George Monbiot points out that economic growth spurts couldn't be sustained until we used fossil fuels. Since then carbon-fuelled growth has been "the mother narrative", and it's inescapable failure is unmentionable in polite conversation. "Our ideologies are mere subplots." makes a lot of sense to me. I find socialist blaming of Climate Destabilization on Capitalism disingenuous. All ideologies destroy the habitable planet by consuming fossil fuel.

Economic growth is an artefact of the use of fossil fuels. Before large amounts of coal were extracted, every upswing in industrial production would be met with a downswing in agricultural production, as the charcoal or horse power required by industry reduced the land available for growing food. Every prior industrial revolution collapsed, as growth could not be sustained(3). But coal broke this cycle and enabled – for a few hundred years – the phenomenon we now call sustained growth.

It was neither capitalism nor communism that made possible the progress and the pathologies (total war, the unprecedented concentration of global wealth, planetary destruction) of the modern age. It was coal, followed by oil and gas. The meta-trend, the mother narrative, is carbon-fuelled expansion. Our ideologies are mere subplots.

The inescapable failure of a society built upon growth and its destruction of the Earth’s living systems are the overwhelming facts of our existence. As a result they are mentioned almost nowhere. They are the 21st Century’s great taboo, the subjects guaranteed to alienate your friends and neighbours. We live as if trapped inside a Sunday supplement: obsessed with fame, fashion and the three dreary staples of middle class conversation: recipes, renovations and resorts. Anything but the topic that demands our attention. [emphasis mine]

The Impossibility of Growth Demands a New Economic System

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Tags: destruction of life on Earth, economic growth, taboo

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Replies to This Discussion

I talk about economic trends, the political battles over the purpose of government, the trends of wealth gap between rich and poor, the loss of access to education, health care, job opportunity, the certain change of climate due to human activities, and eyes glaze over. People want to talk about "Anything but the topic that demands our attention"

So, as for myself, I can see the trends, where they lead us, the consequences of not facing the challenges, and of denying there are serious problems for which we could find solutions if we thought and acted upon them at once in realistic ways. 

One person can't make changes in the culture if he or she remains silent and does nothing. We have to talk and write about these factors. We can form together with other like-minded people and give expression to our concerns. We can make life changes, such as transportation, eating lower on the food chain, living within a CO2 budget, We can refuse to be bullied by religious fundamentalists and be intolerant of intolerable behaviors. We have a right to speak against dogmatism inspired by delusions and not be afraid of retaliation. 

Some scold me for speaking against fallacies; I need to learn more about how fallacies becomes imbedded in my thinking and look for more comprehensive responses."

Not only are too few people alarmed...but the media and government are cheerleading the INCREASED extraction and consumption of fossil fuels.  Isn't it wonderful that new technologies will enable the US to become the "Saudi Arabia of the 21st century"?  We'll never run out!!   

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