We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore LappĂ©, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Law of Diminishing Returns (Part 1 of 4)

Click here if you wish to access article from its original source at Post Carbon Institute.
Is modern society hitting our defining moment, the point of diminishing returns?

In this brand new short video released today, Richard Heinberg explores how — in our economy, the environment, and energy production — we may well be. When previous societies have hit similar limits, they often doubled-down by attempting ever more complex interventions to keep things going, before finally collapsing. Will this be our fate too? And is there an alternative?

This video is the first in a four-part series by Richard Heinberg and Post Carbon Institute. The themes covered in these videos are much more thoroughly explored in Heinberg’s latest book, Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels.

Heinberg knows what we need to do to avoid extinction, but can we do it under the system of capitalism? With reference to declining net energy returns and environmental limits, he says in the interview:
If we plan for that sort of future, we can optimize the transition and the outcome. If we don't, we could end up as just one more failed civilization....
Judging from my reading of his past essays, I think we can safely assume that he thinks this is possible. We should find out in later parts of this series.

Clearly I think not--and such a notion is dangerous to our survival! Such a notion is what is precisely keeping us from doing anything constructive to head of this disaster.

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