The end of fossil fuels requires that we shed what those fuels had once supplied. Commercial aviation, large container shipping, ring roads, motorways, retail parks, super markets, suburbia, the family car… No renewable energy source can supply those things.
No newspaper, television/radio station, or academic institution will tell us so.
If we don’t change how we live, then climate change will very soon change how we live in ways too wild to imagine. Here’s a choice – Choose to change by human methods, or have change chosen by inhuman laws – of physics and of nature.
We must stop being led by the BBC and the rest…
That very soon with regards to climate change has already begun and is accelerating.
Plainly, models for how we might live lie in periods of social history before the adoption of fossil fuelled tools. Don’t raise your eyebrow – the ways we live today are extra-ordinary and will be very brief. We must return to an ordinary way of life powered by ordinary laws of physics.
Attempts to green our current ways of consumption will prove impossible. How we live is impossible.
But how we might live is rooted in cultural memory. We’ve evolved from ancestral soil that waits for re-settlement. History was broken by fossil fuels. Now shattered histories are shards for re-assembly. I think that journey may evoke familiarity – in all senses of the word. I picture oil prodigals returning home to intriguing, half-forgotten landscapes. I picture a great social sigh of relief.
Oil had shattered cultural history, because oil monopoly had enclosed our part in it. Even now, many green and climate change activists lobby their monopoly to change, rather than consider how to change themselves. We salute the solar panels on the super market roof and delight in the increase (by consumer market signals) of organic, recycled and fair traded produce in the aisles…
By such voices, we swell, re-enforce and approve the enclosure.
The latest “science” won’t save us. We must act immediately and with the tools we have and can devise. One by one, we are the flesh and blood of current economic activity.
Governments, corporations academic and media institutions are abstractions. They don’t physically exist. They may coerce, entice, or compel us, one by one, to do this and that. But we are the corporate application. One by one we apply corporate and government desires. We are the life and physics. Without us, governments and corporations are ideas in the wind. We apply those thoughts one by one.
One by one, we commute from suburbia; take that holiday flight; swell the power and size of super markets, while diminishing the size of markets for proper shops, trades and market squares…
It is only one by one we can reject the holiday flight, revive our proper shops and begin to farm and trade more properly. Only one by one can we re-centre suburbia – creating familiar work places, such as market gardens and workshops of every kind, while ditching the commuter anxiety. One by one is the most personally empowering thought – one by one makes a crowd. How else?
One by one is no small thing. It is everything.
Of course, we can vote for the least-worst political party – the party, which hinders us the least. Yes. Solar panels on the supermarket roof are better than no solar panels. Yes. My organic super market purchase has maintained “the good” of some organically-managed fields. But that whole system of retail park, centralised distribution and wild consumption is impossible. It will collapse economies, because it will collapse the ecology in which all economies must sit. We must evacuate it.
We can also dream, like Tom Paine, of social justice – a citizen’s dividend funded by a land value tax. If we tax parasitic enclosure, then we can fund a convivial, ingenious, productive economy! We can end income tax and VAT which restrain and impoverish ingenuity and dexterity and we can tax idle monopoly. It is a perfect solution, which if realised, would truly solve a multitude of economic problems.
But governing monopoly never has, and never will, agree to be taxed.
We must somehow, step by step, evacuate those rentier infrastructures, which governing monopolies supply. The amorality, which is the right of enclosure, will be vigorously-maintained by right-holders, who will never defer to the ethical restraints they had brutally shed by the act of enclosure. Moral behaviour lives on the common.
Governments, corporations and media organisations, will do all they can to supress and ridicule the commons. Giving credence to governments, corporations and their media, gives credence to the ridicule.
So we must quietly reclaim the common and spread the joy of it, while also (why not?) spreading fashionable jokes about government, corporation and media. We do that by moral action; by shoving off the coercion of enclosure and by refusing the amoral rights conferred by property – including our own property. Our own property may include land, status, ideas, seeds…
Anyway, we must act immediately and not by professing the restorative justice of futuristic dreams. Our hearts can hold those dreams, but they live where religious impulse lives – in quiet eternity.
The future is a consequence of the present. If “evil” corporations and their tamed media organisations and political parties are mere abstractions applied through ourselves, then it is plain where that “evil” truly lies – It is in ourselves. Future restorative justice does nothing to mitigate present misbehaviour – just as hopes for redemptive advances in technology are helpless to assist either the present, or the presently-to-be-wrecked future economy.
Look – science can document climate change, but science has no place in the technologies we adapt, reject, or devise. That is the responsibility of those who use the tools. We cannot sit and wait for scientific revelation – as many do. In any case, the reaction and resistance of natural physics to tools, brings tool makers in some ways closer to the truth of natural physics – and more intimately so than the necessary scepticism of science can ever achieve. Science is a delight, but it cannot help us in what we do.
Science must cultivate innocence. Technology cultivates in the thick of experience.
By the steps of shedding fossil-fuels from our lives, we’ll find ourselves in a falling, fragmenting economy – descending towards an appropriate size – one fitting the landscapes we finally settle. We descend from the monolith towards variety and to behaviours specific to where they fall. Descent! Landscape! As our power shrinks, so the resources, delights and difficulties of landscape expand.
To grow food, we must study bacteria, fungi, plants, invertebrates, insects, animals, seasons, weather… We can’t blindly follow instruction on the sides of pesticide, or herbicide drum – or recommended application rates of “fertiliser” from the corporate brochure.
To travel, we’ll become aware of time, weather and the terrains and cultures through which we must pass. We must look about us. Just as a mother’s gaze imprints permanent bonds upon her child, so does landscape imprint a bond with those who live by it. I go too far? No. That imprint feeds delights; curiosities; rewards beyond the profligate bread and circus of corporate supply. That beyond includes beauty, truth, love – as well as thirty-two feet per second squared and an absolute finity of supply. Of course, the beyond includes a contrary and perennial death, despair… That’s why communities evolve the reconciliatory tragedy and comedy of verse, drama, music… Consider finity. It evokes sound, scent, colour, diversity, quantity, form, presence and loss and the complex languages to describe them.
That is why, without fossil fuels, we’ll have full employment and why, if we can find an economic fit for that ecologic finity, (there being little room to spare) idle monopoly will not find a home. Of course modern, post medieval history is a history of enclosures and no doubt, such history is likely to return, but for now…
Cloud Cuckoo Land? Yes. It is the only land. Utopia? Not at all. It is a place of many trials and many errors, but where with hope, cuckoos and their foster-parental willow warblers return each May. Where we live now – at the wheel of four hundred parts per million of carbon dioxide and rising, will soon be washed, or dried from beneath that corporate-dependent accelerator pedal.
You do know – don’t you? – That the Paris Accord was an accord of the monopolies to sort of green (a little bit) our currently-impossible ways of consumption to put at ease some expressed anxieties about our consumer choices? The market cannot bear consumer anxiety and it especially cannot bear too much reality.