Why Do Anything To Prepare For The Coming Collapse?
We were going to start with our review of the core disciplines of Green Wizardry, "Thinking In Systems" this week but a recent article in the news needs to be discussed.
The current 2012 Obama era standards will require automakers to double the fuel economy of autos by 2025 to an average of 54 miles per gallon. Those same rules also granted California permission to create a separate program mandating that 8 percent of all new cars sold be zero emission cars, such as hybrid, electric or hydrogen fuel cells. Nine other States have adopted a similar program. This zero emission program has been one of the biggest influences in bringing electric vehicles to the market, helped along by the increase in fuel efficiency. The Trump Administration has proposed freezing fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks built after 2020 which would be 30 miles per gallon as well as challenge the rights of those states to set more stringent pollution standards
Their argument is that meeting the current goals would be too costly for auto makers. You could also argue that Trump's affinity for reversing anything Obama did, the doubts he and his Administration's top leaders seem to have concerning climate change as well as their stated goal of increasing fossil fuel production here in the United States may also be a factor.
In a op-ed titled "Make Cars Great Again (behind a paywall) published on the Wall Street Journal's website, Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao and the acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler wrote that those Obama era standards would “impose significant costs on American consumers and eliminate jobs.” And that the new proposal, would “give consumers greater access to safer, more affordable vehicles, while continuing to protect the environment.”
But relaxing those standards would mean an increase in carbon dioxide emissions. How much? Numbers vary from 320 million to 1.25 billion metric tons. This is as much as the annual emissions of county like Greece or Austria.
Also the Administrations proposal would give new life to aging coal plants, allow oil and gas operations to release more methane into the atmosphere as well as prevent new curbs on green house gases used in air conditioning units and refrigerators.
Another proposal to do less about climate change coming from the Trump Administration is hardly news anymore. Buried deep in the proposal's 500 pages is this admission, they believe that if we do nothing about climate change, that by the end of the century temperatures will rise seven degrees Fahrenheit, or about four degrees Celsius.
A rise of this much would be catastrophic to our current global civilization.
You would think that to acknowledge this fact would be a wake up call for any American government, even one that dismisses climate change like Trump's. Instead they use this same prediction to advocate relaxing the fuel efficiency standards in particular and any action to cut carbon dioxide emissions in general because those cuts would have but a tiny impact. The report goes on to say:
"(Fighting climate change)...would require substantial increases in technology innovation and adoption compared to today’s levels and would require the economy and the vehicle fleet to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which is not currently technologically feasible or economically feasible.”
After decades of denying that climate change is happening and it is manmade, the Powers That Be now are beginning to adapt a different mantra, that we can't afford to do anything because of the economic disruption making the needed changes would cause. Of course there is also other old stand by, "Don't worry technology will solve everything." Funny how every argument can be summed up as "Let's Do Nothing".
There is a reason for that.
"This week, the United Nations released a damning report. The short version: We have about 12 years to actually do something to prevent the worst aspects of climate change. That is, not to prevent climate change—we're well past that point—but to prevent the worst, most catastrophic elements of it from wreaking havoc on the world's population. To do that, the governments of Earth need to look seriously at the forces driving it. And an honest assessment of how we got here lays the blame squarely at the feet of the 1 percent.
Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world's climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. So you, a random American consumer, exert very little pressure here. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies."
Most of us know these facts. What makes this article relevant to the discussion is this paragraph:
"An economic environment where a company is only considered viable if it's constantly expanding and increasing its production can't be expected to pump its own brakes over something as trivial as pending global catastrophe. Instead, market logic dictates that rather than take the financial hit that comes with cutting profits, it's more reasonable to find a way to make money off the boiling ocean. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the burgeoning climate-change investment industry. According to Bloomberg, investors are looking to make money off of everything from revamped food production to hotels for people fleeing increasingly hurricane-ravaged areas. A top JP Morgan Asset investment strategist advised clients that sea-level rise was so inevitable that there was likely a lot of opportunity for investing in sea-wall construction."
I highlighted that one sentence because I think this is the point to the push back by the 1 percent. Doing something to fight climate change will cost them money. And in many cases, a lot of money.
Not just in business taxes or regulations, but to do something about climate change means choices. Do we move people off of the coasts where rising sea level will flood their beach front homes or take measures to protect threatened infrastructure like ports and transportation hubs? Do we make changes to flood management on our rivers away from levees and protective dikes and instead allow excess rainfall and high river levels to dissipate in natural flood plains? Do we promote organic localized farming instead of giving massive tax breaks and favored regulatory treatment to Big Agriculture. Each decision we make to address climate change will have Winners and Losers. Right the Losers in doing something about climate change, will be the people making the most money if we stick with Business As Usual. If governments make the decision to support one method over another, the current Winners may soon find themselves in the Losers.
Their response up until now for the most part has been to fund as many paid voices as they could, in science, academics and the political realm to "Deny, deny, deny!" That is rapidly becoming an unsustainable position as 60% of American are coming to believe that climate change is a threat. Now and increasingly as the effects of climate change begin to grow, what you will see is that the Winners will use their money and influence to shape public opinion and get regulations and legislation passed which is favorable to their bottom line and makes them money.
That might not be what helps me or you though. We "Deplorables" don't really matter to most of the Rich and Powerful.
