy elements like Uranium that got their stored energy from ancient supernovae. Tidal technically uses the pull from the moons gravity to generate power. however Alternative energy technologies rely on fossil fuels through every stage of their life. From mining operations, to fabrication plants, installation, ongoing maintenance and decommissioning fossil fuels are used. Also, because wind and solar have irregular output these technologies require fossil fuel plants to be running alongside them at all times in order to back them up. Also alternative energy financing relies on the kind of growth that fossil fuels drive. An example is President Obama's Energy Security Trust It s aim is to expand offshore oil-drilling operations in order to provide a tax base for alternative energy technologies, which should in turn lead to economic growth. This shows how alternative technologies rely on economic arrangements that are themselves reliant on fossil fuels. Another misconception is that once these technologies are implemented they will support themselves. Once these systems are in place could they support all the “needs” of the current insatiable economy such as heating, transportation, lighting, agriculture, and the energy required to maintain them, likely not. If we want to address climate change and the many other consequences of energy production, there's no evidence that lower energy costs and growth are a step in the right direction. The solution is simple, really. We'll need to greatly reduce both consumption and the number of people consuming over time.
Why do we value energy production over energy reduction? We've seen material growth and prosperity walking hand-in-hand for so long that we don't know what they look like separately. There are many theories as to how the predisposition for productivism was developed. Some theorists believe that Christianity by separating creator from creation desacralized the natural world. Thus leaving it open to investigation, definition and scientific manipulation. Evolutionary biologists point to structural physical characteristics of our brain as possible causes. Some even cite Newtonian physics as divesting the material world of spiritual value. The answer it appears is far to complex as religious, philosophical scientific and capitalistic traditions did not develop on their own, but rather together. Whatever the cause the effect has been the belief has become that which produces is good and those who produce should be rewarded.
Ultimately these fables and myths have caused us great pain and brought us to the brink of tragedy. Now we must first relieve ourselves of our childish illusions to begin the steps forward. I do not have an answer the issue is far to complex for one solution, yet only by “manning up” can we accept what we have done and been doing to then move on positively. The change is going to ultimately be far more cultural than technical. We have to stop promoting green growth, green jobs, green buildings, green business, and start to interrogate assumptions that undergird the belief that material growth will lead to long-term prosperity. Movements like British Columbia's Work Less Party, along with the French de-growth movement, are shifting to different kinds of questions and thus better answers. The task of working to rediscover environmentalism has many challenges, but what can be more fulfilling then overcoming them?
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