Photo by Evan Demicoli on Unsplash | Can we stop producing crap?
I like to try to envision a world in which a serious ongoing climate program — with meaningful emergency measures suitable to the severity and scale of the crisis — actually happens. What would that look like? What would be happening that isn’t happening now? What’s happening now that would be stopped?
Before I begin, a disclaimer is necessary. First of all, I’m not a climate scientist and I believe we need to be enacting the recommendations of climate scientists, assisted by engineers and other true professionals in relevant fields. If and only if the climate science community endorsed my specific recommendations would I like them to be enacted. What I really want us to do is listen to the scientists.
However, in the absence of such a vision and set of plans by climate scientists, I offer my view as at least a theoretical starting point. In any case, I think we need to put forward a positive vision instead of merely reacting to proposals by those who are enthralled by the systems that are killing us. We can’t afford to be defensive. We need to set the stage and direct the conversation. We must be solutions-oriented, and break free of the timid unimaginative ideas that serve to merely excuse slow or ineffective ideas — which is what we have now.
I’m tired of the ideas of rich people, or ideologues or people with other self-serving and foolish agendas hogging the stage with nonsense. We don’t need to endlessly talk about nuclear — expensive, dangerous and mostly a money-making scheme. Or that every individual must reduce his/her/their carbon footprint while fossil fuel billionaires continue to offer only deadly oil, gas and coal, and stultify clean energy. Because we all know deep down that we use whatever energy is available to us, and the planet-killers are only offering oil, gas and coal.
I can’t believe that this isn’t blindingly obvious to all of us, but we shouldn’t allow any more fossil fuel plants to be built. Full stop. We didn’t let the Nazis — who were also killing people on a large scale using gas — to continue building concentration camps. Oil, gas and coal burning energy plants are no different.
In a sane world, deadly fossil fuel plants would be decommissioned and closed at a steady, and then accelerating rate. Simultaneously, new solar, wind and hydro facilities would be erected. Every new home in an area with significant sunshine would be built with solar and older homes would be outfitted with solar power as well. It would be common for people to live in homes with free unlimited clean energy.
Money wouldn’t be an issue, because we’d fully understand that money is simply a human construct and that the habitability of the Earth is a very real and unavoidable concern. When people understand and care, money doesn’t matter.
Yes. You read that right. Money doesn’t matter. In every system today, from capitalism to socialism to communism, money is king. That must end. None of these systems are sufficient to meet the challenges. Only a clear understanding of reality itself, and actually caring about human life is appropriate.
If you think about it, money was never important when the stakes were considered high. Nobody said we can’t fight Hitler because it costs too much. People wanted to defeat Hitler AT ANY COST, and cut down on non-essentials like meat and stockings. We had a concerted war effort.
Sadly, we haven’t historically shown the same determination to save people and take care of people that we have shown towards killing them. We need to redirect our passions — permanently — towards taking care of each other, especially our children, and ensuring a better future for them.
That means tossing every antiquated destructive tendency, ideology and rationalization for evil that’s held us back. People are sick of this situation: the endless greed, lying, glorification of cruelty. You know this is true. Yes, the loudest voices, the ones that make the news, are the self-promoting a-holes. The clueless egomaniacs. But it’s time to put Ozymandias to bed.
New Infrastructure Produced With Clean Energy
These new power plants would first produce the energy used to reproduce themselves. We’d have plants producing solar panels that themselves would run on solar energy. The transition would be as fast as possible, but also try to be as clean as possible.
We wouldn’t wait for perfection, but use what we have now, with an eye towards improvements. For example, we’d do the best we can with the battery technology we have now, but build things so that old batteries could be swapped out easily and replaced with new, more climate-friendly batteries when they become available. This won’t always be possible, but this possibility should be included in all product design.
Fossil Fuels Would Be Socially Unacceptable
The same old arguments used to rationalize continued fossil fuel production wouldn’t fly anymore. Not only would no new fossil fuel plants be built, but talking about building them would be like proposing people literally shit in the streets. It would be considered not only stupid, but also disgusting. Which it is.
Cut Production in Half — or More
We all know that a high percentage of what’s produced is useless crap. Before we sacrifice our comfort (and we WILL need to do some of that), let’s save energy by NOT producing useless crap. You know what I mean. Cheap plastic crap that serves no justifiable purpose. Stuff that takes up space. Things that give you a quick thrill when you acquire them, and then are forgotten.
I’m pretty sure that by taking this obvious step, we’d quickly slash C02 emissions. Yes, I can hear all the panicked screaming about how that would leave people jobless and destroy the economy. Stop effing focusing on money. We need to produce what’s needed — not crap — and take care of each other. If we use our heads, there would be more than enough for all of us.
Oh, and if we could cut down on beef to fight Hitler, we could do it to stabilize the climate so our children can live on a habitable Earth. I’m personally giving up beef for the new year. But, like the change to clean energy, we need to reduce or end beef at the production level. We need to stop raising cows for beef.
And yeah, I can hear many of you screaming about how I’m proposing dictatorship and that I’m a commie. Whatever. Taking measures to stop Hitler were fine, but to save your own children those same measures are unacceptable. I understand your “values.” You need to re-think them.
Constraints Drive Genius: A New Age of Creativity
The age of clean energy would be both difficult (and difficulty is unavoidable after delaying action on the climate crisis for decades), but also brilliant, inspiring and exciting. Out of necessity, people would work together and care for each other. And we’d soon find the joy in that and wonder why we ever behaved differently.
The notion that people needed to work to eat would be seen as barbaric — the practices of morally primitive stunted human beings. And we would be right about that.
It would be like we ALL had the “overview effect” like astronauts get. We would see the big picture — that we all live together on a fragile beautiful Earth and must care for it and for each other. This would become blindingly obvious.
And the excitement of creativity would explode. Instead of focusing all the time on making money, people would have more time (NOT producing crap) and would use their imaginations to put new worthwhile things into the world. The arts and every form of self-expression would flourish. Creativity thrives on constraints, and we’d have (sensible, not arbitrary) limits in our new clean energy world.
Of course energy technology would advance quickly — the best minds would be focused on it, and provided with the resources and support to do their best work. But this creativity, and sense of community and common purpose would be evident everywhere.
We need to dismantle the old foolish systems and culture and thinking that’s currently speeding us towards doom. But we can. We can take a new direction. Let’s get the ball rolling in 2023.