Home / News / RealClimate: Forced responses: Sep 2021

RealClimate: Forced responses: Sep 2021

Jul 19, 2023Jul 19, 2023

Reality Check says

15 Sep 2021 at 10:02 AM

con’t James G. Dyke: extracts of Q&AThe autonomous Earth: How humans created a planetary civilisation that is beyond their control

Are there any lessons we can take from the covid pandemic?

A: We had freedom day what was it yesterdayyou know fifty thousand forty thousandnew confirmed cases of covid, the ukgovernment has demonstrated timeand time again it cannot do what’srequired to slow down the outbreak, tocontrol get a handle on the outbreakbecause it’s seen as direct opposition witheconomic growth that growth imperative.

You know, if we can’t even do it whenthey are literally people dying now,this isn’t a problem 50 years into the futureClimate Change is sometimes cast as youknow probably over the political horizon

You may be talking next day, next week,the kind of things that politicians have to doright now they continually fail to act. They aremotivated by their failure to act in the contextof economic growth

So maybe one important thing we can dois ask:Economic growth for who? To what benefit?It is true that we’ve got more than enoughresources that nobody needs to go hungry.We’ve got more enough resources to makesure nobody experiences food poverty.

Obviously the problem is the distribution, butwe tell ourselves a whole bunch of stories [Lies?]about well this distribution is just an emergentproperty of this very fast-growing economy orsomething.

So maybe one thing the pandemic can ask usto do is to push back about notions of progressand economic growth when they are in directopposition to – clear direct opposition to humanwell-being and welfare?

I mean if we can’t do it now right, what hopehave we got to deal with distant challengesmaybe decades down the road?


Q- Why the focus on physical technologies?Human development is guided by a co-evolutionof physical and social technologies, just as physicaltechnologies agriculture the wheel or computersare tools for transforming matter energy orinformation in pursuit of our goals. Social technologiesare tools for organizing people in pursuit of our goals:laws moral values and money are social technologiesas are ways of organizing an army a religion a governmentor retail business.So what are the role of the social technologies here?

A: Yeah that’s good question, I didn’t talk about thatat all. It is obviously crucial so I’ve got some slides whereI talk about the advent of telecommunications and reallythat’s just the most visible manifestation of theinformation networks which he considered alsocould include the cultural evolution. There’s nothingmore powerful than an idea.

plusA: – I’ll give you a contemporary example: at themoment there’s a lot of discussion about trying tolimit warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsiusright, you know. Don’t tell anyone but that’s notgoing to happen, right. It’s not going to happen.

Now I’m not allowed to say we will not limitwarming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.I scandalize people when I say that.

What I should say is that there are no physicalreasons why we cannot limit warming to nomore than 1.5 degrees Celsius but there needsto be sufficient political will in order to producethe changes required, right?

Now if we just look at the Cultural or theSocio-Economic-Political aspects then it seemslike political will is kind of mythical substancethat we just need to produce more of in orderfor us to get to do the De-Carbonization.

So we seem to scrabble around for not reallyhaving an understanding how those culturaldynamics seem to be working or failing.

And of course a really important componentfor our explanation of why it’s proving so hard isbecause the tremendous amount of energythat fossil fuels currently produce.

[Note:- Which amounts to 80% of global energy supply coming from fossil fuels. 110 billion barrels of Oil equivalent per year. When the Energy of one barrel of Oil equals 4.5 Years of Human Work. That’s a lot of very cheap accessible energy. It is the yearly work of 500 Billion Human Beings all up each and every year going forward. Previous Refs provided. ]

I mean that’s the major challenge. So just toask for political will is to ask for nothing!!!!

I mean we could say we could end all violentpolitical violence tomorrow if there wassufficient political will. Everyone just needs tolay down their arms, right, and it’s there. So Iabsolutely agree they are an important culturalinformation substrate to the Technosphere thatwe absolutely have to include.

I suppose my initial starting point is to considerthe Energetics and I completely hold my handup about that and I’m trying to be open and honestabout it in the book.[ END QUOTES ]

I do not know about you, but I find these kinds of comments extremely insightful, prescient and critically important to understand. It’s precisely why nothing gets done, and will not change until these matters are more clearly understood collectively.

Instead of energetic, maybe using the word Inertia would be better? There is a built up level of Inertia in the systems dynamics where continuing to use massive amounts of fossil fuel energy is built into the system that nothing can stop it – until something else much more important changes Culturally and Politically (and probably Psychologically.) And doing that is next to impossible in the time that is left to avert major climate crises arriving.

Until people really fully recognise the absolutely massive scale of that energy use system that keeps everything running day after day after day ON AUTOMATIC they will continue to fail to shift the built up Inertia of the entire system …. iow it’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy that is bound to continue on and on and on without end.

Inertia and Mass … This tendency to resist changes in their state of motion is described as inertia.

The massive scale of the energy system founded on fossil fuels is near impossible for anyone to comprehend it fully. The power of the Forces behind this Inertia are also incomprehensible. It is those Forces that make all the fossil fuel companies and their executives look puny and inconsequential bit players being swept along by the System itself.

To blame fossil fuel companies and executives and shareholders is to admit an inability to fundamentally grasp what the nature of problem, and it’s causes, actually is.

Or to use his apt metaphor – To understand you are in a prison, you must first be able to see the bars.I like what he does there.