Greer has written many times on the ArchDruid Report (Mirrored here as an Archive), that the Rich, as in the Salaried Class and the Renter Class, view the World differently from the Wage Class and the Poor. Remember, to them and their children, their wealth will cushion any bad effect of climate change on the planet. You and I might not be able to afford fuel for transportation or to heat our homes, but they will always be able to just turn down the air conditioning no matter how hot it is outside their mansions. They will eat no matter how much our food prices rise as Peak Oil makes fertilizer too expensive for Big Agriculture, gasoline and diesel too expensive for trucks to get that food to our stores and climate change turns the "Breadbasket of the World", the American Midwest back into the Great American Desert it was 200 years ago. If the other 99% see hard times, poverty, ill health and short life, then its their own damned fault for not being Rich.
Does that make you depressed yet? We face a headwind that few ships could make way against.
If we are not going to see our government or business do anything about climate change, that a collapse of our ecosystem into one that is chaotic and unrecognizable from our current friendly world is inevitable why should anything you and I do to cut our own carbon footprint be undertaken? After all if cutting the emissions of all of the autos and small trucks in the United States is viewed as fundamentally useless, not because it will reduce the effects of climate change but because it will harm the interest of our Overlords, the Rich, what is the point of fighting for changes. It won't help the Planet and ultimate millions will be displaced and die anyway.
Am I saying that fighting the Big Fights, like getting global carbon dioxide cuts in emission from countries through things like the Paris Accords are useless? Fighting for regulation to stop polluters and food safety are meaningless? That petitioning our government representatives to pass laws that help us and not moneyed interests will be fruitless?
Marching on Washington might make for a feel good moment for you, and dominate the new media for a day or two but come the next election, your national politician will remember that check for fifty thousand dollars from some business leader, not you. They are definitely not going to care when you lose your job, then your home and have to live in you car under a bridge. Except to pass a law making that too illegal.
(Ohhh that's going to stir up some heated comments from regular readers here, lol).
I think at this point we need to accept that our Government isn't going to be a help in what we are going to face in the coming decades. At the best it will be a hindrance, at worst the people working there will promote policies and legislation that will cause most of us real harm. Instead we must focus the bulk of our energy and resources to push for things at the personal and at the local level that will help us adapt to what is coming.
It begins in your own home and in your own city.
Learn how to make you and your family more resilient and less dependent on Big Civilization. Buy local and support the small family owned businesses. Drive past Walmart, even though it might cost you a few cents more to get what you need from a local source. Go to your area farmer's markets. Buy fresh vegetables even if they look a little worse for the wear. Even better start your own garden, no matter how small. Learn how to reduce the energy you use by conserving and weatherizing your home. Winter is coming, now is the time to caulk leaky windows and get out the sweaters from storage. Learn a skill that will be useful in a World that has energy blackouts and food shortages. "Collapse Now" while you have some cushion, in the terms of money and resources that will let you make mistakes without it being critical to your health and family.
If you haven't yet started, do a personal financial audit like we discussed in this recent blog post:
If you don't have a copy of John Michael Greer's "The Long Descent", buy one. Read it.
Greer wrote these suggestions for preparing:
(Note: I'm condensing the list a bit.)
1) Cut Back on Your Energy Use: Retrofit your home to be more energy efficient. Weatherize, insulate and cut back on the ways you use energy. Replace your light bulbs with LEDs. Cut down on the time you take to shower. Plan your trips in your car to minimize the gasoline you use. Rideshare if you can, or use mass transit sometimes. Consider using a bicycle for short trips.
2) Plant a Garden and Learn to Compose: Take control of your food. Even if its small, plant something. Learn to grow your own food now, while there is a cushion for mistakes. Buy local where you can, support farmers in your area. Waste less and what you do throw away, compost. Cook at home not buy at some unhealthy fast food place. Fill your pantry so in an emergency you can provide for yourself and your Family.
3) Develop Outside Income: Find a way to generate at least some of what you need to pay your bills with your own skills. This might mean learning a new skill or handicraft that you can use to barter with, or redevelop a hobby into a business. As the Collapse makes energy more costly, the current ways of making things will get more expensive. If you can replace a need you have, with something you can make yourself, then you will have it. Those that don't won't. This may also mean, that use money you have to invest in those that can make things you need. Commerce will still happen in the Long Descent. If you can't raise your own chickens then join with someone who can.
4) Maintain Your Health: One of the biggest causes of bankruptcy today is a medical emergency. Take control of your health and wellness. Eat better and exercise. Learn some simple alternative options for illness and plant a few herbs.
5) Explore Your Spirituality: Our current lifestyle has disconnected us from the Earth and from all that magic around us. Reconnect with your inner person and explore some of the many ways that our ancestors lived.
and the one suggestion most relevant to this post...
6) Help Build Your Local Community: The problems we will face in the Long Descent won't be problems we can face alone. We must have people around us, who will help.
That begins with your Family and Friends. Develop a circle of people who can be there when you need them and you be there when they need you. Talk with them and if they don't know about the Collapse and the way that things are going to get worse, then educate them.
Get involved in your local community too. Volunteer in something you like, like a pet shelter or food bank. Or something as simple as just getting out and meeting your neighbors. Once you get involved in your community, you will find that addressing issues like homelessness means more than just giving a few dollars to someone standing at a freeway off ramp with a sign that says "Help". Working with your local government and the various interests petitioning to make changes will teach you how to make effective policies in a manner that brings people together, not pushed them apart. We can't let keep moneyed interests like the 1 percent, use hot button dog whistle catch phrases to divide us.
At the same time fight to get your city and county governments to make changes that will help you do that. Get involved in your home town's government. Attend a city council meeting and learn who represents you. Learn what their attitudes are on about things like having chickens in your backyard or changes to allow gardens in the front yard too. If you like what you hear, support them. If not then next election, support a candidate who does. Democracy works best in small groups.
Big Money knows this and over the last few decades have funded many supposed "grass roots" initiatives that are just fronts for the 1 percent.
Take back your community.