Paradox of the Humans

Excellent essay by Dave B. McDonald III. Add nuclear power to his list of energy sources in his discussion of Jevon’s Paradox (wood, peat, coal, oil, natural gas, “green energy,” and also nuclear power = the energy ladder).

David McDonald

greta 2by David Byrne McDonald III

Greta Thunberg, on January 21, 2020:
“In one aspect, lots has happened since last year….From another perspective, pretty much nothing has been done.”
This sums up Planet of the Humans. Despite everyone’s efforts, global atmospheric CO2 yesterday was at 416.98 ppm, the highest level ever measured. Yet the U.S. has 63,794 installed wind turbines and Germany has 29,844. What is going on?
Planet of the Humans, directed by Jeff Gibbs and produced by Ozzie Zehner, has been viewed (5/14/20) by 7,745,866 on Youtube alone. Everyone is astonished at the massive viewership, not least Gibbs, Zehner, and Michael Moore, who has lent his prestige to the film as executive producer. But POTH has also prompted a flood of anguished denunciations from people in the environmental movement who feel unjustly attacked and demonized. We will dip into a particularly cogent public attack on…

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1 thought on “Paradox of the Humans

  1. Does understanding the dynamics of the collective uncoordinated species suicide of homo sapiens, by ecocide, offer any avenue to prevent it? Or, is the emotional drive behind it beyond any possibility of control by critical thought?

    Stan Goff comments on Nuclear Power:
    A good antidote to the deranged technological optimism of the “Jetson left.”
    Climate change and the further devolution of capitalism have become intertwined. With the breakdown of natural cycles (dis-integration) and capitalist omnicide will come ever more insoluble social crises (climate refugees, e.g., and generalizing unrest), until at some point even money–the magic sign that holds all of it together–loses its efficacy. Governments will retract, becoming simultaneously more authoritarian and less effective; and these plants, with their hundred-thousand year radioactive waste (Pu-239 24,000 half-life, Tc-99 220,000 yrs, I-129 15.7 million, etc), will fall into disrepair in the ensuing melee. The work should begin now, with energy rationing and the end of “energy subsidies,” and the systematic decommissioning of every nuclear plant . . . the waste to be stored on site in hardened casks (it ignites spontaneously otherwise, and transportation is another high risk). Or we can (in the US alone) have 104 (iirc) radioactive plumes spread around what used to be this country for tens to hundreds of millennia (far longer than any civilization has survived or can survive).

    MG,Jr. comments on Nuclear Power:
    Lots of fear, which I don’t think can ever be overcome by appeals to clear thinking. First, clearly the “energy problem” can really only be solved by a drastic reduction of energy use, regardless. That is so fossil fuels can be eliminated (as much as possible (we’ll always need a little), and because “green energy” is never purely green, and highly unlikely to be developed in such quantity to keep up with an exponential growth of consumerist desires and wastefulness. “We” need to reduce our kWh/capita even as our population increases, and especially for the “developed” nations relative to the un- and less- “developed.” Most people (in a growing population) don’t want to lose their illusions of “the good life” (capitalist consumerist mode) going on forever. Secondly, on the transport of nuclear wastes, undoubtedly keeping such accumulations as small as possible, and as thoroughly packaged/sealed and as deeply buried as possible (and as well guarded/inaccessible “forever” as possible), it is nevertheless highly feared by any residents in the area (NIMBY). So, for such areas that are highly populated (which mostly means suburbia now), relative to very rural and sparsely populated areas (like the Nevada Desert), the authorities feel compelled by “the popular will” along with threats to “the economy” locally, to move already packaged nuclear waste to more remote repositories. Depopulating “thriving” economic zones in response to nuclear hazards will only be driven by catastrophes like Chernobyl and Fukushima. Nuclear power was always about atomic/nuclear bombs; the civilian nuclear programs were always about socializing the astronomical costs of build up atomic/nuclear bomb stockpiles, and baiting the public to keep up support for that fundamentally militarized industry. The addictive and very popular illusion of civilian nuclear power is basically that of “the free lunch.” My guess is that as world decrepitude advances, and illusions continue forever undimmed, that the building of new nuclear power plants will be started, however ineffective they will actually be in contributing to the energy sustenance of a safe and stable human civilization. As I said: lots of fear, lots of illusion, lots of grasping for the free lunch.

    Does understanding the dynamics of the collective uncoordinated species suicide of homo sapiens, by ecocide, offer any avenue to prevent it? Or, is the emotional drive behind it beyond any possibility of control by critical thought?

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